Unless most of the teams in your league carry a backup defense, more than half of the league should be available to you every week. Perhaps instead of playing one above average defense every week, regardless of matchup, we should instead target the widely available waiver wire defenses with the best matchups in any particular week? You can always make exceptions if your rent-a-defense gets hot - heck, you might find a team worth starting all year by accident. Even if you don't, good matchups will continue to get greater in number as more QBs get injured or yanked as the season goes on. You can steal some points from bad weather come December. Each week I'll list the startable fantasy defenses on most waiver wires and rank them.
**Denver, Carolina, Arizona, Seattle, and Kansas City should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 15 Results
New England (vs Tennessee) - 5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
A direct hit, in fact, New England’s best D/ST game of the season.
A Look Ahead: @NYJ - Not ideal, but you could do worse.
St. Louis (vs Tampa Bay - Thursday) - 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
We got the game script we wanted with St. Louis jumping out to a big lead, but Jameis Winston avoided sacks and the big mistakes for the most part.
A Look Ahead: @SEA - No thanks.
NY Jets (at Dallas) - 2 sacks, 4 INTs
Another direct hit, with Kellen Moore getting the assist.
A Look Ahead: vs NE - I won’t be shocked if it works out, but I wouldn’t start the Jets D/ST this week.
Jacksonville (vs Atlanta) - 1 sack, 1 INT
Same old Jacksonville. Even Atlanta looks solid against them.
A Look Ahead: @NO - Nope.
Pittsburgh (vs Denver) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Adequate, but consider that the Steelers were down 20 at one point in this one.
A Look Ahead: @BAL - One of the best plays of the week.
Cincinnati (at San Francisco) - 4 sacks, 3 INT, 1 fumble recovery
The defense did their job as the Bengals are trying to preserve a division title and chance at a bye with A.J. McCarron at quarterback,
A Look Ahead: @DEN - I can envision scenarios where this play works out, but I’m not touting it.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Green Bay (at Oakland) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
It was a quiet week for D/ST scoring overall, so Demarious Randall’s pick six was enough to make the Packers a top five D/ST play in Week 15.
Week 16 Candidates
Pittsburgh (vs Baltimore)
The Steelers are on the road, but otherwise this is perfect. Perhaps the rivalry can keep this one close, but there’s a much larger chance that Baltimore’s deficient pass defense makes it a blowout.
Houston (at Tennessee)
You get J.J. Watt in your lineup and you benefit from any Zach Mettenberger missteps. Sounds good to me.
Minnesota (vs New York Giants)
This one hinges a bit on Odell Beckham’s status, but even if he plays, it’s a home prime time game and Eli Manning is prone to total meltdowns.
Detroit (vs San Francisco)
The Lions defense has been quiet lately, but have you watch the 49ers offense lately? Offensive. They are also a much worse team on the road.
Buffalo (vs Dallas)
The Bills defense has been a massive disappointment from a fantasy standpoint, but here comes Kellen Moore to save the day.
New Orleans (vs Jacksonville)
A good day for the Saints defense is when they don’t make anything any worse for Drew Brees and company’s chances of winning purely on the strength of their offense, but Bortles is gonna Bortle and this one is in the Superdome.
Week 17 Championship Pre-emptive Pickups
Houston (vs Jacksonville)
New England (at Miami)
Pittsburgh (at Cleveland)
Cincinnati (vs Baltimore)
Washington (at Dallas)
St. Louis (at San Francisco)