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.
**Miami, Houston, St. Louis all have nice matchups and are preferred to any rent-a-defense this week, but they were also likely drafted in the top 6-8 defenses, so they are assumed to not be available as a late pick D/ST**
Week 1 Results
Arizona (vs New Orleans) - 2 sacks, 1 INT - The Cardinals were chasing Saints running backs around all day and not forcing Drew Brees into any big mistakes.
A Look Ahead: @CHI SF STL - The Bears running game kept it close against the Packers, so the Cards D on the road is looking like a pass.
Indianapolis (at Buffalo) - Nada - The Bills were the much better D/ST play here.
A Look Ahead: NYJ @TEN JAX - Going home can heal some wounds, and the Jets weren’t forced out of their comfort zone on offense. I’m open to a bounce back week for the Colts D/ST, but not counting on it
Philadelphia (at Atlanta) - 1 sack, 2 INT - The Eagles ballhawked a few picks, but their defense mostly looked toothless against a Falcons team with a work in progress offensive line.
A Look Ahead: DAL @NYJ @WSH - The Cowboys offensive line is most definitely not a work in progress. The Eagles always a puncher’s chance a good D/ST game and the Cowboys did make some egregious errors on offense last week.
Green Bay (at Chicago) - 2 sacks, 1 INT - Matt Forte kept the Bears close and Cutler didn’t have to try much until the end, when he threw a pick to Clay Matthews.
A Look Ahead: SEA KC @SF - Seattle’s offensive line is leaky. This is a good play.
Minnesota (at San Francisco) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery. Oof. Sorry folks, Vikings were sleepwalking. This was one of my worst rent-a-defense weeks ever.
A Look Ahead: DET SD @DEN - Not trusting them until I see it.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Carolina (at Jacksonville) - 5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD, 9 pts allowed
No Star Lotulelei? Luke Kuechly out? No problem. Blake Bortles pays off again.
Detroit (at San Diego) - 2 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
It was a great start for the Lions defense without DeAndre Levy, but they gave up 30 unanswered points before the game was over.
Tennessee (at Tampa Bay) - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Welcome to the NFL Jameis Winston.
New York Giants (at Dallas) - 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
This one adhered to the rule that NFC East game can get really weird in prime time.
Baltimore (at Denver) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
Peyton doesn’t get sacked four times that often. The Ravens defense is still strong even though the offense is beyond meek.
Week 2 Candidates
Carolina (vs Houston)
Luke Kuechly should be back, and he’ll be facing Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett with no Arian Foster. Nuff said.
A Look Ahead: NO @TB BYE - If the Panthers have a second great D/ST week in a row, I’ll roll the dice again against Drew Brees outdoors.
Kansas City (vs Denver - Thursday)
The Chiefs have a great pass rush, they have a prime time home opener crowd, and an old Peyton Manning on short rest who seems to be resisting the change in his offense. This one could get ugly.
A Look Ahead: @GB @CIN CHI - You don’t want to be playing a D/ST against the Packers.
New Orleans (vs Tampa Bay)
Dome sweet dome. The Saints were not that imposing against the Cardinals on the road, but Jameis Winston should give the New Orleans crowd something to get excited about when the Saints are on defense.
A Look Ahead: @CAR DAL @PHI - Back to the waiver wire after this week
Green Bay (vs Seattle)
The Packers at home can really turn it on, and they’ll be in revenge mode against a Seattle team with a very shaky offensive line.
A Look Ahead: KC @SF STL - All three of those games could be good if the Packers defense gets hot this week.
Tennessee (at Cleveland)
The Titans defense has some outside pass rush punch, and the Browns will be starting Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel. If Marcus Mariota is on point again, they’ll be playing from ahead too.
A Look Ahead: IND BYE BUF - Probably won’t be starting them vs Andrew Luck
Week 3 Pre-emptive Pickups
Arizona (vs San Francisco)
New England (vs Jacksonville)