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.
**Buffalo and Denver are good plays this week and should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are presumed to be owned**
Week 4 Results
Green Bay (at San Francisco) - 6 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pts allowed
One of the top efforts of the week as nothing worked for the 49ers on offense. San Francisco looks like a safe team to target until further notice.
A Look Ahead: STL SD BYE - The Rams offense looks new and improved, but the Packers at Lambeau is a tough position to get off of.
Cincinnati (vs Kansas City) - 5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
A totally respectable fantasy effort, but if the Chiefs could finish drives, the Bengals could have easily given up 30+
A Look Ahead: SEA @BUF BYE - The Seahawks line is leaky and they are not the same on the road, so this one is worth exploring.
Indianapolis (vs Jacksonville) - 1 sack
This one was deflated by the loss of Vontae Davis and no Andrew Luck.
A Look Ahead: @HOU NE NO - This could be great on the road against a poor quarterback, but it’s hard to trust the Colts D/ST, especially if Davis is out or limited.
Philadelphia (at Washington) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
Kirk Cousins played one of the best games of his career in this one. Washington might not be a good target this year after all.
A Look Ahead: NO NYG @CAR - The Saints offense is bouncing back, but they can be vulnerable outdoors on the road
Baltimore (vs Pittsburgh) Thursday - 4 sacks
The Steelers ended up being the better half of this matchup, as Michael Vick protected the ball and Joe Flacco struggled.
A Look Ahead: CLE @SF @ARI - Josh McCown is playing better and the Ravens defense is toothless as of late, so probably a pass.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Atlanta (vs Houston) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 DEF TD
A dominant all-around performance as the Falcons even forced an in-game quarterback change.
Carolina (at Tampa Bay) - 2 sacks, 4 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Should have known better than to leave a defense this good facing Winston off of the candidates list. My bad. Winston remains a target for our rent-a-defense.
Detroit (at Seattle) - 6 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
How many of you had the Lions as the better D/ST in this one? Seahawks offensive line is troubling.
Week 5 Candidates
New England (at Dallas)
This one is simple. Patriots could bury the Cowboys with Brandon Weeden at quarterback and force him to make a lot more downfield throws. New England is rested coming out of the bye and you gave Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare.
A Look Ahead: @IND NYJ MIA - Im ready to say the Patriots are an everyweek D/ST under further notice if they come through here.
Green Bay (vs St. Louis)
The Packers at Lambeau are always at or near the top of our candidate list. The Rams offense came together in Week 4 during a tough road divisional game, but we’ve seen the Rams play over their heads against NFC West teams before. The Packers can get the Rams behind on the scoreboard and out of their comfort zone on offense.
A Look Ahead: SD BYE @DEN - Philip Rivers is good, but if the Pack is hot coming out of Week 5, we’ll keep em.
Cincinnati (vs Seattle)
The Bengals haven’t had a huge D/ST outburst yet, but the offense is staking them to leads, and the Seahawks offensive line has been giving up big games with regularity so far this year. The Rams and Lions have both already had top 5 weeks against Seattle.
A Look Ahead: @BUF BYE @PIT - We might look at Cincinnati again in Week 8 if Michael Vick is still starting.
New York Giants (vs San Francisco)
The Giants defense is underwhelming from a personnel standpoint, but they are playing well and they get maybe the worst offense in the NFL this week. San Francisco is traveling east for a prime time game and they have also played horrendous defense on the road this year.
A Look Ahead: @PHI DAL @NO - We’ll look at the Giants again in Week 7 if they come through for us this week.
Atlanta (vs Washington)
It feels like the #1 option from Week 4 should be higher, but that ‘s how strong the Week 5 crop is. Kirk Cousins is settling down, but if the Falcons can jump out to a lead at home, they could pour it on for the second straight week. Dan Quinn has this team playing like they have a new lease on life.
A Look Ahead: @NO @TEN TB - With the quality of their offense and the weakness of their schedule, we’ll be coming back to the Falcons a lot this year.
San Diego (vs Pittsburgh)
The only reason this one isn’t higher is the lack of playmakers on the Chargers defense. A home game on Monday night against a latter day Michael Vick is a great recipe for a D/ST explosion.
A Look Ahead: @GB OAK @ BAL - One and done.
Jacksonville (at Tampa Bay)
We have to look at the opponent for Jameis Winston as an option every week going forward, although on and off monsoons in Tampa also gave Carolina the assist last week.
A Look Ahead: HOU BUF BYE - If the Jags defense creates some momentum this week, they might be worth a look at home against the Texans’ excuse for a quarterback.
Week 6 Pre-emptive Pickups
Arizona (at Pittsburgh)
Carolina (at Seattle)
Detroit (vs Chicago)
Houston (at Jacksonville)
New England (at Indianapolis)
New York Jets (vs Washington)