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, Arizona, Seattle, New York Jets are good plays this week and should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 5 Results
New England (at Dallas) - 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 6 pts allowed
Not an explosion but a very solid performance from a defense that will be playing with the lead all season.
A Look Ahead: @IND NYJ MIA - Andrew Luck has been cracked twice already this year. Bill Belichick will test him. New England might just be an everyweek play
Green Bay (vs St. Louis) - 3 sacks, 4 INT, 1 DEF TD
Yahtzee! Nick Foles is a courageous quarterback, but the Packers ballhawks saw to it that he would give us the best D/ST game of the week.
A Look Ahead: SD BYE @DEN - Philip Rivers is no pushover, but I understand if you keep rolling with this red hot unit at home.
Cincinnati (vs Seattle) - 4 sacks, 1 INT
The Seahawks led for most of this game, so the Bengals weren’t set up with a good D/ST game script. They have been underwhelming for a talented unit that is playing with the lead most weeks.
New York Giants (vs San Francisco) - 2 sacks
A good first half, but a dud of a second half as the Giants defense made Colin Kaepernick look like Jim Harbaugh was still his head coach.
A Look Ahead: @PHI DAL @NO - Sam Bradford is still shaky at times, but the Giants defense started to crack last week. No thanks.
Atlanta (vs Washington) - 1 sack, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
We don’t have Kirk Cousins to kick around any more, but he did oblige with a game-ending pick six. It wasn’t a strong defensive performance, but it got the job done.
A Look Ahead: @NO @TEN TB - The Saints offense is moving in fits and starts and they haven’t been playing well at home. Rolling the Falcons out again isn’t a terrible idea.
San Diego (vs Pittsburgh) - 3 sacks, 1 INT
Michael Vick rose to the occasion and for the second straight week did not provide the possible turnoverfest. The Steelers D/ST side ended up being much better. Arizona gets the next shot.
A Look Ahead: @GB OAK @ BAL - Not in Lambeau
Jacksonville (at Tampa Bay) - 2 sacks
Jameis Winston was in game manager mode, as I had the wrong side of this one.
A Look Ahead: HOU BUF BYE - Only the Texans D/ST has produced less than the Jags. Nope.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Tampa Bay (vs Jacksonville) - 6 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Playing with the lead against Blake Bortles (who is getting better) was a great recipe for points.
Philadelphia (vs New Orleans) - 5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries
The only thing worse than the Saints defense in this game was the Saints offense
Pittsburgh (at San Diego) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
The Steelers bend but don’t break defense did the job on the road in a stirring victory.
Week 6 Candidates
Cincinnati (at Buffalo)
NOTE: It appears Tyrod Taylor is preparing to play this week - Bengals drop off rent-a-defense list if he starts.
The early reports are that Tyrod Taylor won’t be able to go this week against the Bengals. That means EJ Manuel, and if Andy Dalton keeps it up, the Bengals could jump out to a lead and force Manuel to throw.
A Look Ahead: BYE @PIT CLE - Back to the wire, but home games with Houston and St. Louis are coming up in the second half of the season
New England (at Indianapolis)
The Patriots should have the benefit of a lead, and Andrew Luck has been solvable for good defenses this year. Are the Patriots actually good? I’d be willing to wager a starting lineup spot on it.
A Look Ahead: NYJ MIA WAS - This the best reason to play the Pats this week - you get a Foxboro triple dip ahead.
Minnesota (vs Kansas City)
Alex Smith without Jamaal Charles could be ugly, especially if Adrian Peterson controls this game coming out of the bye. The Vikings have a lot of talent on this defense, and they could sweep the leg of a team that is very precarious right now.
A Look Ahead: @DET @CHI STL - I’m not inclined to drop or bench the Vikings until they let us down.
Green Bay (vs San Diego)
This one is low-hanging fruit and quite likely already owned. The Packers D/ST has been at least adequate in every game at Lambeau this year, culminating in the #1 D/ST game last week.
A Look Ahead: BYE @DEN @CAR - We’ll come back to the Pack, but not again in October.
Atlanta (at New Orleans) **Thursday**
The Eagles were all over the Saints last week. While most teams would give us pause when considering a repeat performance, the Saints have actually been worse at home since the second half of last year, and the Thursday factor doesn’t hurt.
A Look Ahead: @TEN TB @SF - The Falcons D/ST has come through for two straight weeks, if they make it three in Week 6, I’ll take my chances on #4 against Marcus Mariota in Week 7.
Week 7 Pre-emptive Pickups
St. Louis (vs Cleveland)
New England (vs New York Jets)
Buffalo (at Jacksonville)
Carolina (vs Philadelphia)