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.
**Arizona and Seattle are good plays this week and should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 6 Results
Cincinnati (at Buffalo) - 2 sacks, 1 INT
Even with EJ Manuel starting, the Bengals defense was mostly toothless. The Bengals are not creating D/ST fireworks despite an offense that generally has given them favorable game scripts.
A Look Ahead: BYE @PIT CLE - Bye Bye
New England (at Indianapolis) - 3 sacks
A Look Ahead: NYJ MIA WAS - I’m open to a Ryan Fitzpatrick turnover fest, but I’m not counting on it with the quality of the Jets defense.
Minnesota (vs Kansas City) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
The Chiefs offense was stuck in neutral, but Alex Smith never fell far enough behind to take the kinds of risks that result in big D/ST days.
A Look Ahead: @DET @CHI STL - The Lions offensive line is porous and Matthew Stafford is playing looser, but this still isn’t that compelling.
Green Bay (vs San Diego) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
65 pass attempts and not one interception?!?
A Look Ahead: BYE @DEN @CAR - Bye Bye
Atlanta (at New Orleans) - 1 sack
The Superdome magic was back, as the Falcons D/ST did next to nothing, but the New Orleans D/ST notched the second best D/ST score of Week 6.
A Look Ahead: @TEN TB @SF - MMM Mettenberger. Worth a look.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Miami (at Tennessee) - 6 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Remember when we thought the Dolphins would have an elite fantasy D/ST? Well it’s happening again. The Titans are also becoming a top target.
New Orleans (vs Atlanta) - 5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 ST TD
Shades of Steve Gleason rippling through the Superdome as the pass rush and home cooking came alive for the Saints.
Philadelphia (vs NY Giants) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DET TD, 7 pts allowed
The Eagles D/ST is back! Three strong weeks in the last four for the elite 2014 unit, and a second surprise big week from a Week 6 home team in prime time.
Houston (at Jacksonville) - 3 sacks, 3 INT, 1 DEF TD
Another big correction here as a D/ST we coveted this summer finally had a useful week, and without much help from JJ Watt! The Jaguars remain an offense to target with our D/ST plays.
Cleveland (vs Denver) - 3 INT, 1 DEF TD
Peyton Manning, a quarterback to target with waiver D/ST plays? Say it ain’t so!
Washington (at NY Jets) - 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 ST TD
Washington got blown out, but the special teams pulled out a good fantasy D/ST day.
Week 7 Candidates
St. Louis (vs Cleveland)
It’s not a matchup against a division foe, but the rested Rams defense should be in feeding frenzy mode at home. Josh McCown is game competition, but his willingness to try to make hero plays is exactly what creates chances for pick sixes and the like. The Rams were drafted in all leagues, but they could have been dropped after a slow start and Week 6 bye
A Look Ahead: SF @MIN CHI - The Rams are a top target this week for their upcoming schedule as much as their Week 7 matchup.
Carolina (vs Philadelphia)
Have you watched Sam Bradford play lately? The Panthers could land the knockout blow coming off of a huge road win. Carolina has already had two top 2 D/ST finishes in five weeks, this could make it 3-for-6.
A Look Ahead: IND GB @TEN - If the Panthers demolish the Eagles, I’d be open to using them again next week.
Miami (vs Houston)
The Texans have given us a few opposing D/ST gifts this year, and the Dolphins are red hot after they thrashed the Titans last week. Brian Hoyer is flawed and if the Miami pass rush gets home, it will be on display again for the world to see, and for your lineup to benefit.
A Look Ahead: @NE @BUF @PHI - Nothing to see here, but if the Dolphins continue to build momentum, we’ll use them in the second half of the season.
New England (vs NY Jets)
The Patriots defense has been stingy and given the kinds of game scripts that should result in lots of sacks and turnovers, but they are only 1-for-5 so far in converting big weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s moxie can be used against him, and the Patriots are at home, so they’re worth another whirl.
A Look Ahead: MIA WAS @NYG - Really hoping for this D/ST to heat up so we can ride them through this stretch.
Atlanta (at Tennessee)
The Falcons came up small at New Orleans, but they got ten days rest to face a Titans team that is living down to top 5 pick expectations. Zach Mettenberger starting might not be an upgrade from Marcus Mariota for D/ST purposes, but he’ll do.
A Look Ahead: TB @SF BYE - The Falcons should be suitable to start next week at home against Jameis Winston too!
Buffalo (vs Jacksonville - London)
London isn’t Buffalo, but the Bills don’t need a homefield advantage to harass Blake Bortles into another pick six. The Bills D/ST has been bitterly disappointing for fantasy this year, but this matchup is exactly what they need to boost their spirits and your score.
A Look Ahead: BYE MIA @NYJ - We’ll check back in with this unit after their bye.
Week 8 Pre-emptive Pickups
St. Louis (vs San Francisco)
Atlanta (vs Tampa Bay)
Houston (vs Tennessee)
New England (vs Miami)