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.
**St. Louis, Seattle, and Arizona are good plays this week and should be played over any rent-a-defense, but they are assumed to be owned**
Week 7 Results
St. Louis (vs Cleveland) - 4 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD, 6 pts allowed
Woe is the person who dropped the Rams during their bye. Josh McCown was battered, bruised, scattered, smothered, and covered by the Rams.
A Look Ahead: SF @MIN CHI - The Rams are an easy call as a top defensive play this week.
Carolina (vs Philadelphia) - 5 sacks, 1 INT
The Panthers got after Sam Bradford, but didn’t force many turnovers. An acceptable performance.
A Look Ahead: IND GB @TEN - Andrew Luck has been a nightmare this year, so going back to Carolina in prime time is a worthy option.
Miami (vs Houston) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
Dolphins 2.0 has been a fantasy bonanza on both sides of the ball. Brian Hoyer had one of the worst halves in NFL history before Houston poured on some garbage time points.
A Look Ahead: @NE @BUF @PHI - It’s hard to want to play the Dolphins this week at Foxboro, but they might have justified being carried while you play another unit this week.
New England (vs NY Jets) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
The Patriots were in a dogfight and didn’t get to operate with any room for comfort on either side of the ball.
A Look Ahead: MIA WAS @NYG - Ryan Tannehill has turned over a new leaf. A Thursday night meltdown wouldn’t be shocking, so we’ll keep them in play this week despite the string of middling performances.
Atlanta (at Tennessee) - 1 sack, 2 INT, 7 pts allowed
Nothing splashy here by the Falcons defense, but very solid play to keep this ugly road game winnable.
A Look Ahead: TB @SF BYE - Jameis Winston is settling down. He could regress, so we’ll keep them in mind this week.
Buffalo (vs Jacksonville - London) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
Ah Blake Bortles, king of the pick six. The Bills defense isn’t fearsome, but this play still paid off.
A Look Ahead: BYE MIA @NYJ - The Bills have fallen out of our good graces for now.
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
Jacksonville (vs Buffalo in London) - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 DEF TD
EJ Manuel paid off like a rigged slot machine, and the Jags surpassed their combined D/ST points in Weeks 1-6 in Week 7.
New York Giants (vs Dallas) - 1 sack, 3 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD, 1 ST TD
The Giants got very little done on offense in this game and couldn’t stop Darren McFadden, but they still won on a pick six and kickoff return score.
Week 8 Candidates
Carolina (vs Indianapolis)
This one probably should be on the “likely owned in most leagues”, but you never know. The Panthers defense should torment Andrew Luck under the lights.
A Look Ahead - GB @TEN WAS - If the Panthers come through this week, it might be worth starting them against the Packers just to get the next two matchups (at least)
Detroit (vs Kansas City - London)
The Lions defense has actually been right on the edge of D/ST1 territory despite their terrible season. With the adrenaline rush of a coaching change (and maybe more coming), they could bury an undermanned Chiefs offense.
A Look Ahead - BYE @GB OAK - Bye bye. Or should we say, Good day.
New England (vs Miami - Thursday)
The Patriots haven’t been rewarding us for playing them lately, but the short week, amount of top end personnel, and chances that Ryan Tannehill and Dolphins turn back into a pumpkin are enough to give them a look this week.
A Look Ahead - WAS @NYG BUF - I continue to be drawn back to the Patriots D/ST because if they warm up, the matchups look terrific in November.
Atlanta (vs Tampa)
I have faith in Jameis Winston to sustain and continue his progress, but rookie year backslides do happen and the Falcons have already scored three defensive touchdowns at home this year.
A Look Ahead - @SF BYE IND - There are worse opponent for a D/ST than San Francisco. This could be a double dip.
New Orleans (vs New York Giants)
Don’t look now but the Saints are playing good football on both sides of the ball. Could they start to restore their homefield advantage in games that don’t happen at night? Eli Manning has been known to oblige with interceptionfests.
A Look Ahead - TEN @WAS BYE - The Saints will be a team we look at next week, too.
Week 9 Pre-emptive Pickups
New York Jets (vs Jacksonville)
New England (vs Washington)
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland - Thursday Night)
Dallas (vs Philadelphia - Sunday Night)
New Orleans (vs Tennessee)