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.
**Minnesota, Seattle, and Kansas City should be played over any rent-a-defense this week**
Week 10 Results
Arizona (vs San Francisco) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Who else had this one as a tight game? The Cardinals D/ST wasn’t a complete bust, but they failed to take control of the game and got no help from their offense, which committed four turnovers. Hopefully you won in at least a near miss like the Cardinals did.
A Look Ahead: @MIN @ATL WAS - Despite the road matchup, the state of Vikings offensive line could make this a worthy play.
Baltimore (vs Cleveland) **Thursday** - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 7 points allowed
An easily predictable hit, as the Browns changed quarterbacks in this game and things only got worse. The Ravens defense is coming on behind courageous play from Terrell Suggs up front.
A Look Ahead: @DAL CIN MIA - Dallas remains a D/ST opponent to avoid, but we might come back to the Ravens later.
Carolina (vs Kansas City) - 3 sacks, 1 INT
A Look Ahead: NO @OAK @SEA - A home Thursday game looks good and the Panthers are playing for their lives. Worth consideration.
Los Angeles (at New York Jets) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 6 points allowed
The Rams played a nip and tuck game against a team led by Bryce Petty. Their defense didn’t produce the kind of splash that we expected.
A Look Ahead: MIA @NO @NE - It’s time to move on from the Rams as a rent-a-defense
San Diego (vs Miami) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
The rare down week for the Chargers D/ST this year. Too bad they weren’t facing their quarterback.
A Look Ahead: BYE @HOU TB - Bye bye, but a potential return later
Washington (vs Minnesota) - 3 sacks, 1 INT
Washington jumped out to a lead and appeared to have Sam Bradford and the Vikings on the ropes, but Bradford responded with a brilliant second quarter and settled down. The Vikings might not be a tomato can offense to target with our rent-a-defenses.
A Look Ahead: GB @DAL @ARI - The Packers are in meltdown mode right now, so there’s an argument to go with Washington at home.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Tampa Bay (vs Chicago) - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD, 1 safety
And a partidge in a pear tree. Jay Cutler is going to look good in a Jets uniform next year.
Miami (at San Diego) - 3 sacks, 4 INT, 1 DEF TD
Kansas City (at Carolina) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Houston (at Jacksonville) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Blake Bortles the gift that keeps on giving. Also the Jaguars offensive coaches that went away from the run for some reason.
Tennessee (vs Green Bay) - 5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are flailing right now. The Titans pass rush is back.
San Francisco (at Arizona) - 2 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
How do you make a game with San Francisco close? Turn the ball over four times.
New Orleans (vs Denver) - 6 sacks, 2 INT
We might not have the Saints defense to kick around anymore. Their best D/ST performance this year and first solid one at home.
Week 11 Candidates
Miami (at Los Angeles)
Hello, Jared Goff! The Dolphins have the run defense to stuff Todd Gurley and put pressure on Goff to show he is ready for the speed of the NFL game. They are coming off of a ballhawky four-pick performance against Philip Rivers, and Cameron Wake is looking like his old self.
A Look Ahead: SF @BAL ARI - The best part of playing the Miami D/ST this week is that you get the 49ers in Miami next week.
Detroit (vs Jacksonville)
The Jaguars are sinking to the bottom of the ocean with Blake Bortles as the anchor. He could be replaced in game at any point now. The Lions are rested coming off of a bye and they are at home - with a share of first place even!
A Look Ahead: MIN @NO CHI - We’ll watch the Lions defense and Vikings offense closely this week to see if the Lions will be viable two weeks in a row.
New York Giants (vs Chicago)
After a slow start to the season in the sacks+takeaways column, the Giants have eight sacks, seven takeaways and a defensive score over the last three weeks. Jay Cutler and Chicago just surrendered one of the best D/ST weeks of the year to Tampa Bay, so the math is easy for this one.
A Look Ahead: @CLE @PIT DAL - We’ll stick with the Giants at Cleveland if they do us right this week.
Oakland (vs Houston)
The Raiders have been a quiet D/ST this year, but Khalil Mack is coming on with four sacks in the last two games and six in the last four. He can single-handedly create a good D/ST week on his own. The Raiders offense will be rested and if they build a lead and force Brock Osweiler to throw more, good things will happen for anyone who plays the Raiders D/ST.
A Look Ahead: CAR BUF KC - We will stick with the Raiders if they come through for us this week.
Carolina (vs New Orleans) **Thursday**
Carolina might be owned as one of the D/STs that was drafted in most leagues this year, plus they had their best week of the season only three weeks ago. If they aren’t, a home matchup on Thursday night against Drew Brees with both teams playing for their lives could lean to some D/ST fireworks.
A Look Ahead: @OAK @SEA SD - Panthers go back to the wild after this week
Week 12 & Playoffs Preemptive Pickups
If you like to devote two roster spots to a D/ST, or you suspect other teams are going to stream defenses this year, you might want to grab a top option for next week to stash away. It’s also time to look ahead to the playoffs if you are on track to get there. Here are the best ones to target:
Buffalo (vs Jacksonville)
Philadelphia (vs Green Bay)
Atlanta (vs Arizona)
New Orleans (vs Los Angeles)
Atlanta (vs Los Angeles)
Cincinnati (at Cleveland)
San Francisco (vs New York Jets)
Buffalo (vs Cleveland)
Houston (vs Jacksonville)
Atlanta (at San Francisco)
Miami (vs New York Jets)
San Diego (at Cleveland)
Tennessee (at Jacksonville)