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.
**Seattle and Denver should be played over any rent-a-defense**
Week 12 Results
Atlanta (vs Arizona) - 2 sacks, 1 interception
The Falcons were able to take control of this game in the second half but it didn’t translate to big sack or takeaway numbers.
A Look Ahead: KC @LA SF - The Chiefs offense is feeble, so there’s always the chance the Falcons put Alex Smith on his heels with an early lead.
Tennessee (at Chicago) - 2 interceptions
Matt Barkley was surprisingly competent and the Tennessee pass rush was kept at bay all day.
A Look Ahead: BYE DEN @KC - We might go back to the Titans in Week 16 at Jacksonville
New York Giants (at Cleveland) - 7 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Your yahtzee of the week. The Giants relentless edge rush harassed Josh McCown and eventually yielded a defensive score. After a slow start to the season generating sacks and takeaways, the Giants defense has come on in the second half.
A Look Ahead: @PIT DAL DET - Ben Roethlisberger at home is not a recipe for a second straight big week
Pittsburgh (vs Indianapolis) **Thanksgiving** - 3 sacks, 2 INT
The Steelers defense has come alive, taking advantage of a matchup with Scott Tolzien. Even though their score wasn’t stellar by D/ST standards, it was still good enough for a top six finish in a quiet D/ST week.
A Look Ahead: NYG @BUF @CIN - Expect the Steelers defense to go back to sleep against solid quarterbacks
Buffalo (vs Jacksonville) - 2 sacks
Blake Bortles was safe with the ball, albeit not very productive, and the Jaguars made this game very competitive.
A Look Ahead: @OAK PIT CLE - The Bills could be worth holding for the Week 15 matchup against Cleveland.
Philadelphia (vs Green Bay) - Nothin’
The Eagles defense was chasing Aaron Rodgers and his receivers to no avail. Their first true dud at home this year will make it tough to trust them going forward.
A Look Ahead: @CIN WAS @BAL - The Eagles D/ST was #2 through seven weeks and they have been #29 over the last five.
New Orleans (vs Los Angeles) - 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
The Saints didn’t expose Jared Goff as a too green rookie, but they did still put up a respectable (even top 10) score in a quiet D/ST week.
A Look Ahead: DET @TB @ARI - The Saints D/ST has three solid weeks in the last four, so it wouldn’t be absurd to play this week
Baltimore (vs Cincinnati) - 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries
The Ravens defense held Andy Dalton in check for most of the game. While it wasn’t one of their top performances of the year, it was still good for a top 10 score this week.
A Look Ahead: MIA @NE PHI - With the Miami offensive line ailing, the Ravens could be a good play again this week
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Tampa Bay (vs Seattle) - 6 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 5 pts allowed
The Bucs have turned into a juggernaut home defense over the last two contests, pulling Jay Cutler apart limb-by-limb and making Russell Wilson look like Seneca Wallace. Unfortunately they only have one home matchup left in the next four weeks and it’s Week 15 against New Orleans.
Oakland (vs Carolina) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Khalil Mack is a monster.
Week 13 Candidates
Baltimore (vs Miami)
The Ravens have been a top six D/ST since Week 7, and this week they get a Miami offense that is having offensive line health problems. DeVante Parker is also banged up, and Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been shouldering the offense very often lately. The #1 rush defense in the NFL should force Tannehill to throw more, which could lead to a big week for the Ravens D/ST.
A Look Ahead: @NE PHI @PIT - This is probably the last week that we’ll use the Ravens this year.
New England (vs Los Angeles)
The Patriots haven’t had a significant D/ST score since Week 3 against Brock Osweiler, but we still have to consider them with rookie Jared Goff coming to town and likely to be facing a deficit for most of this game. The Rams offense should resemble a turtle on its back in this one.
A Look Ahead: BAL @DEN NYJ - Maybe we’ll come back to the Patriots in Week 16 if Bryce Petty is the Jets starting quarterback.
Green Bay (vs Houston)
The Packers have been a defense we have targeted with our offensive players, but they are returning home to Lambeau, where they have at least three sacks+takeaways in every game this year. On top of that, they draw Brock Osweiler, who just threw three picks last week. This one could work out.
A Look Ahead: SEA @CHI MIN - That’s all she wrote for the Packers D/ST as an option this year
San Diego (vs Tampa Bay)
The Chargers D/ST bounced back after a weak performance in Week 10 against the Dolphins with four takeaways against Houston. They are a top five D/ST in a typical scoring system this year, and they draw Jameis Winston, who is prone to interception fests.
A Look Ahead: @CAR OAK @CLE - The Chargers are looking like a good Week 16 option
Atlanta (vs Kansas City)
The Falcons D/ST has been a weak option since Week 7, but they do have multiple sacks and a takeaway in each of the last three games, and they are facing a quarterback who will be very uncomfortable if he has to open up the offense after a potential hot start by the Falcons diverse offense.
A Look Ahead: @LA SF @CAR - The best part of using the Falcons this week is having them for the next two weeks.
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 look ahead to the playoffs if you are on track to get there. Here are the best ones to target:
Atlanta (vs Los Angeles)
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland)
Tampa Bay (vs New Orleans)
Buffalo (vs Cleveland)
Houston (vs Jacksonville)
San Diego (at Cleveland)
Tennessee (at Jacksonville)