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, Minnesota, and Kansas City should be played over any rent-a-defense**
Week 13 Results
Baltimore (vs Miami) - 2 sacks, 3 INT, 6 pts allowed
A hit as the Ravens posted a top six D/ST score in most systems. They jumped out to a lead on Ryan Tannehill and then took advantage of his struggles after trying to put the offense on his shoulders.
New England (vs Los Angeles) - 4 sacks, 2 INT
Finally a hit from the Patriots defense as they nursed a lead for basically the entire game against the Rams. They are still one of less exciting D/ST’s despite their consistently good game scripts, but at least there are signs of life.
A Look Ahead: BAL @DEN NYJ - Joe Flacco is playing well right now, but overall this has the looks of an excellent D/ST playoff schedule.
Green Bay (vs Houston) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Brock Osweiler was safe with the ball in this snowy game at Lambeau, despite playing from behind in the second half.
A Look Ahead: SEA @CHI MIN - The Packers defense is not going to be of use to us for the rest of the season.
San Diego (vs Tampa Bay) - 1 sack, 1 INT
The Chargers were the wrong side of this matchup as the hotter Bucs D/ST was the hit despite being on the road.
A Look Ahead: @CAR OAK @CLE - The Chargers could be worth a look in Week 16
Atlanta (vs Kansas City) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
It was other side of this matchup that hit as the Chiefs scored on defense (and technically on special teams too with a fake punt).
A Look Ahead: @LA SF @CAR - The Falcons D/ST has been too quiet lately, but the 49ers matchup in two weeks still looks good.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Tampa Bay (at San Diego) - 2 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Week 14 Candidates
Tampa Bay (vs New Orleans)
You don’t ignore momentum like this from a defense, especially against Drew Brees on the road, where he can get very loose with that ball. He had three picks at home last week, so Tampa is set up for another ballhawking afternoon at home, where they have been dominant in their last two contests.
A Look Ahead: @DAL @NO - If the Bucs make Brees look bad this week, we may hold them for Week 16.
Indianapolis (vs Houston)
The Colts D/ST is coming alive. They have at least four sacks+takeaways in three of the last four games with Andrew Luck at quarterback, including a defensive touchdown and kickoff return score in that span. The Texans sport Brock Osweiler, who could come unraveled in a road game if he has to match Luck drive for drive.
A Look Ahead: @MIN @OAK - After this week, it’s curtains for the Colts D/ST
Cincinnati (at Cleveland)
This one is an easy call no matter who is starting for the Browns at quarterback.
A Look Ahead: PIT @HOU - No more Clevelands on the schedule
Detroit (vs Chicago)
The Lions defense has six picks in the last three games, including three against Brees in the Superdome last week. Matt Barkley has been better than expected, but those games have been at home and this game is in Detroit.
A Look Ahead: @NYG @DAL
Atlanta (at Los Angeles)
The Falcons D/ST has been toothless (talonless?) lately, but the Goff-led Rams revived a similarly morose D/ST last week in Foxboro. The chances of the Falcons getting an early lead and forcing Goff to throw a lot are very high.
A Look Ahead: SF @CAR - If they come through for us this week, we might use the Falcons for the whole fantasy playoffs.
Carolina (vs San Diego)
The Panthers season is over, but the defense is still putting up respectable numbers for fantasy leagues. They have at least four sacks+takeaways in each of the last six games and their biggest games this year have come at home, where they face Philip Rivers and the Chargers this week. Rivers has ten picks over the last five games, including a three and a four-interception fest over that span.
A Look Ahead: @WAS ATL - That’s all for the Panthers
San Francisco (vs New York Jets)
If you’re digging deep, the 49ers are there for you. Bryce Petty is now the quarterback for the Jets, and San Francisco might actually be able to frustrate him at home. When two bad teams play late in the season, go with the home team.
A Look Ahead: @ATL @LA - They could be a desperation play in Week 16 if this week goes well.
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:
Buffalo (vs Cleveland)
Houston (vs Jacksonville)
Baltimore (vs Philadelphia)
San Diego (at Cleveland)
Tennessee (at Jacksonville)
New England (vs New York Jets)