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, Minnesota, and Kansas City should be played over any rent-a-defense this week**
Week 14 Results
Tampa Bay (vs New Orleans) - 1 sack, 3 INT
Not a stellar performance by Week 14 D/ST and recent Bucs D/ST standards, but acceptable. They frustrated Drew Brees and got the win, which is huge for a team trying to keep pace with the Falcons.
A Look Ahead: @DAL @NO - Prescott’s play has been deteriorating, but he’s still not a turnover machine. Pass.
Indianapolis (vs Houston) - 2 sacks, 1 INT
The Texans were able to jump out to a lead and keep the ball out of Brock Osweiler’s hands.
A Look Ahead: @MIN @OAK - No thanks.
Detroit (vs Chicago) - 1 sack
It was actually the Bears, with their pick six, that was the rent-a-defense to target in this game.
A Look Ahead: @NYG @DAL - Nothing to see here
Atlanta (at Los Angeles) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 DEF TD
Yahtzee! Vic Beast-ley and the Falcons defense jumped all over the Rams and Jared Goff, helping bring about the merciful end of Jeff Fisher’s stint coaching the Rams.
A Look Ahead: SF @CAR - How can you go away from a D/ST that is this hot right now?
Carolina (vs San Diego) - 5 sacks, 3 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 safety
Yahtzee part two! Philip Rivers had been shaky in recent weeks, and even though neither team was jockeying for playoff positioning in this one, the Panthers defense showed up at home and helped anyone who started them have a better chance of advancing to the next round.
A Look Ahead: @WAS ATL - And thus ends our use of the Panthers D/ST this season
San Francisco (vs New York Jets) - 6 sacks, 1 INT
Even without an abundance of turnovers or a D/ST score, the 49ers had a top 10 D/ST score in a typical system, so we’ll call this one a hit.
A Look Ahead: @ATL @LA - We might come back to them in Week 16
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Green Bay (vs Seattle) - 3 sacks, 5 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Who knew Russell Wilson would play his worst game as a pro in Week 14? Not I.
Chicago (at Detroit) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
An ill-fated Matthew Stafford pass deep in his own end fueled the Bears to a top five D/ST week
Miami (vs Arizona) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
This game was practically played in a monsoon at times, and the Dolphins defense was one of the main fantasy beneficiaries.
Week 15 Candidates
Atlanta (vs San Francisco)
If the Falcons got you through to Week 15, you’re definitely going with them again. If they are sitting on the waiver wire and you don’t have a stud D/ST, you are picking them up and playing them. They should jump out to a lead on the 49ers and have a chance to feast on Colin Kaepernick’s mistakes in the Georgia Dome.
A Look Ahead: CAR - Cam Newton on the road could work if this D/ST comes through again
Baltimore (vs Philadelphia)
The Ravens D/ST has at least seven fantasy points in seven of the last eight games. Carson Wentz is coming around, but he’s still a rookie and the Ravens have a lot more to play for than the Eagles do.
A Look Ahead: @PIT - If this one was in Baltimore, we’d consider them.
New York Giants (vs Detroit)
The Giants D/ST started the season slow, but they have actually been the #1 D/ST in typical scoring systems since Week 7. This week they have a home game and draw a quarterback with multiple injuries to his throwing hand.
A Look Ahead: @PHI - Late season road divisional games can be dicey no matter what the trends are going into the game
Houston (vs Jacksonville)
The Texans D/ST has been mostly quiet this year after losing JJ Watt early in the season, but their biggest outburst to date was against Blake Bortles in Jacksonville during Week 10. The Jags could always play spoiler in this game, but it’s more likely that Bortles will spoil any chance that they have to win.
A Look Ahead: CIN - You could do worse if the Texans D/ST has a strong Week 15.
Buffalo (vs Cleveland)
The Bills D/ST started the year hot, but has been very quiet as of late. Robert Griffin III III could change that in short order as the Browns have been a consistent D/ST target.
A Look Ahead: MIA - If Matt Moore is a disaster this week, we might look to the Bills again.
Championship 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 finals if you are in the semis. Here are the best ones to target:
San Diego (at Cleveland)
Tennessee (at Jacksonville)
New England (vs New York Jets)