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.
**Arizona, Houston, and Seattle have great matchups this week and should be played over any rent-a-defense**
Week 2 Results
Oakland (vs Atlanta) - 1 sack, 1 INT
It’s time to give up on the new look Raiders defense being one to target when selecting a rent-a-defense. The Falcons were successful in just about everything they did Sunday and Khalil Mack was once again too quiet.
A Look Ahead: @TEN @BAL SD - Even against exotic smashmouth, we’re benching the Raiders
New York Jets (at Buffalo) - 1 INT
The Jets defense was good against Tyrod Taylor and the Bills on at least 90% of the plays when the game was hanging in the balance, but two long passes kept Buffalo in it. The Jets were never able to corner Taylor despite a huge time of possession advantage and a strong defensive line. The script was good, but the lines weren’t delivered in this one.
A Look Ahead: @KC SEA @PIT - It’s hard to go back to the Jets after this disappointment, but it’s possible that they frustrate Alex Smith and have a good road game.
Pittsburgh (vs Cincinnati) - 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries
Bend, but don’t break worked yet again this week. Even though the Steelers were ahead late, they never forced Andy Dalton into the big mistake and the Bengals line held up much better than they did against the Jets in Week 1.
A Look Ahead: @PHI KC NYJ - We would have been looking at this as a choice matchup before Carson Wentz looked like a veteran in the first two weeks of the season. Pass.
New York Giants (vs New Orleans) - 2 sacks, 1 ST TD
The Giants actually kept Drew Brees and the Saints offense under wraps in this game, but only a blocked field goal saved their day on the D/ST score sheet. The defense is much improved, but we are still waiting for the big plays.
A Look Ahead: WAS @MIN @GB - Kirk Cousins is teetering a bit, but the Giants aren’t going to be a top choice until they break through for a big D/ST week.
Detroit (vs Tennessee) - 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 safety
The Lions defense was not the problem on Sunday. They put the shackles on the Titans running game and for the most part kept Marcus Mariota confined to the short passing game. If they hadn’t lost Ezekiel Ansah, committed so many penalties, and dropped so many balls on offense, this could have been a bigger game for them.
A Look Ahead: @GB @CHI PHI - Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense looks mortal, but that’s no reason to start at D/ST at Lambeau.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Minnesota (vs Green Bay) - 5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
We knew the Vikings defense was good coming into the season, but we couldn’t have seen them turning Aaron Rodgers into an ineffective enough quarterback to produce one of the best D/ST stat lines of Week 2. It’s time to look at the Vikings as an everyweek D/ST start, even against the likes of Carolina this week.
Week 3 Candidates
Miami (vs Cleveland)
This one is low-hanging fruit. The Browns have been subjecting every quarterback they trot out there to tons of hits, and the Dolphins have more than good enough players on the defensive line to make Cody Kessler wish he was on a practice squad. A rent-a-defense layup.
A Look Ahead: @CIN TEN PIT - This is strictly to catch Cody Kessler. We’ll throw the Dolphins back in the ocean after this week.
Dallas (vs Chicago)
Brian Hoyer is back, which is great news for D/ST streamers everywhere. There’s always a chance that Jay Cutler tries to play through his thumb injury, but either way, you get a quarterback who is playing well below the optimal level for an NFL passer. The Cowboys aren’t an explosive big play defense, but if they can get a lead and control the clock, Hoyer should be happy to oblige with mistakes in the second half.
A Look Ahead: @SF CIN @GB - If Blaine Gabbert continues to sputter and the Cowboys come through for us this week, we might stick with them in Week 4.
Green Bay (vs Detroit)
The Packers defense hasn’t been too exciting for fantasy yet, but they have posted at least three sacks and a takeaway in each of their first two games. At Lambeau, they can feed off of their home crowd and potentially exploit a Lions line that gave up four sacks to Tennessee last week.
A Look Ahead: BYE NYG DAL - No reason to hold the Packers through the bye, but if they come alive at home we might look to them again in Week 5 or 6.
Tampa Bay (vs Los Angeles)
The Bucs are coming off a bottoming out kind of game in Arizona, so the schedule gods have given them the Rams and Case Keenum this week to rectify the situation. The Bucs strength in run defense should force the Rams to lean on Keenum more, which could lead to big plays on defense.
A Look Ahead: DEN @CAR BYE - It’s very unlikely that we’ll tab the Bucs in either of these matchups no matter how bad they make Case Keenum look on Sunday.
Week 4 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. Here are the best ones to target:
Washington (vs Cleveland)
New England (vs Buffalo)
Pittsburgh (vs Kansas City)
Detroit (at Chicago)