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 and Seattle should be played over any rent-a-defense this week**
Week 5 Results
Philadelphia (at Detroit) - 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
The Eagles gave up three long scoring drives in the first half, which meant they never really cornered Matthew Stafford the way they had boxed in other quarterbacks this year. The tough front seven still salvaged enough sacks and a takeaway to keep this from being a total loss.
A Look Ahead: @WAS MIN @DAL - I won’t be surprised if the Eagles frustrate Kirk Cousins, so the Eagles still deserve consideration this week despite being on the road.
New England (at Cleveland) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 safety
The Patriots offense was explosive, but their defense didn’t break this one open with many sacks or takeaways even though they got Charlie Whitehurst in the game. Despite the perfect game script, the Patriots D/ST only delivered a mediocre fantasy performance.
A Look Ahead: CIN @PIT @BUF - Andy Dalton can be prone to the meltdown game and the Patriots are at home. Things could get a lot better this week.
Los Angeles (vs Buffalo) - 2 sacks
The road team ended up being the better play here. The Rams are shaping up as an unpredictable boom/bust D/ST. Their best games have come on the road this year.
A Look Ahead: @DET NYG BYE - Matthew Stafford leveled off last week, making this an unattractive play.
Pittsburgh (vs NY Jets) - 3 sacks
The Steelers didn’t take control of this game until the second half and Ryan Fitzpatrick played mostly under control. Pittsburgh’s offense is coming together, which should give the defense good game scripts, but can they take advantage of them to rack up sacks and force turnovers?
A Look Ahead: @MIA NE BYE - Despite being on the road, this game sets up favorably for Pittsburgh against a team they can overmatch, but Mike Tomlin’s Steelers often underperform in that scenario. I’d probably avoid Pittsburgh until they put together a strong D/ST fantasy day.
Buffalo (at Los Angeles) - 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Finally a hit. The Bills got a defensive score and created enough pressure to notch one of the best D/ST lines of Week 5. They haven’t had a down week yet and rank in the top 3 of most, if not all scoring systems,
A Look Ahead: SF @MIA NE - A dream play with Colin Kaepernick’s first start of the year.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Oakland (vs San Diego) - 2 sacks, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
The Raiders trailed for a lot of this game, but their defense did enough to give them a chance to win, and Derek Carr converted that chance on offense. We’ll keep them in strong consideration most weeks.
Washington (at Baltimore) - 3 sacks, 1 ST TD
Jamison Crowder’s punt return lifted an otherwise quiet defensive performance despite holding Baltimore to 10 points. The Ravens firing their offensive coordinator after this one shows you whether they thought it was a strong defensive performance or poor offensive performance.
Tennessee (at Miami) - 6 sacks, 2 INT
Week 6 Candidates
Buffalo (vs San Francisco)
There’s not much subtlety here. The 49ers are making a quarterback change on the road and the Bills have been an elite fantasy D/ST this year.
A Look Ahead: @MIA NE @SEA - The Dolphins are falling apart, so the Bills will likely remain in our lineups again next week.
Houston (vs Indianapolis)
Like their quarterback, the Texans D/ST has been good against bad teams and terrible against good teams. The Colts don’t appear to be a good team, and the Texans also get to play this one at home. Luck might make a game out of this, but his line will still leave him exposed. The Bears still got to him five times last week.
A Look Ahead: @DEN DET BYE - Denver in Denver? No thanks.
New England (vs Cincinnati)
The Patriots had a dominant defensive performance at home in Week 3, and they should be up for this week’s contest. Remember when folks thought New England was dead in the water early in 2014 and then they thrashed Dalton and the Bengals?
A Look Ahead: @PIT @BUF BYE - We’ll throw the Patriots back after this week
Oakland (vs Kansas City)
The Raiders have eight takeaways over the past three weeks, and they are getting the Chiefs at home this week. Alex Smith has been sacked four times in each of the Chiefs road games, and he is not showing the ability to keep up with Derek Carr and the Raiders pass offense.
A Look Ahead: @JAX @TB DEN - We’ll probably move on until Blake Bortles melts down against Chicago this week.
Philadelphia (at Washington)
The Eagles started very slow on the road and trailed for most of the game in Detroit, but still had a solid D/ST score. Kirk Cousins is still having trouble finishing drives, and Carson Wentz shouldn’t have much trouble putting up points against Washington’s defense. Even though this one is on the road, it’s not hard to picture it going Philadelphia’s way. Remember, Cousins was *this close* to a pick six last week if CJ Mosley hadn’t lost the ball diving for the pylon.
A Look Ahead: MIN @DAL @NYG - The game with Minnesota should be intensely entertaining, but isn’t a good one for the Eagles D/ST.
Week 7 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:
Buffalo (at Miami)
Green Bay (vs Chicago)
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland)
Atlanta (vs San Diego)