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 and Minnesota should be played over any rent-a-defense this week**
Week 6 Results
Buffalo (vs San Francisco) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
A Look Ahead: @MIA NE @SEA - The Dolphins ambushed the Steelers in a letdown game, but that is unlikely to happen in a divisional game. Miami’s offense could take a step back, but their offensive line is back together, so we’ll probably avoid this one despite the Bills D/ST hot start
Houston (vs Indianapolis) - 3 sacks, 1 INT
The Texans actually had a solid D/ST considering that they trailed for the whole game. Andrew Luck played well even though Houston mostly took away his #1 receiver and Dwayne Allen went down with an ankle injury.
A Look Ahead: @DEN DET BYE - Trevor Siemian is faltering, but that’s still not enough reason to play the Texans on the road on Monday night.
New England (vs Cincinnati) - 2 sacks, 1 safety
Not a total loss, and actually a solid score depending on your league’s setting for safeties, but still a disappointment. Andy Dalton actually played well in the first half, and the Patriots couldn’t force him into any big mistakes in the catchup second half.
A Look Ahead: @PIT @BUF BYE - Landry Jones! Keep the Patriots in if you’ve got them.
Oakland (vs Kansas City) - 1 sack
A Look Ahead: @JAX @TB DEN - Blake Bortles is a rent-a-defense QB to target, but the Raiders are still waiting for their first three sack game, and they have zero or one takeaway in four of six games. No thanks.
Philadelphia (at Washington) - 1 INT, 1 DET TD, 1 ST TD
Our hit (and the only D/ST hit) of Week 6 came from a team that got thoroughly outplayed otherwise. The Eagles had a defensive and kick return to score to hang in against Washington, but still didn’t exactly shut down Washington in the passing or running game. Despite the positive result, some of the luster has worn off of the Eagles D/ST.
A Look Ahead: MIN @DAL @NYG - The Vikings are rested and play safe offensive football. The Eagles also don’t have any easy matchups ahead. Pass.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Only one team eclipsed ten points in typical D/ST scoring (two points per takeaway, one point per sack) - the Philadelphia Eagles. Even the #2 scorer on the week, the Dallas Cowboys, only had 1 sack and benefited from fumble luck with three recoveries.
Week 7 Candidates
New England (at Pittsburgh)
The Patriots are unavoidable this week even though their D/ST has come up small this year for the most part. The Steelers are playing at home, but Jones proved to be subpar, even for a backup last year. The team had three giveaways and allowed two sacks in the one game Jones started and finished last year.
A Look Ahead: @BUF BYE SEA - Unless Tyrod Taylor gets hurt this week, we will be tossing back the Patriots for a bit.
Tennessee (vs Indianapolis)
The Titans pass rush is red hot, with six sacks in each of the last two games. Conveniently, the Colts have allowed 23 sacks, the most in the league so far this year (only four other teams have allowed more than 15). The Titans also have four picks in their last three games, so their defense should be in hunt and ballhawk mode in this one.
A Look Ahead: JAX @SD GB - Blake Bortles is prone to a big mistake or two a week. The Titans should give us a double dip if they are strong against the Colts this week.
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland)
The Bengals have been a mediocre at best team so far this year, with the exception of a creampuff matchup against the Dolphins at home in Week 4. They had five sacks and two takeaways in that one, and this week they get the Browns, who are tied for second worst in sacks surrendered with 19. This should be another good week for the Bengals D/ST.
A Look Ahead: WAS BYE @NYG - If the Bengals follow through and spank the Browns this week, we’ll consider them in Week 8 at home against Washington.
Kansas City (vs New Orleans)
The Chiefs might not have Justin Houston back for this week, but they have their one-two punch in the running game rolling, and they are facing a Saints team that is not the same outdoors on the road. They absolutely demolished the Jets for the biggest D/ST game of the year to date the last time they played at Arrowhead, although Drew Brees is not similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick by any stretch of the imagination.
A Look Ahead: @IND JAX @CAR - If they can dominate New Orleans, we might hang onto the Chiefs just to play them in Week 9 in Arrowhead against Blake Bortles.
Tampa Bay (at San Francisco)
Watch the injury report to determine whether to consider the Bucs coming out of their bye. Carlos Hyde’s arm was in a sling on Tuesday, and if he can’t go, this offense becomes zero-dimensional. Even on the road, the Bucs would be an enticing play against Colin Kaepernick without a legit running game to help him.
A Look Ahead: OAK ATL CHI - A three-game homestand might be worth tapping into if Doug Martin comes back strong this week.
Green Bay (vs Chicago) **Thursday**
The Packers haven’t had a huge outburst on defense yet, but they have been consistent, posting at least four sacks+ takeaways in every game this year. This week, they draw Brian Hoyer and the Bears. While Hoyer has been very good this year, he is prone to complete meltdowns, and the short week of preparation could help the Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers return to form against a Bears defense that has some weak spots in the secondary.
Week 8 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:
Tennessee (vs Jacksonville)
Carolina (vs Arizona)