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.
**Minnesota, Denver, Seattle, and Arizona should be played over any rent-a-defense this week**
Week 7 Results
New England (at Pittsburgh) - 1 INT
Landry Jones was better than expected and the Patriots were fine with running the ball, playing it safe on offense, and outlasting the Steelers.
A Look Ahead: @BUF BYE SEA - They are facing a depleted Bills offense, so we might keep trying this cold D/ST if the waiver wire is thin.
Tennessee (vs Indianapolis) - 2 sacks
After putting up six sacks in each of the last two games, the Titans couldn’t stop Andrew Luck and suffered a home loss that might be crucial in the division standings later this season.
A Look Ahead: JAX @SD GB - Even with the disappointing game in Week 7, be willing to go back to Tennessee this week against Blake Bortles
Cincinnati (vs Cleveland) - 2 sacks, 2 INT
A Look Ahead: WAS BYE @NYG - The Bengals have been a mostly quiet D/ST this year and Washington is not a good enough matchup to exploit.
Kansas City (vs New Orleans) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
You make Drew Brees throw almost 50 times on the road, and eventually something good like a pick six will happen.
A Look Ahead: @IND JAX @CAR - On the road against a hot Andrew Luck is no place to look for a rent-a-defense.
Tampa Bay (at San Francisco) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
This one went well for the road Bucs, who made Colin Kaepernick look like the marginal quarterback that he is.
A Look Ahead: OAK ATL CHI - Derek Carr has been disappointing at times, and the pickins are slim with six teams on bye, so we might keep the Bucs as they head into a three-game homestand.
Green Bay (vs Chicago) **Thursday** - 1 sack, 2 INT
Another team that knocked out a starting quarterback, getting to the soft underbelly on the quarterback depth chart, but still not capitalizing with a defensive feeding frenzy.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Philadelphia (vs Minnesota) - 6 sacks, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 ST TD
The Eagles have two return scores this year, and now their defense is surging again. They should be owned in every league.
New York Giants (vs Los Angeles) - 3 sacks, 4 INT, 1 DEF TD
This is what happens when Case Keenum starts to think he is a good quarterback.
Baltimore (at NY Jets) - 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 ST TD
Another starting quarterback knocked out, but with much better D/ST results than our rent-a-defenses.
Atlanta (vs San Diego) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
The Falcons defense staked the team to a big lead, but Philip Rivers still got the road win.
Indianapolis (at Tennessee) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
This is why you want a rent-a-defense on a team that will lead at the end. The Colts D/ST had a good week on one lapse by Marcus Mariota in his last ditch effort to win.
Chicago (at Green Bay) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
Leonard Floyd’s strip sack touchdown the one bright spot on a rough night for the Bears.
Week 8 Candidates
Tennessee (vs Jacksonville) **Thursday**
Betting on a Blake Bortles breakdown is not bad. The short week of preparation plus the Titans pass rush could make this a great D/ST play.
A Look Ahead: @SD GB @IND - Three great quarterbacks up means we’ll be throwing the Titans back
New York Jets (at Cleveland)
If Josh McCown or Cody Kessler get the start, the somewhat anemic Jets defense are probably not a viable option. At this moment, rookie Kevin Hogan is in line for the start, which makes the Jets worth a look.
A Look Ahead: @MIA LA BYE - The Jets have been one of the worst scoring D/ST’s all season, so this is a one-week matchup special.
Tampa Bay (vs Oakland)
The Buccaneers had four sacks and three takeaways last week, and four takeaways the week before. They are hot since the offense committed to the run, and the defensive line should be healthier. A home team with momentum is always a solid rent-a-defense play.
A Look Ahead: ATL CHI @KC - If the Bucs D/ST scores well for us this week, we might go back to the well in week 9, even against Matt Ryan.
New England (at Buffalo)
The Patriots D/ST keeps coming up small in games with ideal game scripts for D/ST scoring. It’s still hard to resist them with LeSean McCoy banged up and the Bills down to Justin Hunter and Walter Powell as their healthiest wide receivers.
A Look Ahead: BYE SEA @SF - We’ll come back to the Patriots for the 49ers matchup in a few weeks
Buffalo (vs New England)
The Bills have been have a top five scoring D/ST, so they might not be available in most leagues. It might not be advisable to play them against Tom Brady, but they are at home and this is a “Super Bowl” for them with the chance to sweep New England.
A Look Ahead: @SEA BYE @CIN - Even if you do get the Bills this week, you’ll only hold them for one week.
Week 9 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:
Kansas City (vs Jacksonville)
Miami (vs New York Jets)
Baltimore (vs Pittsburgh)
Dallas (at Cleveland)