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.
**Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, and Baltimore are better than any rent-a-defense, but assumed to be owned in all leagues**
Week 15 Results
New Orleans (vs New York Jets) - 1 sack, 2 INT
Bryce Petty played better than expected and kept this one close for a while
A Look Ahead: ATL - The Saints aren’t a preferred D/ST this week, but you could do worse
Denver (at Indianapolis) **Thursday** - 1 sack
So much for the Broncos defense being “back”, even against weak competition
A Look Ahead: @WAS - No thanks
Minnesota (vs Cincinnati) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
This one went about as well as could be hoped for. Eric Kendricks had a beautiful pick six and the Bengals were stymied for the entire game.
A Look Ahead: @GB - If Aaron Rodgers is out, the Vikings D/ST is in.
Miami (at Buffalo) - 2 sacks
The Dolphins momentum from the last two weeks came to a screeching halt in Buffalo as Tyrod Taylor played one of his best games of the year and kept the Bills alive in the playoff hunt.
A Look Ahead: @KC - That’s all she wrote for the Dolphins
Carolina (vs Green Bay) - 3 sacks, 3 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Betting on Aaron Rodgers to be rusty paid off. He underthrew a few key passes that turned into picks and had to take too much on himself on a tough day for the running game and defense.
A Look Ahead: TB - Yes, ma’am may I have another?
Detroit (vs Chicago) - 2 sacks, 3 INT
A rousing success as the Lions shut down the Bears running game in this matchup, which put too much on the shoulder of rookie Mitchell Trubisky.
A Look Ahead: @CIN - The Bengals are in meltdown mode, this should be good.
Tennessee (at San Francisco) - 3 sacks
The Titans pass rush was contained, only getting to Jimmy Garoppolo three times after recording 20 sacks in the previous three weeks.
A Look Ahead: LAR - Titans? More like Titanic hitting the Gurleyberg this week.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Los Angeles Rams (at Seattle) - 7 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 safety
Maybe this one was more predictable than we thought in hindsight. The Rams had their third straight good D/ST week, second seven sack game in three weeks, and seventh good D/ST game in the last nine. Only the Jaguars and Ravens have been better this year in fantasy leagues.
Kansas City (vs Los Angeles Chargers) - 2 sacks, 3 INT, 1 fumble recovery
The Chiefs flustered Philip Rivers for the second time this year and have had two straight games with six combined sacks and takeaways, including at least three takeaways.
Week 16 Candidates
Minnesota (at Green Bay)
The Packers are waving the white flag of surrender for this season. With no Aaron Rodgers, Minnesota's defense is set up to tee off on Brett Hundley, just like in Week 6 when they forced three picks and sacked Hundley four times.
Detroit (at Cincinnati)
The Bengals ship be sinking. The Lions have a secondary full of ballhawks, with five picks in the last two weeks. Detroit is still alive in the playoff race, and the Bengals already know their head coach is quitting.
Kansas City (vs Miami)
Jay Cutler threw three picks and was sacked three times by the Bills last week, a defense that had been anemic since Week 8. The Chiefs are coming off of back-to-back excellent defensive games at home and they should be very comfortable in Arrowhead this week.
Carolina (vs Tampa Bay)
The Panthers defense has been outstanding for fantasy in three of the last four weeks, and they get Jameis Winston this week. If they can harass Aaron Rodgers into three picks and three sacks, they should be able to get to Winston.
Pittsburgh (at Houston)
The Steelers are still playing to secure a first-round bye. Even though this is a road game, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the NFL right now, and the Steelers should be able to build a lead against their pass defense and force TJ Yates to throw a lot in the second half, which should mean good things.
Chicago (vs Cleveland)
The Bears have been a decent D/ST and very competitive at home this year, which is where they get DeShone Kizer and the Browns. We might not see Kizer finish (or maybe even start) this game, as he was back to turnover machine mode in Week 15
Arizona (vs New York Giants)
The Giants offense came out of its highest point of the year last week, but going west to face the Cardinals they might go back to sleep.
New England (vs Buffalo)
Playoffs Preemptive Pickups
Minnesota (vs Chicago)
Pittsburgh (vs Cleveland)
New England (vs New York Jets)
Los Angeles Chargers (vs Oakland)
Kansas City (at Denver)
Detroit (vs Green Bay) **Monitor Rodgers Status**