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.
**Pittsburgh has a great Week 5 matchup, but is assumed to be owned in most leagues**
Week 4 Results
Seattle (vs Indianapolis) - 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 2 DEF TD
The two defensive scores made the Seahawks the hit of the week among fantasy defenses. They still haven’t come together as the unstoppable pass rushing unit we envisioned when Sheldon Richardson was traded to Seattle, but they are very useful at home.
A Look Ahead: @LAR @NYG HOU - We might add the Seahawks when they come home in a few weeks, but they are no longer an essential hold.
Green Bay (vs Chicago) - 1 sack, 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries
If the Packers weren’t blowing out the Bears early on the back of three Mike Glennon turnovers, there might have been more here. Still a success for this Week 4 rent-a-defense
A Look Ahead: @DAL @MIN NO - We won’t go back to the Pack for a while.
Jacksonville (at New York Jets) - 5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
A Myles Jack long score on a botched pass attempt lateral to the line of scrimmage put the Jaguars over the top as a strong Week 4 D/ST.
A Look Ahead: @PIT LAR @IND - Heinz Field is no place for a streaming D/ST. The Jaguars are the #1 D/ST in a lot of leagues and might be worth holding and tying up a second D/ST roster spot for future weeks.
Cincinnati (at Cleveland) - 2 sacks, 1 INT
This was a more dominant defensive performance than the stats let on, but DeShone Kizer was timid throwing downfield and limited big mistakes while also limiting big plays.
A Look Ahead: BUF BYE @PIT - We may use the Bengals again, but not this week.
New England (vs Carolina) - 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
The Patriots took the loss at home, although they had their second straight week with multiple sacks and takeaways.
A Look Ahead: @TB @NYJ ATL - On the road, on a short week, we won’t consider the Pats
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Houston (vs Tennessee) - 2 sacks, 4 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
The rout was on early against the Titans, and the Texans defense was also able to chase Marcus Mariota. The Texans D/ST is worth stashing for a Week 6 matchup against Cleveland
Buffalo (at Atlanta) - 1 sack, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
It’s time to consider the Bills D/ST every week no matter the opponent or venue
New Orleans (vs Miami - London) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 0 pts allowed
Needless to say, we will consider the D/ST facing Jay Cutler going forward
Pittsburgh (at Baltimore) - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery
That also applies to Joe Flacco
Week 5 Candidates
Detroit (vs Carolina)
It doesn’t make sense that the D/ST that is first or second in every scoring system is still available going into Week 5, but the Lions are there in some of my leagues. I’m not going to question this anymore. They pulled in three fumble recoveries to fuel the first week without a defensive or special teams touchdown last week. They face Cam Newton in Detroit, and he could turn back into a pumpkin.
A Look Ahead: @NO BYE PIT - We’ll probably let the Lions go after this week, but a hot streak is a hot streak.
Philadelphia (vs Arizona)
The Eagles D/ST had some colossal games at home last year, and we know the Cardinals generally struggle when they travel east for an early start. The Arizona offensive line is also suffering from multiple losses, giving up six sacks to the 49ers last week, two times the number they had in the first three games combined.
A Look Ahead: @CAR WAS SF - The Eagles D/ST could be one to stick with if they come through this week.
Indianapolis (vs San Francisco)
The Colts D/ST has been surprisingly good, with six interceptions and eight sacks over the last three weeks. They get Hoyer the Destroyer in a home game this week, and Vontae Davis is back.
A Look Ahead: @TEN JAX @CIN - We might go back to the Colts D/ST if Andrew Luck returns in Week 7.
Buffalo (at Cincinnati)
The Bills defense has been stingy and they created a defensive score against Atlanta on the road last week. The Bengals offensive line is still suspect and their running game can't get on track.
A Look Ahead: BYE TB OAK - Bye bye, but we'll be coming back to the Bills if they keep playing the way they have through four weeks
Oakland (vs Baltimore)
The D/ST facing Joe Flacco has been a top 6-8 option each of the last two weeks. Oakland defense struggled in Week 3 in the blowout loss, but Khalil Mack helped them get to four sacks in Weeks 2 and 4, and he could fuel them to a home win to get out of this tailspin.
Baltimore (at Oakland)
If you don’t like the Oakland side, maybe the Ravens side will interest you. They tore Andy Dalton and DeShone Kizer apart in Weeks 1 and 2, and get Manuel this week. The Raiders backup did play better than expected in relief at Denver last week, so there’s no guarantees here.
Week 6 Preemptive Pickups
Houston (vs Cleveland)
Baltimore (vs Chicago)
Jacksonville (vs Los Angeles Rams)
Washington (vs San Francisco)
Atlanta (vs Miami)
Tennessee (vs Indianapolis)