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.
**Buffalo, Seattle, and Jacksonville have great matchups this week, but are assumed to be owned in all leagues**
Week 8 Results
Kansas City (vs Denver) - 3 sacks, 3 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
A Look Ahead: @DAL BYE @NYG - Even though their bye is coming up and the matchup at Dallas isn’t a good one, you have to consider holding the Chiefs take advantage of home matchups in Weeks 14-16 and road matchups against the Giants (Week 11) and Jets (Week 13). Carrying two defenses for a week or two is worth it to have the Chiefs going forward.
Philadelphia (vs San Francisco) - 4 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
This one was so bad the 49ers felt the need to trade for a quarterback after the game. Just kidding, they would have done it no matter how this game went, but it was a still pretty bad for CJ Beathard.
A Look Ahead: DEN BYE @DAL - No matter who starts for the Broncos at quarterback, you want the Eagles D/ST in your lineup. Actually because we don’t know who will start for the Broncos at quarterback on Tuesday, you want the Eagles D/ST in your lineup.
New Orleans (vs Chicago) - 2 sacks, 1 INT
The Bears hung tough in this one and kept the Saints in view, so Mitchell Trubisky didn’t have to take a lot of risks.
A Look Ahead: TB @BUF WAS - Jameis Winston was a turnover machine last week. This could be good.
Minnesota (vs Cleveland - London) - 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries
DeShone Kizer kept mistakes to a minimum and this still worked out ok if you grabbed the Vikings.
A Look Ahead: BYE @WAS LAR - The Vikings have been a decent baseline D/ST, but they haven’t really exploded yet this year and probably aren’t worth a hold through the bye.
Seattle (vs Houston) - 5 sacks, 3 INT, 1 DEF TD
Deshaun Watson was legendary and the Seattle D/ST was still a great play.
A Look Ahead: WAS @ARI ATL - With Russell Wilson unleashed, the Seahawks D/ST is one to ride all the way home
Cincinnati (vs Indianapolis) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
It’s nice when the predictable matchups work out, although the Colts were much more competitive than expected and the Bengals needed their defensive score to get over the top in this one.
A Look Ahead: @JAX @TEN @DEN - You never know when Blake will Bortles the game for the Jaguars, but there are probably better options on the waiver wire this week.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Baltimore (vs Miami) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 2 DEF TD
The Ravens D/ST’s fifth outburst of the year. I put too much stock in Matt Moore’s great play in a comeback against the pass rush deficient Jets.
Dallas (at Washington) - 4 sacks, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
The pathetic state of the Washington offensive line and poor conditions made the Cowboys a good D/ST play for the second straight week.
Buffalo (vs Oakland) - 2 INT, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 DEF TD
Even without half of the starting secondary, the opportunistic Bills defense finds a way. They should be owned in all leagues.
Carolina (at Tampa Bay) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 3 pts allowed
Week 9 Candidates
Philadelphia (vs Denver)
If by some chance Philadelphia wasn’t added last week, they are a lock for lineups this week.
A Look Ahead: BYE @DAL CHI - Eagles might have earned status to hold through end of season as part of DSTBC
Houston (vs Indianapolis)
The Texans were a top defense going into their Week 7 bye, but could have been dropped in a bye week crunch or after the small result at Seattle. Their offense is good enough to put opponents in risk-taking mode and the Texans are a very strong D/ST to own this week and as part of a DSTBC going forward.
A Look Ahead: @LAR ARI @BAL - Worth holding to get the Week 11 goodies vs whoever Arizona puts out there at quarterback
New Orleans (vs Tampa Bay)
The Saints D/ST was quiet last week. They’ll get Delvin Breaux back, but in increments, so he probably won’t have a big impact this week. Still, at home against a weak Bucs defense and facing the erratic Jameis Winston in the Superdome, this game script could be very good for the Saints D/ST.
A Look Ahead: @BUF WAS @LAR - Might be the end of the Saints D/ST gravy train this week
Arizona (vs San Francisco)
The Cardinals D/ST has been disappointing this year, but all indications point to the opportunity to harvest CJ Beathard’s mistakes and inexperience this week. Hopefully Drew Stanton hands off to Adrian Peterson 25 times and doesn’t mess this up.
A Look Ahead: SEA @HOU JAX - Moving right along...
Los Angeles Rams (at New York Giants)
The Rams should be owned based on their top five status to date. The bye week crunch can be tough, so perhaps they were dropped and you can take advantage of a good road matchup against Eli Manning bringing a knife to a gun fight against the revived Rams offense.
A Look Ahead: HOU @MIN NO - Despite scoring well to date, the Rams second half schedule is not D/ST friendly and it might be time to drop them next week.
Detroit (at Green Bay)
The Lions are yet another D/ST on this list that should be owned based on scoring to date, but also might have been dropped during their bye week or after a poor showing vs. Pittsburgh. Brett Hundley and the Packers offense could be improved coming out of the bye, but the Lions generally force and take advantage of mistakes and they are worth a look this week despite playing at Lambeau, a nightmarish venue for them.
A Look Ahead: CLE @CHI MIN - Another reason to pounce on the big cats is the terrific matchup against the Browns next week.
Tennessee (vs Baltimore)
This D/ST has been toothless, with no more than two sacks in any game and only ten takeaways on the year, but this is the Ravens offense that will show its soft underbelly to the opponent when they fall behind in a game. The Titans offense maybe got some things straightened out during the bye, and they could have enough success to force the Ravens to take too many chances in a comeback bid on the road. You also get Adoree' Jackson’s returns, and he has had a few scores overturned by penalty already this year.
A Look Ahead: CIN @PIT @IND - The Titans D/ST could be useful in two of the next three upcoming weeks if they get hot.
Carolina (vs Atlanta)
Luke Kuechly is back, so this front seven has its keystone. Even on the road against Matt Ryan, there is enough talent here and lack of clarity in Atlanta’s offense to create some big defensive plays. All of the Panthers D/ST’s best games of the year have happened on the road.
A Look Ahead: MIA BYE @NYJ - Facing Jay Cutler and a Dolphins team lacking an identity or sustained success on offense on Monday night at home? Yes, please.
Week 10 Preemptive Pickups
Pittsburgh (at Indianapolis)
Detroit (vs Cleveland)
Carolina (vs Miami)