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.
Week 16 Results
Buffalo (vs New England) - 3 sacks
An embarrassing game for the Patriots offense didn’t include any giveaways
Week 17: MIA - The Bills will likely rest key starters, so avoid this one.
Indianapolis (at Pittsburgh) - 1 sack
Ben Roethlisberger was struggling for most of the first half, but the Colts defense couldn’t hold him down in the second half, likely costing them a playoff berth.
Week 17: JAX - A playoff spot is still theoretically on the line, so this is our top D/ST this week.
Cleveland (at New York Jets) - 2 sacks
Week 17: PIT - Did I mention Mason Rudolph is starting?
Miami (at Las Vegas) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
It wasn’t a banner performance for the defense, but Week 16 was still one to remember with maybe the most Fitzmagical moment of a long and storied career.
Week 17: @BUF - Matt Barkley should be the quarterback for most of this one and the Dolphins need to win, so fire away!
Washington (vs Carolina) - 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT
Washington was the best play of the rent-a-defenses for Week 16, but still not the best rent-a-defense in their own game.
Week 17: @PHI - Jalen Hurts is playing well, but the Washington defense is playing for the postseason. They are definitely a consideration.
Kansas City (vs Atlanta) - 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
The defense was definitely the more spirited and higher quality unit for the Chiefs in Week 16.
Week 17: LAC - With nothing to play for, we won’t use them
Chicago (at Jacksonville) - 1 sack, 2 INT
Mitchell Trubisky, not the defense, was the star as the Bears are now in a win and you’re in (or a Rams win over Arizona and you’re in) situation.
Week 17: GB - The Packers need this one to lock up the 1 seed, so we won’t use Chicago
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
Carolina (at Washington) - 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INT, 1 ST TD
A Steven Sims Jr. fumbled punt led to a score and the best D/ST performance of the week by a good margin, not to mention putting Washington in a situation where they have to beat the Eagles to go to the playoffs if the Cowboys can beat the Giants.
Week 17 Candidates
**Baltimore is assumed to be rostered**
Cleveland (vs Pittsburgh)
Indianapolis (at Jacksonville)
A defense that has been very good at its best that is playing for a playoff spot against Mike Glennon.
Miami (at Buffalo)
A defense that forces turnovers in every game (really every game) going for a playoff berth vs. a team with nothing to play for.
Washington (vs Philadelphia)
Washington is always a consideration and the Cowboys racked up three sacks and picked off two balls against Jalen Hurts last week.
Green Bay (at Chicago)
The Packers are playing for the #1 seed and Mitchell Trubisky is still throwing bad interceptions
New Orleans (at Carolina)
The Saints defense has stepped up when the team has needed it most and they can still become the #1 seed with a win, a Seattle win, and a Packers loss.
Los Angeles Rams (at Arizona)
Thanks for a great season! See you on the flipside