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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.
**San Francisco, The Rams, Baltimore, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, and New England have great matchups but are assumed to be rostered**
Week 1 Candidates
Denver (at New York Giants)
The Broncos were probably drafted in your league but check just in case. The Giants offense is going to start slow if camp and the preseason are any indications. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are ready to go, and the Broncos revamped their secondary this offseason by drafting Patrick Surtain II and signing Kyle Fuller. Vic Fangio should torment Daniel Jones and a suspect Giants offensive line, and Saquon Barkley could be eased into the offense in his first game back from major knee surgery.
A Look Ahead: @JAX NYJ BAL - You see why the Broncos should have been drafted.
Carolina (vs. New York Jets)
The Panthers defense will get the honor of being the first full-speed NFL defense to face Zach Wilson. Carolina will be a little different than Coastal Carolina, who gave Wilson some trouble last year. The Jets' offensive line is improved, but the team is also running a new offense for the first time, and they don’t have a lot of star power at wide receiver and running back to keep defensive coordinator Phil Snow up at night. Look for this one to be a character-building lesson for Wilson. I suppose there’s an angle here to take the Jets defense since some of the personnel know Sam Darnold’s game well, but they are also running a new system and just lost Carl Lawson for the year.
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