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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.
**Buffalo has a good-to-great matchup but assumed to be rostered**
Week 3 Results
Tennessee (vs Indianapolis) - 2 sacks
Carson Wentz was limited, but safe with the ball, so there were no D/ST fireworks in the Titans win.
A Look Ahead: @NYJ @JAX BUF - We want to start any D/ST against the Jets
Carolina (at Houston) - 4 sacks, 9 pts allowed
Davis Mills wasn’t terrible, he was merely overwhelmed.
A Look Ahead: @DAL PHI MIN - Time to throw the Panthers back to the waiver wire
Baltimore (at Detroit) - 2 sacks
The Lions offense was conservative because they kept it close for the whole game.
A Look Ahead: @DEN IND LAC - We’ll move on from the Ravens for a while, perhaps until their Week 1 matchup with Chicago
Arizona (at Jacksonville) - 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Trevor Lawrence joined Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning in having two or more interceptions in each of his first three games. We’ll consider every defense against Jacksonville until further notice.
A Look Ahead: @LAR SF @CLE - Don’t want any part of the Rams as a D/ST opponent right now.
San Francisco (vs Green Bay) - 1 sack
Aaron Rodgers was on point and the Packers led for most of the game
A Look Ahead: SEA @ARI BYE - We’ll avoid NFC West matchups when looking for rent-a-defenses
Miami (at Las Vegas) - 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
Elandon Roberts pick six made it 25 straight with a takeaway for the Miami defense
A Look Ahead: IND @TB @JAX - A limited Carson Wentz is enough to at least consider this matchup even though it didn’t work out in Tennessee last week.
Cincinnati (at Pittsburgh) - 4 sacks, 2 INT
We are going to start targeting Ben Roethlisberger when picking a rent-a-defense
A Look Ahead: JAX GB @DET - If you used the Bengals last week, you will likely stick with them this week
Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda
New Orleans (at New England) - 2 sacks, 3 INT, 1 DEF TD
Cleveland (vs Chicago) - 9 sacks, 6 pts allowed
Justin Fields looked like he was playing Frogger with a broken joystick
Dallas (vs Philadelphia) - 2 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
It’s time to start considering the Cowboys D/ST when we make our weekly selection
Philadelphia (at Dallas) - 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
A Dak Prescott fumble in the end zone made it look like this might be a competitive game early on
Los Angeles Chargers (at Kansas City) - 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INT
The Chiefs offense gave up a good opposing D/ST game? What What What?
Week 4 Candidates
Tennessee (at New York Jets)
We’ll go back to the well with Tennessee despite the poor result last week because the Jets can’t keep pass rusher out of the backfield
A Look Ahead: @JAX BUF KC - Unless it’s another dud and the Bengals D/ST doesn’t do anything against the Jaguars on Thursday, then we will try the Titans again next week
New Orleans (vs New York Giants)
The Saints defense showed that maybe Week 2, not Week 1 was the aberration. Daniel Jones likely without Sterling Shepard is only an encouragement to play the Saints defense in their return to the Superdome.
A Look Ahead: @WAS BYE @SEA - If the Saints D/ST stays hot, we will stick with them next week
Tampa Bay (at New England)
A Look Ahead: MIA @PHI CHI - It could be clear sailing for the Bucs defense if they get hot this week despite having a depleted secondary
Cincinnati (vs Jacksonville) **Thursday**
Target the Jaguars until we regret it. This could be a coming out party for the possible 3-1 Bengals in front of a national audience.
A Look Ahead: GB @DET @BAL - Maybe we will come back to them against the Lions if they are a hit this week
Green Bay (vs Pittsburgh)
A Look Ahead: @CIN @CHI WAS - This is a reasonably soft schedule for a D/ST that has multiple takeaways in each of the last two games
Dallas (vs Carolina)
The Cowboys are actually a top five D/ST in many scoring systems. The Panthers haven’t been a vulnerable offense to opposing D/ST’s but they have also faced two creampuffs and the Saints on what was clearly an off day.
A Look Ahead: NYG @NE BYE - If the Cowboys D/ST makes it three straight solid fantasy weeks, we will stick with them for Week 5.
Chicago (vs Detroit)
Maybe Matt Nagy will have a good game plan for Justin Fields this week (if he starts). Maybe the defense that has back-to-back games with five sacks will control this game like they did in Week 2 against the Bengals.
A Look Ahead: @LV GB @TB - Stay away.
Week 5 Preemptive Pickups
New England (at Houston)
Minnesota (vs Detroit)
New Orleans (at Washington)
Tampa Bay (vs Miami)
Tennessee (at Jacksonville)
Dallas (vs New York Giants)