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 and Los Angeles Rams are assumed to be rostered**
Week 8 Results
Cincinnati (at New York Jets) - 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INT
It turns out that the Bengals defense might be a problem even though they frustrated Lamar Jackson. The Bengals D/ST was a success outside of leagues that penalize for high point/yardage totals, but the Bengals team was not. Mike White’s bid to become an NFL starting quarterback is underway.
A Look Ahead: CLE BYE @LV - The Browns aren’t a good draw for D/ST, drop
Dallas (at Minnesota) - 1 sack
The Cowboys D/ST first real dud of the year, and perhaps foreseeable once Dak Prescott was very questionable at best.
A Look Ahead: DEN ATL @KC - Denver and Atlanta still look like good matchups as long as Dak is playing
Los Angeles Chargers (vs New England) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
In hindsight, since the Patriots flummoxed Justin Herbert so much and they were basically playing in front of a home crowd, they would have been the better play here
A Look Ahead: @PHI MIN PIT - Still open to the Chargers D/ST as an option this week
Indianapolis (vs Tennessee) - 3 sacks, 2 INT
An acceptable result, but Carson Wentz saw to it that the Titans D/ST would be the better play in the fourth quarter and overtime.
A Look Ahead: NYJ JAX @BUF - In other news, Mike White might be good, so this isn’t a slam dunk play
Pittsburgh (at Cleveland) - 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
T.J. Watt and a scrappy Steelers defense was good enough to get the road win and not a fantasy liability
A Look Ahead: CHI DET @LAC - Justin Fields played better last week, but it’s still a good idea to stick with the Steelers to get the Lions next week too
Philadelphia (at Detroit) - 6 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 DEF TD
You get the feeling Jared Goff isn’t that into football at this point
A Look Ahead: LAC @DEN NO - We may come back to the Eagles, but they probably aren’t worth playing vs. the Chargers to get the middling matchups coming up
Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda
New Orleans (vs Tampa Bay) - 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD
The Saints D/ST overcame the loss of Jameis Winston and were having a good day before the pick six that clinched the game.
New England (at Los Angeles Chargers) - 3 sacks, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
A pick six was basically difference in this “road” game for the Patriots
Tennessee (at Indianapolis) - 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INT, 1 DEF TD
Carson Wentz strikes again.
Denver (vs Washington) - 5 sacks, 2 INT, 10 pts allowed
The Football Team remains an offense to target with D/ST plays
Seattle (vs Jacksonville) - 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 DEF TD, 7 pts allowed
As does the Jaguars
Week 9 Candidates
New England (at Carolina)
This is a good pickup for the rest of the season, as the Patriots have the look of a set it and forget it option with Belichick’s scheming and a solid offense to keep games competitive or put them away. Whether it’s Sam Darnold, who was tormented by the Patriots, or P.J. Walker, who has looked like a third quarterback when he has gotten in, you’ll want the Patriots in this week.
A Look Ahead: CLE @ATL TEN - Stick with the Patriots as long as they continue to put up fantasy points.
New Orleans (vs Atlanta)
It’s the Falcons coming to the Superdome without Calvin Ridley.
A Look Ahead: @TEN @PHI BUF - Let’s see how the Titans offense looks this week before making a call here. Week 11 looks good either way
Pittsburgh (vs Chicago)
Monday Night Football against a rookie quarterback and Matt Nagy could be back from the covid list!
A Look Ahead: DET @LAC @CIN - The best reason to play the Steelers this week is the matchup next week
Indianapolis (vs New York Jets)
We will give Mike White some respect, but not enough to dodge him on a short week of prep on the road against what has been a productive fantasy D/ST
A Look Ahead: JAX @BUF TB - The best reason to play the Colts this week is the matchup next week
Dallas (vs Denver)
Dak Prescott should be back, which means the defense could be teeing off on Teddy Bridgewater after the offense takes control of the game. Trevin Diggs (ankle) status is unknown, but that takes some of the luster off of the Dallas D/ST.
A Look Ahead: ATL @KC LV - Still open to the Cowboys being a set it and forget it D/ST
UPDATE: Kansas City (vs Green Bay)
Aaron Rodgers will miss this one as he's on the covid list. If Patrick Mahomes can build a lead, then Jordan Love can help fantasy teams that start the Chiefs D/ST profit.
A Look Ahead: SEA @MIN LAR - There's always the chance of a bonus Geno Smith matchup next week.
San Francisco (vs Arizona)
Let’s see if Colt McCoy gets the start here. Even if he doesn’t, a limited mobility Kyler Murray might be a good target for the 49ers defensive line. San Francisco has had multiple sacks and a takeaway or multiple takeaways and a sack in each of the last three games.
A Look Ahead: LAR @JAX MIN - We will come back to the 49ers in Week 11
Miami (vs Houston)
A Look Ahead: BAL @NYJ CAR - Will the Jets matchup in Week 11 be a good one? Stay tuned.
Week 10 Preemptive Pickups
Pittsburgh (vs Detroit)
Tampa Bay (at Washington)
Indianapolis (at Jacksonville)
Dallas (vs Atlanta)