As most fantasy football veterans know and rookies realize quickly, fantasy football defenses more than any other position are about the matchup. There are a few elite options (see Seahawks, Seattle), but many owners prefer going with a streaming strategy attacking bad offenses on a week-to-week basis.
To help you get the defenses in the best matchup, here’s the top five options that are available in more than half of ESPN leagues (ownership percentages included in parentheses). These D’s are in a good place to succeed this week based on how they’re playing and who they are playing against.
1. Carolina Panthers D/ST (5.1%)
Before their bye, the Panthers defense was last seen dominating the Giants while shutting them out and earning 21 points in ESPN standard scoring without the boost of a touchdown scored. They forced three turnovers and got to Eli seven times in their week 3 win.
After a week of rest, the Panthers head to Arizona to face the battered Cardinals O-line who have given up the seventh most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. The last two week’s they’ve allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing D’s. The Panthers front seven is among the best in the game and should cause some havoc for Carson Palmer and co. on Sunday.
2. Cleveland Browns D/ST (4.3%)
The only Thursday Night Football performers that have produced points have been fantasy defenses, and this week could continue that trend. The Browns defense has looked good the last two weeks scoring 12 points in each of their wins and moving them into the top ten of defenses so far this season.
This week, they face the Bills who have done a good job at limiting turnovers so far this season. The Browns defense is still a pretty solid option this week as they host a rookie QB on a short week.
3. New Orleans Saints D/ST (11.1%)
Another surprise top ten defense, the Saints rank seventh after back-to-back 13 point weeks. They forced four turnovers against the Dolphins on Monday night and have multiple takaways in every game this year.
This week they’re on a short week as they travel to Chicago to face Jay Cutler and the Bears. Chicago gave up 13 points to the Lions D last week as Cutler got turnover-happy. The Bears offense will be hard-pressed to keep up with Drew Brees which could result in another good day for New Orleans D.
4. Philadelphia Eagles D/ST (2.8%)
The Eagles defense has had its issues this season and was shredded by Denver last week allowing 52 points to Peyton Manning. This week they’re in a much better matchup as they face Peyton’s little brother, Eli.
New York has allowed more points to opposing D/ST than any other team in the league. They’ve given up a whopping 20 points or more in three of their four games with at least three turnovers in every game and four touchdowns allowed in four games. The Eagles defense isn’t that great, but the matchup certainly is making them worth a look.
5. Tennessee Titans D/ST (21.0%)
The Titans had 22 points last week against the Jets in Nashville and have been solid at home not allowing 20 points in any of their home games. In fact, only the Texans have broken 20 against them, and in every week but one they’ve had multiple takeaways.
This week they host the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs in what should be a solid under-the-radar game. The Chiefs didn’t have a turnover until last week when Alex Smith threw a pair of picks and they also lost a fumble. KC isn’t a great matchup to attack, but Tennessee is your best option if the other four on this list are gone.
This list of D’s is part of my weekly waiver wire focus. If you need further help constructing your team, check out my top ten waiver wire picks of the week as well as my top 5 waiver targets at each of the following positions: QB, RB, WR, TE.
If you have any specific questions about your roster you can find me on twitter @ZT_Sports or leave a message in the comments at the bottom of the page and I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.
All scoring references are based on ESPN Standard scoring and are current through week 4.