There’s not a heck of a lot out there on the waiver wire that can help you at the skill positions as the Fantasy playoffs begin. Unless you have the Bears, 49ers, Broncos or Patriots as a defensive unit, you may be streaming defenses and will continue to do so. Here’s some of the better defenses that may be available, and when to use them if you can nab them off the waiver wire. These are the units that can help you and I highlight others you may want to think twice before adding. When you consider the Texans have a tough playoff schedule and the Seahawks are still in danger of losing their top cornerbacks to suspensions after Week 14, you’ll be spending much of your waiver considerations on the defensive side of the ball this week and possibly beyond.
Buffalo: Mario Williams is back in form and making a significant overall impact, as the Bills have 11 sacks in their past three games. This unit was a big early-season disappointment, but is now rounding into form late in the Fantasy schedule. They have forced seven turnovers in the past three games, the run defense is looking better and FS Jairus Byrd is an underrated ballhawk. Matchups against the Rams, Seahawks and Dolphins are certainly not scary.
Cincinnati: The defense has been a main reason why they have surged recently, as the unit has risen to eighth in the NFL. The pass defense has been very stingy and DE Carlos Dunlap can continue to bolster the pass rush. Honestly, in a lot of good leagues, they may not be available anymore. But I had to include them just in case, especially as they can stack up some sacks and turnovers against the Cowboys and Eagles the next two weeks.
St. Louis: I still see them available in some leagues, and they are coming off a strong two-week stretch. Rookie DE Michael Brockers is raising his game and MLB James Laurinaitis remains a force. You have to like upcoming matchups against the Bills and Vikings.
New York Jets: I don’t have to tell you that this is still a very talented unit, and the matchups against the Jaguars, Titans and Chargers make them a very attractive add. They’re not widely available, but if they can be acquired, this unit is a must-start over the next three weeks.
Miami: Reshad Jones is becoming a fine free safety and Cameron Wake can be a force down the stretch, leading a solid defensive front. Matchups against the 49ers, Jaguars and Bills should ensure at least adequate performances. They are available in a lot of leagues because they have been lacking in turnovers recently, but this unit won’t hurt you for sure.
Cleveland: They have been quite aggressive and hard to penetrate now that Joe Haden and Phil Taylor are back, although we’d like to see more consistent turnover production. Lots of owners added them for Week 13 against Oakland, but if they’re still out there on your free agent list, pick them up for Week 14 against Kansas City.
Green Bay: They have missed Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, but they could get the latter back by next week, and you have to like matchups against the Bears and Titans in Weeks 15 and 16 after they held Minnesota down this past Sunday.
Carolina: They have been allowing a lot of points and not getting enough sacks recently. But matchups against the Chargers and Raiders can always lead to some turnovers, and those are their opponents for Weeks 15 and 16. Allowing 27 to Kansas City this past week, though, is a cause for caution.
Washington: The knocks on their pass defense have been widespread, but they held the Giants to 16 points, and matchups against Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia can lead to some sacks and turnovers against some shaky quarterbacks.
San Diego: They held Cincinnati’s offense to 20 points last week, which isn’t bad, and intercepted Andy Dalton twice. DE Cory Liuget has been leading a tenacious defensive line, and they are at least a good one week play against the Jets in Week 16.
Indianapolis: The matchups against Tennessee in Week 14 and Kansas City in Week 16 look promising, but this unit didn’t force any turnovers against the Titans in Week 8 and it’s not always about pure matchups when deciding on a unit in the playoffs. Leave them on the waiver wire, as they are the sixth-worst Fantasy defense overall in ESPN leagues.