Time to start thinking about D/STs to pick up for the fantasy playoffs

Just because the Lions' defense is in the bottom 10 in fantasy points this season doesn't mean it should be ignored come fantasy playoff time. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With each team in the NFL having played at least half of its schedule following Monday's night matchup in Dallas, we can say with a fair amount of certainty which offenses are really good and which ones are really bad.

If you're a fantasy manager who tends to stream the D/ST position, you don't have to think too hard to avoid the Rams, Saints, Patriots and Chiefs when they show up on the schedule. Along a similar vein, jumping on the waiver wire to try to claim defenses going up against the Bills, Titans, Cardinals or Giants makes a heaping helping of common sense.

Judging by the current roster percentages, it's clear that few fantasy managers will use a roster spot on a second D/ST. Only 13 units are rostered in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues, and 14 are rostered in less than 25 percent. And this makes sense, especially as bye weeks are still wreaking havoc on team rosters.

When you're sitting there with five regular starters on a bye and another three sitting out Week 9 due to injury, you don't have the luxury of stashing a D/ST you're never going to consider using. Well, that will soon change. While we still have nearly one-third of the league sitting out during the next two weeks, by the time Week 12 rolls around, only the Chiefs and Rams will be sitting things out -- and at that point, we'll be just two weeks shy of the fantasy postseason in most leagues.

That's why the veteran move is to use a roster spot right now -- before the rest of your league wises up -- and grab a potential playoff option at D/ST that may well become more appealing than your "tried and true" every-week starter at the position.

A quick look at the NFL schedule for Weeks 14-16 identifies three widely available options for you to consider snatching up. The Washington Redskins (53.2 percent rostered) play the Giants, Jaguars and Titans during those crucial three playoff weeks. The Detroit Lions (7.1 percent) face the Cardinals, Bills and Vikings. Finally, the Tennessee Titans (34.4 percent) square off with the Jaguars, Giants and Redskins.

Even though you might not see a reason to use any of those three D/STs for the next month, you might well feel better about having them around when you realize your Chicago Bears D/ST (97.1 percent rostered) gets the Rams, Packers and 49ers over those same crucial fantasy weeks. Similar not-so-rosy schedules await the Carolina Panthers (65.6 percent rostered: Browns, Saints, Falcons) and Pittsburgh Steelers (38.3 rostered: Raiders, Patriots, Saints).

Even the lowest-scoring D/ST (Atlanta Falcons) faces Arizona in Week 15 and is probably going to be a better play than the fairly consistent Philadelphia unit flying across the country to visit the Rams. So why not get rid of that sixth RB on your roster who still hasn't found his way into your lineup and hide away something that might actually be of use to you in your quest for a fantasy crown?