With every team in the league now having played at least half of their schedule, following Monday night's cat-interrupted matchup between Dallas and the Giants, it's fairly safe to say that we can proclaim with a strong level 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 a D/ST when the Patriots, Chiefs, Ravens or 49ers show up on the schedule. In a similar vein, jumping on the waiver wire to try and claim defenses going up against the Bengals, Dolphins, Redskins and Jets 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 14 units are rostered in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues, and 14 are rostered in less than 30 percent. 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 10 due to injury, you don't have the luxury of stashing a D/ST you're never going to even consider using. Well, that will soon change. While we still have close to one-third of the league sitting out over the next two weeks, by the time Week 12 rolls around, only four teams will be left to take their one-week vacations: Kansas City, Minnesota, Arizona and the Chargers. 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 -- to 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.
Miami (1.0% rostered) plays the Jets, Giants and Bengals over those crucial three playoff weeks. The Giants (2.6%) face the Eagles, Dolphins and Redskins. Cincinnati (0.6%) squares off against the Browns, Patriots and Dolphins.
Even though you may not see any reason to use any of those three D/STs for the next month of Sundays, you may well feel better about having them around when you realize that your Buffalo D/ST (94% rostered) gets the Ravens, Steelers and Patriots over those same crucial fantasy weeks. Similar not-so-rosy schedules await Chicago (92.8%; Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs) and Rams (73.8%; Seahawks, Cowboys, 49ers).
Even the Falcons D/ST, a unit which has earned negative fantasy points so far in 2019, facing the Jaguars in Week 16 may well end up being the better play than a fairly consistent Minnesota unit battling it out with fierce divisional rival Green Bay in a game with potential playoff implications.
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 may actually be of use to you in your quest for a fantasy crown? Planning ahead could mean the difference between getting a trophy for your mantel and an entire offseason of asking yourself, "What if?"