You would have been hard-pressed to find many fantasy owners riding the Kansas City Chiefs defense one month into the season. The team had just surrendered a combined 74 points the two previous games on the way to a 1-3 start.
The last month of the season is a different story. The Chiefs have a superb set of matchups during the rest of the fantasy football season and are a must-add for anyone looking for a defensive lift in the playoffs. They get a wobbly Baltimore team this week followed by Cleveland at home after already taking care of the Chargers with a 10-3 win. As a result, they are 88 percent owned in Yahoo leagues and 79 percent on ESPN.
If you missed the boat on Kansas City, there are other options. It's one of the benefits of ugly December football: Depleted quarterback ranks and lame-duck coaching situations create great opportunities for spot fantasy defense plays.
Here are some options:
DO NOT HESITATE ...
If you own Seattle, the Jets and New England, lock them in and don't think twice about the move. Each team is in matchup heaven in week 15 and could rack up lots of points.
HOUSTON, NO PROBLEM
The Texans are similar to the Chiefs in that they were dreadful early on, but have been playing some impressive defensive football over the last two months. (See 20-6, 10-6 and 24-6 wins in November). They get a Colts team that is not only reeling but will either have a battered 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck or perennial backup Charlie Whitehurst behind center in his first game of the year. It could be a ripe opportunity for J.J. Watt and company.
The Steelers are surprisingly available in Yahoo and ESPN leagues (47 percent and 58 percent owned), despite scoring touchdowns the last two weeks (one of them was a return). Defenses are clearly starting to figure out Brock Osweiler, and it seems like that trend will continue at home in Pittsburgh in December.
This may not make sense on paper. The Dolphins aren't especially adept at forcing turnovers or getting to the quarterback, despite all the early season hype. But this week they get San Diego, whose offense has been truly horrific in the last month. The Chargers have not reached the end zone in three of their last four games, managing a single field goal in each contest. Only pick up Miami if you're really desperate but know that it's a nice matchup.
NOT SO FAST
Be careful about being drawn into a Jacksonville pickup as they face an Atlanta team that has all sorts of offensive issues. The Jaguars have surrendered loads of points and big plays throughout the season, and don't be surprised to see a focused Falcons squad after last week's embarrassment against the Panthers.
Josh Hoffner has been playing fantasy football for 15 years and is currently in the semifinals in one of his leagues. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JoshHoffner