- Jim McCormick, Fantasy Sports
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There are some really lonely defenders who could use some attention. It's nearly a month into the season, and some valuable commodities are literally being wholly ignored, as in zero percent ownership in ESPN leagues.
Well beyond sleepers, we're talking about guys whom we can nearly guarantee will be available to you for the low price of a few clicks if you are motivated to invest. Here are some sound talents, from each of the major fantasy positions, that could potentially infuse your defensive roster with some free fuel.
Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons had 11 sacks in 2010 and one each in his past two outings this year, and yet he's available in 100 percent of ESPN leagues as of this writing. The same can be said of Brian Robison, the Minnesota end enjoying the attention that Jared Allen demands. He is also widely available and could build on last week's two-sack performance with a trip to Allen's old stomping grounds in Kansas City.
Dallas outside linebacker Anthony Spencer has a sack in each of the first three games this season and remains in the "Zero Club." Playing opposite DeMarcus Ware and in an aggressive Rob Ryan defense, Spencer is hitting his stride and could very well post double-digit sacks this season. San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman has tallied 30 tackles already and is a safe bet for triple-digits this season. You can find Bowman for free in 98 percent of ESPN leagues.
Kansas City's Brandon Flowers is a free defensive back to consider given how he has been consistently targeted by opposing arms. The Giants are coming off a rousing win and Antrel Rolle had something to do with it. Despite some liabilities in coverage, he's consistently around the ball, has a steady tackle clip and merits consideration for those holding onto a struggling safety.
Front Four: The weekly word on the world of defenders
An Angry 21: The Colts' Pat Angerer not only has a stellar surname for a football player, let alone a linebacker, but he's also quite the fantasy catch. Owned in fewer than 40 percent of ESPN leagues, he had a ridiculous 21 total tackles in Week 3 and makes for a steady and potentially even star commodity at the position. Angerer leads Dallas' Sean Lee for the league lead in tackles by 11, with 42 total on the season.
Giant Sophomore: Just a half sack off the league lead, Jason Pierre-Paul is proving elite early on. Often described as a less-refined technique player, or raw in some scouting circles, he's proving to be a productive and menacing force to opposing pockets. He's available in half of ESPN leagues, and should be a prime target before his value and price tag meet his production pace.
Doing Swell D'Qwell: In 2008, D'Qwell Jackson was a fantasy superstar with 154 total tackles for Cleveland. After years mired in injury and misplacement on the field, Jackson is now thriving again with 30 tackles and a career-high three sacks already. In the 60 percent of leagues where he's sitting next to a plus symbol, he could be a difference-maker for your roster.
Rookie Watch: Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Mason Foster has been a revelation in the middle for the Bucs, in what has been a trying start to the season otherwise. His playmaking ability is already starting to emerge, and with a flood of tackle opportunities coming his way in the middle, he's both steady and has considerable upside. Denver's Von Miller now has two sacks and two forced fumbles already this season, and he wears a great pair of specs in his ESPN player profile page.
IDP Rankings Week 4
So that we're working from agreed parameters, we'll use what many consider traditional scoring modifiers for an IDP league: solo tackle (0.5), assisted tackle (0.25), sack (3), interception (3), forced fumble (3), fumble recovery (3), touchdown (6), safety (2), pass defended (0.5), blocked kick (3).
Please note the injury designation regarding the players' status in parentheses where applicable: (D): Doubtful; (Q): Questionable; (P): Probable.
Top 20 Linebackers
Top 20 Defensive Linemen
Top 20 Defensive Backs
Jim McCormick is a fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com and the high school football editor for ESPNHS.com. Contact him at JMcCormickESPN@gmail.com or @JMacPhillies on Twitter.
7hEthan Sherwood Strauss