D Up! Week 3: John Abraham is back
"How do you know when to give up on a guy in fantasy?"
It's a simple yet profound question, and one that was posed to me by someone who specifically wanted to know when he could safely cut Ricky Williams. The answer seem obvious, but it isn't as simple as it first looks. Of course production, injuries, matchups, underperformance and demotions all play into fantasy value and ownership. But this early in the season, it can be difficult to give up on a guy given the small sample size of evidence. It can also become increasingly difficult to bear unproductive bums on your team.The fact is that the market changes quickly in fantasy. What would seem like crazy lineup questions in August -- "Who should I start this week; Carson Palmer or J.T. O'Sullivan? Matt Forte or Joseph Addai?" -- are now legitimate queries.
On the defensive side, we face the same issues. How much longer can you trust Julius Peppers and his zero sacks when a guy like John Abraham is still available in your league? Too often in fantasy football, we invest in past production and supposed upside rather than what a guy offers you now. In IDP leagues especially, utilize the waiver wire and get the most out of your roster every week, even if it means making some bold decisions, like adding some of the names below at the expense of the guys you thought you could trust.
Consider using these players if you are in immediate need of impact defenders, especially in deep leagues.
Defensive backs: Donte Whitner may finally deliver a huge season and live up to his big rookie deal. Both he and his surrounding defense are now healthy, and he's a leader on what is a vastly underrated secondary in western New York. Former IDP star Charles Tillman is available in 60 percent of ESPN leagues after battling injury for parts of the last two seasons. Tillman had a pick last week and is the rare high-tackle corner that can afford his fantasy loyalists safety-like numbers. Ken Hamlin is the Cowboys' best safety even though Roy Williams gets more face time. This week's matchup with the Packers should lead to a busy day for "The Hammer." Playing alongside a promising Reggie Nelson, Brian Williams has been racking up linebacker-esque tackles in what has long been a productive strong-safety role in Jacksonville. On what is becoming a feared defensive unit, safety Chris Hope is yet another Titans defensive back that deserves to be on your fantasy roster. An IDP superstar in 2006, a return to elite form is possible for Hope.
Target these guys for depth and bye-week plug-ins with an eye on their potential to be full-fledged starters.
Defensive backs: While Kerry Rhodes is supposed to be the proven fantasy stud, fellow Jets safety Eric Smith is the more productive player so far. Available in the vast majority of ESPN leagues, Smith is a nice depth player to target in what has been a slow start for many of the top defensive backs so far this season. Mike Adams takes Sean Jones' place while the top IDP talent recovers from a knee injury. Adams should be a great tackle value for the next month while Jones rehabs. Green Bay's Nick Collins has good potential this week for tackles against a juggernaut Dallas offense. Rookie DB Tyrell Johnson is filling in for the injured Madieu Williams, and provides quality short-term production with long-term potential if Williams' neck doesn't heal properly. Michael Griffin is emerging as a nice fantasy option on an IDP-rich Tennessee defense. Consider him a great spot start this week if you're struggling with underperforming defensive backs. In abyss-deep leagues, target Skins safety Chris Horton, even if he returns to the nickel spot this week.
Jim McCormick is an analyst for ESPN.com fantasy football.
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