D Up! Week 6: Oldies but goodies stepping up
For those managers out there with teams that are 0-5, 1-4 or 2-3, it's time to get dramatic. We are nearly halfway through the fantasy regular season, and therefore it's time to make some moves if you are wallowing in your league's basement.
Dramatic action can take many forms; making trades, cutting dead weight or gambling on more risk/reward scenarios than you would otherwise. Too often I've been in leagues where struggling teams' managers give up on their season far too early after a few tough injuries or losses. You scream at your flat screen all Sunday asking that the on-field warriors give it their all, and you should ask the same of yourself. In IDP leagues, there's more potential to make up ground on the wire than in traditional leagues. There's generally more talent available to you if you capitalize on the emerging talent.
Consider using these players if you are in immediate need of impact defenders, especially in deep leagues.
Defensive backs: Jacksonville safety Brian Williams has done a good job while teammate Reggie Nelson has battled injury. Williams has consistently produced for his few faithful fantasy fans, and will continue to produce even when Nelson rejoins him in the secondary. Eric Weddle has been the most valuable defender for the Chargers so far this season, and should continue to post good numbers behind a struggling front seven. Lawyer Malloy probably isn't a great source for legal advice despite the name; however, he is enjoying a statistical renaissance and deserves attention from those suffering from underproduction from their DBs. Given the way he plays and how the defense utilizes him, Michael Lewis should be considered a linebacker/safety hybrid considering how often he's in the box. While he'll never put up great interception or pass defense numbers, Lewis' tackle production is as steady as they come. . For further proof that it takes a few years to grade a draft adequately, it took Donte Whitner a few seasons to live up to his billing, but he's doing so now on this surprisingly effective Buffalo defense. Target Whitner as an ideal addition to your roster, especially if he's been dropped during the bye. Gibril Wilson is owned in most respectable IDP leagues but in those in which he's still available, end the madness and add him. Wilson has yet to truly take off statistically, so if he is owned in your league, consider trading for him before he puts together a string of big outings.
Target these guys for depth and bye-week plug-ins with an eye on their potential to be full -fledged starters.
Defensive backs: In limited time early in the season, Chris Horton was putting up starter-like numbers and has subsequently earned a starting gig in the Washington defense. Add Horton now before your fantasy peers take notice. Antoine Winfield gets the pub and the fantasy love, but Cedric Griffin is a remarkably consistent source of tackles and could have a strong day knocking down errant Detroit passes. Tampa Bay legend Ronde Barber has quietly amassed Canton-worthy numbers and, despite a down 2007, is again producing at a valuable clip. Thankfully, there's no fantasy metric for giving up hordes of penalty yards, thus making Kevin Kaesviharn a nice bye-week plug-in for those in need. "K2" is particularly of use this week against a potentially sloppy Oakland offense. Because he's on the bye, Nick Harper is widely available in fantasy leagues, but he deserves more ownership playing with a brilliant Tennessee defense.
Jim McCormick is an analyst for ESPN.com fantasy football.