|ESPN.com: 2011||[Print without images]|
It can prove difficult dealing in one marketplace with two different currencies. This is often what it feels like in evaluating defensive commodities in a fantasy league with traditional offensive assets.
A curious reader, Mark from Chicago, emailed me this week to ask how he should view a trade offer that would send him tight end Jimmy Graham for his stud linebacker in Patrick Willis plus Carolina tight end Greg Olsen. Given his scoring format, which turned out to be pretty standard, I advised him to make the deal. Willis is elite, but the replenishment potential on defense in most leagues -- and this proved true in Mark's -- is much stronger than on the offensive side.
There's no lone proven approach to leveraging defensive talents in trades involving offensive returns, but using a strategy similar to Mark's is a good start; offer a pairing of an elite defender with a solid, if unspectacular, offensive option. You can seek out a strong replacement for the defender for sale on the wire, and can often upgrade at a specific position, as Mark had. Every league is different, as is every trade, but as the season matures and owners become more willing to deal and improve their rosters, keep in mind how you might be able to leverage your defensive talents in deals. The exchange rate isn't defined, so try to maximize it.
|With his athleticism and leadership skills, Sean Weatherspoon has become the focal point of Atlanta's defense.|
Sophomore Sean: Atlanta's inconsistent start to the season has little to do with second-year 'backer Sean Weatherspoon, who has recorded 49 tackles this season and just netted his first sack this past weekend. Coach Mike Smith has groomed several stud linebackers in his day, and Weatherspoon is joining his teammate Curtis Lofton on the way to stardom. Weatherspoon is owned in just more than 32 percent of ESPN leagues, and should be busy chasing down Cam Newton and the Carolina backs on Sunday afternoon.
Acquire the Titans: The Tennessee secondary has been a fertile fantasy source through the years, and this season is no exception. Only this time, the names are somewhat new to most of you. Cornerback Jason McCourty has been racking up tackles like a linebacker and is available in the majority of ESPN leagues for free. His teammate, safety Jordan Babineaux, has produced in place of Chris Hope and is widely available as well, owned in fewer than 5 percent of ESPN leagues. The Titans are, of course, on a bye, but start buying when you can.
Time for Tanard: Tampa Bay's Tanard Jackson hasn't been on an NFL field on a regular basis in nearly two seasons due to injury and suspensions, but the potential for great production is so present that we are bound to profile his return to action, which could begin as early as this weekend. The Bucs could certainly use his playmaking in the secondary, and it's assumed that given their thin depth at safety that he'll transition into a starting gig soon enough.
Bargain Bin: Every week, we'll profile a number of productive commodities at each position that aren't getting the attention they merit in ESPN leagues. All of these players are available in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues; Carlos Rogers is a relevant contributor to the revival in San Francisco, as the former first-rounder is finally living up to some of the hype and producing some strong returns for the 49ers and his few fantasy owners. Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd enjoyed a Pro Bowl rookie effort in 2009, thanks to a gaudy nine interceptions in his first pro campaign. Now, he's reinventing himself as a tackle machine with a penchant for jarring balls loose and creating fumbles. Ryan Kerrigan remains eligible at defensive end and remains a value to consider, especially as he hunts down Michael Vick this weekend. Carolina stud end Charles Johnson just had a lengthy sack streak snapped, and his teammate across the line, Greg Hardy, is benefiting from the attention Johnson commands. The Jets' David Harris is just a few seasons removed from an elite fantasy season and is again being used to collapse the pocket, adding to his revived stat clip this season. Buffalo's Nick Barnett plays angry, and effectively, and the numbers he's producing demand more attention.
So that we're working from agreed parameters, we'll use what many consider traditional scoring modifiers for an IDP league: Tackle - Solo (0.5), Tackle - Assist (0.25), Sack (3), Interception (3), Forced fumble (3), Fumble recovery (3), Touchdown (6), Safety (2), Pass defended (0.5), Blocked kick (3).
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.