|ESPN.com: 2011||[Print without images]|
The disappointment from draft busts has dissipated. It's time to move on and instead look toward the commodities that could help lead to a playoff run and hopefully a fantasy title.
Those hoping that Cincinnati DE Carlos Dunlap was going to build on last year's torrid second half were greatly disappointed with his no-show performance for much of this season. There's an opportunity here, however, to turn this draft bust into a second-half gem. Dunlap posted 9.5 sacks from Weeks 10-17 last season and had many IDP loyalists salivating for a true breakout campaign this season. While that hasn't been the case, maybe he's just a late starter; he's once again warming up as it gets colder and deeper into the campaign. With three sacks in his past two games and a meeting against a Pittsburgh line that has surrendered the fifth-most sacks so far this season, it's time to invest in Dunlap once again; he's owned in just 38.8 percent of ESPN leagues, but keep an eye on his health status heading into Sunday.
Ram squad: The St. Louis Rams have shown some life during the past few weeks, thanks largely to their relentless pursuit of the pocket and their trio of effective defensive ends. Chris Long is leading the way, with four sacks and a forced fumble in the past two games. Savvy vet James Hall isn't nearing his dominant 2010 performance, but does have a sack in two of his past three outings and could benefit from the attention the raring Long will regularly demand. The real gem of the line is rookie end Robert Quinn, who has a compelling story of recovery from his high school days as well as an emerging game for the Rams of late. In dynasty and deep keeper leagues, Quinn is one to keep an eye on, as he and Long could thrive together in the seasons to come.
Second-half surge: Denver's Elvis Dumervil is a late-starter to consider, as he finally registered his first sack of the season and might just be rounding into form for a second-half surge of his own. New York Giants 'backer Mathias Kiwanuka has his eyes set on a strong second half, and his valuable position eligibility as an end makes him one of the best additions for those seeking a savvy investment on the line. Miami LB Karlos Dansby was somewhat of a no-show (along with the rest of his teammates) in the first half of the season, but has been coming on strong of late and is available in nearly 90 percent of ESPN leagues.
|James Harrison returned to the lineup with a bang, recording eight tackles and three sacks against the Ravens.|
Big-game James: It's been a troubling season for the Pittsburgh 'backers, both in real and fantasy regards. But with the return of James Harrison to the field, and a dominant return at that, some production could be returning to the crew, as Harrison helps Lawrence Timmons return to his natural spot on the inside. Harrison is available in more than 30 percent of ESPN leagues, and while his three-sack opus from Week 9 might not be a reasonable expectation against the Bengals this week, he is indeed worthy of consideration for a strong second half.
Bargain bin: Each week, I'll profile players owned in less than 40 percent of ESPN leagues, and often seek out those dramatically below this ownership threshold. Atlanta LB Sean Weatherspoon doesn't get the hype or fantasy loyalty that his peer Curtis Lofton does, but he's proved to be a productive force and is owned in just 26 percent of ESPN leagues. Houston LB Brooks Reed has four sacks in his past three games and is available in 100 percent of ESPN leagues. Champ Bailey was once an elite fantasy force, and while he's no longer a shutdown corner, he's getting healthier as the season wears on and should be busy and productive covering Dwayne Bowe this week.
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). Remember to check the latest injury news before setting your lineups.
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.