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Fantasy Fix: Getting Defensive

I haven't participated in all that many fantasy leagues that use team defenses, though I've gotten the sense the majority of them go by team stats rather than individual defensive player (IDP - seriously, it's an increasingly used acronym) stats.

I like the IDP system because those three for four IDP positions can really mess with projections and perception about who has the best team. It makes things more unpredictable and sends manager running every which way trying to figure who's most likely to force fumbles while also collecting double-digit tackles. Having said that, I'm now in two leagues with team defense, and I'm starting to be won over.

At draft time, it's pretty difficult to focus on defense early, regardless of whether your league uses an IDP system or team system. There are plenty of second-tier QBs, RBs and WRs who will score more points than the typical defensive player or team defense in a given week.

Rather, fantasy owners tend to draft the most obvious candidates in late rounds (In one of my IDP leagues, Dwight Freeney was the top defensive player draft in Round 11, while in one of my team leagues, the NY Jets defense went first in Round 10). The thinking is that you can scour the waiver wire once the season begins to find the true value.

Given that we just completed Week 2, it's a good time to take a look at the waiver wire and see who the real defensive stars are:

IDP Leagues
Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay: He's the core of a top-ranked team defense, but his six sacks in the first two games make him the IDP MVP so far. 65% owned.

James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh: Three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for the top-scoring defense in team leagues. 47% owned.

LeRon Landry, S, Washington: A team doesn't have to have a great game on defense for a safety to collect major points. Landry has 21 solo tackles and seven assisted tackles in part because Houston was successful last week in the Redskins' secondary. 38% owned.

Team Defense Leagues
Miami: Pittsburgh has the best team defense in terms of points, but Miami's is probably the best you'll find on the waiver wire. Three interceptions, six sack and just 20 points allowed total in the first two games. 59% owned.

Kansas City: Unheralded, but could become a popular pick-up in the coming weeks. This defense has already scored two TDs, one on special teams. 12% owned.

Tampa Bay: Another surprise here, as Tampa has allowed only 21 points in the first two games and collected four interceptions. Questionable whether it can keep this pace, but not a bad pick-up. 7% owned.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pick Ups of the Week likes Kyle Orton. We can finally say he's no Jay Cutler and be happy about that, but what he contributes is fairly mistake-free outings that rely on an impressive young group of receivers trying to be the next Brandon Marshall.

* Yahoo! Big Board puts Adrian Peterson of the Vikings at No. 2. I predicted a fade for A.P., but he deserves the No. 2 ranking after two solid weeks when his running was the only think working for Minnesota's offense.

* FanHouse has the latest on Michael Vick. Turns out he is starting, meaning the Kevin Kolb grab you made in Round 5 is now worthless.

* Press Box reports on the injury to Reggie Bush. Bush was poised for a nice year that will now be cut at least in half.

* SB Nation says Larry Johnson is looking for a job again. I still wouldn't touch him until he lands somewhere for certain, but if that place is Green Bay, get your waiver wire trigger finger ready.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, now a Beachwood blog.

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