We often value the players we drafted differently than any others. It's often harder to cut ways with a player you drafted, particularly one with a lofty draft price, than some waiver or trade addition. There were plans to do big things together, but sometimes, as the sample size grows and the statistics aren't strong, it becomes time to move on from the original blueprint.
Pittsburgh's Lawrence Timmons has been a resounding disappointment from a fantasy perspective this season. He was drafted as a top-five linebacker in most leagues and is still owned in 82 percent of ESPN leagues, despite registering just 10 tackles during the past month. In Week 6, he put up zero production in the box score, as the Jaguars sent extra attention his way.
Timmons has been forced to play outside in the team's 3-4 scheme, taking away the steady tackle opportunities afforded to him as an inside man in years past. He can certainly turn this campaign around, especially if he can return to his natural spot at some point, but he's being outplayed by a number of less-coveted options. Detroit's DeAndre Levy has 35 tackles in his past three games and is available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues. Fantasy is about numbers and not names or reputations, so feel free to move on from Timmons and consider more productive options.
Front Four: The weekly word on the world of defenders
Vote for Von: The leading defensive rook so far is Denver's Von Miller, and it's a strong freshman class this season. With five sacks in his past four outings, and a forced fumble in his lone game without a sack, Miller has been productive every time out and is owned in just 16 percent of ESPN leagues. Join the freshman's fantasy debut, as double-digit sacks seem more than likely for Miller.
Post-bye buys: While Alex Smith is getting credit, and justly, for helping lead the 49ers to a strong record with his competent quarterback play, defensive end Justin Smith has been a respected force for the team for years now. Owned in just over half of ESPN leagues, the versatile veteran lineman provides a rare blend of healthy tackle production with an ability to get to the quarterback. The 49ers have their bye this week, but Smith is a defender worth considering going forward.
Enjoy the eligibility: The Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka has defensive end eligibility but mans an outside 'backer role for the team, affording him more tackle opportunities and a steadier production clip than the traditional defensive lineman. Like Justin Smith, he faces a bye this week, but he is a worthy depth addition given the favorable eligibility element.
Bargain bin: LaMarr Woodley is quite comfortable from the outside and has been crashing the pocket with regularity of late, making him a nice consideration against the Cardinals this weekend. The Jets' David Harris was a fantasy star in 2007 and 2009 and has been a steady statistical force this season. Harris is available in more than 65 percent of ESPN leagues. Atlanta's Ray Edwards is starting to warm up, with sacks in consecutive outings.
Week 7 Rankings: Top 20 linebackers, linemen and defensive backs
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).
Top 20 Linebackers
Top 20 Defensive Linemen
Top 20 Defensive Backs
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.