Individual Defensive Players: The unsung heroes of fantasy football

Bob Levey - Getty Images

Individual defensive players have long been the unsung heroes of fantasy football. How else would you explain Cortland Finnegan getting his butt kicked with the Titans and then kicking butt with the Rams?

While watching Monday Night Football between the undefeated Houston Texans and the subpar New York Jets, I couldn’t help but feel my tear ducts water with a great sense of pride. Why you ask? Because Monday Night Football’s Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden wouldn’t stop raving about an individual defensive beast I picked up a week before most people in the fantasy football world did, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

During the telecast, Tirico and Gruden brought up the fact that Watt's big paws are what allow him to knock down passes, while his 37-inch vertical leap is equivalent to that of Chicago Bulls star guard Derek Rose. Not too bad for a guy who weighs 295 pounds and stands 6'5 (Rose weighs 195 pounds and is 6'3, for those curious to know). Watt leads the NFL with 8 1/2 sacks through five games this season and his sack, six total tackles, and three pass deflections in the game were a big reason the Texans and my fantasy team remain undefeated this season.

In addition to Watt, there are so many other defensive players out there who are really racking up the fantasy points. Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears has an interception return for a touchdown in each of his last two games, while St. Louis Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan has three interceptions on the year and is looking like a beast every week. I'm so confident in Finnegan that if he had to start a fight with Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson at a bar this season in response to what AJ did to him while he was with the Titans a few years back, I'd actually take Cortland.

Now, of course, sacks and picks are seldom the kinds of statistics one can usually count on in terms of fantasy production. Guys that can rack up tackles mean EVERYTHING, especially in head-to-head formats. This is where linebackers steal the show. James Laurinaitis, Curtis Lofton, Ray Lewis and Chad Greenway are all guys you can count on to wrap up the opponents by the legs. These guys are like anacondas with pads on that also happen to be able to bench press an insane amount of weight. Enough said!

Oh, and by the way, what is it with fantasy leagues that don't draft individual defensive players? That's whack! If you think beating your opponent by a point because your quarterback hit a bonus yardage mark on the dot, imagine what it's like to beat your opponent by a point (I won by eight but who's counting?) on a meaningless pass defensed by the aforementioned Watt with the clock winding down and Mark Sanchez trying desperately to throw over his beastly hands. That's pure euphoria to me!

Mad props to the group of guys who are most commonly responsible for winning championships in any sport ... the defenders.

If you would like to follow more of the sports stuff that I have been doing, you can follow me on twitter @jackchoros.

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