It's crunch time in fantasy football, as the postseason is now close at hand in most leagues. That makes the waiver wire more important then ever.
Here are a few potential free-agent defenders to take advantage of in IDP leagues.
Melvin Bullitt, SS, Colts -- Bob Sanders was a surprise inactive in Week 11, and word is that he aggravated a high ankle sprain and has no set timetable for a return. He is a game-time decision for Week 12. In Sanders' absence, Bullitt becomes a must-add for all leagues. He posted games of seven, eight, nine and 10 tackles with two interceptions in his four starts earlier in the season when Sanders was out. He's also increased his interception total to four with picks in each of the last two weeks. As long as Sanders remains out, Bullitt will continue to rack up fantasy points.
Bradie James, ILB, Cowboys -- It's easy to be forgotten when you're one of four starters in a linebacker corps featuring the current NFL Comeback Player of the Year (Greg Ellis), arguably the most dominant young pass rusher in the game (DeMarcus Ware) and a seven-time Pro Bowler (Zach Thomas). Regardless of his lack of name recognition, James is on pace for the best season of his six-year career. He has 65 tackles and has reached double-digit totals in three games, including each of the last two. He also has three sacks in the past four weeks.
Jay Ratliff, DE, Cowboys -- Jerry Jones would be proud, as another member of his Cowboys makes our IDP list for Week 12. Like James, there's little explanation as to why Ratliff should be available in your league. He's been a consistent source of sacks all season, as Weeks 6 and 7 were his only back-to-back games without a sack. Ratliff took down Jason Campbell twice in Dallas' win over Washington last Monday night and upped his season total to six. He's also averaged over three tackles per game, something you can't complain about from a defensive end.
Justin Durant, OLB, Jaguars -- Much has been made of Mike Peterson's "disagreements" with coach Jack Del Rio, but let's take our focus away from that and onto the positive things about Jacksonville's linebackers. Durant, 23, is following up a solid rookie season with an even better sophomore campaign. While he hasn't logged a sack or an interception, his tackle totals alone make him a free agent to target. Durant has 21 tackles the past three weeks and should be good for continued success against a Vikings offense that runs the ball often.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Cardinals -- Rodgers-Cromartie has started the past three weeks with Eric Green (knee) and Rod Hood (ribs) out. The talented rookie has notched 12 tackles the past three games -- nothing to write home about, but also not bad for a cornerback. He also recorded the first interception of his career with two picks against Matt Hasselbeck last week. With Arizona's offense lighting up the scoreboard week after week, opponents will continue to be forced to pass in order to keep up. That means Rodgers-Cromartie should see plenty of interception opportunities down the stretch.
Will Witherspoon, ILB, Rams -- Witherspoon was likely drafted in your league, but he might have been released after an average start to the season. He's responded in the past two games, however, recording 21 tackles, including 12 against San Francisco last week. Witherspoon also has a sack and an interception on the year. The Rams' defense has given up nearly 160 rushing yards per game, while the team has mustered just over 14 points per week. Opponents will continue to build leads on the Rams and take advantage of their weak run defense, which will simultaneously boost the tackle numbers and IDP value of Witherspoon.