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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 2
By Dave Foral
September 11, 2003
 

Linebackers

HOT

Chances are, most if not all Middle Linebackers were selected in your draft. After all, they are the tackling machines of the team, and that is typically your most consistent avenue to fantasy point production. Chances are, again, that MLB Andra Davis, Cleveland Browns, is still available, so I highly recommend you snag him before someone else does. Not only will he amass tackles at his position, but he’s got a pretty decent DL to work with, and the offense just doesn’t look season-ready, so the D should find itself on the field with regularity the first half of the season. Davis tallied 8 solo tackles in Sunday’s game with Indianapolis. Ian Gold, Denver Broncos, had a fantastic preseason, showing high-intensity and fabulous speed. In past seasons, however, Gold has failed to break out, regulating himself to mediocrity. If Week 1’s match up with the Bengals is any indication, this may be Gold’s coming out party, as he landed 7 solo and 1 assisted tackles, as well as an INT for a touchdown. Gold is another possible LB that may be found on your free agency board. Moving from youngsters to a veteran, Mike Barrow, NY Giants, had a phenomenal game against the Rams on Sunday. The Giant D appears to have returned to dominance, and Barrow, at MLB, should be the beneficiary of plenty of tackles and big plays this year. His 5 solo and 3 assisted tackles combined with 2 sacks definitely make Barrow a Linebacker to watch this season. Other LB’s of note in Week 1: Takeo Spikes, Buffalo Bills; Warrick Holdman, Chicago Bears; Chris Claiborne, Minnesota Vikings; Anthony Simmons, Seattle Seahawks; Na’il Diggs, GB Packers; and Ed Barton, Oakland Raiders.

NOT

While the Washington Redskins no longer have Stephen Davis, and you can assume that Steve Spurrier will not be running dive right, dive left, you would still expect there to be better production potential for opposing MLB’s. Not the case last Thursday night, as veteran Marvin Jones, NY Jets, went a paltry 0 solo and 2 assisted tackles. In Week 2, however, Jones and the Jets will host division rival and ball-hog Ricky Williams, which should offer Jones more tackling opportunities. Start looking for a free agent replacement if he shows similar results as this week. As often as Clinton Portis ran the ball in Week 1, one would think that the opposing MLB would rack up some serious tackles. It is hard to explain away, however, the lack of production realized by Kevin Hardy, Cincinnati Bengals. With only 1 solo and 2 assisted tackles, it must be assumed that Hardy has not quite adjusted to the move from OLB to MLB. If you are a Hardy owner, you must hope that Marvin Lewis can right the ship with his key off-season free agent signee. Similarly, Mike Maslowski, Kansas City Chiefs, produced amazingly low figures, considering he was facing LaDanian Tomlinson and the Chargers on Sunday. Maslowski was a pleasant surprise last season, assuming the MLB helm from Marvcus Patton, but his 2 solo and 0 assist outing this past week is far from inspiring. Both Hardy and Maslowski face what appear to be teams – Oakland and Steelers, respectively – with fewer straight-forward tackling opportunities, so it will be interesting to see if they improve.

Start ‘em If You Got ‘em

Keith Brooking, ATL Falcons, against the Washington Redskins
Na’il Diggs, GB Packers, against the Detroit Lions
Julian Peterson, SF 49ers, against the STL Rams
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the CLE Browns
Keith Bullock, TEN Titans, against the INDI Colts
Takeo Spikes, BUF Bills, against the JAX Jaguars
Shawn Barber, KC Chiefs, against the PIT Steelers
Jay Foreman, HOU Texans, against the NO Saints
Sam Cowart, NY Jets, against the MIA Dolphins
Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks, against the AZ Cardinals
Derrick Brooks, TB Bucs, against the Carolina Panthers
Eric Barton, OAK Raiders, against the CIN Bengals
Carlos Emmons, PHI Eagles, against the NE Patriots
Al Wilson, DEN Broncos, against the SD Chargers
Brian Urlacher, CHI Bears, against the MIN Vikings
Mike Barrow, NY Giants, against the Dallas Cowboys

Defensive Linemen

HOT

It appears as though Mike Rucker, Carolina Panthers, has picked up where he left off last season. With second year stud Julius Peppers occupying double teams on the opposite side, Rucker struck early and often, netting 4 solo and 3 assisted tackles, and 3 sacks against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Consider yourself set for the year at DL if you have one of Carolina’s defensive ends on your roster. Free agent signee Vonnie Holiday, Kansas City, was brought in to bolster the defensive line. Having battled injury in Green Bay last year, many believed Holiday would add a formidable body to compliment the other stars on KC’s D Line. Against the Chargers in Week 1, however, it was Holiday who exploded for 5 solo tackles and 3 sacks. With Eric Hicks on the other side, and a solid duo of tackles, Holiday could have an incredible season with KC this year. A year ago as a rookie, Charles Grant, New Orleans Saints, appeared poised for a breakout year, showing great strength and pursuit. It appears, however, that 2003 could be the year Grant explodes onto the scene, as exemplified by an outstanding first game. Against the Seahawks, Grant posted 6 solo tackles and 2 sacks. While co-starring defensive end Darren Howard appears to lost for several weeks due to a dislocated wrist, expect Grant to pick up the slack and wreak havoc on opposing QB’s this year. Other defensive linemen of note in Week 1: Shaun Ellis, New York Jets; Hugh Douglas, JAX Jaguars; and Leonard Little, STL Rams.

NOT

Against a Houston Texan team that gave up the most sacks in the NFL in 2002, and opposing less-than- “star” quality Tackles, it is mind boggling that Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins, had no production whatsoever. While one must give credit where credit is due – Houston refused to give up 1 sack the entire game, Taylor begin blanked is quite a feat. By no means give up on Taylor after the first game, because he and the Miami defense will be strong again this year. While I would never advocate discarding a stud like Taylor after only one bad week, I would keep an eye on him this week, as he faces a team that gave up a combined one sack in Week 1, the New York Jets. Another veteran with star quality that underperformed last week was Grant Wistrom, St. Louis Rams. Wistrom contributed fumble recovery against the Giants, but failed to register a tackle or sack in the game. Wistrom is a motivational leader on the defense, but he must get his production in gear if the Rams have any hope of disrupting opposing offenses this year. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts, a breakout rookie star last year, had only 1 solo tackle against the Cleveland Browns in a dogfight in Week 1. Hopefully, a tight win and a huge Week 2 match up with the Titans will propel Freeney to better production.

Start ‘em If You Got ‘em

Pat Kerney, ATL Falcons, against the WAS Redskins
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, GB Packers, against the DET Lions
Leonard Little, STL Rams, against the SF 49ers
Adalius Thomas, BAL Ravens, against the CLE Browns
Dwight Freeney, INDI Colts, against the TEN Titans
Hugh Douglas, JAX Jaguars, against the BUF Bills
Vonnie Holiday, KC Chiefs, against the PIT Steelers
Charles Grant, NO Saints, against the HOU Texans
John Abraham, NY Jets, against the MIA Dolphins
Chike Okeafor, SEA Seahawks, against the AZ Cardinals
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the Carolina Panthers
Julius Peppers, CAR Panthers, against the TB Bucs
Richard Seymour, NE Patriots, against the PHI Eagles
Trevor Pryce, DEN Broncos, against the SD Chargers
Kenny Mixon, MIN Vikings, against the CHI Bears
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the DAL Cowboys

Defensive Backs

HOT

In his sophomore season, Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens, has started his season with a bang, with 7 solo and 3 assisted tackles. Reed and the Raven defense will only get better this season. Look for similar tackle production mixed in with interceptions and sacks from Reed. It appears as if the Indianapolis Colts have struck pay dirt with rookie safety, Mike Doss. An integral part of last year’s National Championship Ohio State Buckeye team, Doss was selected early by the Colts to bolster a weak secondary. If Doss can replicate his 8 solo tackle Week 1, he could be a great addition to your roster if a DB is in demand. Tank Williams, Tennessee Titans, appears to be the answer the team has sought since the days of Blaine Bishop. Williams, in his 3rd year, was flying around the field against the Raiders Sunday night, as he realized 4 solo and 3 assisted tackles. Other Defensive Backs of note: Daylon McCutcheon, CLE Browns; Mike Minter, CAR Panthers; Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots; Adam Archuleta, STL Rams; Omar Stoutmire, NY Giants; Kwamie Lassiter, SD Chargers; Mike Green, CHI Bears; and Lance Shulters, TEN Titans.

NOT

Corey Chavous, Minnesota Vikings, is a vocal leader on the team, and in Week 1, he let his actions do the talking. Against division rival Green Bay, Chavous was everywhere on the field, realizing 5 solo and 2 assisted tackles, as well as 2 interceptions. Unfortunately, however, Chavous sustained what’s being described as a sprained right knee. Right now, the Vikings are listing Chavous as doubtful for this Sunday’s match up with the Bears. Brian Russell would start in his place at SS. During the preseason, FS Jon McGraw, New York Jets, showed great range and ball-hawking skills. Against the Redskins on Thursday night, he looked lost and ineffective. With as many receptions as there were in the game, he should have had decent tackle production, but McGraw could muster only 1 solo tackle. If you drafted McGraw as your #1 or #2 DB, keep an eye on him as he faces the Dolphins this week, and target a free agent replacement just in case. Losing Darren Sharper, Green Bay Packers, for any amount of time could be devastating for the team. Sharper is by far the best defensive player and leads both vocally and by example. He’s questionable this week against the upstart Lions with a groin injury.

Start ‘em If You Got ‘em

Antuan Edwards, GB Packers, against the DET Lions
Adam Archuleta, STL Rams, against the SF 49ers
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the CLE Browns
Lance Shulters, TEN Titans, against the INDI Colts
Donovin Darius, JAX Jaguars, against the BUF Bills
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the PIT Steelers
Jay Bellamy, NO Saints, against the HOU Texans
Sammy Knight, MIA Dolphins, against the NY Jets
Reggie Tongue, SEA Seahawks, against the AZ Cardinals
Mike Minter, CAR Panthers, against the TB Bucs
Kwamie Lassiter, SD Chargers, against the DEN Broncos
Mike Green, CHI Bears, against the MIN Vikings
Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys, against the NY Giants

Top 10 Team Defenses

1. TB Bucs vs. CAR Panthers – Bucs may be a permanent fixture at #1 this year
2. PHI Eagles vs. NE Patriots – Eagles exact revenge and send NE to 0-2
3. NY Giants vs. DAL Cowboys – Giant D playing like days when the Tuna was HC
4. BAL Ravens vs. CLE Browns – Ray is foaming at the mouth to go 1-1
5. ATL Falcons vs. WAS Redskins – Falcons will get to Ramsey early and often
6. BUF Bills @ JAX Jaguars – Bills D is on the rise… could be a top 3 fantasy team
7. SEA Seahawks @ AZ Cardinals – Plenty of INT and sack opportunities
8. CAR Panther @ TB Bucs – Pepper/Rucker a sack-happy duo
9. MIA Dolphins @ NY Jets – Wake up call vs. HOU will have MIA enraged
10. SF 49ers @ STL Rams – Sleeper D will send the Rams to 0-2 in STL

As always, be sure to check the latest injury reports before submitting your roster. Good luck and thanks for supporting The Huddle!