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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 3
By Dave Foral
September 18, 2003
 

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

The LB duo of Mike Barrow and Dhani Jones, New York Giants, were ablaze Monday night. Barrow (listed as HOT last week) returned against the Cowboys in Week 2 to post an unbelievable 17 solo and 2 assisted tackles - numbers most LB's require 2-3 games to accumulate. OLB Jones did not lag too far behind, tagging the 'Boys with 11 solo and 5 assisted tackles, and a sack. It is apparent that the Giant LB's will be very active this year. it will be interesting to see if Barrow, 33 and in his 11th season, can maintain the physical intensity. Rookie Nick Barnett, Green Bay Packers, is relatively small for a MLB, but the team is counting on him leveraging his speed and nose for the ball to be the playmaker on defense this year. If Week 2 is any indication, Barnett is due for one heck of a year, as he logged 12 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and an interception. 2nd year OLB David Thornton, Indianapolis Colts, stepped into the OLB role vacated by Mike Peterson, who bolted to the Jaguars in free agency. While his performance in Week 1 was less than impressive, he lit up the Titans in Week 2 with 10 solo and 3 assisted tackles. Both Thornton and Barnett are relatively obscure and are likely on your league free agency listing. If you have some roster room, I would recommend you pick them up due to unlimited upside potential this year - both are positioned to be heavily relied upon in their defensive schemes. Other LB's of note in Week 2: Andra Davis, CLE Browns; Takeo Spikes, BUF Bills; Keith Bullock, TEN Titans; Chris Draft, ATL Falcons; Sam Cowart, NY Jets; Jay Foreman, HOU Texans; and Brian Urlacher, CHI Bears.

WHO'S NOT

Both Rosie Colvin and Ted Johnson, New England Patriots, will miss this week's game against the Jets. Colvin is battling a hip injury that should allow him to return in Week 4 after taking a couple of weeks to heal. Veteran Willie McGinest will replace him at OLB, and could prove to be a good pick up if Colvin if his recovery is prolonged. Johnson's injury, a broken bone in his foot, could keep him out for several weeks. Roman Phifer will assume his role at ILB and, while not the run stuffer Johnson is, could post some nice fantasy numbers over the next few weeks. Shelton Quarles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a broken forearm. Look for Nate Webster to step in for Quarles and realize some healthy fantasy production. Keep an eye on the situation with Donnie Edwards, San Diego Chargers. Edwards is battling a nasty groin pull and is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Ravens. Even if he plays, there is no doubt that his mobility will be compromised. Look for Carlos Polk to spell him throughout the game.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Mike Peterson, JAX Jaguars, against the IND Colts
Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans, against the KC Chiefs
Chris Claiborne, MIN Vikings, against the DET Lions
Keith Bullock, TEN Titans, against the NO Saints
Sam Cowart, NY Jets, against the NE Patriots
Derrick Brooks, TB Bucs, against the ATL Falcons
Nick Barnett, GB Packers, against the AZ Cardinals
Mike Barrow, NY Giants, against the WAS Redskins
Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks, against the STL Rams
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the SD Chargers
Andra Davis, CLE Browns, against the SF 49ers
Takeo Spikes, BUF Bills, against the MIA Dolphins
Zach Thomas, MIA Dolphins, against the BUF Bills
Eric Barton, OAK Raiders, against the DEN Broncos

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Ryan Sims, Kansas City Chiefs, is due for a big year. It can be argued that the Chiefs possess one the best D Lines this year, and with Vonnie Holiday and Eric Hicks wreaking havoc on the outside, Sims should flourish. Against a good Steeler O Line, Hicks tormented Tommy Maddox, realizing 4 solo tackles and 2 sacks. While I typically prefer DE's, Sims could be an exception due to his athletic ability and his surrounding performers. With all the injuring plaguing the D Line, it is fortunate that Willie Whitehead, New Orleans Saints, is stepping up to the plate. Against an underappreciated Houston Texan O Line, Whitehead had a great game, netting 6 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and 2 sacks. So far, it appears to be a safe bet to plug and play whatever Saint DE is currently healthy and in the starting lineup. While on what appears to be a pretty bad defense, DE Kenard Lang, Cleveland Browns, is one of few bright spots. Against the Ravens, Lang contributed 7 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and 2 sacks. With the Brown offense sputtering, it can be assumed that Lang will see more opportunity to realize fantasy production. Other defensive linemen of note in Week 2: Kevin Carter, TEN Titans, and Kenny Holmes, NY Giants.

WHO'S NOT

As mentioned above, the New Orleans Saints have had their fair share of injuries early on this season, and especially on the defensive line. Starters Darren Howard and Jonathon Sullivan will be spelled by Willie Whitehead and Kenny Smith, respectively. Howard will miss 10-12 games after having surgery performed to repair his wrist, and Sullivan is out 2 to 3 weeks with cartilage damage in his left knee. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts, is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, and is listed as doubtful for Week 3 action. Veteran Chad Bratzke will step to replace Freeney. NT Seth Payne, Houston Texans, has been lost for the season with a torn ACL. Payne's absence could impact fantasy production of Houston's high-caliber ILB's Foreman and Sharper, so this bears inspection over the next week or two. Payne's replacement is Junior Ioane.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Hugh Douglas, JAX Jaguars, against the IND Colts
Eric Hicks, KC Chiefs, against the HOU Texans
Kenny Mixon, MIN Vikings, against the DET Lions
Kevin Carter, TEN Titans, against the NO Saints
John Abraham, NY Jets, against the NE Patriots
Justin Smith, CIN Bengals, against the PIT Steelers
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the ATL Falcons
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the WAS Redskins
Leonard Little, STL Rams, against the SEA Seahawks
Adalius Thomas, BAL Ravens, against the SD Chargers
Andre Carter, SF 49ers, against the CLE Browns
Jason Taylor, MIA Dolphins, against the BUF Bills
Trevor Pryce, DEN Broncos, against the OAK Raiders

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens, continued his HOT play in Week 2 with a 3 solo tackle and 2 interception game against the Cleveland Browns. Reed is a natural and an opportunist, placing himself in position to make a play on every down. As part of one of the league's best defenses, SS Greg Wesley, Kansas City Chiefs, will enjoy a productive year if he can stay healthy. Against the Steelers, Wesley tallied 9 solo tackles. He's listed as probable (knee) for this week's game against the Texans, and could have another big day. SS Jay Bellamy, New Orleans Saints, enjoyed another big game in Week 2 against the Houston Texans, realizing 11 solo tackles. With the LB corps performing less than spectacularly for New Orleans, Bellamy is a sure tackler and could have a consistent and healthy fantasy year.

WHO'S NOT

Rod Woodson, Oakland Raiders, the unquestionable leader on defense, is listed as doubtful with a tweaked knee, and it looking bleak that he'll play in this week's big MNF against arch rival Denver Broncos. If unable to go, the Raiders will miss his big game, playmaking ability and leadership. Siddeeq Shabazz would start in Woodson's place. LCB Donnie Abraham, New York Jets, will be sidelined for up to 8 weeks with a fractured right shoulder. He'll be replaced by veteran Ray Mickens. Dale Carter, New Orleans Saints, will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken eye socket. He'll be replaced by Fred Thomas, who should perform capably in Carter's absence.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Mike Doss, IND Colts, against the JAX Jaguars
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the HOU Texans
Lance Shulters, TEN Titans, against the NO Saints
Jay Bellamy, NO Saints, against the TEN Titans
Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots, against the NY Jets
John Lynch, TB Bucs, against the ATL Falcons
Adrian Wilson, AZ Cardinals, against the GB Packers
Shaun Williams, NY Giants, against the WAS Redskins
Adam Archuleta, STL Rams, against the SEA Seahawks
Reggie Tongue, SEA Seahawks, against the STL Rams
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the SD Chargers
Zach Bronson, SF 49ers, against the CLE Browns
Lawyer Milloy, BUF Bills, against the MIA Dolphins
Kennoy Kennedy, DEN Broncos, against the OAK Raiders

Top 12 Team Defenses

  1. TB Bucs @ ATL Falcons - Bucs D steaming over last week's loss to CAR
  2. KC Chiefs @ HOU Texans - D Line should provide many sack/INT opportunities
  3. SF 49ers vs. CLE Browns - Good D at home vs. erratic offense = fantasy production
  4. BAL Ravens @ SD Chargers - SD struggling. Ravens will feast
  5. MIN Vikings @ Detroit - MIN D is surprise of season, so far
  6. BUF Bills @ MIA Dolphins - BUF D progressing week to week
  7. MIA Dolphins vs. BUF Bills - MIA D warming up and at home
  8. NY Giants @ WAS Redskins - Giants seething after MNF loss to the Tuna
  9. WAS Redskins vs. NY Giants - 'Skins D fast, confident and 2-0
  10. GB Packers @ AZ Cardinals - . it's the Cardinals
  11. SEA Seahawks vs. STL Cardinals - Seahawks are another improved D
  12. PIT Steelers @ CIN Bengals - D furious after getting punked by KC

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