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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 6
By Dave Foral
October 9, 2003
 

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

Donnie Edwards, San Diego Chargers, has had a couple of very strong back-to-back weeks, and the team has shown progress, even while losing two close and hard-fought games. Edwards is the elite player and leader on D, and he's going to see a lot of action facing division foes Denver (Portis), Kansas City (Holmes), and Oakland (Garner). Against Jacksonville in Week 5, Edwards gobbled up 9 solo and 2 assisted tackles. After this week's bye, he faces Cleveland (Green) and Miami (Williams), so Edwards is definitely a hot LB to trade for right now. MLB Ronald McKinnon, Arizona Cardinals, is on another improving defense and team, and has shown flashes of brilliance the past couple of weeks that most thought he was capable of in 2002. Against the Cowboys, McKinnon shored up the middle in a losing effort by gathering 10 solo and 2 assisted tackles. McKinnon faces one of the hottest RB's in the league this week, as Arizona plays host to Jamal Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. It must be hard for head coach Bill Cowher to find a silver lining in his team's embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns, but the fact that Kendrell Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, has progressed week by week and was so involved on defense could be just that. Bell is playing on all downs now, and is becoming more and more comfortable in run support and pass protection. Bell has always been a supreme QB rusher, but other areas have been stifled, as Bell never played all downs on defense. Well, this year is different, and Bell exhibited his fantasy potential with a 9 solo and 2 assisted tackle effort. Depending on the size and depth of your league, Bell could still be available as a free agency pick up, and he's definitely worth making a trade for at this point of his development this season. Other LB's of note in Week 5: Travian Smith, OAK Raiders; Warrick Holdman, CHI Bears, Nick Barnett, GB Packers; Chad Brown, SEA Seahawks; Orlando Ruff, NO Saints; Mark Simoneau, PHI Eagles; Junior Seau, MIA Dolphins; David Thornton, IND Colts; and Keith Bullock, TEN Titans.

WHO'S NOT

There are a lot of critical linebackers listed as questionable this week that should be of concern to their respective fantasy owners. If a player is listed as questionable, that means that he's got a 50/50 chance of playing in the weekend's game. Some you may want to roll the dice on, based on past, positive performances while injured, while others may simply be unable to perform to standard. When in doubt, start another player, especially at the LB position where points are so critical. Here they are: Robert Thomas, STL Rams (groin); Warrick Holdman, CHI Bears (ankle); Mike Peterson, JAX Jaguars (ribs); Na' Il Diggs, GB Packers (knee); and Junior Seau, MIA Dolphins (hamstring).

Start 'em If You Got 'em

David Thornton, IND Colts, against the CAR Panthers
Brian Urlacher, CHI Bears, against the NO Saints
Jay Foreman, HOU Texans, against the TEN Titans
Keith Bullock, TEN Titans, against the HOU Texans
Nick Barrett, GB Packers, against the KC Chiefs
Zach Thomas, MIA Dolphins, against the JAX Jaguars
Mike Barrow, NY Giants, against the NE Patriots
Napoleon Harris, OAK Raiders, against the CLE Browns
Mark Simoneau, PHI Eagles, against the DAL Cowboys
LaVar Arrington, WAS Redskins, against the TB Bucaneers
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the AZ Cardinals
Ronald McKinnon, AZ Cardinals, against the BAL Ravens
Sam Cowart, NY Jets, against the BUF Bills
Takeo Spikes, BUF Bills against the NY Jets
Kendrell Bell, PIT Steelers, against the DEN Broncos
Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks, against the SF 49ers
Keith Brooking, ATL Falcons, against the STL Rams

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Raylee Johnson, San Diego Chargers, had a breakout game on Sunday against the Jaguars, netting 4 solo tackles, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Johnson is fortunate to have a very good supporting cast on the DL, and the LB corps is solid. However, the DB's are young and raw, and it's prevented several of the star players thriving this year. Johnson has monster Marcelus Wiley on the opposite end, and he attracts most of the opposing team's double teams. He also has always been good in run support. Duane Clemons, Cincinnati Bengals, is facing a similar situation, as he's got Justin Smith on the opposite end. Clemons had a monster game against Buffalo Bills, tallying 6 solo tackles, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble. The Bengals appear to get getting better and they do have talent on the defensive side of the ball. Clemons could be a nice, late-season steal in many leagues this year. Jevon Kearse, Tennessee Titans, is a stranger to no one, but it's taken him this long - 5 games - to get his game in check. Against the Patriots, Kearse seemed 100% healthy, as he racked up 3 solo and 1 assisted tackles, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. IF the defense can get healthy, I expect big things from Kearse and Kevin Carter on the other end. Other DL's of note in Week 5: Kenny Mixon, MIN Vikings; Michael Strahan, NY Giants, and Courtney Brown, CLE Browns.

WHO'S NOT

There is no underestimating the value of a line-collapsing DT, especially when that DT is Sam Adams, Buffalo Bills. While Adams may not be a stat producing, he makes all the players around him that much better when he gains penetration in the middle of opposing offensive lines. Adams is listed as questionable with an ankle injury sustained against the Bengals in week 5. If he is unable to go, downgrade such stars as Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher and Lawyer Milloy. With the Packers looking like a legitimate playoff contender in October, one can only imagine how much further they could get if DE Joe Johnson, Green Bay Packers, were a picture of health this year. Instead, Johnson is experiencing issues with his triceps and has been unable to contribute the way most thought he would. With Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on the other side, and the LB and DB corps starting to improve and gel, it seams unsettling that Joe Johnson has netted only 6 tackles and no sacks this year.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Mike Rucker, CAR Panthers, against the CAR Panthers
Alex Brown, CHI Bears, against the NO Saints
Jevon Kearse, TEN Titans, against the HOU Texans
Nick Barnett, GB Packers, against the KC Chiefs
Tony Brackens, JAX Jaguars; against the MIA Dolphins
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the NE Patriots
Courtney Brown, CLE Browns, against the OAK Raiders
Greg Ellis, DAL Cowboys, against the PHI Eagles
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the WAS Redskins
Trevor Pryce, DEN Broncos, against the PIT Steelers
Leonard Little, STL Rams, against the ATL Falcons

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Rookie Mike Doss, Indianapolis Colts, may have given up a fumble that lead to a TD against the Bucs on Monday Night Football, but there's no arguing that he's a special player and finds a way to be around the ball on almost every play. Doss scorched the Bucs for 7 solo and 3 assisted tackles and an interception. Look for him to get more and more comfortable, and SS in coach Tony Dungy's D scheme is a playmaking position. Stud DB Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also had a stellar game. Barber is one of those DB's who is built into every defensive strategy imaginable - he's sent in on corner blitzes, he is excellent in run support, and he's just an awesome cover guy. Against the hottest team in the league, the Colts, Barber posted 8 solo and 1 assisted tackles and an interception. Veteran SS Rodney Harrison, New England Patriots, is still churning out high-production performances. Harrison has always positioned himself as a fifth linebacker, and his run support has been unparalleled for at least the last 5 years. Against the Titans in a huge win for the team, Harrison shined again, snaring 8 solo and 3 assisted tackles. Other DB's of note in Week 5: Darren Sharper, GB Packers; Antoine Winfield, BUF Bills; Brent Alexander, PIT Steelers; and Patrick Surtain, MIA Dolphins.

WHO'S NOT

Samari Rolle, Tennessee Titans, is undoubtedly the best cover man on the team, and he can deliver a hit, both in air and run support. The Titans will miss him immensely, as he'll be out 3-6 weeks with a dislocated elbow. There is a huge drop off in talent, as Tony Beckham, in his 2nd year, will step into Rolle's position. Corey Hall, Atlanta Falcons, could miss 2 weeks of action as a result of preventative surgery performed on his knee. With the Falcons hurting with many other injuries, losing Rolle for any amount of time could be catastrophic. Look for Gerald McBurrows will fill in for Hall.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Mike Doss, IND Colts, against the CAR Panthers
Mike Minter, CAR Panthers, against the IND Colts
Mike Green, CHI Bears, against the NO Saints
Lance Shulters, TEN Titans, against the HOU Texans
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the GB Packers
Darren Sharper, GB Packers, against the KC Chiefs
Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots, against the NY Giants
Robert Griffith, CLE Browns, against the OAK Raiders
Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys, against the PHI Eagles
John Lynch, TB Bucs, against the WAS Redskins
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the AZ Cardinals
Lawyer Milloy, BUF Bills, against the NY Jets
Adam Archuleta, STL Rams, against the ATL Falcons

Top 12 Team Defenses

  1. DEN Broncos vs. PITT Steelers - "Turnover Tommy" Maddox will feel the pressure
  2. TB Bucs @ WAS Redskins - Bucs get turnovers and sacks during a great game
  3. BAL Ravens @ AZ Cardinals - BAL D off a bye week and hungry for a W
  4. MIA Dolphins @ JAX Jaguars - Taylor get his first 2 sacks of the season
  5. IND Colts vs. CAR Panthers - Colts are a complete team, and will get turnovers
  6. CLE Browns vs. OAK Raiders - Sacks starting to become commonplace
  7. CAR Panthers @ IND Colts - Battle of two very solid defenses in the league
  8. KC Chiefs @ GB Packers - Chiefs D has been very opportunistic this year
  9. STL Rams vs. ATL Falcons - MNF will bring out best of Rams' D
  10. GB Packers vs. KC Chiefs - Key players (KGB, Barnett and Sharper) stepping up
  11. DAL Cowboys vs. PHI Eagles - DAL will be pressuring and causing TO's
  12. OAK Raiders @ CLE Browns - Raiders starting to click, and D is picking up

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