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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 8
By Dave Foral
October 23, 2003
 

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

Edgerton Hartwell, Baltimore Ravens, hasn't exactly become the forgotten man on this team, but with Ray Lewis playing healthy, there's really only been so many tackles to go around. Hartwell has, however, remained constant, which carries a lot of weight in fantasy football. If you can count on a player to provide double digit production for you every week, he belongs in your line up. In Hartwell's case, you also know he's going to explode if Lewis were to ever relapse into injury. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Edge posted 5 solo and 2 assisted tackles and two sacks. Remember the days when the name Jessie Armstead, Washington Redskins, used to invoke thoughts of MLB dominance, primarily from his days as a New York Giant? Well, now he shares tackling opportunities with two other highly-productive linebackers, Jeremiah Trotter and LaVar Arrington, and he's not prone to as many eye-popping Sunday outings as he once was. Against the Buffalo Bills, however, Armstead was machine-like once again, netting 10 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and a sack. One thing is for sure. as long as the Redskin offense continues to flounder, scoring opportunities for Armstead and company will rise accordingly. Another struggling offense can be found in nearby Philadelphia, and similar escalated opportunities present themselves for that defense. MLB Mark Simoneau, Philadelphia Eagles, is beginning to flourish in his new defensive role, after having spent several years in Atlanta. While most would argue that the Eagles didn't participate enough in free agency in the off-season to improve their team (especially after losing stud veterans Hugh Douglas and Shawn Barber), Simoneau is turning out to be the viable exception. While smallish, he's lightening quick and unafraid to stick his nose into the fray. Against the New York Giants, Simoneau was a game breaker, grabbing 8 solo and 2 assisted tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble that stopped what was probably a game-saving drive. As mentioned above, the Eagles D should find itself on the field with regularity, and Simoneau should provide excellent production for fantasy owners. Other LB's of note in Week 7: Donnie Edwards, SD Chargers; Dexter Coakley, DAL Cowboys; Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans; all SEA Seahawks LB's; LaVar Arrington, WAS Redskins; Carlos Emmons, PHI Eagles; Al Wilson, DEN Broncos; Zach Thomas, MIA Dolphins; and Chris Claiborne, MIN Vikings.

WHO'S NOT

Ouch. as a fellow Keith Brooking, Atlanta Falcons, owner, this steady-production player will be sorely missed over the next 6 or so weeks. Apparently, the damage to his back is more severe than originally thought, and will require more down time and treatment than Daunte Culpepper, who had a very similar injury. The Falcons have just played horribly in Michael Vick's absence, but that hasn't stopped Brooking from realizing excellent fantasy production. It is hard to say who will pick up his tackling stats, but odds are that Matt Stewart and Chris Draft should benefit. Another player I drafted this year has been more reliable. reliably injured. Once again, MLB Dan Morgan, Carolina Panthers, is rendered useless, as he was knocked out of the Panther's first loss in week 7 with a concussion. I waived Morgan several weeks back when he backed out of a game with a hamstring problem. Some poor sap picked him up, got a decent game out of him, and then realized the errors of his ways this past week. It is really a shame, but steer clear of injury-prone Morgan, and stick with Will Witherspoon, who is enjoying a solid and consistent season.

Start 'em if you got 'em

Will Witherspoon, CAR Panthers, against the NO Saints
Tedy Bruschi, NE Patriots, against the CLE Browns
Derrick Brooks, TB Bucs, against the DAL Cowboys
Al Wilson, DEN Broncos, against the BAL Ravens
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the DEN Broncos
Mike Barrow, NY Giants, against the MIN Vikings
Chris Claiborne, MIN Vikings, against the NY Giants
Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks, against the Cincinnati Bengals
Keith Bulluck, TEN Titans, against the JAX Jaguars
Ronald McKinnon, AZ Cardinals, against the SF 49ers
David Thornton, IND Colts, against the HOU Texans
Sam Cowart, NY Jets, against the PHI Eagles
Takeo Spikes, BUF Bills, against the KC Chiefs
Scott Fujita, KC Chiefs, against the BUF Bills
Zach Thomas, MIA Dolphins, against the SD Chargers

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Corey Simon, PHI Eagles, is one of the more athletically gifted defensive linemen in the league and, while he is definitely missing Hugh Douglas on the line, is starting to come on this season. As mentioned above, the Eagle D could find itself on the field disproportionately this year, and Simon has the durability to play every down and realize solid tackling opportunities. Against the Giants, Simon had 6 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and a sack - solid numbers for a linebacker. One of the more consistent defensive linemen has been Aaron Schobel, Buffalo Bills. Schobel can be counted for a sack practically every game, and the defense, one with tremendous potential, appears to be gelling. Against the struggling Redskins, he pulled in 3 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and a sack. Another consistent defensive lineman this year has been Leonard Little, St. Louis Rams. Little, like Simon, is extremely athletically gifted and utilized his speed both on the corners and in run support to realize outstanding sack and tackling opportunities. With other teams having to place focus on Grant Wistrom on the other end, Little has tormented opposing quarterbacks this year. Against the Packers, Little applied pressure on Brett Favre all day, and posted 4 solo tackles and an interception. Other DL's of note in Week 7: Courtney Brown, CLE Browns; Tony Weaver, BAL Ravens; Shaun Ellis, NY Jets; Mike Rucker and Julius Peppers, CAR Panthers; Jevon Kearse, TEN Titans; Michael Strahan, NY Giants; and Kevin Williams, MIN Vikings.

WHO'S NOT

How many injuries can a team incur? Just ask the Saints, as another defensive lineman goes down. Grady Jackson, New Orleans Saints, is the latest casualty with an injured left pinky finger, of all things, and he's listed as questionable to play in this week's match up with the Carolina Panthers. The good news is that DE Darren Howard should return mid-November from wrist surgery, completing what was considered early in the year one of the most feared and athletic defensive lines.

Start 'em if you got 'em

Julius Peppers/Mike Rucker, CAR Panthers, against the NO Saints
Courtney Brown, CLE Browns, against the NE Patriots
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the DAL Cowboys
Trevor Pryce, DEN Broncos, against the BAL Ravens
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the MIN Vikings
Leonard Little, STL Rams, against the PIT Steelers
Jevon Kearse, TEN Titans, against the JAX Jaguars
Andre Carter, SF 49ers, against the AZ Cardinals
Dwight Freeney, IND Colts, against the HOU Texans
Shaun Ellis, NY Jets, against the PHI Eagles
Aaron Schobel, BUF Bills, against the KC Chiefs
Jason Taylor, MIA Dolphins, against the SD Chargers

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Kwamie Lassiter, San Diego Chargers, came up big this past week, providing a huge contribution to the team realizing its first win of the season. Before coming to San Diego, it could be argued that Lassiter was Arizona's most impact player on defense. I, like many, pegged Lassiter as a highly ranked DB before the season started, but he'd not really performed to expectations early on. It was good to see him break out somewhat in Week 7, as he contributed 4 solo tackles and an interception for a touchdown, and I expect Lassiter to experience continued success for the remainder of the year. We are starting to see why Bill Belichick found Lawyer Milloy expendable heading into the season, as veteran stud safety Rodney Harrison, New England Patriots, has been a force on defense. It is obvious that it took both preseason and a few regular season games for Harrison to get "up to speed" in his new surroundings, but he's posted strong, consistent numbers in recent weeks. In a huge win against division rival Miami, Harrison manned up with 9 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and a forced fumble. He is definitely making a positive impact, and is on pace to make another visit to Hawaii this year. Corey Harris, Detroit Lions, is having a solid performance this year, largely because he is often the last line of defense and is forced to make plays. Harris is a big hitter, is often used in blitz packages, and should finish out the year with good production numbers, as the defense as a whole will likely continue to both struggle and be on the field a majority of the game. Against the Cowboys, Harris posted 4 solo tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Other DB's of note in Week 7: Robert Griffith, CLE Browns; Sam Garnes, NY Giants; Eric Brown, HOU Texans; Mike Brown, CHI Bears; Darren Sharper and Antwan Edwards, GB Packers; Matt Bowen, WAS Redskins; and Sammy Knight, MIA Dolphins.

WHO'S NOT

Brian Kelly, Tampa Bay Buccaneers will miss the remainder of the year with a torn pectoral muscle that will require surgery. This is a significant blow to the vaunted Buc D, as Kelly forced teams to stay honest to both sides of the field, therefore providing stud CB Ronde Barber ample opportunities to make big plays. Also, John Lynch, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is doubtful with an injured shoulder. Lynch is one of the leaders on the field, and is a key factor in run support. Expect replacements Tim Wansley and John Howell to fill in for Kelly and Lynch, respectively. Howell could be a good start against the upstart Cowboys this weekend if Lynch cannot find his way onto the field.

Start 'em if you got 'em

Jay Bellamy, NO Saints, against the CAR Panthers
Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots, against the CLE Browns
Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys, against the TB Bucs
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the DEN Broncos
Mike Brown, CHI Bears, against the DET Lions
Corey Chavous, MIN Vikings, against the NY Giants
Ken Hamlin, SEA Seahawks, against the CIN Bengals
Adrian Wilson, AZ Cardinals, against the SF 49ers
Mike Doss, IND Colts, against the HOU Texans
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the BUF Bills
Kwamie Lassiter, SD Chargers, against the MIA Dolphins

Team Defenses

  1. BAL Ravens vs. DEN Broncos - Danny Kanell. meet Ray Lewis
  2. MIN Vikings vs. NY Giants - Vikings D improved; NYG too many turnovers
  3. TB Bucs vs. DAL Cowboys - Bucs D needs to and will prove it's worth
  4. IND Colts vs. HOU Texans - After week's rest, good IND D will dominate
  5. NE Patriots vs. CLE Browns - Which CLE QB will start? Does it matter?
  6. SF 49ers @ AZ Cardinals - 49ers D getting more solid each week
  7. STL Rams @ PIT Steelers - Rams Cover 2 will test Maddox and company
  8. KC Chiefs vs. BUF Bills - Arrowhead and Chiefs D will be factors in game
  9. MIA Dolphins @ SD Chargers - Junior's return; MIA D will be fired up
  10. CAR Panthers @ NO Saints - Panther D stinging after 1st loss
  11. NY Jets @ PHI Eagles - Jets DL producing sacks a plenty
  12. TEN Titans @ JAX Jaguars - JAX will make mistakes playing keep up

As always, make sure you check the injury reports when deciding who to start each week. Good luck, and thanks for supporting The Huddle!