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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 10
By Dave Foral
November 6, 2003
 

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

Brandon Short, New York Giants, had a monster game against the Jets in Week 9, posting 9 solo and 4 assisted tackles, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. It was by far Short's most productive game of the season, and it is almost a certainty that he will not have this caliber of game again. However, when a player has a breakout game and it coincides with his team getting hot, there is typically an upswing in his average production. While Short may not average the kind of points MLB Mike Barrow will, he's definitely worth taking a flyer on if you're in need of a LB at this juncture of the season. Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears, a rookie out of Arizona, is gaining valuable playing experience, and the Bears coaching staff likes what they see. At the strong-side LB spot, Briggs offers the athleticism and speed that brings comparison to former SLB Rosevelt Colvin. Unfortunately, Briggs is not benefiting from as good of a defensive line as the one Colvin had for two years, but he's still improved with each game. Against the Chargers, Briggs enjoyed his best game, pulling in 9 solo and 1 assisted tackles. Zach Thomas, Miami Dolphins, plays with an intensity found in only the top 2% of the league, and he benefits from having an outstanding defensive backfield and line. Thomas is a human-seeking missile, and produces consistently, year in, year out, so long as he's healthy. Against the Colts, he was all over the field, as he reeled in 12 solo and 7 assisted tackles.

Other LB's of note in Week 9: Marcus Washington, IND Colts; Dexter Coakley, DAL Cowboys; Eric Barton, OAK Raiders; Nate Wayne, PHI Eagles; Chris Draft, ATL Falcons; Donnie Edwards, KC Chiefs; Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens; Mike Barrow, NY Giants; and Chad Brown, SEA Seahawks.

WHO'S NOT

SLB Darrin Smith, New Orleans Saints, left Week 9's game against the Buccaneers with an injured hamstring, and he could lose his starting position to Sedrick Hodge, who's just returning from a broken leg suffered in Week 2. Watch this situation closely, as the Saints are an improving team, and the SLB spot should hold significant fantasy value. SLB Ryan Nece, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will likely miss this Sunday's match up with the Carolina Panthers. He realized a severely sprained ankle against the Saints last week, and will be listed as questionable. Veteran Dwayne Rudd would likely fill in for Nece if he couldn't go.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Kendrell Bell, PIT Steelers, against the AZ Cardinals
Michael Barrow, NY Giants, against the ATL Falcons
Boss Bailey, DET Lions, against the CHI Bears
Shawn Barber, KC Chiefs, against the CLE Browns
Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans, against the CIN Bengals
David Thornton, IND Colts, against the JAX Jaguars
Zach Thomas, MIA Dolphins, against the TEN Titans
Keith Bullock, TEN Titans, against the MIA Dolphins
Chad Brown, SEA Seahawks, against the WAS Redskins
Derrick Brooks, TB Bucs, against the CAR Panthers
Donnie Edwards, SD Chargers, against the MIN Vikings
Dat Nguyen, DAL Cowboys, against the BUF Bills
Sam Cowart, NY Jets, against the OAK Raiders
Eric Barton, OAK Raiders, against the NY Jets
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the STL Rams
Mark Simoneau, PHI Eagles, against the GB Packers

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts, has arrived on the scene! After battling through injury this year, Freeney appears to be 100% and he quite simply dominated the line of play against the Dolphins in Week 9. He's linebacker fast and caught Ricky Williams from behind on 2 separate occasions. With 5 solo tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles, Freeney established himself as a "stud" defensive lineman that should be started every week. On the other side of the ball last week, Adwale Ogunleye, Miami Dolphins, played a hell of a game, as well. While Jason Taylor seems to be building steam on the other side, it is Ogunleye that is maintaining high fantasy stat production. Against on of the best lines in the league and a smart QB (Manning) with one of the quickest releases, he still managed 3 solo and 4 assisted tackles, and 2 sacks. Willie Whitehead, New Orleans Saints, added to what is already a strong season for a defensive tackle, with a 5 solo tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble outing against the Buccaneers. Whitehead also boasts a 5 tackle per game average.

Other DL's of note in Week 9: Mike Rucker, CAR Panthers; Adrian Dingle, SD Chargers; and Tony Weaver, BAL Ravens.

WHO'S NOT

Norman Hand, Seattle Seahawks, injured his biceps against the Steelers in Week 9, and is listed as doubtful this week. Hand does not have gaudy numbers for a defensive tackle the way Whitehead does, but he serves his purpose as a "hole-clogger", providing gaps for linebackers to fly through. If Hand cannot go, he will be spelled by another veteran, John Randle.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the Atlanta Falcons
Eric Hicks, KC Chiefs, against the BUF Bills
Justin Smith, CIN Bengals, against the HOU Texans
Dwight Freeney, IND Colts, against the JAX Jaguars
Jason Taylor/Adwale Ogunleye, MIA Dolphins against the TEN Titans
Jevon Kearse, TEN Titans, against the MIA Dolphins
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the CAR Panthers
Mike Rucker, CAR Panthers, against the TB Bucs
Kevin Williams, MIN Vikings, against the SD Chargers
Shawn Ellis, NY Jets, against the OAK Raiders
Leonard Little, STL Rams, against the BAL Ravens
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, GB Packers, against the PHI Eagles

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Rogers Beckett, Cincinnati Bengals, has showed flashes of brilliance throughout his short career, both with the Chargers for 2 years, and this year in Marvin Lewis' defensive scheme. Yet, he's been unable to score fantasy points consistently. In Week 9, Beckett produced arguably the best DB effort in the league, landing 12 solo tackles and a sack. If you have room on your roster, you may want to pick up Beckett to see if continues to produce at such a high level. Mike Rumph, San Francisco 49ers, a second year corner and former first round draft pick, had his signature game against the St. Louis Rams in Week 9. With 5 solo and 1 assisted tackles, a sack, and an interception, he was a huge reason why San Francisco was able to soundly beat the high-octane offense of the Rams. Rumph is a big corner at 6' 2" and 210, moves extremely well for his size, and has shown a penchant for helping in run support and blitzing the quarterback. The safeties of the New York Giants, FS Omar Stoutmire and SS Shaun Williams, made a statement in Week 9 that they are one of the league's most dynamic DB duos this year. Both appeared to be all over the field, as Stoutmire finished the game with 9 solo and 2 assisted tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble, while Williams followed on with 7 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and an interception.

Other DB's of note in Week 9: Eric Brown, HOU Texans; Ifeanyi Ohalete, WAS Redskins; Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys; Kwamie Lassiter, AZ Cardinals; Corey Chavous, MIN Vikings; Brent Alexander, PIT Steelers; and Damien Robinson, SEA Seahawks.

WHO'S NOT

One of the league's best cover men is listed as questionable to play this week. Patrick Surtain, MIA Dolphins, sprained his ankle in a hard-fought loss to the Colts, and his possible absence would result in better numbers for the Titans' McNair and Mason in their Week 10 match up. If Surtain were not able to go, Jamar Fletcher would step in at the left corner back position.

Start 'em If You Got 'em

Shawn Williams, NY Giants, against the ATL Falcons
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the CLE Browns
Eric Brown, HOU Texans, against the CIN Bengals
Mike Doss, IND Colts, against the JAX Jaguars
Matt Bowen, WAS Redskins, against the SEA Seahawks
Mike Minter, CAR Panthers, against the TB Bucs
Corey Chavous, MIN Vikings, against the SD Chargers
Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys, against the Buffalo Bills
Derrick Gibson, OAK Raiders, against the NY Jets
Sam Garnes, NY Jets, against the OAK Raiders
Darren Sharper, GB Packers, against the PHI Eagles

Top 12 Team Defenses

  1. KC Chiefs vs. CLE Browns - KC #1 in takeaways, and CLE is imploding
  2. NY Giants vs. ATL Falcons - Giants sack- and inception -happy
  3. DAL Cowboys vs. BUF Bills - Even after bye week, BUF still 2nd worst in giveaways
  4. IND Colts @ JAX Jags - Leftwich will have to throw to keep up = INT's
  5. TB Bucs @ CAR Panthers - Both Strong D's, and.
  6. CAR Panthers vs. TB Bucs - . Rucker vs. Rice is something I've been waiting for
  7. NY Jets @ OAK Raiders - Rick Mirer or Rob Johnson at QB? Oh my.
  8. TEN Titans vs. MIA Dolphins - TEN well-rested after bye
  9. CIN Bengals vs. HOU Texans - Improved Bengals squad, and +3 in TO's
  10. PIT Steelers vs. AZ Cardinals - AZ Cards have most giveaways in league
  11. MIN Vikings @ SD Chargers - Chargers will be playing catch-up = mistakes
  12. MIA Dolphins @ TEN Titans - MIA tied for 3rd overall in takeaways

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