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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 11
By Dave Foral
November 13, 2003
 

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

Chris Draft, Atlanta Falcons, is one of those players you just think will come back down to earth and mediocrity. To his credit, however, he's developed into a consistent and highly productive fantasy player. Even with a returned Keith Brooking, Draft has averaged 9 solo tackles over the last 4 games, which is stellar. In an upset over the Giants in Week 10, he posted 13 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and a sack. The Falcons seem to be picking up some steam on offense, but look for the defense and Draft to see plenty of action the remainder of the season. After "taking off" what appeared to be a few games, MLB Andra Davis, Cleveland Browns, had a monster game last week. A 10 solo and 2 assisted tackle, 3 sack, and 1forced fumble game was a bright spot in what was otherwise the Brown's third loss in a row. Certainly one of the surprises of the year at LB, Davis is just always in position to be involved in tackles - something that all IDP owners like to hear. Akin Ayodele, Jacksonville Jaguars, has been the best fantasy linebacker on the team, and that's certainly what most foresaw at the beginning of the season when Mike Peterson stepped in at MLB. Ayodele has, however, been more consistent and has shown the ability to have difference-making games. This was evident in the upset victory over the Colts, where he posted 10 solo and 2 assisted tackles. All three of these LB's - Draft, Davis, and Ayodele - may be falling under the radar in your league right now, and as we are fast approaching fantasy playoffs, they'd be a welcomed addition to any IDP squad. Other LB's of note in Week 10: Shawn Barber, KC Chiefs; Sam Cowart, NY Jets; Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans; Nate Wayne, PHI Eagles; Tommy Hendricks, MIA Dolphins; and Jason Gildon, PIT Steelers.

WHO'S NOT

Zach Thomas, Miami Dolphins, sat out during last week's lopsided loss to the Titans, but it improbable that he will miss this week's brawl with the Ravens. The Dolphins are 2 games back of the division leader Patriots, and can ill-afford to have their leader on D riding the pine. Thomas is listed as questionable with a Grade 1 groin strain, but has stated that he does intend on playing. It is definitely recommended that, if you are a Thomas owner, you pick up his replacement Tommy Hendricks, who showed up in force against the Titans, producing 14 solo and 4 assisted tackles. Whoever plays, he is sure to post some serious numbers defending Jamal Lewis.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Andra Davis, CLE Browns, against the AZ Cardinals
Chris Draft, ATL Falcons, against the NO Saints
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the MIA Dolphins
Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans, against the BUF Bills
Keith Bulluck, TEN Titans, against the JAX Jaguars
Scott Fujita, KC Chiefs, against the CIN Bengals
Mark Simoneau, PHI Eagles, against the NY Giants
Robert Thomas, STL Rams, against the CHI Bears
Lavar Arrington, WAS Redskins, against the CAR Panthers
Sam Cowart, NY Jets, against the IND Colts
David Thornton, IND Colts, against the NY Jets
Al Wilson, DEN Broncos, against the SD Chargers
Chad Brown, SEA Seahawks, against the DET Lions
Derrick Brooks, TB Bucs, against the GB Packers
Ed Barton, OAK Raiders, against the MIN Vikings
Dat Nguyen, DAL Cowboys, against the NE Patriots
Kendrell Bell, PIT Steelers, against the SF 49ers

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Two defenses that seem to be peaking at the right time are those of the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams, which is due in large part to the outstanding play of the defensive lines. Jevon Kearse and Carlos Hall, Titans, both use athleticism over size to get to the quarterback. In a landslide victory over the Dolphins, Kearse had 4 solo and 2 assisted tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble, while Hall added 2 solo tackles and 2 sacks. Tyoka Jackson and Grant Wistrom, Rams, had equally as impressive outing in a slugfest against the Ravens. Jackson had 4 solo and 2 assisted tackles, 2 sacks, and forced fumble, while Wistrom logged 7 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and a sack. In a week noticeably weak in good performances by defensive linemen, these 4 contributed solid efforts, and you could do worse than adding one of them to your roster for the long-haul. Tony Weaver, Baltimore Ravens, is maturing right in front of our eyes. In his third year and replacing stud Mike McCrary, Weaver has exceeded everyone's expectations this year, including those of head coach Brian Billick. Against the Rams, he enjoyed 5 solo tackles and 2 sacks, and the team kept the potent Rams offense on ice for most of the game. Other DL's of note in Week 10: Alex Brown, CHI Bears, and Simeon Rice, TB Bucs.

WHO'S NOT

In keeping with the St. Louis Rams, it has been amazing that they've performed so well, year to date, especially since both Leonard Little and Damione Lewis have failed to see the field since week 8. While Lewis has clogging-power in the middle, it is Little that most recognize as possibly the most important cog in the D wheel, realizing 7 sacks through 8 weeks. The Rams D is getting healthier every week, and it will only get scary-good when they can infuse both Little and Lewis in with the team. It may not happen this week, however, as both are listed as questionable (Lewis - Chest; Little - Ankle).

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Willie Whitehead, NO Saints, against the ATL Falcons
Tony Weaver, BAL Ravens, against the MIA Dolphins
Jason Taylor, MIA Dolphins, against the BAL Ravens
Aaron Schobel, BUF Bills, against the HOU Texans
Jevon Kearse, TEN Titans, against the JAX Jaguars
Eric Hicks, KC Chiefs, against the CIN Bengals
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the PHI Eagles
Grant Wistrom, STL Rams, against the CHI Bears
Mike Rucker/Julius Peppers, CAR Panthers, against the WAS Redskins
Dwight Freeney, IND Colts, against the NY Jets
Shaun Ellis, NY Jets, against the IND Colts
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the GB Packers

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Eric Brown, Houston Texans, developed a reputation while with the Broncos for delivering huge blows, but had also been characterized as undisciplined in coverage and over-pursuit. While with the Texans over the last two year, however, Brown has become a solid and consistent performer, both in run and pass support. This is evident when viewing his performance over the last 4 games, as Brown has averaged 7 solo tackles per game. The Texans are a competitive team, and Brown will continue to exert his presence near the line of scrimmage and post good fantasy stats for the remainder of the year. Michael Lewis, Philadelphia Eagles, is a difference maker on defense, and he appears to be benefiting by the improvement of the defense, as a whole. Lewis played outstanding in a big Monday Night Football victory over the Packers, bringing home 8 solo and one assisted tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. With the impending return of stud Brian Dawkins, look for Lewis to improve on his performance this season. Ifeanyi Ohalete, Washington Redskins, is looking like a solid DB pick up for the remainder of the season, if you need one. Over the last 4 games, Ohalete has improved with each game, and averaged 6 solo tackles per game. He's also a threat to realize an interception during each game, with 3 on the season thus far. In an uplifting win against the visiting Seahawks in Week 10, Ohalete provided his best performance of the year, with 11 solo and 1 assisted tackles. He could be peaking at just the right time for your IDP team. Other DB's of note in Week 10: Robert Griffith, CLE Browns; Mike Doss, IND Colts; Tyrone Carter, NY Jets; Tim Wansley, TB Bucs; Adam Archuleta, STL Rams; and Deshea Townsend, PIT Steelers.

WHO'S NOT

While some teams are peaking at this critical juncture in the season, others find themselves struggling. The New York Giants fall into this category. Not only did they suffer a humiliating loss to the lowly Falcons in Week 10, but they also realized another critical injury to their secondary. DB Ralph Brown will miss several weeks with a dislocated shoulder, which is really a shame, as Brown had been filling in admirably for the start-of-season starter, William Peterson. Peterson is lost for the year, as he was placed on IR with a stress fracture in his lower back. The Giants will start Ike Carlton in Brown's place. Team leader, Rod Woodson, Oakland Raiders, is listed as questionable with a strained quadriceps and knee. This comes at time when he's called out his fellow veterans on the team for "slacking" off. This would indicate to me that he's likely prepared to play through the injuries. If he does miss this game, or any game moving forward this season, one can only expect that the Raider D slides even further than it has already. Anthony Dorsett would step in for Woodson for any time missed.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Robert Griffith, CLE Browns, against the AZ Cardinals
Jay Bellamy, NO Saints, against the ATL Falcons
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the MIA Dolphins
Sammy Knight, MIA Dolphins, against the BAL Ravens
Eric Brown, HOU Texans, against the BUF Bills
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the CIN Bengals
Adam Archuleta, STL Rams, against the CHI Bears
Mike Minter, CAR Panthers, against the WAS Redskins
Ifeanyi Ohalete, WAS Redskins, against the CAR Panthers
Mike Doss, IND Colts, against the NY Jets
Ken Hamlin, SEA Seahawks, against the DET Lions
Ronde Barber, TB Bucs, against the GB Packers
Corey Chavous, MIN Vikings, against the OAK Raiders
Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys, against the NE Patriots
Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots, against the DAL Cowboys
Mike Logan, PIT Steelers, against the SF 49ers

Top 12 Team Defenses

  1. TEN Titans vs. JAX Jaguars - TEN 2nd best in NFL at creating turnovers
  2. SF 49ers vs. PIT Steelers - SF D is fresh off bye and will force turnovers
  3. TB Bucs vs. GB Packers - It's put up or shut up for both teams
  4. STL Rams @ CHI Bears - Ram D is playing best ball right now
  5. BAL Ravens @ MIA Dolphins - Ravens best D in league
  6. PHI Eagle vs. NY Giants - Giants really struggling, while Eagles getting better
  7. CAR Panthers vs. WAS Redskins - Peppers/Rucker will get to Ramsey plenty
  8. MIA Dolphins vs. BAL Ravens - MIA will try and shake up new QB, Wright
  9. NE Patriots vs. DAL Cowboys - Pats D one of best Dallas will have faced
  10. KC Chiefs @ CIN Bengals - KC still best in league taking the ball away
  11. MIN Vikings @ OAK Raiders - Raiders in state of disarray; Vikes capitalize
  12. DAL Cowboys @ NE Patriots - Games figures to be a defensive struggle

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