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Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 13
By Dave Foral
November 26, 2003
 

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

An amazing 12 linebackers posted 10 or more solo tackles in Week 12, and most would be defined as fantasy "studs". This time of the fantasy season is when starting your studs is mandatory, as teams are getting into a rhythm and vying for playoff spots. Another must is to keep an eye out for free agents that might make a difference in the outcome of your season. While obscure, such gems ARE there, such as Rocky Calmus, Tennessee Titans. Since Week 7, Calmus has performed solidly, and has averaged over 5 solo tackles the last four weeks. In a nail biter against the Falcons, Calmus came up big, racking up 9 solo tackles and an interception. While Keith Bullock grabs most of the IDP spotlight, keep an eye on Calmus, and it may make sense to add him to your roster to see if his positive production trend continues. We've encountered a Mike Peterson, Jacksonville Jaguars, sighting. and he's starting to look like the high-caliber player of year's past while in Indianapolis. Peterson had been of this year's busts after most thought his move to the Mike position would result in monster stats this season. Against the New York Jets in Week 12, Peterson flourished, netting 8 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and an interception. If you are in a shallow league and one of your fellow owners gave up on Peterson earlier this year, it is imperative you add him to your roster, as he's poised to have an excellent remainder of this season. Jay Foreman, Houston Texans, had a breakout game in Week 12 against the New England Patriots, as he scored on 14 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and a fumble return. While he's posted consistently "good" numbers, it is great to see a fantasy point's explosion, and it is expected that Foreman will continue to dominate the flats against all upcoming foes. Other LB's of note in Week 12: Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans; Barrett Green & Na'Il Diggs, GB Packers; Julian Peterson, SF 49ers; James Farrior, PIT Steelers; Scott Fujita, KC Chiefs; London Fletcher, NE Patriots; Donnie Edwards, SD Chargers; Ray Lewis & Peter Bouleware, Baltimore Ravens; Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks; Keith Brooking, ATL Falcons; Nate Wayne, PHI Eagles; and Mike Barrow, NY Giants.

WHO'S NOT

Typically, high fantasy production correlates with increased frequency of injuries - Week 12 was no exception. Zach Thomas, Miami Dolphins, realized a concussion against the Washington Redskins and is listed as questionable. Nick Barnett, Green Bay Packers, has a sprained ankle and is listed as questionable. Expect Tommy Hendricks and Torrance Marshall to fill in for Thomas and Barnett, respectively. Lastly, Shawn Barber, Kansas City Chiefs, dislocated a bone in his wrist and will be outfitted with a soft cast until it heals. It is conceivable that the cast might negatively affect his ability to execute the big play or interception. All three studs bear close scrutiny this week.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Barrett Green, DET Lions, against the GB Packers
Dat Nguyen, DAL Cowboys, against the MIA Dolphins
Brian Urlacher, CHI Bears, against the AZ Cardinals
Keith Brooking, ATL Falcons, against the HOU Texans
Jamie Sharper, HOU Texans, against the ATL Falcons
London Fletcher, BUF Bills, against the NY Giants
Michael Barrow, NY Giants, against the BUF Bills
James Farrior, PIT Steelers, against the CIN Bengals
Robert Thomas, STL Rams, against the MIN Vikings
David Thornton, IND Colts, against the NE Patriots
Mark Simoneau, PHI Eagles, against the CAR Panthers
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the SF 49ers
Andra Davis, CLE Browns, against the SEA Seahawks
Eric Barton, OAK Raiders, against the DEN Broncos
Scott Fugita, KC Chiefs, against the SD Chargers,
Donnie Edwards, SD Chargers, against the KC Chiefs
Mike Peterson, JAX Jags, against the TB Bucs
Marvin Jones, NY Jets, against the TEN Titans

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins, has been a huge source of IDP frustration this year. After posting ridiculous numbers last year, Taylor found himself double- and triple-teamed through the majority of 2003. As opposite end Adewale Ogunleye commanded respect this year, Taylor has begun to realize more opportunities to get to the QB. Against the Redskins, Taylor harassed all who occupied the backfield, and scored on 3 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and 2 sacks. Taylor is a must-start the remainder of the season, as the Dolphins make a push to make the playoffs. Having battled injury throughout the year to date, Darren Howard, New Orleans Saints, is back in the mix and the DL is looking more and more formidable. Howard is a perfect blend of size, strength, and speed, and - when healthy - has the potential to be one of the league's most potent defensive linemen. Against the Eagles and a mobile Donovan McNabb, Howard was able to amass 4 solo and one assisted tackles, and 1.5 sacks. Look for favorable match ups, and add Howard to your roster if you're in need of a high-impact IDP lineman. Love him or hate him, one cannot deny that Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is one of the best interior defensive linemen to play in recent years. While he will continue to face multiple offensive linemen on every play, expect Sapp to be a productive IDP player the rest of the season. The Bucs are on the brink of missing the playoffs, and you can bet that Sapp and the rest of the defense will leave it on the field each and every game to win out the rest of the season. In the Monday Night Football spotlight, Sapp had 4 solo tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Other DL's of note in Week 12: Robert Porcher, DET Lions; Trevor Pryce, DEN Broncos; and John Randle, SEA Seahawks.

WHO'S NOT

Jevon Kearse, Tennessee Titans, did, in fact, miss Week 12's match up with the Falcons, as he is hobbled with a sprained left ankle. When healthy, there's no debating that Kearse is one of the most dangerous rush ends in the game. However, the "Freak" is cursed with the injury bug way to often to be relied upon. As the Titans battle each week to keep up with Division leader Indianapolis Colts, one would hope that Kearse could provide the big play to put the team in position to succeed. If you are a Kearse owner, keep an eye on this situation and be sure to add a second option at the defensive lineman position.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, GB Packers, against the Detroit Lions
Jason Taylor, MIA Dolphins, against the DAL Cowboys
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the BUF Bills
Justin Smith, CIN Bengals, against the PIT Steelers
Grant Wistrom, STL Rams, against the MIN Vikings
Dwight Freeney, IND Colts, against the NE Patriots
Mike Rucker/Julius Peppers, CAR Panthers, against the PHI Eagles
Andre Carter, SF 49ers, against the BAL Ravens
Charles Grant, NO Saints, against the WAS Redskins
Trevor Pryce, DEN Broncos, against the OAK Raiders
Vonnie Holiday, KC Chiefs, against the SD Chargers
Shaun Ellis, NY Jets, against the TEN Titans

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Antoine Winfield, Buffalo Bills, is having a Pro Bowl-caliber year. He is a magnet to the ball, providing excellent run support and big-play potential, as he leads all defensive backs in solo tackles. In a tough loss to the Colts, he tallied 7 solo and 3 assisted tackles, and a sack. Winfield is a starter in your line up each and every week. Assuming the SS position from free agent departure Kwamie Lassiter, incumbent Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals, has been, by-and-large, a disappointment this season. With the league's worst defensive line and mediocre linebackers, it was assumed that Wilson would pick up where Lassiter left off and rack up some serious tackles this year. If Week 12 is any indication, perhaps Wilson has grown into the position. In a near-upset over the Rams, Wilson accounted for a team leading sum of 10 solo tackles. The situation alone in Arizona warrants that you pick up Wilson if he's a free agent. he has the potential to go off during the remainder of the season. Brian Russell, Minnesota Vikings, may not register with most of you the way Corey Chavous does, but this FS is having quite a season in his own rite. Russell is averaging 7 solo tackles over the last 3 games, and is being used more and more in blitz packages. Against the Lions in Week 12, Russell contributed 8 solo and 1assisted tackles. Odds are that Russell is an IDP free agent available now in your league, and with one of the easiest remaining schedules, he could be a valuable addition as big plays should happen in bunches for the Vikings. Other DB's of note in Week 12: Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots; Eric Brown, HOU Texans; Antuan Edwards, GB Packers; Chad Scott, PIT Steelers; Ed Reed, BAL Ravens; and Tory James, CIN Bengals.

WHO'S NOT

The good news: after what was thought to be a career-threatening blow to his neck on Sunday, Derrick Gibson, Oakland Raiders, is said to have a bruised neck and could play in Week 13. The bad news: Gibson's been relied on heavily in run support this year, especially with the injuries realized in the LB corps. It will be interesting to see if Gibson attacks in run support like he did before the special teams hit to his next. If you are a Gibson owner and are vying for a fantasy playoff spot, you may want to explore a plan B until Gibson shows that he's 100% and ready to stick his head back into the action. If Gibson ends up sitting a game or two out, Anthony Dorsett will fill in at strong safety. Stud DB Darren Sharper, Green Bay Packers, is listed as questionable for Thanksgivings Day's match up with the Lions. Sharper suffered what is being called a chest contusion realized against the 49ers on Sunday. If he cannot play, the improving Packers D will miss his leadership, run support and play making ability. Marques Anderson or Curtis Fuller would fill in for Sharper if the Packers decide to rest their star safety this week.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Roy Williams, DAL Cowboys, against the MIA Dolphins
Charles Tillman, CHI Bears, against the AZ Cardinals
Eric Brown, HOU Texans, against the ATL Falcons
Antoine Winfield, BUF Bills, against the NY Giants
Chad Scott, PIT Steelers, against the CIN Bengals
Corey Chavous, MIN Vikings, against the STL Rams
Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots, against the IND Colts
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the SF 49ers
Jay Bellamy, NO Saints, against the DEN Broncos
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the SD Broncos
John Lynch, TB Bucs, against the JAX Jags
Sam Garnes, NY Jets, against the TEN TItans

Top 12 Team Defenses

  1. KC Chiefs @ SD Chargers - Chiefs still lead the league in takeaways
  2. BAL Ravens vs. SF 49ers - Ravens will tighten reigns against the Niners
  3. TB Bucs @ JAX Jags - Bucs D playing with a sense of urgency
  4. DAL Cowboys vs. MIA Dolphins - Fiedler. not much time to shake off rust
  5. NY Giants vs. BUF Bills - Bills give up a lot of sacks and turnovers
  6. MIN Vikings @ STL Rams - Bulger throwing way too many picks
  7. WAS Redskins vs. NO Saints - 'Skins +7, Saints -7 in takeaways/giveaways
  8. PHI Eagles @ CAR Panthers - Eagle D and team starting to pick up the pace
  9. MIA Dolphins @ DAL Cowboys - Carter will face tough MIA DL and DB corps
  10. CHI Bears vs. AZ Cards - Bears D playing better; AZ most giveaways in league
  11. HOU Texans vs. ATL Falcons - Without Dunn, ATL will flounder
  12. NY Jets vs. TEN Titans - Freezing rain not what Titans are used to

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