Posted 12/4 by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
- DL Ty Warren, New England (8 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks)
Richard Seymour gets most of the hype in New England, but Warren has arguably
been the Patriots best defensive lineman this year. He's also playing the
best he has all season right now with 16 solos and 3.5 sacks in his last 3
- DL Matthias Kiwanuka, NY Giants (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 FF,
Kiwanuka didn't play much early in the season as he was buried behind Michael
Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. Since entering the starting lineup, however, the
rookie has been a big play machine. In the last 6 games, Kiwanuka has 24 solos,
3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 3 passes defensed and he should
have had another sack when he had Vince Young wrapped up but let him go. Umenyiora
played in the game this week and despite putting up 0 tackles, his presence
likely created more opportunities for Kiwanuka.
- DL Bryan Thomas, NY Jets (3 solos, 2 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF)
Thomas has been having a great year, and his tackle numbers are boosted by
the fact that he often lines up as an OLB in the Jets 3-4 defensive front.
He has a very impressive 48 solos and 6.5 sacks on the season, and 3.5 of
those sacks have come in the last 2 games. He also recently signed a 5-year,
$25 million contract extension so he's going to be around for awhile.
- DL Charles Grant, New Orleans (6 solos, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Grant has been somewhat inconsistent this season, but he's been playing well
of late. In his last 2 games, he's put up 11 solos and 2 sacks. Grant is scheduled
to become a free agent after the season so he should have plenty of motivation
to finish the year strong.
- LB DeMeco Ryans, Houston (14 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR,
Ryans may have just locked up the defensive rookie of the year award with
his performance this week (after putting up 13 solos a week ago). He's having
an incredible season with 97 solos in 12 starts, but he's also shown some
big play ability with 3.5 sacks and his interception and forced fumble this
week. Ryans could finish as the highest scoring fantasy LB this season, a
pretty impressive feat for a rookie.
- LB Shawne Merriman, San Diego (6 solos, 2 sacks, 2 FF, 1 PD)
Merriman had 3 sacks in his last game before the 4-game suspension and he
picked up right where he left off with 2 more sacks yesterday. Merriman now
has 10.5 sacks in 8 games played and his tackle numbers have also been steady
with 24 solos in his last 4 games.
- LB Mike Vrabel, New England (5 solos, 3 asst, 2 INT, 1 FR, 2 PD)
One week after Junior Seau was lost for the season, Vrabel took over his starting
job at ILB and had an amazing game with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Vrabel now has 5 or more solo tackles in 5 of his last 7 games, and he's also
added 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 FF and 1 FR in that same time period. He
took a knee to the head late in the game and was knocked woozy for awhile
but early reports indicate that he should be all right.
- LB Keyaron Fox, Kansas City (8 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Fox has been filling in for an injured Derrick Johnson and has been putting
up some impressive numbers in the process. In his last 4 games, he's compiled
28 solos, 8 assists, and a sack. Johnson is close to returning, but the Chiefs
might need to consider starting Fox over Kendrell Bell at some point.
- LB Victor Hobson, NY Jets (9 solos, 4 asst, 1 PD)
Hobson has been playing very well for the Jets recently and has actually outproduced
ILBs Jonathan Vilma and Eric Barton in each of the past 3 games. In his last
3 games, Barton has racked up 22 solos and 11 assists. Hobson isn't a prototypical
3-4 OLB and doesn't add much as a pass rusher, but he's a solid run defender
and looks like he could be a decent backup LB on a fantasy roster.
- DB Chris Harris, Chicago (13 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Chris Harris took over the starting SS job in Chicago after Todd Johnson went
down with a sprained ankle and had a strong game. Harris was the Bears starting
FS as a rookie last year but SS is a more natural position for him. It's possible
that Harris could hold onto the starting job after Johnson returns.
- DB Bryant McFadden, Pittsburgh (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
McFadden has been very productive the past 2 weeks since replacing Ike Taylor
in the starting lineup. In his last 2 games, he's put up 17 solos and an interception.
Considering he's an unproven 2nd year pro, QBs probably aren't too afraid
to throw in his direction, and he's also a very solid tackler who can step
up and support the run defense.
- DB Kenoy Kennedy, Detroit (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
Kennedy returned to the starting lineup after missing week 12 with an injury
and had a very productive game against the Patriots. It seems that whoever
starts at SS for the Lions this year will put up good numbers, so Kennedy
is probably a safe play as long as he remains healthy.
- DB Keith Lewis, San Francisco (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Lewis has been on a tear since the 49ers inserted him into their starting
lineup. In his last 4 games, he's collected 26 solo tackles, 2 interceptions,
a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and 3 passes defensed. If he's
somehow still available in any deep dynasty leagues, I'd definitely recommend
picking him up.
- DB Will Demps, NY Giants (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Demps hasn't necessarily been playing all that well lately but he has been
putting up good numbers. In his last 4 games, he's been credited with 26 solo
tackles, 11 assists, 1 INT, 1 FR, and a couple passes defensed.
- DB Bob Sanders, Indianapolis (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Sanders returned to the lineup this week and played just his 4th game of the
season. If he can stay healthy, he should be a productive fantasy player for
the rest of the season.
- DL Kevin Williams, Minnesota (1 solo)
With another poor performance this week, Williams now has just 3 solos in
his last 4 games. He had 5 sacks in a 7-game stretch earlier this year, but
his statlines are starting to look like they did a year ago when he finished
with just 31 solos and 4 sacks.
- DL Rod Coleman, Atlanta (1 solo, 1 asst)
Coleman established himself as one of the league's best interior pass rushers
by finishing with double digit sacks in 3 of the last 4 seasons. This is looking
like a lost season for him, however, as he has just 12 solos and 3 sacks in
11 games played and just 1 sack in his last 9 games.
- DL Justin Smith, Cincinnati (2 asst)
Smith was playing like a top-10 DL in the first 8 games of this season, but
he's gone cold. Ice cold. In his last 4 games, Smith has just 3 solos and
0 sacks. He's scheduled to become a free agent after this season and is probably
costing himself quite a bit of money if he doesn't turn things around soon.
- DL Tommie Harris, Chicago (2 solos)
Harris had a great start to the season with 5 sacks in his first 4 games,
but he hasn't recorded another one in the 8 games since then. Things could
be getting even worse as Harris suffered a knee injury in yesterday's game
against the Vikings and had to be carted to the locker room. The injury wasn't
expected to be season-ending, but the Bears will likely consider shutting
him down for the rest of the season to keep him healthy for the playoffs.
- DL Kyle Vanden Bosch, Tennessee (1 solo, 3 asst)
Vanden Bosch had an incredible season last year (40 solos, 12.5 sacks) after
signing as a free agent. He's been playing well this year with 35 solos, but
he has just 4 sacks on the season and has now had 4 disappointing games in
a row. He should be able to turn things around this week against the Texans
- LB Angelo Crowell, Buffalo (0 tackles)
Crowell left the game very early with a leg injury and didn't return. Reports
on Monday indicate that he'll miss the rest of the season with a broken leg.
Coy Wire filled in for him on Sunday and rookie Keith Ellison is another possible
replacement for the rest of this season. Takeo Spikes should see a bump in
his production if he takes over Crowell's nickel duties as expected.
- LB Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay (1 solo)
Shelton Quarles returned to the starting lineup this week, which forced Ruud
back to the bench. Look for him to play a much larger role next season.
- LB Daryl Smith, Jacksonville (2 solos, 2 asst)
Smith's production has been disappointing since he took over the starting
MLB job in Jacksonville for an injured Mike Peterson. He did have one huge
game with 12 solos and a sack in week 10, but he's put up just 10 solo tackles
in the 3 games since then. He's a talented player who should be doing better.
- LB Al Wilson, Denver (2 solos, 3 asst, 1 PD)
Wilson was carted off the field on Sunday night with a neck injury and spent
the night in the hospital undergoing precautionary tests. He was released
from the hospital on Monday but was reportedly still dealing with tingling
in his shoulder and arms.
- DB Greg Wesley, Kansas City (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Wesley has been an extremely productive fantasy player in recent years, but
he's been pretty mediocre this entire season apart from a couple good games.
He hasn't exactly been terrible to make you want to cut him, but he hasn't
been productive enough to warrant serious starting consideration.
- DB DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta (2 solos, 1 PD)
Hall has the potential to be one of the league's best cover corners, but he's
been struggling lately. Additionally, the rest of the Falcons cornerbacks
are even worse so QBs have little reason to throw in his direction.
- DB Yeremiah Bell, Miami (1 asst)
Bell put together a strong 3 game stretch recently in which he recorded 17
solos, 9 assists, 1 FF, 1 FR, and 6 PD. Since then, however, he's only managed
2 solos and 1 assist in the last 2 games.
- DB Daniel Bullocks, Detroit (2 solos)
The return of Kenoy Kennedy to the starting lineup pushes the rookie Bullocks
back to the bench. He may need to wait until next year to solidify a starting
job, probably by unseating Terrence Holt at FS.
- DB Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh (4 solos)
The Steelers lost SS Troy Polamalu to an injury a week ago and may have lost
their other starting safety this week. Clark left the game with a groin injury
and didn't return. The Steelers have a short week this week and rookie Anthony
Smith may get his first start on Thursday night against the Browns.