News, Analysis & UpdatesDecember 22, 2004

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The Top Ten Defenders of Week 15

By Arlo Vander

Donnie Edwards had another solid week with six tackles and an interception, but it wasn’t quite enough to top the IDP charts for a third consecutive week. In fact, the star linebacker isn’t even in the top ten, although he still stands tall atop the season charts. Which players made the list in Edwards’ absence? Read on!

1. Eric Barton – LB, NYJ
Barton can frustrate fantasy owners with his inconsistent production, but when he’s good, he’s very good indeed. And this week, he truly did it all. With an interception, a forced fumble, a recovery, two passes defended, seven tackles, four assists and a sack, it seemed as if he had a hand in nearly every key play in last Sunday’s decisive 37-14 victory over Seattle. Unfortunately, he’s just as likely to turn in a three-tackle effort the next time he takes the field, but his owners will savor this one.

2. Darren Sharper – S, GB
Sharper scored the Packers’ first touchdown last week, recovering a fumble by guard Vince Manuwai (who had scooped up a loose ball dropped by Byron Leftwich) and scrambling fifteen yards for the score. His efforts weren’t enough to beat the Jaguars, but with six tackles to go with the touchdown, Sharper was a part of many winning IDP squads this week.

3. Nick Greisen – LB, NYG
With Barrett Green out with a knee injury, Greisen made his fifth start of the season and wound up recording the most tackles of any defender with 13. The third-year pro will continue to start in Green’s absence, and is well worth picking up if you need a late-season fill-in to bolster your linebacker corps.

4. Mike Doss – S, Ind
Doss has been slowed by injuries this season, and hadn’t been worth a fantasy start since his monster game against Kansas City on Halloween. That changed this week, when he picked off his second pass of the year, forced a fumble and added ten tackles as the Colts overpowered the Ravens. If he’s been idling on your bench, it might be time to reintroduce him to your starting lineup.

5. DJ Williams – LB, Den
Williams’ rookie campaign has been highly impressive, and his performance this weekend was the icing on the cake. With 12 tackles, he trailed only Nick Greisen this week. Williams also forced the first fumble of his career and picked up his second sack. If you have him on your dynasty roster, it looks like you have a keeper.

6. Antonio Pierce – LB, Was
Pierce is another player enjoying unprecedented success. Undrafted out of Arizona, he saw only limited action prior to this season. This year, he has already been credited with more tackles than in his three previous seasons combined. On Sunday, he scored his first career touchdown after picking off a Ken Dorsey pass, a TD that turned out to be the game-winner for Washington.

7. Rashean Mathis – CB, Jax
Brett Favre wasn’t at his best last week, and Rashean Mathis took full advantage, intercepting the future Hall-of-Famer twice and defending five passes. With five tackles thrown in for good measure, Mathis earns the nod as the week’s top cornerback for the first time.

8. Dunta Robinson – CB, Hou
Robinson has been piling up the tackles lately, averaging 6.6 over his last five games. This week, he racked up seven along with an interception, a forced fumble and a sack. Few cornerbacks are hotter right now, and he should again be a solid IDP play this week in Jacksonville.

9. Takeo Spikes – LB, Buf
Just two tackles and one assist aren’t the numbers you want to see from a fantasy linebacker, but thanks to a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery, Spikes owners will happily overlook his lowest tackle output since week 6. He now has three interceptions in the last five games, and climbs into the top ten in the season IDP charts.

10. Kawika Mitchell – LB, KC
That’s more like it. After three straight weeks with just three solo stops, Mitchell not only broke out for nine tackles, but also fought his way to his first two sacks of the season. Unfortunately, his recent struggles led many fantasy owners to bench him, if not drop him outright, and few benefited from his big game.

Just missed: Simeon Rice (DE, TB), Keith Brooking (LB, Atl), Sammy Knight (S, Mia), Osi Umenyiora (DE, NYG), Carl Powell (DE, Cin), Denard Walker (CB, Oak), Danny Clark (LB, Oak), Saleem Rasheed (LB, SF)

Top Defenders of the Season to Date

1. Donnie Edwards – LB, SD
2. Terrence McGee – CB, Buf
3. Rodney Harrison – S, NE
4. Ray Lewis – LB, Bal
5. Jamie Sharper – LB, Hou
6. Keith Bulluck – LB, Ten
7. London Fletcher – LB, Buf
8. Derrick Brooks – LB, TB
9. Takeo Spikes – LB, Buf
10. Ronde Barber – CB, TB
11. Ed Reed – S, Bal
12. Adrian Wilson – S, Ari
13. Mike Green – S, Chi
14. Will Witherspoon – LB, Car
15. James Farrior – LB, Pit
16. Lance Briggs – LB, Chi
17. Dunta Robinson – CB, Hou
18. Antonio Pierce – LB, Was
19. Danny Clark – LB, Oak
20. Troy Polamalu – S, Pit

Arlo Vander ran into tough competition in his first playoff game, facing a team led by Kenoy Kennedy, Charles Grant and Aaron Schobel. Fortunately, Dan Morgan, Michael Boulware and Derek Smith held their own, propelling Arlo to an upset win.

Who were your top defenders of week 15?

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