News, Analysis & UpdatesOctober 5, 2004

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The Top Ten Defenders of Week 4

By Arlo Vander

There were quite a few strong performances from defenders this weekend, but one man towered above the crowd: Houston linebacker Jamie Sharper. A one-man wrecking crew, Sharper was the top player to have in week 4, and his stellar performance vaulted him all the way to fourth place on the season charts. Who is this year’s top defender to date? Read on…

1. Jamie Sharper – LB, Hou
Houston evened its record at 2-2 with a 30-17 win against Oakland this week, and Sharper was one of the key factors. Not only did the Texans’ defensive leader return a Kerry Collins fumble thirteen yards for the first touchdown of the game, he also recorded a sack, a forced fumble, a pass defense, seven tackles and two assists. Owners with Sharper in their IDP lineups couldn’t ask for a better all-around effort.

2. Troy Polamalu – S, Pit
This is why the Steelers drafted Polamalu in the first round last year. His return of an errant Carson Palmer pass for a score sealed Pittsburgh’s win over Cincinnati, but his two pass defenses and four tackles were no less important. So far this season, the former USC star ranks not only among the top fantasy DBs, but among the top defenders overall.

3. Larry Foote – LB, Pit
Polamalu wasn’t the only Steelers defender to enjoy a big day against the Bengals. Foote led the team with nine solo tackles and two assists, also adding a forced fumble and a pass defense in what has to be considered the best game of his three-year career. After seeing limited duty over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick in the 2002 draft is proving that he not only belongs in the league, but can be a key component in his team’s defense.

4. Patrick Kerney – DE, Atl
Ho hum. Kerney was at #4 on this list last week, and repeats that ranking with an impressive two sack, eight tackle effort against Jake Delhomme and the Panthers. If Kerney keeps up this torrid pace, he’ll be worth a pickup even in leagues that lump defensive linemen together with linebackers. No DL is hotter right now. Check that: no defender is hotter now, period.

5. Adrian Wilson – S, Ari
Wilson opened the scoring for Arizona this week, running an Aaron Stecker fumble back into the endzone to set the tone for the Cardinals’ 34-10 rout of New Orleans. He also added five tackles and now jumps up to third overall in the season IDP rankings.

6. Na’il Diggs – LB, GB
Maybe the $7,500 fine he received for his hit on Peyton Manning last week fired him up. Diggs was certainly motivated this Sunday, and took out his aggression on the New York Giants offense. The linebacker led all defenders with 11 solo tackles and four assists in week 4, nearly doubling his season total.

7. Charles Woodson – CB, Oak
His eight tackles and two assists would already have made for excellent numbers from a DB, yet Woodson also added four pass defenses in Oakland’s loss at Houston, a number trailing only Pittsburgh’s Joey Porter this week.

8. John Abraham – DE, NYJ
Two sacks, a forced fumble an a recovery, a pass defense and a handful of tackles … Abraham did it all this week as the Jets’ coaching staff let him run wild. If he continues to have the green light to go after opposing QBs rather than helping out in coverage, he’ll have value as a fantasy DL.

9. Kevin Mathis – CB, Atl
Mathis makes this list largely on the strength of his 35-yard interception return. Expect Mathis to post his best numbers since he left New Orleans and be a solid fantasy CB, but when he’s not running picks back into the end zone, he won’t be able to keep up with the top safeties in terms of fantasy production.

10. Richard Seymour – DT, NE
Seymour also found the end zone this week, putting the Bills away with a 68-yard fumble return. Unfortunately, Seymour’s value to the Patriots is far higher than his worth in fantasy games.

Just missed: Madieu Williams (CB, Cin), Gibril Wilson (S, NYG), Tedy Bruschi (LB, NE), Donnie Abraham (CB, NYJ)

Top Defenders of the Season to Date

1. Patrick Kerney – DE, Atl
2. Zach Thomas – LB, Mia
3. Adrian Wilson – S, Ari
4. Jamie Sharper – LB, Hou
5. Nick Barnett – LB, GB
6. Ray Lewis – LB, Bal
7. Troy Polamalu – S, Pit
8. Julian Peterson – LB, SF
9. Madieu Williams – CB, Cin
10. Derrick Brooks – LB, TB

Arlo Vander’s defense hit a wall this week. Duane Starks, in particular, disappointed as Antoine Winfield’s bye-week replacement.

Who were your top defenders of week 4?

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