It's almost always more prudent to wait a few rounds and snag the guys who, for some reason, fly under the radar -- and rarely draw double-teams. Dwight Freeney used to see constant double-teams, and still does on occasion, making the less-revered, oft-ignored linemate Robert Mathis a more productive option.
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One of the reasons both Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka are top DLs is that they're surrounded by other talented pass-rushers. The middle of that D-line (Barry Cofield, Chris Canty) is effective at getting penetration and collapsing the pocket. That bunch is also bolstered by occasional appearances by one-time fantasy stud Osi Umenyiora and rookie Jason Pierre-Paul, who's looked pretty good in limited duty and could be a profitable long-term add in keeper leagues.
1. Trent Cole, PHI (vs. WAS)
2. Mario Williams, HOU (at OAK)
3. Julius Peppers, CHI (at NYG)
4. Robert Mathis, IND (at JAC)
5. Kyle Vanden Bosch, DET (at GB)
6. Justin Tuck, NYG (vs. CHI)
7. Darnell Dockett, ARI (at SD)
8. Dwight Freeney, IND (at JAC)
9. Calais Campbell, ARI (at SD)
10. Shaun Ellis, NYJ (at BUF)
11. Will Smith, NO (vs. CAR)
12. Justin Smith, SF (at ATL)
13. Juqua Parker, PHI (vs. WAS)
14. Ndamukong Suh, DET (at GB)
15. Cullen Jenkins, GB (vs. DET)
16. Haloti Ngata, BAL (at PIT)
17. Jason Babin, TEN (vs. DEN)
18. Aaron Kampman, JAC (vs. IND)
19. Chris Long, STL (vs. SEA)
20. Charles Johnson, CAR (at NO)
21. Red Bryant, SEA (at STL)
22. Robaire Smith, CLE (vs. CIN)
23. Antwan Odom, CIN (at CLE)
24. Alex Brown, NO (vs. CAR)
25. John Abraham, ATL (vs. SF)
26. Dave Ball, TEN (vs. DEN)
27. Corey Williams, DET (at GB)
28. Chris Kelsay, BUF (vs. NYJ)
29. Trevor Scott, OAK (vs. HOU)
30. Sione Pouha, NYJ (at BUF)
• Cole is now the top-scoring DL, thanks to a huge Week 3 (8 solos, 2.0 sacks, PD). I can't envision a scenario where I'd sit the Eagles defensive superstar if he's healthy.
• Tuck and Kiwanuka again turned in solid performances in Week 3, with 12 total tackles and a sack between them. But Kiwanuka is out this week, and Osi Umenyiora (knee swelling) is doubtful.
• Freeney sat out practice on Wednesday, which is par for the course. Both he and the aforementioned Mathis should be started every week as long as they're active.
• Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell have a nice little battle going for top-scoring DL on the Cads. Dockett surged past Campbell last week with 7 total tackles and a sack, but they're on pretty even fantasy ground.
• Antwan Odom ended up sitting last week with a wrist injury, but I can't imagine it'll prevent the pass-rushing specialist from playing two weeks in a row. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but it's a good sign that he was on the field.
• Shaun Ellis gets a bump in value this week facing the Bills, although the Buffalo offensive line did an admirable job against the Patriots last week. I don't anticipate as much success facing the dynamic Jets defense.
• Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch both remain excellent starts, especially if either is eligible at DT in leagues that require that position. The Lions defense has made impressive strides in the past year, and it all starts with the changes they've made to their front four.
• I'd be giving Robaire Smith a spot start this week in deeper leagues. He's a moderate-value 3-4 DE, but playing in that scheme hasn't disrupted his fantasy potential. The longtime veteran already has 19 total tackles.
• Charles Johnson rebounded from a couple of weak games with a solid home game against the Bengals (4 solos, sack). He makes a decent week-to-week DL2.
New to the list:
• Red Bryant -- Converted from DT, Bryant has made a nice transition in Seattle and faces a vulnerable St. Louis offensive line this week. He's still available in tons of leagues.
• Corey Williams -- Along with Suh and Vanden Bosch, Williams has solidified a defensive line that was among the worst in the league. His value may be fleeting, but he's worth a look in deeper leagues.