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IDP General Admission

In his first game replacing Takeo Spikes as starter, Bills LB Angelo Crowell had 5-2 tackles…

Crowell has nowhere near the talent that Spikes has, but the WLB for Buffalo should continue to produce nice numbers. Crowell was a third round pick by Buffalo in the 2003 NFL draft. At 6'1 235, he's a bit undersized and you shouldn't find him in the middle anytime soon. However, he moves well and is an excellent tackler…

Crowell has spent the last few years learning the nuances at all LB positions, and his best fit seemed to be the WLB position anyway. As long as he holds on to the job, he should get you tackles. Mario Haggan would have been a threat to replace Spikes, but he is out with an injury for the next several weeks. The only other threat to Crowell is from Josh Stamer, but Stamer is mostly a special teams player without the skill level to be a starter…

Saints DE Charles Grant had been a bit of a disappointment this year after the first three games. He only had eight total tackles and had not yet registered a sack. In Sunday's 19-7 win over Buffalo, Grant had seven solo tackles and his first sack of the season. The 27 year-old Grant has had double digit sacks in each of his last two seasons…

Giants safety Gibril Wilson came out of nowhere last season, after Shaun Williams was hurt, and produced some excellent play for about eight games. He was on pace to break 100 total tackles before an injury caused him to miss the last half of the year. Wilson is on pace to break 100 tackles this year if he can stay healthy. On Sunday, Wilson had 10-1 tackles and added a forced fumble. Wilson is a hard hitter who excels against the running game…

The theme this week seems to be about taking advantage of opportunity. When Patriots S Rodney Harrison went down, it presented an opportunity to second year man Gus Scott. In his first ever game as an NFL starter, Scott had 6-3 tackles…

Harrison is one of the best in the game and replacing him won't be easy. Harrison played with a wild abandon on the field, crashing into opponents like a crazed man and often leading the team in fines for hits considered too much by NFL standards. His play was contagious. Scott, on the other hand, is much more subdued in his manner and is not nearly the enforcer that Harrison was. Scott is also much smaller than Harrison and his blows simply don't have the impact…

But nothing is more sacred in the fantasy world than opportunity, and with it Scott could prove to be a big success. Remember too that Harrison is almost 34 years old and might not play again in the NFL…

Yet another NFL safety provided with an opportunity to start because of an injury to another player is Jacksonville strong safety Deke Cooper. When Donovan Darius was knocked out for the season with a knee injury, Cooper stepped in. Now in his second start for Darius, Cooper has had nice back to back weeks, providing 6-1 tackles in Sunday's 20-7 loss to Denver. They are his first starts since the 2003 season. Although not as strong as Darius in run support, Jacksonville should not lose too much in the long haul with Cooper in at strong safety…

Texans rookie Strong Safety C.C. Brown entered training camp just trying to win a spot on the roster. Sixth round picks are far from assured a spot on opening day and Brown had hoped to make his noise as a special teams player. He fared so well in camp, though, that he found himself in a heated competition with Glenn Earl to start…

Earl, however, was hampered by injuries, missing the offseason workouts and then separating his shoulder early in training camp. Brown took advantage of Earl's absence and has not looked back. Brown has started all three games this season, including Sunday when he led the team with 6-3 tackles in their 16-10 loss to the Bengals. Although not without making his share of mistakes, Brown has played well and is second on the team in tackles for the season…

Many teams questioned the Seattle Seahawks when they drafted LB Lofa Tatupu with their second round pick in last year's NFL draft. They liked him as a player, but he was just too small and too slow to reach for him in the second round. Tatupu has thus far proved his skeptics wrong as he not only earned the starting job, but his impact on the field is increasing. In Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Redskins, Tatupu had 10-1 tackles and added a sack. It was his second sack of the season and the first game he reached double digit tackles…

It's not easy to become an opening day starter as a rookie, and it's even harder when you must make all the defensive calls. But Tatupu has shown he has the intelligence and instincts to succeed. He also has a much quicker first step than given credit for. Tatupu has not been on the field in a lot of passing situations, but he's proficient in coverage and we're already seeing him a little more in those situations. Look for Tatupu to provide increased consistency and higher tackle numbers as the season progresses…

Colts DE Robert Mathis now has one sack in all four games this season…

Colts safety Bob Sanders hits as hard as any other safety. He also makes big plays. In the Colts 31-10 win over the Titans, Sanders had 8-2 tackles and an interception. The interception stopped a Titan drive late in the first half. Some of the hits Sanders put on Titan players were downright brutal…

The Colts linebacking crew has been consistently putting up good numbers. Gary Brackett, Cato June and David Thornton, much maligned as a unit heading into the season, have proven to be a force. All three are putting up good numbers, and they combined for 13-10 tackles Sunday…

The Colts have given up only 26 points after four games this season. That's the second least in franchise history, with only the 1971 team faring better. I know this isn't exactly IDP stuff, but still…

Detroit DE Kalimba Edwards has always seemed like a tantalizing IDP pick. His speed and quickness is off the chart and many thought after his rookie season he would blossom into a superstar. That was in 2002 and since then he has battled injuries and the constant barrage of criticism for underperforming. Just when you thought Edwards had found his way, he disappoints. After Detroit spent a second round pick on him, he closed out his rookie year with four sacks in his last six games. But he had only two sacks the following year…

In 2004, Edwards had 3.5 sacks in his first six games, but finished with only one more sack. Will this year be a repeat? Edwards had two sacks in a 17-13 loss to Tampa Bay. He now has three through four games. Some have pointed to Edwards' poor work ethic as an obstacle to his play. He's in a contract year, so if he wants to stick around with the Lions, or any other team for that matter, he needs to keep up his play throughout the season. With James Hall potentially missing more time because of a groin injury, Edwards might be looking at one of his last chances…

Jets LB Jonathan Vilma had 11-5 tackles in 13-3 loss to Baltimore. He has increased the number of tackles in every game this season, breaching double digits in each of the last three weeks. He is leading the NFL in tackles…

Ravens' Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed has not been producing for his fantasy owners. Known as perhaps the game's premiere playmaker, Reed has made few big plays so far this year. In 48 NFL games prior to this season, Reed had 21 interceptions, four sacks, four forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles and three defensive touchdowns. He also has averaged over 75 tackles per year. So far after three games, Reed has no interceptions, sacks or fumbles and he's on pace for less than 60 tackles…

In Sunday's win over New York, Reed had 4-0 tackles. But he suffered a concussion late in the third quarter. He actually fell down on his way back to the huddle before officials forced him from the game. Reed returned in the fourth quarter and said after the game that he was fine…

The reality with Reed is that he's played reasonably well, especially in run support. It's just that teams are rarely challenging him near the middle of the field…

Raiders SS Derrick Gibson is quietly having a solid season. He's been a bit of a disappointment to the Raiders after they drafted him in the first round in 2001. But so far this year he has played well. On Sunday, Gibson had 6-2 tackles and his first sack of the season in a 19-13 win over Dallas. He's had at least four tackles in every game and is third on the team in that category behind only Kirk Morrison and Danny Clark. He's also tenth in the NFL in tackles amongst all DBs…

Gibson missed all of last season because of a shoulder injury. He came to camp determined to beat out the incumbent Marques Anderson, and he succeeded. Critics have said he doesn't make enough big plays, misses too many tackles and doesn't have natural instincts to take it to the next level. But I like what I've seen so far this year from Gibson and think he could end up a decent play for IDP owners…

I wrote last week that as Falcons DT Rod Coleman goes, so goes the team. Interestingly enough, going back to 2001, when Coleman played for the Raiders, Coleman's team is 26-3 in games when Coleman gets a sack. In Sunday's 30-10 win over the Vikings, Coleman had two sacks and now has four in the last two games and five on the season…

Coleman also had a pair of tackles and a forced fumble Sunday. With Vikings DT Kevin Williams off to such a slow start, Coleman is far and away the most productive DT for IDP leagues…

Two games as a starter and two sacks for Eagles rookie DT Mike Patterson. Patterson, out of USC, is nicknamed "Baby Sapp" because of his abilities to get into the backfield. He was their first round pick in the 2005 NFL draft and he has played extremely well. He's got good quickness, natural instincts, good technique and is considered a very coachable player. Look for bigger and better things for Patterson as the season rolls by…

Carolina DE Mike Rucker's sack in the Panther's 32-29 win over Green Bay was the 42nd of his seven-year career, all with Carolina. It broke the previous all-time Panther career record for sacks, which was 41.5 by Kevin Greene…

Until next week…

Please e-mail me with any feedback or comments at baker@footballguys.com.

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