Reading the Defense: Hail the Mighty Quinn

If you're asking around Seattle, it's pretty likely that few Seahawks fans are currently enamored with the number 13. It's in Week 13 that their ferocious defense has taken a couple of big knocks with Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner both facing suspensions.

Because Browner is injured and wasn't expected to return for a few more weeks, his suspension stings a little less for the 2013 season. However, losing Thurmond -- who was the corner playing opposite Richard Sherman -- could have a notable impact.

With Thurmond out of action for the next few weeks, the Seahawks have been scrambling to fill the void. The team signed the recently released Perrish Cox on Tuesday (then released him on Wednesday) and could plug in another free agent. In the meantime, it looks like Byron Maxwell is next in line for the Seattle defense.

In the short term, it will put added pressure on Sherman along with safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to help lock down on opposing receivers. And boy, will they ever have a challenge this week with the New Orleans Saints bringing their high-wire act to the Emerald City.

So far, Thomas has been one of fantasy's best defensive backs, ranking second in points at the position. A sizable chunk of that has come from his four interceptions (tied for fourth-most in the NFL), thanks to Thomas' ability to play center field. If he's forced to help out in coverage, it could impact the numbers he's able to put up.

The mighty Quinn

Defensive linemen are often the forgotten pieces in IDP leagues. They generally don't rack up a ton of tackles like linebackers. They're never going to snag a lot of interceptions like defensive backs. Sure, they get sacks ... but that's merely one piece of the scoring puzzle. And generally it's not a big piece.

That's what makes J.J. Watt such a great commodity. But this season, we'd be remiss if we overlooked the job Robert Quinn has done for the St. Louis Rams. Quinn didn't come into the league with the name value of his defensive line bookend, Chris Long. But the third-year player from North Carolina has far surpassed Long in 2013 with 13 sacks, second-most in the NFL.

But if there was a play that encapsulated Quinn's season, it was the trifecta he pulled against the Bears in Week 12. He started by beating tackle Jermon Bushrod and slapping the ball out of Josh McCown's hand for the strip sack. Then he simply scoope the ball up and ran it back for a touchdown.

Certainly not every week will provide that sort of fantasy bonanza, but it's an indication of how dominant Quinn has been this season. That and the six forced fumbles. In all, it goes a long way toward explaining how Quinn is the second-highest scoring player at his position and in the top 35 among overall IDP scorers. If you haven't climbed on board, it's not too late.

Four downs

» Don't expect to see Sean Lee on the field for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders. Owner Jerry Jones told a local radio station that it would be "optimistic" to see the star linebacker playing this week. Both the team and Lee hoped he would be back from his hamstring injury sooner than the diagnosed 3-4 weeks, but at this point, it appears that he's on pace to be back in Week 14 which would be right in line with the prescribed schedule.

» Clay Matthews has downgraded from a club to a smaller cast to help protect his recovering broken thumb. It's not quite the same as the Packers linebacker being 100 percent healthy, but anything that reduces his limitations is good news for IDP owners ... and bad news for opposing quarterbacks.

» Haloti Ngata says he's feeling better about the state of his sprained left knee heading into Thursday night's game against the Steelers. While Ngata isn't a big IDP producer, he's key to the midde of the Ravens defense and allows Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to disrupt the pocket from the edges. If he's healthy, that should just add to the problems of an already troubled Pittsburgh offensive line.

» Just when it looked like Jason Pierre-Paul was rounding back into form, he seems uncertain for this week's game against Philadelphia. The Giants pass rusher is still dealing with shoulder issues. The team hasn't said if Pierre-Paul will need surgery, but it's definitely noticeable that it is affecting his play.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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