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Thursday, December 13, 2007
Pro Bowl defenders

By Steven Jackson
Special to ESPN.com

As an NFL running back, I guess my job description is a little different than those of 99 percent of you who are reading this. I get to play games every Sunday, I regularly get pounded and tackled by men who focus most of their time on building muscle to do just that, and, if I'm lucky, people cheer for me bringing the ball 10 feet up the field. I also get to play DJ with the music at my home stadium, but that's a different story for a different time.

Anyway, I realize a lot of you are stuck in the office reading this. Maybe you just finished filling out those evaluation sheets for a boss or co-worker or maybe even somebody who works under you. I get the feeling those are pretty tedious things to do, so I wanted you all to know I feel for you. In fact, in the spirit of brotherhood with my fantasy players, I wanted to help you in filling out your Pro Bowl ballots. And since I know you all are very aware of the better offensive players out there, I figured I'd give you a little insight into which defensive players on opposing teams (otherwise, you know I'd be picking all St. Louis Rams) both give me the fits and earn my respect. Most of the time, it's one and the same.

So, consider this the "Steven Jackson Year-End Report," where plagiarism is encouraged and comments are welcome. If you'd like to replicate my answers, just click here and vote away.

My Favorite Defenders

Lofa Tatupu, LB, Seattle Seahawks -- He is a two-time Pro Bowler and is playing at a very high level again. He had three interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 and tacked on 11 tackles as well. He's really versatile, as he can tackle in the open field and pick off balls in pass coverage.

Brian Kelly, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Brian's my guy. He lives around the corner from me in Las Vegas in the offseason, we work out together and I think I mentioned in an earlier column how much I like playing against him. He's a veteran player who hasn't been to a Pro Bowl yet, but he consistently has played at a high level for 10 years and is a real catalyst in the Tampa Bay secondary. I know people love Ronde Barber, but Brian's been a big part of that defense out there, too.

Willie McGinest, LB, Cleveland Browns -- The old man of the group! He's the glue not only in the Browns' D, but also in the entire organization. He creates mismatches in pass blocking, whether it's against an offensive lineman or a running back. He's 36 years old and plays like he's 26. You want some Willie McGinest trivia? Every May 3 in Long Beach, Calif., is "Willie McGinest Day." I mean, a guy with his own day doesn't need a free trip to Hawaii, but he deserves it; he holds the Browns together.

Will Smith, DE, New Orleans Saints -- Will's a very heady speed rusher, and he just has this knack for getting to the QB. In my opinion, he's a major reason New Orleans has turned it around.

Plus, I loved "Independence Day."

Will Witherspoon, LB, um … er … Mystery Team -- All right, you caught me. I'm sneaking one of my Rams in here. I have to. Will does everything you need a middle linebacker to do and more. He's among the leaders in sacks, and when our defense lost our key rusher, Leonard Little, Will took it upon himself to raise his level of play. Check him off for your old friend, Steven.

And if you want a couple of offensive guys I really think had great years in 2007, I'd go with Derek Anderson at quarterback and Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver. But maybe we'll touch on them in a later column.

As for this week, we have the Green Bay Packers, and it's going to be awesome to watch Brett Favre play and keep that streak alive. And it's playoff time for you owners, so I'm going to keep that in the back of my mind and try to get into the end zone for you.

Besides that, it's just push, push, push, and try to end the St. Louis season on a high note. So root a little bit for us this week, and we'll do our best to get you a bunch of fantasy points.

Rams running back Steven Jackson is a weekly contributor to ESPN.com Fantasy.