The playoff push is upon us.
In many IDP leagues, the regular season is 13 weeks long. That means that the last month is upon us. The final push to the postseason. The stretch run.
I can almost hear the “NFL Films” music.
Now, some teams are already well-positioned for the playoffs. At 7-2 or 8-1 they have their eyes on a first-round bye.
If you’re 9-0 just be quiet. It’s not polite to brag.
Others still are essentially just playing out the string. At 2-7 or 3-6, the odds of the season continuing past that 13th week are slim. All they can hope to do at this point (barring a miracle) is play spoiler.
It’s not much consolation after a disappointing season, but it beats a blank.
Then there are the teams hovering around .500 – the 5-4 and 4-5 teams. For them the playoffs are neither assured nor out of the question.
What is assured is that they have very little margin for error.
Whether you’re having a great year like Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker CJ Mosley, a terrible one like Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (get well soon, Justin) or one in-between like New York Giants safety Landon Collins, all IDP owners have one thing in common as Week 10 approaches.
We’re all pushing for a win. Or at least we should be—quitting on a league is terrible form.
With that in mind, let’s get after it with this week’s look around IDP Nation.
WEEK 10 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Robert Ayers – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ayers was already playing the most snaps of any Buccaneers end. With William Gholston out with a neck injury and Noah Spence on injured reserve, his defensive role will only grow.
Will Compton – ILB, Washington Redskins: With Mason Foster out for the year, Compton was back in an every-down role for Washington last week in Seattle, responding with eight tackles and an interception. Compton’s shown in the past he can consistently produce in such a role.
DeAngelo Hall – S, Washington Redskins: Hall saw his first action last week since tearing his ACL in Week 3 of the 2016 season, logging five tackles and a couple passes defensed in 80+ snaps at free safety. Like Compton, Hall has a history of IDP production when afforded similar opportunities.
WEEK 10 IDP INJURY REPORT
Mike Adams – S, Carolina Panthers (Questionable – Shoulder): Adams had his second interception in as many games last week against the Falcons, but was forced from the game with what was originally diagnosed as a “stinger.”
Morgan Burnett – S, Green Bay Packers (OUT – Groin): After missing two games with a hamstring injury, Burnett didn’t even make it through one full game without getting injured again. He has already been ruled out for Week 10.
Dante Fowler – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (Questionable – Elbow): Fowler posted a goose-egg last week, partly due to an elbow injury. The young defensive end’s status for this week’s matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers is unknown.
Myles Garrett – DE, Cleveland Browns (Questionable – Head): All indications are that Garrett, who has at least one sack in each game in which he’s played, will be cleared to play ahead of the Browns Week 10 tilt in Detroit.
William Gholston – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Questionable – Neck): Gholston was carted off the field in New Orleans with a scary-looking neck injury. It’s believed he avoided serious injury, but his Week 10 status is iffy at best.
B.J. Goodson – ILB, New York Giants (Questionable – Ankle): The Giants are all kinds of banged up at linebacker – Jonathan Casillas (neck) and Keenan Robinson (quad) are also iffy to play this week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Nick Kwiatkoski – ILB, Chicago Bears (Questionable – Chest): Kwiatkoski’s health coming out of the bye isn’t so much the question. The question is how much Kwiatkoski will play – and if those snaps will come at the expense of Christian Jones.
Jason McCourty – CB, Cleveland Browns (Questionable – Ankle): McCourty missed Cleveland’s last game against the Tennessee Titans, but there’s measured optimism that the veteran cornerback will be back on the field Sunday against the Lions.
Denzel Perryman – ILB, Los Angeles Chargers (Questionable – Ankle): The Chargers indicated over their bye week that Perryman is expected to be activated this week after missing the first half of the season following preseason ankle surgery.
Jaquiski Tartt – S, San Francisco 49ers (IR – Arm): Just like free safety Jimmie Ward before him, Tartt suffered a fractured forearm in last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The injury put an end to what had been a promising 2017 season.
Earl Thomas – S, Seattle Seahawks (Questionable – Hamstring): Thomas didn’t practice Tuesday, and with the Seahawks playing on Thursday the short turnaround makes it rather unlikely he’ll face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10.
Solomon Thomas – DE, San Francisco 49ers (Questionable – Knee): Thomas has yet to be officially ruled out for Week 10, but the belief is that his sprained MCL will sideline the rookie defensive end until the 49ers return from their bye week in Week 12 – at least.
Stephon Tuitt – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (Questionable – Back): With the Steelers coming off their bye Tuitt is back on the practice field, and the tentative belief is that the fourth-year defensive end will be back on the field Sunday in Indianapolis.
Kenny Vaccaro – S, New Orleans Saints (Questionable – Groin): Vaccaro missed the second half of last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a groin injury, but reports indicate he was held out as a precaution with the game out of hand.
Olivier Vernon – DE, New York Giants (Questionable – Ankle): Vernon’s lost season is a microcosm for New York’s – the veteran defensive end hasn’t played for the Giants since October 1 thanks to an injured ankle.
Shawn Williams – S, Cincinnati Bengals (Questionable – Hamstring): Williams had one of his better stat lines of the season in Week 9, recording four tackles and forcing a fumble. But he also left the contest early with an injured hamstring.
THE WHAT THE HECK DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE WAIVER PLAY OF THE WEEK
Craig Robertson – OLB, New Orleans Saints (at BUF)
Robertson told reporters (via the team’s website) that he knows the Saints defense will have their hands full with LeSean McCoy this week against the Bills. “He’s one of the best backs in the league, so he’s definitely somebody that you have to be fully confident going up against,” Robertson said. “He’s a guy that you have to keep bottled up. If he gets any type of space, any type of room, he can make something happen. He will be a good challenge for us as a defense.”
Fantasy owners should be chomping at the bit at the idea of starting Robertson and A.J. Klein against McCoy and the Bills this week. The Bills are fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts per game (31.2), and only the Cleveland Browns have given up more fantasy points per game to the linebacker position in 2017 than the Bills.
GUYS I LIKE IN WEEK 10
Aaron Donald – DE, Los Angeles Rams (vs. HOU): Donald now has a sack in three straight games, and he’s likely to keep that streak alive this week against the Texans, who have surrendered 28 sacks and the most fantasy points to defensive linemen.
Trey Flowers – DE, New England Patriots (at DEN): Flowers hasn’t logged a full sack since all the way back in Week 3, but that dry spell should come to a halt Sunday night in Denver against a Broncos squad that’s giving up 3.5 sacks per game on average.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (at IND): Just as he usually does when healthy, Heyward is quietly having a solid season as a DL2 for fantasy owners. This week’s plus matchup with the Colts sets up well for that to continue.
Jarrad Davis – ILB, Detroit Lions (vs. CLE): Davis has been relatively quiet since his return to action a couple of weeks ago, with just 10 total tackles over the last two games. He’ll top that this week against the Browns, who have allowed the most fantasy points per game to linebackers in 2017.
Brandon Marshall – ILB, Denver Broncos (vs. NEP): Marshall was the AFC’s highest-scoring fantasy linebacker last week thanks to seven tackles, a sack and a defensive TD. A strong matchup with the Patriots offers him an excellent shot at two straight big outings.
Nick Vigil – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (at TEN): Vigil’s been a nice find for IDP owners in 2017, ranking just outside the top 25 in fantasy points. He’s a solid play this week against a Titans team that’s been a top-five IDP matchup for linebackers this year.
Devin McCourty – S, New England Patriots (at DEN): It isn’t very often that a pair of twin brothers who are both having top-10 seasons in fantasy points per game square off with the two best fantasy matchups for defensive backs. First time for everything I guess.
Jason McCourty – CB. Cleveland Browns (at DET): This (of course) assumes that McCourty suits up against the Lions. If he does he should absolutely be in lineups – no team has allowed more fantasy points to defensive backs this year.
Glover Quin – S, Detroit Lions (vs. CLE): The Cleveland Browns aren’t third in fantasy points allowed to defensive backs because of a high-octane offense. It’s because they lead the NFL in interceptions thrown – a stat that benefits a ball-hawk like Quin.
GUYS I DON’T LIKE IN WEEK 10
Ezekiel Ansah – DE, Detroit Lions (vs. CLE): It seems like a million years ago that Ansah posted his lone dominant season – all the way back in 2015. This week he gets the winless Browns, who are actually allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to defensive linemen.
Geno Atkins – DT, Cincinnati Bengals (at TEN): Atkins has had a rock-solid first half of the season – his 27 total tackles are only five off last year’s total and he’s on pace for double-digit sacks. But he draws a bottom-four IDP matchup with the Titans in Week 10.
Julius Peppers – DE, Carolina Panthers (vs. MIA): Peppers has exceeded expectations and then some with the Panthers, logging 7.5 sacks so far this season. But the Dolphins have been stingy to d-linemen, allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to the position.
Preston Brown – ILB, Buffalo Bills (vs. NOS): The Saints are doing a much better job of running the ball this year than in the past few seasons. But to this point it hasn’t translated to fantasy points allowed to linebackers – they rank 30th in the NFL in that regard.
Darron Lee – ILB, New York Jets (at TBB): The fact that I don’t like Lee (and to a lesser extent Demario Davis) in Week 10 has less to do with the Jets ILB battery than it does with a Buccaneers offense that has struggled to find any consistency this season.
Sean Lee – OLB, Dallas Cowboys (at ATL): When he’s on the field Lee is as steady as they come from both an NFL and IDP perspective. But this week’s matchup against a Falcons offense that’s stuck in neutral presents him with an uphill climb.
Jahleel Addae – S, Los Angeles Chargers (at JAX): There are a number of things the Jaguars have done well en route to a 5-3 record. Throwing the ball is not one of them – they rank 26th in passing offense and 31st in fantasy points given up to defensive backs.
DeAngelo Hall – S, Washington Redskins (at MIN): I like Hall moving forward as a source of some cheap IDP production on the back end. I don’t like him much in Week 10 though – the Vikings are a bottom-10 matchup for defensive backs this season.
Kenny Vaccaro – S, New Orleans Saints (at BUF): Even if Vaccaro’s groin injury isn’t serious and he plays Sunday it’s a good time to give him the week off. The Bills aren’t a good IDP matchup for defensive backs. In fact, they are the worst.
THE SCRAP-HEAP STREAMING CORNERBACK PLAY OF THE WEEK
In recent years the number of dependable weekly fantasy starters at the cornerback position has dwindled to just about zero. So as a service to those hearty souls who play in IDP leagues that require them, each week I’ll point out a player at that position available in many leagues who should serve as a fine streaming option.
Tramon Williams, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA): Williams is the latest in the never-ending attempts by the Cardinals to find a viable starter opposite Patrick Peterson. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is more familiar with Peterson than any player at the position in the NFL, and Wilson (at the helm of a Seattle offense that cannot the run the ball) has enough sense not to throw at the Pro Bowler more than he has to. That means targets (and IDP scoring opportunities) for Williams.