No doubt a great many fantasy football articles this week will contain political overtones, metaphors and witty observations. I’ve been told there was some sort of election on Tuesday night. However, given that this has been the most divisive and depressing campaign since Caligula made a horse a Senator, we’re going to skip those here at IDP Nation.
Besides, by the time you read this I may be applying for asylum in Luxembourg. I figure the line will be shorter, and it isn’t just a Duchy. It’s a GRAND Duchy.
In any event, we have more important things to worry about than nonsense like who’s leading the free world.
It isn’t J.J. Watt. It should be – but it isn’t.
It’s the fantasy football stretch run. In leagues with 13-week regular seasons, we’ve hit the final month. Some teams are jockeying for a first-round bye. Others are scratching and clawing for a spot in the postseason tournament. And others still are demanding a recount.
With an important week of fantasy action kicking off Thursday night in Charm City, let’s get after it.
WEEK 9 IDP BEASTS
Cameron Wake – DE, Miami Dolphins: Wake, at age 34, isn’t the player he once was. He also isn’t playing every snap for the Dolphins. But if last week’s four tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles against the New York Jets is any indication, limiting the veteran’s workload is paying significant dividends for Miami.
Thomas Davis – OLB, Carolina Panthers: Wake wasn’t the only member of the 10 percent off at IHOP set who went nuts in Week 9. After a slow start to the season and Davis has peeled off his two best outings of the season the last two weeks, including 11 total tackles and a sack in last week’s win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Landon Collins – S, New York Giants: Given the stat line that Collins posted in the Giants big win over the Philadelphia Eagles, it isn’t hard to see why he’s fantasy football’s top defensive back in 2016. Collins not only piled up 12 tackles against Philly, but the second-year pro also added a sack and an interception. That’s beefy.
WEEK 9 IDP LEASTS
Robert Quinn – DE, Los Angeles Rams: Quinn entered 2016 as a top-five defensive lineman on many draft boards with hopes for a big rebound after a disappointing and injury-marred 2015. The big numbers of 2014 haven’t returned, but given that it’s been a month since Quinn posted a stat the injuries and disappointment are back with a vengeance.
Zach Brown – ILB, Buffalo Bills: It’s hard to get too mad at Brown, who has averaged just under 10 tackles a game this year even after Monday night’s turkey against the Seattle Seahawks. That still doesn’t take the sting out of a guy who has led linebackers in fantasy points most of the season tallying all of two assists in the Emerald City.
J.J. Wilcox – S, Dallas Cowboys: With Barry Church out with a broken arm and six teams on a bye, many IDP squads may have looked to Wilcox as an IDP fill-in in Week 9 against the Cleveland Browns. After posting all of two assists in the Dallas win, many fantasy owners are probably wondering what could have possessed them to do that. I know I am.
WEEK 9 IDP INJURY REPORT
Mike Adams – S, Indianapolis Colts (Groin): Adams sat out Sunday’s big win over the Green Bay Packers with a groin injury, and it’s believed the veteran safety is at least another week or two away from making a return to action.
Kwon Alexander – ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Shoulder): More than a few IDP owners had chest pains when Alexander missed a good portion of last Thursday night’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons. But Alexander returned to the game late, and he’s not expected to miss any time.
Jatavis Brown – LB, San Diego Chargers (Knee): Everyone’s favorite waiver wire linebacker sat out Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. If the original timetable for Brown’s injury holds, he’s still a week or two away.
Kam Chancellor – S, Seattle Seahawks: It’s been a little while since the Legion of Boom has been at full strength, and fantasy owners who have been riding Kelcie McCray haven’t minded one bit. But early reports from Seattle indicate that Chancellor will return for Sunday night’s marquee matchup with the Patriots.
Barry Church – S, Dallas Cowboys (Arm): Church is set to undergo surgery on his fractured forearm, but it isn’t expected to affect the timetable for his recovery. The veteran safety is expected to be out about a month, but could return for the fantasy playoffs.
Justin Houston – OLB, Kansas City Chiefs (Knee): The Chiefs have activated Houston from the PUP list, but that has much to do with the deadline to do as the health of his injured knee. His status for Week 10 remains highly uncertain.
Jelani Jenkins – OLB, Miami Dolphins (Hand): Jenkins broke his left hand in Sunday’s win over the Jets. More specifically, teammate Kiko Alonso broke his hand. But Jenkins will reportedly practice Wednesday with a club on his hand and is on track not to miss any time.
Eric Kendricks – ILB, Minnesota Vikings (Concussion): Kendricks sat out Week 9 with a concussion, but with another week to clear the NFL’s protocol the early belief is that Kendricks should be back on the field Sunday in the nation’s capital.
Darron Lee – ILB, New York Jets (Knee): Lee has now missed each of the past three games with his balky knee. Julian Stanford has been an OK fill-in for IDP owners, but it’s unknown who will be starting next to David Harris this week.
Clay Matthews – OLB, Green Bay Packers (Hamstring): For much of last week Matthews appeared on track to return to action, only to suffer a setback with his injured hamstring late in the week. He’s considered a dicey bet at best to play Sunday in Tennessee.
Aqib Talib – CB, Denver Broncos (Back): Talib has missed the last two games with a back injury, and there are reports indicating that the Pro Bowl cover man could be sidelined through Denver’s Week 11 bye. Bradley Roby will continue to start in his stead.
Derek Wolfe – DE, Denver Broncos (Elbow): Wolfe suffered a hairline fracture of his elbow in last Sunday night’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. It isn’t thought Wolfe will need surgery, but he’s expected to miss the next three or four weeks.
THE WHAT THE HECK DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE WAIVER PLAY OF THE WEEK
Brian Cushing – ILB, Houston Texans (at JAX)
After battling injuries early in the season, Cushing told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle he’s feeling good coming out of the Texans’ bye. "I feel really good these last two games," Cushing said. "I really feel like myself. It's picking up. I'm really excited for the second half of the year, considering I'll be fully healthy.”
There’s ample reason for IDP owners to be excited about Cushing as well, especially in Week 10. The Jaguars have been a favorable fantasy matchup this season even with their offense in disarray, and if last week’s loss to Kansas City the Jacksonville ground game appears to have gotten a boost from a healthy Chris Ivory.
GUYS I LIKE IN WEEK 10
DeForest Buckner – DE, San Francisco 49ers (at AZ): Buckner’s been up and down this season, as rookies often are. But a matchup with a Cardinals team allowing the most fantasy points to defensive linemen sets up well as an “up” week.
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (vs. GB): Casey’s been a Case(y) study in the importance of matchups to IDP value in 2016. And if his trend holds of playing well in matchups that favor him, Casey belongs in starting lineups Sunday against the Pack.
Sheldon Richardson – DE, New York Jets (vs. LA): Leonard Williams is an every-week must-start, and Mo Wilkerson appears to have lost his danged mind. The latter development should mean more snaps for Richardson Sunday in a solid matchup.
Chris Kirksey – ILB, Cleveland Browns (at BAL): Jamie Collins’ arrival didn’t put a dent in either Kirksey’s role or his IDP value against the Cowboys. Thursday night’s tilt with the Ravens is a good one, especially if Baltimore tries to get their lagging ground game going against a soft Cleveland run D.
Bernardrick McKinney – ILB, Houston Texans (at JAX): Cushing isn’t the only Texans ILB I like in Week 10. McKinney has been a solid fantasy producer for most of the season, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t continue this week against the Jags.
Bobby Wagner – LB, Seattle Seahawks (at NE): I bet against Wagner last week in a bad matchup at home against the Bills, and he had a huge night. This Sunday night’s Super Bowl preview is a much better matchup on paper.
Antoine Bethea – S, San Francisco 49ers (at AZ): I was asked this week why I’m so high on Bethea all the time. He’s a top-10 safety in 2016, a player who has a long track record of steady production, and he’s riding a string of good fantasy matchups.
Harold Jones-Quartey – S, Chicago Bears (at TB): Jones-Quartey has been what many fantasy defensive backs often are – inconsistent and matchup-dependent. From the latter perspective at least, Week 10 looks good for the youngster.
T.J. Ward – S, Denver Broncos (at NO): Ward has played a lot closer to the line of scrimmage for the Broncos this year, and reaped the rewards as a result. No team has given up more fantasy points to defensive backs than the Saints.
GUYS I DON’T LIKE IN WEEK 10
Cliff Avril – DE, Seattle Seahawks (at NE): It’s nearly impossible to sit a white-hot defensive lineman who leads his position in fantasy points in many scoring systems. But that doesn’t change the fact the Pats are a rotten pass-rush matchup.
Jadeveon Clowney – DE, Houston Texans (at JAX): To say that I don’t like Clowney might be pushing it – the Jaguars allow their fair share of sacks. But they haven’t given up a lot of fantasy points to defensive linemen in 2016 – they rank 31st in that regard.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. DAL): The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and a very mobile quarterback in Dak Prescott. Not surprisingly, this does not bode especially well for pass rushers.
Nick Bellore – ILB, San Francisco 49ers (at AZ): Bellore has been a steady IDP producer since entering the starting lineup for the 49ers, but the 49ers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to linebackers in 2016.
Sean Lee – LB, Dallas Cowboys (at PIT): One would think that a Steelers team featuring first DeAngelo Williams and then Le’Veon Bell at tailback would be kind to fantasy linebackers. As we’ve found with a few things this week, one would be wrong.
Avery Williamson – ILB, Tennessee Titans (vs. GB): At no point this season have the Packers been a good fantasy matchup for linebackers. And now with their run game in complete shambles, they’re the worst in the entire NFL.
Jairus Byrd – S, New Orleans Saints (vs. DEN): With the Saints playing a lot of three-safety looks Byrd has posted two straight big stat lines. That hot streak is apt to come to an end this week against a suddenly sputtering Broncos passing game.
Kam Chancellor – S, Seattle Seahawks (at NE): As I mentioned earlier, Chancellor should be back in action Sunday night. But whether it’s him or Kelcie McCray at strong safety the Pats rank dead last in fantasy points allowed to DBs.
Kurt Coleman – S, Carolina Panthers (vs. KC): Coleman has turned it up a bit of late, logging seven stops in two of his last three games. But in news that should surprise no one, the Chiefs are not a team that allows a lot of fantasy points to defensive backs.
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.
Bradley Roby – CB, Denver Broncos (at NO): Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips may not have enjoyed watching Raiders quarterback Derek Carr abuse Roby last week, but for fantasy owners it was quite lovely. This week Roby gets Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome – need I say more?