Last Sunday night’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots is a perfect microcosm for the 2016 season in IDP.
The Patriots best fantasy option on the defensive side of the ball at the beginning of the year (linebacker Jamie Collins) is in Cleveland now. The young linebacker most thought would be tasked with replacing him (Elandon Roberts) played a healthy number of snaps but had a quiet night, notching only one solo.
That night looked great compared to the doughnut put up by Jabaal Sheard, the New England defensive end tabbed by many IDP pundits as a breakout star in the making in 2016. We’ll have more on Sheard in a second, but it was youngster Trey Flowers who came through with the big game – piling up a pair of sacks.
Sunday night looked like a good game to bench Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, as the Patriots have ranked near the bottom of the NFL in fantasy points allowed to defensive backs all season long. So of course Chancellor went out and had one of his better statistical outings of the year, amassing eight total tackles and forcing a fumble.
The moral of this story? Even if you’re on top of every shred of possible information, for every thing you know there are two things you don’t.
Still, driving with one eye closed instead of blindfolded can decide whether or not your car winds up in a ditch (please don’t drive with one eye closed – it’s a metaphor folks), so it certainly helps to stay abreast of what’s going on around the world of IDP.
And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what we’re here for. Convenient, ain’t it?
WEEK 10 IDP BEASTS
Robert Ayers – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ayers has been a disappointment in Tampa this year after inking a fat free agent deal in the offseason, but after piling up six tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears Ayers was a popular guy on IDP waiver wires this week.
Kiko Alonso – ILB, Miami Dolphins: For most of last Sunday’s matchup with the San Diego Chargers, Alonso looked headed for a down week. That is, right up until he returned a Philip Rivers interception 60 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
Eric Berry – S, Kansas City Chiefs: Like Alonso, Berry rewarded both NFL team and fantasy owners with a pick-six in last week’s comeback win against the Carolina Panthers. The difference is that Berry’s phenomenal effort on the return may be the best play of this season so far on defense.
WEEK 10 IDP LEASTS
Jabaal Sheard – DE, New England Patriots: Sheard played less than 20 snaps against the Seahawks, and as CSN Northeast reported it didn’t sound like that was a fluke. "Everybody earns their playing time,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “Players that play the best earn the playing time.”
Lavonte David – OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Yes, the Bears’ putrid offensive effort contributed to a low snap count that didn’t help matters with David in Week 10. But his two total tackles against Chicago is the just the latest indignity David’s IDP owners have suffered in 2016.
Daniel Sorensen – S, Kansas City Chiefs: Much like Tony Jefferson last year, Sorensen has had big games when the matchup’s right this year and disappeared when it wasn’t. Sunday’s 1-assist clunker is a warning about trusting a player whose snap counts fluctuate so wildly.
WEEK 11 IDP INJURY REPORT
Michael Bennett – DE, Seattle Seahawks (Knee): Bennett hasn’t played since Week 7 after having surgery, but there’s some buzz from the Emerald City indicating the Pro Bowl end could return this week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Marcell Dareus – DT, Buffalo Bills (Groin): Dareus made it back onto the field in Week 8 just long enough to get hurt again. With two weeks to recover though it’s looking like he’ll be ready to go this week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (Pectoral): Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t the only big blow they were dealt in Week 10 – Heyward announced on Instagram that his pectoral injury is season-ending.
Eric Kendricks – ILB, Minnesota Vikings (Hip): After injuring his hip in Sunday’s loss against Washington Kendricks tried to give it a go again and was unsuccessful. As such, his odds of playing in Week 11 don’t look especially good.
Tyrann Mathieu – S, Arizona Cardinals (Shoulder): Mathieu missed Week 10 with a subluxated shoulder, but head coach Bruce Arians stated that Mathieu is on track to return to practice and play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Rey Maualuga – ILB, Cincinnati Bengals (Leg): In and of itself, Maualuga’s bum leg isn’t a big deal. But so long as he’s out Vincent Rey will get a bump in snaps, and his big stat line Monday night against the New York Giants demonstrates why that just might be.
Robert Quinn – DE, Los Angeles Rams (Illness): Quinn’s disappearing act of a season took a weird turn on Monday when he briefly checked himself into the hospital. However, his Week 11 status isn’t believed to be in question.
Jake Ryan – ILB, Green Bay Packers (Ankle): Ryan was hurt early in last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, and his status appears very much in doubt for Week 11. Assuming he can’t go, Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas would man the ILB slots for the Packers against Washington.
Mario Williams – DE, Miami Dolphins (Ankle): Williams left Sunday’s game against the Chargers with a sprained ankle, and head coach Adam Gase would only say about his Week 11 status that Williams is “day to day.”
THE WHAT THE HECK DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE WAIVER PLAY OF THE WEEK
Brian Robison – DE, Minnesota Vikings (vs. AZ)
Robison told John Holler of Scout that despite the Vikings’ long losing skid the team refuses to panic. “We’re definitely not satisfied with the way we’ve played,” Robison said. “But, it’s not the end of the world. The last thing we need to do is panic and think the sky is falling down on us. For us, it’s just about getting back to work as usual and doing everything on Sunday in order to get ourselves back on track.”
Sunday the Vikings will try to get untracked at home against an Arizona Cardinals team that’s been having all sorts of problems protecting their less-than-agile quarterback. Robison isn’t the pass-rusher that Danielle Hunter is, but Robison sees more snaps on a weekly basis. As desperation line plays go, you could do worse.
GUYS I LIKE IN WEEK 11
Andre Branch – DE, Miami Dolphins (at LA): With Mario Williams nicked up Branch could be set for a bump in snaps in a top-five fantasy matchup with a Rams team starting a rookie quarterback in Jared Goff for the first time.
Marcell Dareus – DT, Buffalo Bills (at CIN): As I said, Dareus is tentatively expected to play his second game of the season this week against a Bengals team whose offensive line has been a shell of its formerly stout self in 2016.
Danielle Hunter – DE, Minnesota Vikings (vs. AZ): Hunter’s snaps and production have dwindled some in recent weeks, but when you have a matchup-reliant fantasy play you look for one that benefits him. For DL, it doesn’t get any better than the Cardinals.
Sean Lee – ILB, Dallas Cowboys (vs. BAL): Lee’s been on a hot streak since coming out of the Cowboys’ bye week, averaging 10+ stops over his last three. A favorable matchup this week with the Ravens should keep the good times rolling.
Tahir Whitehead – ILB, Detroit Lions (vs. JAX): Whitehead has averaged over nine stops a game this season and has an even dozen in two of the last three games. He gets a top-three IDP matchup for linebackers in Week 11, too.
Avery Williamson – ILB, Tennessee Titans (at IND): Last week Williamson suffered through IDP’s worst matchup in terms of points allowed in the Green Bay Packers. This week he gets the best in the person of the Indianapolis Colts.
Eric Berry – S, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. TB): Berry hasn’t been an especially prolific fantasy option in 2016, but look for the veteran to back up last week’s outburst against the Panthers in an equally tasty matchup with another NFC South foe. OK – maybe without the INT TD – don’t get greedy.
Andrew Sendejo – S, Minnesota Vikings (vs. AZ): Sendejo’s been quiet since returning to the lineup, with only eight tackles in two games combined. Sunday’s tilt with the Redbirds sets up well to break him out of that funk.
Kenny Vaccaro – S, New Orleans Saints (at CAR): Vaccaro is still staring down the barrel of a four-game PED suspension, but he’s expected to be available Thursday night in a top-three fantasy matchup with the Panthers. Get while the getting’s good.
GUYS I DON’T LIKE IN WEEK 11
Jadeveon Clowney – DE, Houston Texans (at OAK): On a good day the Raiders are a lousy pass-rush matchup, next Monday night is apt not to be a good day – courtesy of the 7,500-foot altitude the Texans will be playing at in Mexico City.
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (at DET): After a sizzling start to his NFL career, Ngakoue has only four tackles over his last three games combined. No team in the NFC has allowed fewer fantasy points to defensive linemen this season than the Lions.
Devin Taylor – DE, Detroit Lions (vs. JAX): Taylor’s been a pleasant surprise for IDP owners in 2016, but the Jags have been the exact opposite – a team long known as a great pass-rush matchup is 31st in the NFL in fantasy points per game allowed to defensive linemen.
Jonathan Casillas – OLB, New York Giants (at CHI): Casillas hasn’t had more than five total tackles in a game since Week 6, and this week the Giants face a Chicago team that’s allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to linebackers in 2016.
Will Compton – ILB, Washington Redskins (vs. GB): Compton’s been a decent fantasy producer in 2016, but time and again this season we’ve seen matchups with the Packers result in off days for inside linebackers. Look elsewhere if you can.
Vincent Rey – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BUF): Rey was a great fantasy spot-start in Week 10, but this week’s matchup isn’t a good one. Only one team in the AFC has allowed fewer fantasy points to linebackers this year than the Bills.
Antoine Bethea – S, San Francisco 49ers (vs. NE): Bethea’s been as solid as any defensive back in the league this year from a production standpoint, but matchups don’t get any worse for the position than the Patriots. Look for the Pats to bludgeon a soft Niners run D in a rout Sunday.
Johnathan Cyprien – S, Jacksonville Jaguars (at DET): Cyprien has been cold the past couple of weeks and is coming off his lowest solo output of the season. This week doesn’t set up well for that trend to be reversed, as the Lions are 31st in fantasy points given up to defensive backs in 2016.
T.J. McDonald – S, Los Angeles Rams (vs. MIA): Granted, next to Goff Ryan Tannehill will probably look like Danjoe Marinoelwaytana, but the Dolphins passing attack has barely been passable this year. Not good news for McDonald and the Rams’ secondary.
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.
James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers (vs. NO): Bradberry’s coming off one of his best statistical efforts of the season – an eight tackle effort against the passing juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs. The sledding will be tougher this week against a much more conservative New Orleans Saints team forced to play around the limitations of their game manager quarterback, but what the heck – for some reason I’m feeling lucky.