There’s been more than a little weirdness across the NFL over the first two weeks of the 2017 season. And lest fantasy owners think it’s been confined to the offensive side of the ball, rest assured the defense has spent its fair share of time in the Twilight Zone too.
The first defensive player taken in many drafts (Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander) now has one tackle in two weeks. The first was wiped out (or at least postponed) by Hurricane Irma. The second was cut short by a hamstring pull.
Two of the top three defensive linemen (J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings) have combined for zero sacks. Meanwhile Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who wasn’t drafted in many IDP leagues, has already notched four.
And so on and so forth.
If there’s a lesson to be taken from all the underperformers and surprise stars, it’s this – be patient. It’s still really early – too early to making huge changes in fantasy rosters based off a small sample size. The Alexanders and Watts of the world are going to get theirs eventually.
And there’s nothing worse to watching them do so for your opponent.
As we all take a deep breath and think happy thoughts here’s a look around IDP Nation in Week 3.
WEEK 2 IDP BEASTS AND LEASTS
Ezekiel Ansah – DE, Detroit Lions: Eli Manning will be having nightmares about “Ziggy” for a while. Ansah looked like the dominant player who piled up 14.5 sacks two years ago against the New York Giants, exploding for six tackles and three sacks.
Alec Ogletree – ILB, Los Angeles Rams: Ogletree got off to a bit of a sluggish start in Week 1, but he followed that up by playing like the top-five IDP option we expected by piling up 11 total tackles and adding a sack against the Washington Redskins.
Jordan Poyer – FS, Buffalo Bills: In one of Week 2’s wonkier stat lines, on a day against the Panthers where battery-mate Micah Hyde failed to record a stat Poyer went nuts to the tune of 11 stops, an assist and three passes defensed.
Cliff Avril – DE, Seattle Seahawks: Even the best defensive linemen occasionally post the occasional doughnut. That’s just what Avril did in Week 2, failing to crack the box score after getting a sack the week before.
Kamalei Correa – ILB, Baltimore Ravens: It wasn’t that long ago that Correa was being hailed as a potential upside pick as the starter at ILB for the Ravens opposite CJ Mosley. But the snaps just haven’t been there through two games this season.
Micah Hyde – SS, Buffalo Bills: I wouldn’t go so far as to advise dropping Hyde outright after his goose-egg, but he hasn’t gotten off to the start I expected. If he doesn’t pick it up soon, it’s going to be time to move on.
WEEK 3 WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Michael Bennett – DE, Seattle Seahawks: After just five sacks in an injury-marred 2016 it was fair to wonder if Father Time was catching up to the 31-year-old. But Bennett has now reached the quarterback in two straight games and looks both healthy and rather spry.
Michael Hull – ILB, Miami Dolphins: With Lawrence Timmons out of action last week, Hull filled in at MIKE for the Dolphins and played well, making 10 total tackles in a win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The job appears to be his for the foreseeable future.
Andrew Sendejo – SS, Minnesota Vikings: Sendejo doesn’t have much sizzle, and he can be a matchup-dependent IDP option. But as his 10 tackles last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers showed, the seventh-year veteran is more than capable of producing.
WEEK 3 IDP INJURY REPORT
Kwon Alexander – ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Questionable – Hamstring): Alexander gave IDP owners a scare by exiting Sunday’s blowout of the Chicago Bears, but he said later that day he’s “fine” and expects to play in Week 3.
Vic Beasley – OLB, Atlanta Falcons (OUT – Hamstring): The 2016 sack king left Atlanta’s big Sunday night win over the Green Bay Packers with a hamstring pull. It’s believed the third-year edge-rusher will be sidelined about a month.
Deone Bucannon – ILB, Arizona Cardinals (OUT – Ankle): Bucannon missed Sunday’s win over the Colts, and until we see him on the practice field for at least a few days IDP owners have to assume he won’t be playing any time soon.
Vontaze Burfict – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (SUSPENDED): Sunday’s game in Green Bay against the Packers will mark the third (and final) week of Burfict’s suspension for an illegal hit in the preseason. He should be back on the field in Week 4.
Jamie Collins – OLB, Cleveland Browns (Questionable – Concussion): Collins is officially in the NFL’s concussion protocol after exiting last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Monitor his status as the week progresses.
Mike Daniels – DE, Green Bay Packers (Questionable – Hamstring): After a big Week 1 Daniels exited early in Sunday’s tilt in Atlanta with what was feared to be a major hamstring injury. However, an MRI was negative, and Daniels is week-to-week.
Jarrad Davis – ILB, Detroit Lions (Questionable – Concussion): Davis will have a short week to clear the league concussion protocol after being pushed from behind and taking a shot to the head in Monday’s win over the New York Giants.
Deshazor Everett – S, Washington Redskins (Questionable – Knee): Everett suffered a sprained MCL in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams. His Week 3 status isn’t known, but he’s likely the doubtful side of questionable.
Mason Foster – ILB, Washington Redskins (Questionable – Shoulder): Like Everett, Foster went down in L.A. Sunday, this time with a dislocated shoulder. However, he indicated that he hopes to play Sunday night against the Raiders.
Reuben Foster – ILB, San Francisco 49ers (OUT – Ankle): Foster, who suffered a high ankle sprain in his NFL debut, has shed his walking boot. But with the 49ers facing the Rams on Thursday night it will be Week 4 at least before Foster returns.
B.J. Goodson – ILB, New York Giants (Questionable – Leg): After exploding for 18 total tackles in Week 1, Goodson was a late scratch in Week 2 with an injured shin. He’s tentatively expected back against the Eagles in Week 3.
Dont’a Hightower – ILB, New England Patriots (Questionable – Knee): After exiting in Week 1 and missing Week 2 with a knee injury, the hope is that Hightower will be back in action when the Patriots face the Houston Texans Sunday.
Malik Jackson – DT, Jacksonville Jaguars (Questionable – Groin): Jackson left late in last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans with a groin injury. His status for Sunday’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens is unknown.
Nick Kwiatkoski – ILB, Chicago Bears (IR – Pectoral): Kwiatkoski didn’t even make through his first full game as a starter in 2017 before falling victim to the same injury that ended Jerrell Freeman’s season. He’ll likely be replaced in the lineup by Christian Jones.
Rodney McLeod – S, Philadelphia Eagles (Questionable – Hamstring): The good news is that the hamstring strain McLeod suffered against the Chiefs is believed to be mild. The bad news is that he’s still no sure bet to face the Giants Sunday.
Antonio Morrison – ILB, Indianapolis Colts (Questionable – Elbow): Morrison missed Indy’s overtime loss in Week 2 with an elbow injury, but it’s believed that he’ll back on the field when the Colts host the Cleveland Browns Sunday.
Eric Reid – S, San Francisco 49ers (OUT – Knee): After going down with a non-contact knee injury, the fear was Reid was lost for the season. That wasn’t the case, but the young strong safety is still looking at a multi-week absence.
Lawrence Timmons – ILB, Miami Dolphins (SUSPENDED): After a bizarre episode in which Timmons went AWOL in Los Angeles before turning up at the airport the veteran linebacker has been suspended indefinitely by the team.
Stephon Tuitt – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (Questionable – Arm): Tuitt was on the sidelines for Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings, but the hope is that the veteran defensive end will on the field against the Chicago Bears.
J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans (Questionable – Finger): For the second straight game Watt dislocated a finger against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, it isn’t believed Watt’s status for Week 3’s game in New England is in jeopardy.
T.J. Watt – OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Questionable – Groin): After a great debut against the Browns Watt went down with a groin injury Sunday against the Vikings. However, the injury isn’t thought to be especially serious.
THE WHAT THE HECK DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE WAIVER PLAY OF THE WEEK
Joe Schobert – ILB, Cleveland Browns (at IND)
Schobert told Patrick Maks of the team’s website that he’s loving his role as the Browns middle linebacker in 2017. “It’s a very fun job to have in this scheme,” Schobert said. “You’re mostly the overlap player. You’re kind of like a safety, just fitting where the ball is going. Find ball, see ball, get ball as Gregg Williams says.”
IDP owners have also been relatively pleased with Schobert, as the youngster has averaged seven tackles a game over the season’s first two games. There’s a good chance he’ll keep it going in a surprisingly favorable IDP matchup against the Colts – especially if Collins’ concussion keeps him on the sidelines.
GUYS I LIKE IN WEEK 3
Trey Flowers – DE, New England Patriots (vs. HOU): Flowers cooled off in Week 2 after a big first game, but he’s going to heat right back up against a Texans o-line that should record an album as “The Five Matadors.”
Brandon Graham – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG): If you’ve watched the abomination that is the Giants’ o-line at all this year I don’t have to explain this recommendation any farther. I like Fletcher Cox quite a bit this week as well.
Demarcus Lawrence – DE, Dallas Cowboys (at AZ): I shouldn’t have to tell you to start a guy with two sacks in each of his first two games, but I’ll do it anyway – especially since Lawrence draws a great pass-rush matchup with the Redbirds.
Jon Bostic – ILB, Indianapolis Colts (vs. CLE): Hard though it may be to believe, the Browns are a very good matchup for linebackers. They were sixth in fantasy points allowed to linebackers last year, and no team has allowed more through two weeks in 2017.
C.J. Mosley – ILB, Baltimore Ravens (at JAX): Usually I detest the slopfests that are the London games. But the Jaguars are going to pound away with Leonard Fournette, which should mean plenty of tackle chances for Mosley.
Hayes Pullard – ILB, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. KC): Pullard has quietly emerged as the starter at MIKE for the Bolts. This week he gets the unenviable task of slowing down Kareem “The Most Popular Man in Fantasy” Hunt.
Kurt Coleman – S, Carolina Panthers (vs. NOS): There are certain constants in life you can count on. Death, taxes, politicians lying – and the New Orleans Saints allowing fantasy points by the bucket to defensive backs.
Byron Jones – S, Dallas Cowboys: There were high hopes for Jones in IDP circles entering 2017, but so far they have gone unfulfilled. However, this week’s highly favorable fantasy matchup sets up well for him to break out of his early-season funk.
Andrew Sendejo – S, Minnesota Vikings (vs. TBB): If I’m going to recommend picking Sendejo up, I might as well advise rolling him out too. After all, the Buccaneers were a top-five IDP matchup on the back end in 2016.
GUYS I DON’T LIKE IN WEEK 3
Ezekiel Ansah – DE, Detroit Lions (vs. ATL): Not many IDP owners are going to consider sitting Ansah after his Monday night exploits, but to this point in the season only three teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to defensive linemen than the Falcons.
Frank Clark – DE, Seattle Seahawks (at TEN): The Titans have been a consistent IDP matchup for linemen dating back to last year. By that I mean consistently bad – the fifth-fewest fantasy points surrendered in both 2016 and 2017.
Noah Spence – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at MIN): Spence will be hard-pressed to get a sack for the second straight week. The Vikings ranked 29th in fantasy points allowed up front in 2016 and are 25th in that regard this season.
Thomas Davis – OLB, Carolina Panthers (vs. NO): Well, so much for the Saints new balanced offense. They can’t run the ball consistently (again), and only one team is giving up fewer fantasy points to linebackers.
Cory James – ILB, Oakland Raiders (at WAS): This is simply a matter of a lack of faith in Washington’s ability to run the ball consistently. With Rob Kelley possibly sitting with a rib injury, expect to see a whole lot of Kirk Cousins dropping back to pass.
Jaylon Smith – OLB, Dallas Cowboys (at AZ): It’s great to see Smith looking healthy and playing essentially a full-time role. But the Cardinals were dead last in fantasy points given up to linebackers in 2016 and haven’t been much better this season.
Tony Jefferson – SS, Baltimore Ravens (at JAX): Jefferson’s a hard player to sit, but unless playing in London has some sort of magical properties it’s hard to have faith in Blake Bortles’ ability to complete passes with regularity.
Lamarcus Joyner – S, Los Angeles Rams (at SF): I’ve gotten asked a fair bit about Joyner as a waiver pickup given his solid start to the season. This isn’t the week to use him – the 49ers passing attack is a hot mess.
Jaquiski Tartt – S, San Francisco 49ers (vs. LAR): Most of what I said about Joyner also applies to Tartt, who will take over at strong safety for the injured Eric Reid. I also hate Thursday night games, which are usually about as crisp as wet cardboard.
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.
Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills (vs. DEN): The “rookie corner rule” states that first-year cornerbacks are often appealing IDP targets given that NFL veterans like to pick on them. Trevor Siemian of the Broncos isn’t exactly a grizzled old man, but given how well Siemian has thrown the ball to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2017 it’s a safe bet that White’s going to be busy Sunday.