Tuesday at 4 PM ET the NFL’s trading deadline came and went. It passed without any big news on the offensive side of the ball, but on defense it was another story altogether.
For the second time this year the New England Patriots dealt away a young, Pro Bowl defender who is in a contract year. Earlier this year it was Chandler Jones. On Monday it was 27-year-old linebacker Jamie Collins who was shipped out of Beantown, traded to the Cleveland Browns for what amounts to a late third-round pick.
In the 24-plus hours since the trade was announced, Collins has been mostly savaged on social media, and it’s a curious development to see the same people who one week ago would have called Collins one of the league’s best linebackers suddenly bending over backwards to find something to criticize about him.
What matters to fantasy owners, of course, is the IDP impact of both his departure from Boston and his arrival in Cleveland. It’s hard to see how this can be a bad move for Collins’ IDP value – if anything he’ll see a spike in opportunities with the Browns – but frankly there isn’t much higher he could climb up the linebacker ranks anyway.
In Cleveland, one of their current inside linebackers is probably about to be you-know-what out of luck, unless the Browns choose to kick Collins outside (which is possible, albeit somewhat unlikely). Assuming that’s the case, my money’s on Demario Davis getting the hook. He’s rather, um, sucked in his first year with the team.
For the Patriots, Dont’a Hightower becomes the unquestioned leader of their LB corps, an every-down player and a player with a legitimate LB1 upside in IDP leagues. If by chance he’s available in your league (he shouldn’t be), make with the scooping.
Now let’s explore the rest of IDP Nation in Week 9, beginning with some waiver options for fantasy owners in the second straight six-team bye week.
Adrian Clayborn -- DE, Atlanta Falcons: Over the past two games Clayborn has piled up six tackles, added three sacks and scored a touchdown. The 28-year-old hasn’t looked this disruptive since tallying 7.5 sacks for his opponent this week (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as a rookie back in 2011.
Star Lotulelei – DT, Carolina Panthers: Given that he’d been invisible to this point in the season, it’s important not to make too much of last week’s three-sack outburst against Arizona. Unless, that is, you’re a Geno Atkins owner looking for a bye week fill-in in DT-required IDP leagues.
Elandon Roberts – ILB, New England Patriots: Roberts can’t help your IDP squad this week with the Pats on a bye. But it was his play while Jamie Collins was sidelined by injury that made the Pro Bowler expendable, and Roberts appears slated for a three-down role for the new-look New England defense.
Malcolm Smith – OLB, Oakland Raiders: The Oakland linebackers have been a maddening merry-go-round for IDP owners in 2016, but Smith has re-emerged as the most dependable of the bunch after a slow start and injury led to his being dropped in many leagues.
Robert Blanton – S, Buffalo Bills: With Aaron Williams out with a neck injury Blanton has moved into the starting lineup for the Bills. He paced the team with 10 total tackles in last week’s loss to the Patriots, and Blanton has something of an IDP track record as a starter.
Daniel Sorensen – S, Kansas City Chiefs: Sorensen has now posted back-to-back big games in his “hybrid” role as a nickel linebacker. He only plays about two thirds of the Chiefs’ snaps, so there’s risk involved. But as he’s shown the reward could be substantial.
IDP INJURY REPORT
Mike Adams – S, Indianapolis Colts (Groin): Adams suffered what’s been called a “nasty” groin injury Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rookie T.J. Green will draw the start on the back end Sunday in Titletown.
Lorenzo Alexander – OLB, Buffalo Bills (Hamstring): The NFL’s surprise sack leader pulled up lame in the loss to the Pats, but the veteran pass rusher insisted to Chris Brown of the team’s website that he’s “confident” he’ll be able to play next Monday night.
Michael Bennett – DE, Seattle Seahawks (Knee): Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll announced earlier this week that Bennett will go under the knife for arthroscopic surgery on his balky knee. No timetable was given for his return.
Jatavis Brown – ILB, San Diego Chargers (Knee): The good news is that Brown avoided a major knee injury Sunday against the Broncos. The bad news is that everyone’s favorite IDP waiver wire find is expected to miss a game or two.
Kam Chancellor – S, Seattle Seahawks (Groin): Chancellor has missed three games now with his injured groin, but reports from Seattle indicate the Seahawks safety has a decent chance of making his return next Monday night against the Buffalo Bills.
Barry Church – S, Dallas Cowboys (Arm): Church will be sidelined for a while after breaking his forearm in Sunday night’s NFC East tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles. It isn’t believed that he will need surgery, however, so he might return in time for the fantasy postseason.
Dannell Ellerbe – OLB, New Orleans Saints (Quad): Stop the presses! Dannell Ellerbe played in a game! Kidding aside, Ellerbe’s return to the Saints lineup sets up the possibility he’ll steal even more snaps from the surprising Nate Stupar in Week 9.
Darron Lee – ILB, New York Jets (Ankle): Lee has now missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, and given how well Julian Stanford has played in his absence the Jets aren’t in a position where they feel pushed to rush Lee back into the lineup.
Brandon Marshall – ILB, Denver Broncos (Hamstring): Marshall missed Sunday’s win over San Diego with a hamstring pull, and his Week 9 status is unknown. If he sits third-year pro Corey Nelson would draw a second straight start against the Oakland Raiders.
Tyrann Mathieu – S, Arizona Cardinals (Shoulder): The Cardinals are off in Week 9, but Mathieu’s going to be out a fair bit longer than that. Per Kevin Patra of NFL.com, Mathieu will be out from three to six weeks after injuring his shoulder in last week’s loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Denzel Perryman – ILB, San Diego Chargers (Hamstring): Brown isn’t the only ILB out for the Bolts in Week 9 against the Titans, as before he went down Perryman was forced from last week’s loss with a hammy pull that could reportedly sideline him until after San Diego's Week 11 bye.
Andrew Sendejo – S, Minnesota Vikings (Ankle): Sendejo sat out Monday night’s frightening loss to the Chicago Bears, and given that his ankle sprain was serious enough to require an MRI I wouldn’t count on Sendejo playing in Week 9 either.
Shaq Thompson – OLB, Carolina Panthers (Knee): Thompson has seen his role (and snap count) increase in recent weeks, but Thompson’s Week 9 status is in doubt after he sprained his knee in last week’s victory over Arizona.
THE WHAT THE HECK DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE WAIVER PLAY OF THE WEEK
Korey Toomer – ILB, San Diego Chargers
As I wrote earlier, both Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman will sit Sunday when the Chargers host the Tennessee Titans. That puts rookie Joshua Perry and Toomer, who the Chargers plucked off Oakland’s practice squad earlier this season, in line to not only start the game but see significant snaps.
Toomer, who made the defensive play calls after Brown made last week’s game, told the Chargers’ website he intends to make the most of this opportunity. “Pags’ system is benefitting me because he is letting me play fast,” Toomer said. “He is putting me in positions not to fail. That is why it is working for the both of us. I feel like these coaches are giving me a chance.”
IDP owners might want to consider giving Toomer a chance in Week 9 as well.
GUYS I LIKE IN WEEK 9
Cliff Avril – DE, Seattle Seahawks (vs. BUF): Over the last three weeks, there hasn’t been a hotter defensive lineman in the NFL than Avril, who has racked up an eye-popping 5.5 sacks over that span. Throw in a favorable matchup at home, and you get a fat bag of yes please.
Adrian Clayborn – DE, Atlanta Falcons (at TB): There’s a reason Clayborn was listed as a Week 9 waiver add – in addition to his recent hot streak, the Buccaneers are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in 2016.
Cameron Jordan – DE, New Orleans Saints (at SF): There isn’t much the 49ers are doing right in 2016. That includes pass protection – San Fran is seventh in fantasy points allowed up front to this point in the season.
Christian Kirksey – ILB, Cleveland Browns (vs. DAL): Odds are Jamie Collins will play a limited role in his first game with the Browns, so Kirksey should have one more week in him as the top dawg in Cleveland. No team allows more tackle opps per game than the Cowboys.
Craig Robertson – ILB, New Orleans Saints (at SF): Robertson has emerged as the only every-down linebacker for the Saints in 2016, and Week 9 brings with it a top-five fantasy matchup with Carlos Hyde (probably) and the 49ers.
Jake Ryan – ILB, Green Bay Packers (vs. IND): Ryan leaves the field in some sub-packages, but that might not matter as much against a Colts team surrendering the most fantasy points per game to the linebacker position this season.
Antoine Bethea – S, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SF): There aren’t words to properly describe how much I like Bethea’s matchup with the Saints in Week 9. Bethea may well have a top 10 Week 9 – when compared to linebackers.
Rodney McLeod – S, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG): McLeod’s been a surprise star in IDP this year, posting top-five fantasy production. Those big numbers have a good chance of continuing in a very strong matchup Sunday with the Giants.
Keanu Neal – S, Atlanta Falcons (at TB): Neal’s been productive since entering the starting lineup for the Falcons, and that productivity should continue Thursday against a Buccaneers squad that’s third in fantasy points allowed in the secondary.
GUYS I DON’T LIKE IN WEEK 9
Fletcher Cox – DT, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG): Cox is a great player, but since September 25th he only has one sack, and the Giants haven’t been kind to defensive linemen in 2016 – only three teams have given up fewer fantasy points per game to them.
Jason Pierre-Paul – DE, New York Giants (vs. PHI): The Giants high-priced defensive line hasn’t put up the numbers Big Blue hoped for in 2016. A bad matchup with the Eagles doesn’t set up well to break them out of their fantasy funk.
Derek Wolfe – DE, Denver Broncos (at OAK): When the matchup is right, Wolfe can be a sneaky-good IDP play. However, this week’s matchup is about as wrong as wrong gets. The Raiders are dead last in both sacks and fantasy points allowed to defensive linemen this year.
D’Qwell Jackson – ILB, Indianapolis Colts (at GB): With the 2016 season halfway over, Jackson’s production is way down relative to 2015. That trend isn’t likely to reverse against the Packers, who rank 30th in fantasy points given up to linebackers in 2016.
Zachary Orr – ILB, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT): Orr’s been a sweet find for fantasy owners this season, but coming out of the bye he draws a Steelers team giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to linebackers.
Bobby Wagner – ILB, Seattle Seahawks (vs. BUF): Wagner’s an IDP aberration – a player who benefits from road games. And in addition to the assist-heavy scorekeepers in Seattle, next week brings with it a rotten IDP matchup with the Bills.
Chris Conte – S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. ATL): Conte started the season hot but has faded badly since. The veteran isn’t likely to break out of that deep freeze against the Falcons. Plus, Thursday night games are just icky.
Karl Joseph – S, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN): Like Keanu Neal, Joseph’s been a solid fantasy producer in his first NFL season. Unlike Neal, Joseph’s matchup this week isn’t a favorable one. Far from it, in fact – they rank in the bottom five vs. defensive backs.
Earl Thomas – S, Seattle Seahawks (vs. BUF): Wagner isn’t the only Seahawks defender who draws a rotten matchup in Week 9 – in addition to being dead last in fantasy points allowed to linebackers the Bills are 30th in that regard where defensive backs are concerned.
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.
Tramaine Brock, San Francisco 49ers (vs. NO): Brock showed what he can do for IDP owners in need of a spot starter at cornerback two weeks ago, logging six solos and a batted pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s a reasonable baseline for what you can expect from the seventh-year veteran this week in an even better IDP matchup with Drew Brees and the Saints.