Generally speaking, I am not a writer who toots my own horn. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is simple — I like to fashion myself a fairly humble, self-deprecating kind of fellow. I enjoy wins as much as the next guy, just never saw much reason to hoot and holler about it.
The second reason is even simpler. I am wrong. A lot. Like all the time. I figure if I don’t strut around like a doofus when I’m right, then you fine folks will be less inclined to point out the times that I’m not. But once in a while, we all like to puff our chest out a little — especially when hard-up for an intro to a column and it just so happens there’s a correct call sitting there just waiting to be lauded. A happy dance waiting to be done.
“The 27-year-old Kwiatkoski, who joined Las Vegas in free agency this year, has been the team’s best linebacker in 2020,” I wrote. “But it hasn’t been reflected on the stat sheet — he’s yet to log eight total tackles or five solos in a game. However, he’s healthy now and playing every snap after missing some time early in the season, so it’s not a bad idea to roll the dice that his production will catch up to his performance.”
In last week’s last-second win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Kwiatkoski had more tackles than in Weeks 7 and Week 8 combined — 13 total, with 10 solos.
Does every player I recommend suddenly explode? Don’t I wish. But as the stretch run of the regular season gets underway in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, I’d like to think I have some aptitude for plugging holes in lineups.
Let’s get after it.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
T.J. Edwards, ILB, Philadelphia
Edwards, a second-year pro who went undrafted coming out of Wisconsin, has been thrust into a full-time tole by injuries in Philadelphia. But defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he has confidence Edwards can not only hold down Nate Gerry’s spot but possibly even thrive in this extended audition.
“I think that T.J. is a guy that plays football well,” he said. “Our scouts really did a great job with him getting him as a free agent. A lot of our scouts had him marked as one of their red star players, which means that’s one of their favorite players in the draft, and we made a strong effort to get him after the draft. I’m very thankful for that. Being able to get a guy like that without having to spend a draft pick was a great addition for us.”
Edwards didn’t play every snap two weeks ago against Dallas, but he was on the field as much as any linebacker on the team and posted 13 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble against Dallas. If the former Wisconsin standout wasn’t rostered over Philadelphia’s bye week, he sure as heck should be now.
WEEK 10 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia
A former first-round pick who hasn’t lived up to expectations, Barnett battled injuries earlier in the season. But the 24-year-old has 3.5 sacks so far this year and came on heading into the bye — in part because defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said the team has scaled back his pass rush moves and even his playing time to an extent.
“I think one of the things with Derek that Matt and (director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant) Jeremiah (Washburn) have done a really good job with is his repertoire, is sort of down a little bit, down in numbers,” Schwartz said, via John McMullen of Eagle Maven. “He doesn’t need a whole lot. He’s been closing ground, where in the past he was probably foot-faking a little too much and not putting the pressure on those guys.”
Barnett is only playing about half of Phiadelphia’s defensive snaps this year in a rotation with Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat. He’s also not a player I’d recommend rolling out every week. But if you’re in a pinch and need a matchup play, the fourth-year pro faces a New York Giants team this week that he notched a sack against back in Week 7.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Cleveland
There were grumblings at the trade deadline that Vernon was available, and the former Pro Bowler admittedly hasn’t lived up to expectations in Cleveland. But per Andrew Gribble of the team’s website, the 30-year-old said all he can do is keep his head down and keep grinding.
“My goals are to play healthy and contribute to the team,” Vernon said. There are always going to be ups and downs and hurdles that you have to bound over. That is the NFL for you. At the end of the day, it isn’t a fairytale. There is not a fairytale script when it comes to this league. You play in the best league. You are playing against the best. Everybody has talent.”
Vernon had one of his best games before the bye, notching four total tackles and two sacks in a loss to Las Vegas. Cleveland has a favorable pass-rush matchup in Week 10 with Houston, so Vernon should have a chance to build on that success as the Browns get into the second half of the season.
A.J. Klein, OLB, Buffalo
Klein has been pressed into action more this season by the pectoral injury suffered by Matt Milano, and the advanced analytics sites haven’t been kind to him. As Nick Wojton wrote at Bills Wire, after having a huge game against Seattle in Week 9, Klein said he’s really not worried what his Pro Football Focus grade is.
“I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff,” Klein said. “I’m glad that those sacks and those plays came up. I think that’s part of the mentality, that we went into this week knowing that we were going to have opportunities to get after Russell (Wilson). We didn’t want to let him get comfortable. It’s a good feeling when you go out and preform like this. I know I can play football.”
Klein was huge against Seattle, notching five tackles, one tackle for loss, two sacks, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and a pass defensed. With Milano now on Injured Reserve, the 29-year-old should be locked into an every-down role for a while. And with all due respect to the fine folks at PFF, IDP managers are a lot more concerned with stat lines than grades.