Hard though it may be to believe, the stretch run is here.
In most Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, Week 10 signifies the beginning of the last month of the fantasy regular season. There are just four games to go — every one of them critical if your IDP squad is sitting at 4-5 or 3-6 at this point in the season.
I have at least one in that latter situation — and God help me, I haven’t given up on making a run and sneaking into the postseason.
Of course, circumstances aren’t making things any easier for fantasy owners this week. Injuries continue to mount in IDP leagues, especially at the linebacker position. Cleveland’s Christian Kirksey left Sunday’s loss to Kansas City with a hamstring pull, and while he was able to return to the game Green Bay’s Blake Martinez rolled his ankle against New England.
There’s also the continuing pain in the backside that is the bye weeks. Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Minnesota’s Harrison Smith are among the big names who will be taking Week 10 off, although at least there are just four teams off and not the six that sat last week and will sit next week.
What? You mean that isn’t what that song is about? Who knew?
In any event, between injuries and byes more than a few IDP teams are headed into a must-win Week 10 with a hole in the starting lineup.
A hole this article aims to fill.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Markus Golden, DE, Arizona
For the first time since tearing his ACL last season, Golden looked like his old disruptive self in a Week 8 win over San Francisco. He told Adonis Dees of Arizona Sports that his surgically-repaired knee is doing much better.
“It’s feeling better, it’s feeling way better,” he said. “Each week I’ve been getting out there and just running around and mentally getting better. My parents instilled in me, ‘whatever you do, go a hundred percent no matter what’ and that’s something I took as a little kid and really took seriously.”
Golden was a force in the game, leading Arizona with seven solos and a sack before riding off into the sunset that is the bye week. This week’s matchup with Kansas City isn’t an especially good one — quite the opposite, in fact. But Golden’s got legitimate DL2 upside the rest of the way, and finding that sort of ceiling on the defensive line this late in the game isn’t easy to do. There will be a lot of single-teams opposite Chandler Jones in the desert.
WEEK 10 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Matt Ioannidis, DE, Washington
Ioannadis has been a pleasant surprise for first-place Washington this year, piling up 23 tackles and 6.5 sacks while impressing head coach Jay Gruden with his strength and effort level.
“Matt does play hard, and he is also very strong,” Gruden said, via Matthew Paras of the Washington Times. “He is one of the strongest guys on our team, and he is a smart football player too — he understands leverages and double teams and all that.”
Ioannidis has been especially hot of late, tallying 12 total tackles and 3.5 sacks over the last two games alone — numbers that make the third-year pro the No. 2 defensive lineman in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring over that span. If Ioannidis wasn’t picked up in your league after his big Week 8, he sure as heck should be now.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville
In Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, Jacksonville has one of the better one-two punches at defensive end in the NFL. As Aaron Wilson reported for the Houston Chronicle, Houston head coach Bill O’ Brien said the pair are a real problem for opponents.
“A lot of lines struggle against these guys,” O’Brien said. “Very challenging defense to go against. They do a great job. They’re very well-coached. They play hard, they play fast, so it’s a big challenge.”
Ngakoue got off to a miserable start in 2018 — a start that got him banished to the waiver wire in more than a few IDP leagues. But while Jacksonville has struggled mightily as a team of late, Ngakoue has actually heated up — he has a sack in four of his last five games. Ngakoue’s never been a big tackle producer, but when the matchup’s right (like Week 10) he can pile up sacks with the best of them.
Nigel Bradham, OLB, Philadelphia
Per Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants to see more big plays from the Philadelphia defense.
“We’re playing a lot of games that come down to one play, and we have been one play short,” Schwartz said. “We need somebody, whether it’s Destiny, or whoever: Fletch [defensive tackle Fletcher Cox], Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Malcom Jenkins: We need to find a way to get that one more play.”
Bradham’s been relatively quiet this season — he hasn’t had more than six solos or eight total tackles in a game. But he’s an every-down player with a Top 10 IDP matchup for his position coming up against Ezekiel Elliott and Dallas. There’s a decent chance that Bradham will post his best stat line of the season on Sunday night — enough of one for linebacker-needy teams to take a chance here.