This is usually both one of the most stressful weeks of the fantasy football season – and one of the best weeks of the year if you’re into eating way more than you should and then vegging out in front of the idiot box to watch football.
But this is 2020, so while the stress of the fantasy playoff run is most assuredly still there, the fun of Thanksgiving has rather been thrown for a loop.
Normally, there would be big gatherings of friends of family. Cousin Carl telling you for the 137th time about that touchdown run he had in high school (that never actually happened). Or Aunt Helen and whatever ungodly substance she puts in her: “Turkey Casserole.”
Turkey isn’t gray, Helen.
But thanks to COVID-19, most of those big gatherings are off – as they should be. Seeing family on Zoom or talking on the phone isn’t the same. And it well and truly sucks. But with cases and hospitalizations skyrocketing all over the place, we’ve got to be smart. Have to do the right thing in 2020 so that with any luck (and a vaccine or three), life can return to some semblance of normalcy in 2021.
Why am I being such a Debbie Downer in a fantasy football article?
Because I want you to know, intrepid reader, that this Thanksgiving I am thankful for all of you who have made it possible for me to write this article over the past decade-plus here at Fantasy Sharks. It’s because of you that I get to do what I love for a living. I wouldn’t be writing if no one were reading.
OK, I might still write – but I wouldn’t get paid to. And I like money. Makes eating more feasible.
I hope that you and yours are safe and healthy as Thanksgiving nears. That you’ll be able to make the best of the situation and have a decent turkey day at home. That there will still be far too many pieces of pie eaten while watching the games Thursday. That your Individual Defensive Player (IDP) teams are in contention for a playoff spot.
And I hope that if your team has a hole on the roster, one of these players will help fill it.
Happy Thanksgiving, All!
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Isaiah Simmons, ILB, Arizona
The eighth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Simmons was the No. 1 rookie linebacker on the board of more than a few IDP pundits last summer. But after spending most of the season mired behind De’Vondre Campbell of the depth chart, Simmons was cut loose by most redraft IDP managers.
Well, the former Clemson standout finally got a chance to see extended action last week against Seattle, and he looked the part of a Top 10 pick – a team-high 10 tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. As Kyle Odegard wrote for the team’s website, Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury was impressed by Simmons’ performance.
“I’ll have to watch the film, but I definitely saw him flash,” Kingsbury said. “I felt like he was out there making plays.”
It’s possible that if Campbell (calf) is healthy again that he could bump Simmons back to the bench. It would also be stupid — his Week 11 outing might well be the best single game an Arizona inside linebacker has played this season. If Simmons does get the nod again in Week 12 it will be in a favorable matchup with run-heavy New England, and if the youngster stays in the starting lineup he has the talent to be a real difference-maker down the stretch.
WEEK 12 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Mario Addison, DE, Buffalo
There are several constants in life. Death. Taxes. Aunt Helen’s inedible casserole. And Mario Addison making at least one appearance in this column every season. In 2020 Addison is with a new team in Buffalo, but as Heather Prusak reported for Rochester First, Addison said he has already settled into a leadership role with his new teammates.
“I’m older now,” Addison said, “I’m a vet now so everybody looks at me, calling me Unc and stuff like that and I look at some of these guys like they’re my little brothers, which they are,” Addison said.
Addison isn’t a worldbeater, but the 33-year-old has at least nine sacks in every full season since 2016 and is on pace to at least flirt with that total in 2020. With Buffalo on a Week 10 bye Addison may have been cut loose in some IDP leagues, and with a Top 5 fantasy matchup for defensive linemen on tap with the Los Angeles Chargers Addison could be a solid Week 12 spot-start.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Cleveland
Cleveland was dealt an unpleasant surprise last week when star edge-rusher Myles Garrett tested positive for COVID-19. But the team got a much more pleasant one from Vernon against Philadelphia. After notching three sacks and a safety last week, Vernon told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal that he has just one goal in 2020 — help get Cleveland into the postseason.
“One thing that is hard to do is get a win, and the next hardest thing is get into the playoffs. I think my mindset and everybody else in this organization’s mindset right now is to get into the playoffs and trying to make something. Just have to get into the tournament.”
Vernon now has five sacks for the season — all of which coincidentally came with Garrett off the field. Garrett’s status for this week’s trip to Jacksonville is questionable, but given how good Vernon looked last week and the favorable matchup, the 30-year-old is worth a long look from IDP managers whether Garrett makes it back or not.
A.J. Klein, OLB, Buffalo
Klein didn’t get off to the best of starts in 2020, but since being pressed into full-time duty by the injury to Matt Milano the 29-year-old has stepped up his game. As McKenna Middlebrook wrote for Bills Wire, Klein was one of the stars for the Buffalo defense in the “Hail Murray” loss to Arizona back in Week 10.
“The Bills defense on a whole played well against one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and Klein led the charge,” Middlebrook said. “He was always around the football on crucial downs and making big plays. If Klein can continue his run of good form, (Buffalo) can be serious contenders come January.”
Klein had 10 tackles and a sack against Arizona after notching five total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble the week before. Those kinds of numbers absolutely merit a roster spot in most IDP leagues, especially with a solid matchup upcoming against a Los Angeles Chargers team that has surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to linebackers in 2020.