Apparently, we all need to pitch in and buy the NFL’s schedule-makers an understanding of how fantasy football works for Christmas. Because IDP managers got hosed this year.
In Week 14, as fantasy managers try desperately to scratch and claw their way into the playoff, we’re getting the second six-team bye of the season—the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and Washington Commanders are all of. No Rashaan Evans this week. Or Jack Sanborn. Or Zaire Franklin. Or Demario Davis. Or Jamin Davis.
That’s just the linebackers. And it isn’t an exhaustive list.
There are actually two issues this week. The first and most pressing is simply filling the holes created by six teams on a bye and the usual injuries and such. The second is teams that have already locked up a postseason berth potentially looking ahead to Week 15 with pre-emptive adds.
This week’s IDP waiver wire focuses mostly on the first problem. But there are a couple nods toward the second.
Never let it be said I couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Tony Fields – LB, Cleveland Browns
The Browns have had awful luck with injuries at linebacker this year, and that continued last week against the Houston Texans. The Browns brought in Deion Jones largely because of a lack of depth at linebacker, but when Sione Takitaki went down with an ACL tear it was second-year pro Tony Fields who stepped in. Per Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon-Journal, teammate Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah said he had no doubt that his fellow member of the 2021 draft class would answer the call.
“I knew when me and Tone came in that he was going to be a guy who took off at some point by just the way that he played in college,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “I thought he played pretty similar to me on his tape with his aggression and his ability to get from Point A to Point B and just being instinctive. He has shown that the last two games and really all season on special teams doing his thing. I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of that. I really am.”
Fields was part of Cleveland’s torrent of defensive touchdowns last week, returning an interception for a score. But the youngster also tallied four tackles. For whatever reason, the Browns don’t appear to have confidence in Jones as more than a part-time player. If Fields sees a decent snap share this week against a Bengals team that has ranked toward the top of the league in fantasy points per game allowed to linebackers all season long, good things will probably happen.
WEEK 14 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Chandler Jones – DE, Las Vegas Raiders
From a statistical standpoint, it has been a wildly disappointing season for Jones—the veteran edge-rusher entered Week 13 with all of half a sack. As ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez reported, Jones never doubted that the proverbial dam would break and he would have a big game. It was just a matter of being patient and not pressing.
“Early in my career, I was all about accolades,” Jones said. “Not saying that I don’t care about it now, but my main focus is winning, opposed to the statistics … if I had zero sacks for the season and we went and won, that would be huge for me. What I did learn is when you chase it, that’s when it goes worse. You sit back and let them come to you, everything will be fine … they come in bunches — sacks, tackles for loss, just pure dominance over position groups. You’ve just got to be patient.”
Sure enough, Jones had one of his patented huge games against the Chargers last week, logging three sacks in the first half. When Jones gets on a roll he has been known to string multiple multi-sack games together, and this week he and the Raiders travel to face a Los Angeles Rams team that has allowed more sacks than any team in the NFC this year.
Kwity Paye – DE, Indianapolis Colts
The 2022 season was supposed to be a coming-out party for Paye. As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported, back in training camp the second-year pro made it clear that he had lofty goals—chief among them posting double-digit sacks.
“I definitely want to get double-digit sacks,” Paye said. “I feel me getting double-digit sacks will help the team in the pass rush. Last year, I wanted to do that, but I kind of started out slowly and got the injury. I’ve put a lot of work in this offseason. I can’t wait to get out on the field and show people what I’ve been working on.”
There most likely isn’t going to be a 10-sack season for Paye in 2022—he has missed five games over two stretches this year. He also isn’t going to be of any help to IDP managers this week, as the Colts are off.
But Paye has amassed five sacks in eight games this season. In each of his last two games, Paye has piled up at least eight total tackles and a sack, including nine stops (six solo) and a sack last week against Dallas. That kind of tackle/sack combination is Maxx Crosby-esque—and highly appealing to IDP managers.
Divine Deablo – LB, Las Vegas Raiders
For a time, it appeared Deablo was headed for a breakout season. Over the first seven games of 2022, Deablo logged at least 10 tackles four times and was a top-20 linebacker in terms of fantasy points per game. Per Marcus Johnson of Silver and Black Pride, Raiders linebackers coach Antonio Pierce said that Deablo had done an excellent job transitioning from safety to linebacker.
“That transition is never easy,” he said. “Everybody thinks you can just go in there and play; but your eyes are trained differently. I think he’s done an outstanding job of not just training his eyes, but communicating, being a more vocal player. We’ve asked him to do a lot, he’s done a lot. He’s embraced that, and obviously he has a skill set that’s very important to our defense. The things he can do being able to cover, run and the pressures.”
A forearm injury a month ago landed Deablo in injured reserve and derailed his IDP ascent. And with Vegas playing on a short week, Deablo probably won’t be activated until Week 15. But once he is, there’s no reason to think he won’t resume an every-down role as the Raiders’ defensive play-caller. If you have the spot to spare, get ahead of the curve here.