There are a couple of realities about dealing with the waiver wire in Week 15 of a fantasy football season — and neither is especially pleasant.
The first is brutal in its simplicity. Or simple in its brutality. Whatever. If you’re combing through an Individual Defensive Player (IDP) waiver wire looking for startable players ahead of a semifinal game, you are probably screwed. There’s at least one league I’m in where I earned a first-round bye only to watch players on my roster get hurt on my “week off.” Now I have to face another good team short-handed — and the options available to me on the wire are …. yeah.
I know. No one cares about my fantasy team. I’m venting. Also had a team finish 10-4 and miss the playoffs by less than 20 points. Don’t judge me.
I hate 2020 so much.
The second reality is a bit odd — especially in 2020.
There haven’t been many “thunderbolt” injuries late this season. Sure, there have been guys get hurt late. And doors of opportunity opened for players to step up. But there hasn’t been many (if any) IDPs over the past few weeks who went from waiver fodder to game-changer. For the most part, the teams who are doing well right now are the same teams who were doing well in Week 11.
Bright side to that is that there hasn’t been any crippling, season-wrecking injuries late in the 2020 campaign (at least until I jinxed it just now). But IDP managers looking for a savior on the wire in most leagues this season are more likely than not out of luck.
Again, I hate 2020. Stupid, weird, busted year.
Still, all we can do is play the hand we’re dealt. And there are holes to be filled. So, let’s grab what spackle we can and get to work
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Kenny Young, ILB, Los Angeles Rams
A third-year pro out of UCLA, Young had the game of his life in last week’s big win over New England — eight total tackles, a sack and the first pick-six of his professional career. He told the team’s website that while his individual efforts (and the accolades that came with it) were nice, getting a three-touchdown win in primetime was even better.
“It’s not so much that I had the pick-six, I’m just really very proud of the way we played together, how connected we played for four quarters in all three phases,” Young said. “We came together and showed up. That feels really, really good when your brothers and you play very, very well.”
Young admittedly isn’t an every-down linebacker — he played just under 70 percent of the snaps last week against the New England. The Rams also face a New York Jets team in Week 15 that isn’t exactly lighting it up offensively this season. But the Jets have actually been decent in terms of fantasy points allowed to linebackers this season, and with Micah Kiser already ruled out Young should see an IDP-relevant workload for at least one more game.
WEEK 15 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Dion Jordan, DE, San Francisco
Jordan is best known for a bunch of things he’d rather not be known for, whether it’s being one of the biggest draft busts in Miami history or the multiple suspensions and injuries that derailed his professional career. However, as Alain Poupart wrote for Dolphin Maven, Jordan said his current focus is less on his past in Miami than his present in San Francisco.
“I feel like it has been a long road, but I’m here now,” he said. “And I’m happy to be here. I’m just going to take it a day at a time. I love my teammates. I like where I’m playing, this organization. So, I’ve just been trying to take it a day at a time and progress as a football player and really just be the best teammate I can. With my career, just let that be the No. 1 thing, being about the team and taking care of myself.”
That Jordan is playing full time speaks to the injury issues San Francisco has had along the defensive line. But Jordan is also quietly making the most of the opportunity — ahead of a favorable Week 15 matchup with Dallas, Jordan has three total tackles and a sack in each of his last two contests.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Cleveland
Cleveland is doing something in 2020 the team hasn’t done in over a decade— winning more games than losing. However, as veteran defensive end Olivier Vernon told Vernon told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal, none of that will really matter if Cleveland can’t figure out a way to make 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 and Cleveland didn’t win in Week 15 against Baltimore, but Vernon once again blew up — for the third time this season the nine-year veteran had multiple sacks. With three games to play the 30-year-old has a puncher’s chance at a 10-sack season, and his matchups over each of the next two weeks are favorable.
Cory Littleton, OLB, Las Vegas
When Littleton signed in free agency, the 27-year-old was supposed to be the anchor for the Las Vegas linebackers for years to come. Instead, as Brad Gagnon wrote for Bleacher Report, Littleton’s three-year, $35.3 million contract has the look of an anchor around the team’s neck.
“Littleton hasn’t performed up to snuff all year,” he said. “Even before missing a pair of games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he hadn’t made any big plays and was being outperformed by the less-heralded Nicholas Morrow. When Littleton returned in Week 12, Morrow was more heavily featured on defense. Littleton’s always been decent in coverage, but he leads the NFL with 15 missed tackles, which is unfortunate considering that the Raiders are on the hook to give him $13.8 million in each of the next two years (with a potential $6.1 million out after the 2021 campaign).”
Littleton went from my preseason Top 10 to the IDP scrapheap with enough speed to give you whiplash, and the fact he isn’t the Pickup of the Week feels demonstrative of my confidence level (or lack thereof) in Littleton in Week 15. But Morrow is in the concussion protocol on a short week, so Las Vegas may not have any recourse but to slot Littleton in an every-down role Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers.