Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the waiver wire isn’t important — even in deeper Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues.
In the vast majority of IDP leagues, Dallas edge-rusher Aldon Smith wasn’t drafted. It’s not difficult to figure out why — prior to Week 1 he hadn’t set foot on an NFL field for five years.
Now, three games into the season, Smith is your NFL sack leader with four — and the highest-scoring defensive lineman in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
As Calvin Watkins wrote for the Dallas Morning News, Smith has done his best his downplay his remarkable renaissance so far this season.
“I feel like I try to bring my A game every time I go out and play,’’ Smith said. “I work well with the other guys and we work well with each other. Rushing is a team effort. If it wasn’t for the other guys playing their roles and doing things, it would have been much tougher for me to make some plays out there.”
It’s still early. It’s also unlikely that Smith will maintain this pace over the entire season. But the 30-year-old has gone from a complete non0factor in IDP drafts to a hot waiver add after Week 1 to an every-week starter on the defensive line and potential difference-maker for IDP managers in 2020.
There aren’t necessarily any Aldon Smiths on the waiver wire in Week 4 — those don’t come around every week. But there are some players who can help out teams who have been hurt by injuries and/or slow starts.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Montez Sweat, DE, Washington
Washington got quite a scare in last week’s loss to Cleveland when No. 2 overall pick Chase Young went down with a groin injury. But while Young was on the sidelines, second-year pro Montez Sweat picked up the slack, impressing head coach Ron Rivera in the process.
“Montez showed that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Rivera said, via Peter Hailey of NBC Sports Washington. “You can imagine what it would be like if we would have had a healthy Chase. He has been showing that all training camp and all season. That is what we expect we from him.”
Sweat finished the loss to Cleveland with four total tackles and a sack — the second time in three games that the 2019 first-round pick has gotten to the quarterback. Young’s groin injury isn’t believed to be serious, but that could be a good thing for Sweat’s long-term prospects — trading a few snaps for all the single-teams Sweat will see playing opposite Young is a deal worth taking 10 times out of 10.
WEEK 4 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia
Philadelphia has had a miserable start to the season, in part because the team has been blasted by injuries on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia is starting to get some guys back though — including Barnett, who made his 2020 debut in Week 3 against Cincinnati. As Mike Kaye of NJ.com wrote, while Philadelphia didn’t win (or lose), Barnett had an excellent debut.
“(Philadelphia’s) much-maligned former first-round pick had himself a strong ball game against (Cincinnati),” he said. “He produced four tackles and two sacks, despite coming off the bench. Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat started at defensive end, but Barnett made his presence known, especially in overtime. Barnett got his second sack in the extended period.”
Barnett may have come off the bench, but he wound up playing the same number of snaps (38) as Sweat. If Barnett keeps producing at close to this level moving forward, he’s going to see more playing time — and this is a young edge-rusher who was regarded by some as an upside DL2 before he got hurt.
Leonard Williams, DE, New York Giants
The New York Giants are a bad defensive football team — they just got rolled by the San Francisco JV team at home. But as Dan Benton reported for Giants Wire, defensive end Leonard Williams thinks that the team can show improvement as the season wears on.
“One way we can get off the field on third downs is if I can get to the quarterback faster, if I can get my hands up when the ball’s coming out fast and bat some balls,” Williams said. “I think we just need to not go outside of our realm right now. I think it’s time to just go back on Wednesday and keep working hard.”
To his credit, Williams is actually off to the best start of his professional career — he has 13 tackles and two sacks in 2020 after notching just half a sack all of last year. This is a player who was once the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft and widely considered a can’t-miss prospect. In a contract year, maybe the light bulb has finally come on for the former USC star.
Nicholas Morrow, OLB, Las Vegas
It’s been quite the year for Nicholas Morrow — the 25-year-old started 18 games in Oakland over the past three years, but with both Corry Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski coming in in free agency, there were rumblings that Morrow could be on his way out — rumblings that weren’t put to bed until Las Vegas brought back Morrow on an restricted free agent tender.
Then, when Kwiatkoski went down with a pectoral injury, Las Vegas’ starting strongside linebacker went from a base-down player to once again playing in subpackages. And over the past two weeks, he has been productive, piling up 16 total tackles and a huge interception in a Week 2 win over New Orleans.
This waiver addition comes with an expiration date — when Kwiatkoski’s injury heals, Morrow’s subpackage role will all but certainly go by the wayside. But Kwiatkoski has yet to return to practice, so there’s likely at least one more week left before Morrow turns back into an IDP pumpkin.