The Burfict’s back and he’s gonna get in trouble …
Hey-la-day-la, the Burfict’s back!
What? Oh, like he won’t. Again.
Week 5 of the 2018 season brings with it the return of several players who opened the season serving four-game suspensions for assorted offenses. On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest name coming back is Cincinnati outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Per WCPO-TV, head coach Marvin Lewis indicated it will good to get one of the team’s defensive leaders back.
“We had to have the other guys assume the leadership, the communication, everything that way,” Lewis said of Burfict’s absence. “He’s such a dominant personality that we almost have to stifle him in order to do that. One thing to his credit: He’s been able to come back to playing (in the past) as though he’s been playing football.”
This isn’t the first time Burfict’s drawn a suspension from the NFL — or the second. And generally speaking, in the past when Burfict got back he was thrown right back into his every-down role on the weak side. There’s just enough uncertainty regarding his Week 5 role against Miami to add a measure of risk to starting Burfict, but make no mistake — when he’s healthy and on his game, Burfict’s a potential difference-maker.
In most leagues he’s already offered. But if by some stroke of good fortune he isn’t, Burfict’s the top Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league waiver claim this week by a country mile.
Here are some other Week 5 targets for the 95-plus percent of leagues where Burfict already has a home.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Anthony Walker, ILB, Indianapolis
Darius Leonard has been an IDP sensation over the first month of the season, but the rookie linebacker credited much of that success to what he’s learned from Walker while speaking to Jordan Guskey of the Indy Star.
“That is by far one of the smartest guys on the defense, and just being able to go talk to him about anything helps me out,” Leonard said. “A lot of times on the sideline before I ask a coach anything I ask Walker. Just trying to hear his reaction and try and get better from him, because as a player you know how to translate it a lot more than sometimes with coaches.”
Unfortunately, Leonard was also nicked up last week against Houston, and, with Indianapolis playing on a short week, he may not be ready to face New England on Thursday. Even if he is, Walker’s last two weeks have earned him a spot on IDP rosters in his own right — over the past two weeks Walker has played more than 85 percent of the defensive snaps, piling up 19 total tackles and 16 solos.
WEEK 5 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Denico Autry, DT, Indianapolis
Back in August, Autry told Jake Arthur of the Indianapolis Colts’ website that he felt freer to disrupt passing lames and collapse the pocket in Indianapolis’ 4-3 than when he was with Oakland.
“Oh, yeah. Yeah,” Autry said. “They turn us loose and let us play. it’s aggressive. Just get off. In Oakland, I was more reading, but now it’s just get off the ball and go disrupt things.”
An ankle injury threw a monkey wrench into the early part of Autry’s first season with Indianapolis, but the fifth-year veteran got his first extensive action of the season in Sunday’s loss to Houston. It’s not even a little reasonable to expect Autry to go out there and post nine total tackles and two sacks every week, but almost as important as the stat line was Autry’s snap count — he was on the field for a jaw-dropping 88 percent of Indianapolis’ defensive plays.
John Simon, DE, New England
After making his New England debut last week, much is being made of Simon taking on his old team on Thursday night. However, he told Henry McKenna of New England Patriots Wire that taking on Indianapolis will be just another game.
“It’ll be good to see those guys again,” Simon said. “I have a lot of respect for a lot of those players on that team. Some will be friends for life. It’s another game for us here. I can’t think of it as anything else than that. Just go out and come out and try to contribute to a win as best I can.”
Simon didn’t play a ton against Miami — 28 snaps in garbage time. But he made the most of those snaps, piling five total tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack. It’s not hard at all to imagine coach Bill Belichick using Simon as a part-time “hybrid” player of the edge and finding a way to get production out of the gritty “tweener.” This is admittedly something of a speculative call. But if you want defensive line help in deeper leagues, sometimes you have to use a little imagination.