OK, this is getting freaking ridiculous.
Injuries are an unfortunate part of football — but they are a part of it. Every year, fantasy managers tend to fall into the trap of saying, “man, I don’t know if I can ever remember this many injuries in a week/season/whatever” as soon as the first big wave hits. It’s equal parts annual and silly.
The thing is, in 2020, they may just be right.
Week 4 of the 2020 season claimed the No. 1 overall player in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, as Indianapolis’ Darius Leonard left the team’s win over Chicago with a groin injury that puts his Week 5 status in doubt. Ditto for Jacksonville’s Myles Jack (ankle) and the Los Angeles Rams’ Micah Kiser (groin), both of whom were off to good starts this season.
Do I have all three on one team? Oh yeah.
That sets the stage for something I legitimately don’t think has happened in all the years I have been playing in and writing about all IDP leagues —especially in Week freaking 5 — the preseason No. 1 defensive lineman (Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter), No. 1 linebacker (Leonard) and No. 1 defensive back (Seattle’s Jamal Adams) will all more than likely miss this week’s action.
All those early IDP picks are looking good, huh?
There’s nothing for IDP managers singing the injury blues to do other than hit the waiver wire and try to land viable replacements, so let’s get down to business.
Well, there’s also day-drinking. I hear it helps.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Josey Jewell, ILB, Denver
When Denver surprisingly released Todd Davis just before the season, it opened the door for Jewell to be a full-time player for the team. As Travis Wakeman wrote for Predominantly Orange, the third-year pro from Iowa is quickly making head coach Vic Fangio and general manager John Elway look prescient for making the switch.
“It was tough to see Davis go, but Jewell is making fans forget about him quickly,” Wakeman said. “If Jewell is able to keep up this level of play, the idea of having he and Alexander Johnson as the duo at inside linebacker for years to come suddenly sounds more than reasonable.”
Through four games, Jewell is pacing Denver with 30 total tackles, and last week against the New York Jets the former Iowa standout became the second Denver linebacker since 1994 to record double-digit tackles and two sacks in the same game. Jewell played 73-of-77 snaps in Week 4, and has been on the field for at least 90 percent of Denver’s snaps in every game this season.
WEEK 5 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Arik Armstead, DE, San Francisco
San Francisco has been hit as hard by injuries as any team in the NFL this year. But as Liam McHugh of NBC Sports Bay Area reported, Pro Bowl defensive lineman Arik Armstead said that the team isn’t about to throw in the towel any time soon.
“[Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s] message has been to keep playing,” Armstead said. “It’s a long season. We’re just getting started. And the message was really, we had injuries last year, and we were still able to make a run. This year could be the same as long as we play to the standard we know we’re capable of playing.”
San Francisco lost at home to Philadelphia in Week 4, but Armstead had one of his better games of the season, tallying five total tackles with half a sack. The sixth-year veteran was let go in many IDP leagues after a sluggish start to the year, but ahead of a plus matchup with Miami Armstead is worth picking up.
Leonard Williams, DE, New York Giants
The New York Giants (as a whole) haven’t played well defensively in 2020. OK, they haven’t played well, period. But as Dan Benton wrote for Giants Wire, Williams said that he and his teammates believe there’s still plenty of time to turn things around.
“I think we just need to not go outside of our realm right now,” Williams said. “I think it’s time to just go back on Wednesday and keep working hard. Just clean up the small details, I think that’s mainly what’s holding us back right now, just a few small errors and a few small details that we need to clean up and get clicking.”
The 0-4 Giants are a hot mess, but Williams is finally starting to show why the Giants obtained him from the New York Jets. The sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft has already tallied two sacks this season, and in last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams Williams hit the five-tackle mark for the third time in four games.
Anthony Walker, ILB, Indianapolis
Indianapolis in 2020 isn’t like the Peyton Manning-led versions that were a force in the AFC for so many years — this Indianapolis team is all about its league-leading defense. As Andrew Walker reported for the Colts website, veteran linebacker Anthony Walker said he and the rest of the defense try to set the tone every week.
“We feel that we have to control the game,” Walker said. “Up front we have to stop the run and we have to be able to run the football. Our job is to stop the run, so you make a team one dimensional, have to beat you throwing the ball, that’s tough on them. So, we feel that we’re able to stop the run and allow the (defensive) line to eat on third down and we feel that we have the cover guys to get the job done and we’ll be successful.”
With both Leonard and Bobby Okereke banged up last week, Walker played a full-time role and paced the team with 11 total tackles. With run-heavy Cleveland next up for Indianapolis, Walker has the makings of a great spot-start, even if he’s only a short-term fix.