Fantasy football enthusiasts have a tendency to over-react each year to injuries. Despite the fact that injuries are an unfortunate reality in the NFL, every year is the worst year ever in that regard.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that the 2018 campaign is the worst that’s ever happened where injuries to individual defensive players (IDPs) are concerned—or even the worst I can remember.
However, there’s no denying that the linebacker position has been hit — hard.
The parade of pain kept right on rolling in Week 6. Cleveland inside linebacker Joe Schobert, who ranks fourth at the position in fantasy points in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring, injured his hamstring in last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Per Patrick Maks of the team’s website, head coach Hue Jackson indicated Schobert will be sidelined at least a week.
“He’ll be down for a little while, how long that will be, we’ll see how that will all unfold,” Jackson said.
Down Interstate 71, fantasy football’s No. 15 linebacker is in even worse shape.
As ESPN’s Katherine Terrell reported, Cincinnati outside linebacker Nick Vigil, who is tied for sixth in the NFL with 51 total tackles, will be out approximately a month after spraining his MCL in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh.
Those injuries (and all the others that came before them) will send that many more fantasy owners to the waiver wire looking for replacements — especially with four teams on a bye in Week 7.
As it happens, we’re headed back to the Queen City to begin out quest for potential reinforcements.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Preston Brown, ILB, Cincinnati
Before last week’s game, a banged-up Brown admitted to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s just trying to essentially survive until the bye at this point.
“I’m waiting on that bye week,” he said. “I’m trying to crawl my way to it. It’s kind of just hoping to maintain the strength because I’m going to five different doctors throughout the week trying to find a way to activate different muscles, do different things, different therapy, trying to find a way to get it right. Hopefully this Sunday I can play the whole game for once.”
Brown didn’t appear to re-aggravate his bad ankle against Pittsburgh, which is a good thing. With Vigil out, the fifth-year player will likely be counted on to play every down moving forward. Add in that Vontaze Burfict could possibly be looking at yet another suspension after cheap-shotting Antonio Brown Sunday, and there’s a chance Brown could see a boatload of tackle opportunities. Remember, this is a player who topped 100 stops in each of his first four seasons.
WEEK 7 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville
Ngakoue got off to a very sluggish start in 2018, registering just five tackles and two sacks over the first five games of 2018. However, he told ESPN’s Michael DiRocco back in September that he knew the dam was going to break eventually.
“Some of the greats like Michael Strahan, he didn’t get a first sack in first [two] weeks when he broke the single-season sack record [22.5 in 2001]. You’ve got to look at the history behind it. Pass-rushers just have to keep rushing. It’s respect, guys are keying in on me. But at the same time, you can’t change the way you rush. You’ve got to keep rushing the same way. You can’t get frustrated. At the end of the day you can’t press. You’ve just got to keep playing your game.”
Ngakoue was spot-on — he nearly matched his production for the season in Week 6, exploding for four tackles and two sacks against Dallas. Ahead of a favorable matchup with a Houston team close to the top of the league in sacks allowed, Ngakoue’s about the best waiver help out front an IDP owner could dare hope for this far into the season.”
Romeo Okwara, DE, Detroit
As Justin Rogers wrote for the Detroit News, Okwara has made a quick impression on Detroit head coach Matt Patricia after Detroit claimed the third-year pro off waivers from the New York Giants in the offseason.
“He obviously played a lot, too, before we got him, so it wasn’t a situation where he wasn’t in football shape or anything like that,” Detroit coach Matt Patricia said. “It was just really a question of him being able to come in and step into a role and master that role as fast as possible. It was on us to make sure we gave him something that he could handle from that standpoint as he’s still learning our system and learning some of the terminology, which he’s done a good job.”
Okwara was a big part of Detroit’s upset of Green Bay in Week 5, notching two sacks and a forced fumble. That makes three sacks over his last two games for Okwara, and while he doesn’t have positional eligibility as a defensive lineman with all providers, he’s absolutely worth a pickup in deeper leagues where he does.
Jamie Collins, OLB, Cleveland
Last week, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell posited that New England might be well-served to try to re-acquire Collins via a trade.
“Collins’ time in New England didn’t end well,” he said, “but (New England) needs help in (its) front seven after losing Ja’Whaun Bentley to a torn biceps. A healthy, motivated Collins would be an upgrade on the likes of Kyle Van Noy and free up Dont’a Hightower to take the occasional snap as an edge rusher, a tactic (New England) used to try to create pressure before Hightower got injured last season. (New England) wouldn’t owe Collins any guaranteed money after the season and would surely ask Collins to renegotiate his deal to stay with the team. Would a one-year reunion make sense for both parties?”
Yeah, about that.
With Schobert and fellow inside linebacker James Burgess both on the shelf with hamstring injuries, Cleveland is hard-up enough at linebacker to bring in veteran NaVorro Bowman for a workout. Not only is Cleveland now not even a little bit interested in trading Collins, but the 28-year-old will probably now play every down out of necessity. We’ve seen Collins post robust stat lines many times when the snaps are there — including 12 stops and a sack two weeks ago against the Ravens.