If there was one thing we most assuredly did not need in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues this season, it was more injuries at the linebacker position.
So of course, that’s exactly what we got in Week 7.
In Kansas City, Cincinnati lost more than just the game in a blowout loss. As ESPN’s Katherine Terrell reported, linebacker Vontaze Burfict left Sunday night’s game with what was called a hip injury. Given how gingerly he was walking and how quickly he was ruled out, Burfict’s Week 8 status is looking rather shaky at present.
Burfict also caused a social media firestorm when fans accused him of intentionally twisting the ankle of Kansas City tailback Spencer Ware. I’m not about to say that Burfict isn’t a dirty player, but if fans pore over every tackle any player makes in slow motion looking for something to be outraged about, they’re going to find it.
The news was that much worse in Tampa Bay. After going down with an injury that had teammates gathered around him in prayer, it was feared that middle linebacker Kwon Alexander had torn his ACL. Per ESPN’s Jenna Laine, an MRI Monday confirmed the diagnosis.
“It’s unfortunate. Kwon was playing so well, and he’s the heart and soul of our defense,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said Monday. “It’s very unfortunate. Our locker room at halftime was extremely emotional last night. Kwon came out of the training room right around the time we were getting ready to go back onto the field. It was emotional.”
Alexander’s loss creates a gigantic hole — both in the team’s linebacker corps and in many IDP lineups. His replacement is where we’ll kick off this week’s look at the IDP waiver wire.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Adarius Taylor, ILB, Tampa Bay
“You’ve got to have next-man-up mentality,” David said. “Kwon is a big part of this defense. We also were missing other key guys up front with Gerald (McCoy) and Vinny (Curry). So, it was big. Defensive line stepped up. AT came in and played backup, and Jack came in. Those guys stepped up and filled the void, and that’s what you’ve got to do. You never know when your name’s going to get called and those guys had their names called.”
Taylor, who changed his name from Glanton in the offseason, has a bit of a track record as a starter — he piled up 21 tackles and a sack last year in a three-game stretch at the beginning of the year while Alexander was out. It’s not realistic to presume that Taylor will be the Top 10 fantasy option that Alexander is. But after posting seven stops and a sack against Cleveland, Taylor showed he’s worth a roster spot in IDP leagues.
WEEK 8 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Kenny Clark, DT, Green Bay
Clark has a fan in Kris Burke of SB Nation.
“One thing that has become crystal clear,” Burke said, “is that defensive tackle Kenny Clark is emerging as a bona fide stud. Clark is becoming a dominant force along the defensive line alongside fellow dominant force Mike Daniels. He moves offensive linemen with ease and ranks near the top on the team in every category a defensive lineman can fit on.”
For the season, Clark has 27 total tackles and two sacks — including seven total stops (six solos) and a sack last time out against San Francisco. He’s also a very respectable 16th among all defensive linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring on a points-per-game basis. That Clark’s available in many IDP leagues belies how many fantasy owners ignore nose tackles unless their league requires defensive tackle. Don’t be that guy.
Robert Quinn, DE, Miami
Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami head coach Adam Gase admitted that he hasn’t been happy with Miami’s pass rush.
“The Dolphins have only 11 sacks in seven games,” Jackson said, “which ranks ahead of only Atlanta, New England, Oakland and the (New York) Giants.”
Gase said sacks are “irrelevant,” and he’s more concerned about pass disruption.
And in that area, “it’s not good enough,” Gase said. “We want to be up in top five. We haven’t done that.”
I will freely admit that I was high on Quinn entering the season as a high-ceiling IDP DL2. But after just 20 tackles and a single sack in seven games, Quinn’s been shown the door in more leagues than not. But if ever there was a week for Quinn to realize some of that preseason potential, this is it — Houston is third in the NFL in sacks allowed and first in fantasy points given up to defensive linemen.
Marquel Lee, OLB, Oakland
Lee’s snaps have climbed steadily as the season has progressed, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther told Eddie Paskal of the team’s website that the youngster has earned the bump in playing time.
“I think he’s been improving every week,” Guenther said. “He’s gotten more snaps every week. He’s a smart guy. He understands all the calls. He understands the grand scheme of things on the defense. He’s gotten better every week and that’s why he’s earned more snaps.”
Lee has been on the field for at least 75 percent of Oakland’s defensive snaps in each of the last three games, amassing 19 total tackles over that span. Now that Oakland has cut bait on veteran Derrick Johnson, both Lee’s snap count and productivity should go up. This is a defense that’s going to be on the field a lot moving forward.