Injuries are an unfortunate fact of life in the NFL. But man, sometimes the facts of life just suck.
Houston moved to 5-3 on the season with a comeback victory over Oakland on Sunday, but that win came at a massive cost. When veteran defensive end J.J. Watt left the field in the first half in the first half and then went straight from the locker room to the hospital, we knew it was a bad sign.
Sure enough, an MRI showed a tor pectoral muscle, and just like that the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year’s season was over. It’s the third time in the last four seasons that Watt has suffered a season-ending injury.
It was Watt himself who broke the news on Twitter.
“This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal,” he said. “Absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve. I truly love this game and can’t stand letting you guys down. Thank you for all of the thoughts & well-wishes.”
To say that it’s a devastating injury is an understatement. Houston’s chances of making a deep playoff run may have just been dealt a crippling blow. Never mind the IDP owners who spent an early pick on a player who may have been the first defensive lineman selected in many drafts.
There’s no replacing a difference-maker like Watt. All you can do is hit the waiver and fill the void as best you can.
Given that so many IDP owners are scrambling to find defensive line help right now, it makes sense that this week’s “Pickup of the Week” would play up front.
That he’s a Pro Bowler returning from a serious injury of his own is a tad ironic.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Tampa Bay
When Pierre-Paul suffered a serious neck injury in an offseason automobile accident, most people believed he wouldn’t play at all in 2019. But as Jenna Laine reported for ESPN, the 30-year-old was activated last week and made his 2019 debut Sunday against Tennessee.
“It felt great. It’s been a long journey,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’ve still got a lot going on, but it’s been great being with my teammates. … I feel good.”
It marks the second time that Pierre-Paul has made a return after a devastating injury off the playing field — his right hand was badly mangled in a fireworks accident back in 2015. Pierre-Paul played 43 snaps in his first game action of the season, finishing with three tackles and a sack. There’s been nothing to indicate Pierre-Paul suffered a setback in the game, so his snap count will likely increase in relatively short order.
WEEK 9 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Maxx Crosby, DE, Oakland
After managing just 13 sacks as a team in 2018, Oakland took a buzzsaw to the defensive line in the offseason. That included taking Maxx Crosby in the fourth round of the draft, and while he wasn’t the first defensive end drafted by the team the former Eastern Michigan standout has made an impression on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
“I think he’s gotten a lot better in both the run and the pass rush,” Guenther said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I think he’s a high-energy guy, he’s getting better every week and he can do a lot of different things for us, so he’s an exciting guy to have. [He has made progress] mainly in the running game and the little detailed things, the footwork and hand placement on early downs. Obviously, we knew he could rush bringing him in here, but he’s becoming a complete defensive end each and every week.”
Crosby’s been Oakland’s most productive defensive lineman of late, notching eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble over the last three games. Crosby wouldn’t be my first choice along the defensive line this week, but depending on your waiver priority he’s an OK emergency option.
Bruce Irvin, DE, Carolina
There wasn’t much for Carolina to be happy about after being annihilated 51-13 in San Francisco on Sunday. But as Hans Themistode reported for Panthers Wire, the play of Irvin was a rare bright spot.
“Only one defender was good enough to make the winners category this week,” he said. Edge-rusher Bruce Irvin did everything in his power to make this a close contest. He posted five tackles, three for loss, two sacks and a safety. You can pin this loss on practically anybody but him.”
Irvin was banged-up to start the season and didn’t play until Week 4, but as he’s rounded into shape both his snap count and production have gone up. Coming off that blowout loss Carolina will host Tennessee on Sunday. Given that no team has allowed more sacks in 2019 than Tennessee, I expect Irvin, Mario Addison and Brian Burns to tee off as they try to work out some frustrations.
Jon Bostic, ILB, Washington
It’s been a miserable season for Washington, and with the trade deadline here the belief is that the team will most assuredly be sellers. Per Ben Standig of the Athletic, Bostic isn’t letting rumors that he could be one of the expiring contracts that are moved affect him.
“I don’t think about that stuff,” Bostic said. “For me, it’s trying to win week in and week out. That’s what it comes down to. We have to get better. … I’m just worried about today. I don’t get into speculation. We’re just focused on how we get better as a defense.”
Frankly, the best thing Individual Defensive Player (IDP)-wise would be for Bostic to stay put. The veteran journeyman has played over 90 percent of Washington’s defensive snaps in five of the last six games and is third on the team in tackles — including a season-high seven solos and a sack in last week’s loss to Minnesota.