We’re going to do things a bit differently here at the IDP Waiver Wire as we head into Week 11.
As I was perusing the waiver wires of the many IDP leagues I play in, I noticed something. For as late in the season as it is, there are some pretty big names floating around in a lot of formats. And I’m not talking about players who are ready to be put out to pasture. I’m talking about guys who not too long ago were considered fantasy studs.
Maybe they’re coming off injury. Maybe they were slumping earlier in the season. Maybe it was a bit of both. Whatever the reason, this handful of individual defensive players are absolutely worth a look from fantasy owners as the stretch run for the postseason begins in earnest.
Cliff Avril – DE, Seattle Seahawks
In the opinion of Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune, there hasn’t been a more valuable player for the Seahawks on either side of the ball in 2015 than Avril. “Michael Bennett gets the attention for his team-leading sacks, his hilarity and plays like bulling Arizona offensive linemen back into their quarterback, as Seattle’s defensive end did Sunday night,” Bell said.
“But his partner at defensive end, Cliff Avril, continued to show why he’s been the overlooked but consistently disruptive most valuable player of the Seahawks’ defense this season. Maybe of their entire team.”
In addition to being consistently disruptive, Avril has been consistently productive of late, tallying 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles over his past three games. A top 10 defensive lineman in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring to this point in the year, the only reason I can think of why Avril was available was Seattle’s recent bye followed by a poor matchup with the Cardinals.
A matchup in which Avril notched a strip-sack.
Jason Pierre-Paul – DE, New York Giants
It’s a little easier to figure out why Pierre-Paul is still available in many IDP leagues. After all, Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots was only Pierre-Paul’s second game of the season after an offseason fireworks accident cost him his right index finger and cast doubt over the sixth-year veteran’s NFL future.
Still, Pierre-Paul insisted to Dan Graziano after posting only a pass defensed against the Pats that he’s only just getting started. “I am just getting warmed up,” he said. “Next game will be better. Physically I am good. I think I am in good shape. I am just happy to be out there. Every game, I am getting better.”
Granted, there’s really no telling how close to his formerly dominant form Pierre-Paul will be able to return to. His injury is uncharted waters, both from an NFL and IDP perspective. However, even 70 percent of JPP would offer fantasy owners the sort of dual-threat IDP upside that very few defensive ends possess. That alone is worth a speculative add, even with the Giants taking Week 11 off.
Vontaze Burfict – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals
There isn’t a word in football that brings more dread to the ears of coaches and fantasy owners more than “microfracture.” It’s the type of injury that doesn’t just end seasons. It can also end careers. And it’s microfracture surgery that Burfict is only 10 months removed from as he attempts to help propel the Bengals toward a deep playoff run.
As Geoff Hobson of the Bengals’ website reported recently, head coach Marvin Lewis lauded Burfict’s ability to get back up to speed quickly. “He’s got an incredible football intelligence and great passion to play. He’s so doggone smart,” Lewis said. “He comes back in and steps back in and does things as though he’s been doing it the whole time, which is a credit to him.”
Of even more interest to IDP owners, in the Bengals’ loss to the Houston Texans Burfict played a larger complement of snaps, racking up seven total tackles. Sure, only two of those stops were solos, but that had a lot more to do with the wonky scorekeepers in Cincy than with the fourth-year pro.
Stephen Tulloch – MLB, Detroit Lions
Back in September, it looked like Tulloch’s days as an IDP-relevant player were done. Finished. Toast. “You wouldn’t expect anyone that’s playing any kind of a role a little bit differently than what they played before to be absolutely happy about it,” head coach Jim Caldwell told the Detroit Free Press about Tulloch’s reduction in playing time. “But he’s a great role player and he’s a great leader and he’s certainly reacting the way in which you would expect.”
Caldwell insisted that Tulloch’s lack of playing time had nothing to do with his ACL tear last season. And yet, if the past few games are any indication, Tulloch’s reduction in playing time seems to have had an awful lot to do with that torn ACL. Because the veteran’s snaps are on the rise.
Yes, Tulloch’s four solos in Detroit’s surprising upset of the Green Bay Packers isn’t anything to write home about. However, the fact that Tulloch played 53 snaps compared to 40 for Josh Bynes should pique the interest of IDP owners who are in need of help at the linebacker position.
Morgan Burnett – SS, Green Bay Packers
As Michele Bruton of Bleacher Report wrote, there’s a reason why Burnett was the top fantasy defensive back in many rankings entering 2015. “Burnett specializes in defensive stops on running plays close to the line of scrimmage,” Bruton said. “Per Pro Football Focus, in 2014, Burnett had a run-stop percentage of 10.8 percent within eight yards of the line of scrimmage, with 32 tackles, 10 assists and only two missed tackles. That was good for No. 5 among 54 qualifying safeties.”
Of course, the season hardly went as planned for Burnett, who languished for much of the season on the Green Bay bench with a calf injury. Given that most savvy fantasy owners have a relatively short leash where defensive backs are concerned, that landed Burnett on a great many waiver wires.
The past two games though, we’ve seen at least a glimpse of the Burnett fantasy owners were hoping for, with the 26-year-old making 17 total tackles. Over the next month the Packers have a number of favorable fantasy matchups, during which Burnett could help more than a few IDP squads with their playoff push.
With the 2015 season underway, Fantasy Sharks has you covered. Whether it’s player rankings and projections, waiver wire targets, rookie analysis for dynasty leagues or strategy tips, IDP Staff Writer Walton Spurlin and IDP Senior Staff Writer Gary Davenport have all the information you need to dominate your IDP league in 2015. Also, for the latest IDP news and player updates follow IDP Sharks on Twitter