Last week brought with it a big shakeup on the IDP landscape, with the trade of Pro Bowl inside linebacker Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots to the Cleveland Browns. And despite the fact he’d only been with the team a few days, head coach Hue Jackson told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys that Collins would likely play a lot in his first game with his new team.
“He’s a very bright young man so he’s applying himself to learning exactly what we do and how we do it,” Jackson said. “I know him and Demario (Davis) and him and Christian (Kirksey) and all those guys there are constantly talking because I’m sure they want him to be out there with him.”
Sure enough, Collins was on the field for all 73 of Cleveland’s defensive snaps in Week 9, playing outside in the base formation and kicking inside in the nickel. Collins finished his first afternoon with the Browns with eight total tackles, giving his IDP owners reason for optimism that the new surroundings won’t be overly detrimental to his IDP value.
Of course, Collins’ departure also shakes things up significantly in Beantown, where the Patriots had the bye week to figure out how best to move forward without him. It’s there we begin this week’s look at waiver wire targets in IDP leagues – with a first-year linebacker about to be asked to do a lot more for Darth Hoodie and the Pats.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Elandon Roberts – ILB, New England Patriots
Roberts told Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal he’s ready to do whatever’s needed to help replace Collins. “No pressure. It’s the name of the game,” Roberts said. “I’m just going to take whatever I need to do in practice and we’re going to execute it in the game. If the team needs me to do more, I’ll do more. Whatever the team needs is what I’m here for. All I’m concerned about is the team and whatever we need to do to take our team to the next level, I’m willing to do.”
Many pundits have theorized that it was the solid play of Roberts (especially against the run) that made Collins expendable. It’s unsure whether the rookie sixth-rounder will have a role in sub-packages, so I don’t know that I’d insert Roberts in starting lineups just yet. But his potential alone is worth a preemptive pickup – wait until after Week 10’s games, and it will more than likely be too late.
WEEK 10 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Kony Ealy – DE, Carolina Panthers
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told Bryan Strickland of the team’s website that Carolina may have figured out what led to Ealy’s sluggish first half in 2016. “He’s a dynamic pass rusher, and one of the things we noticed and that the coaches talked about during the bye week and last week was that most of his consistent plays and opportunities come from the left side,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “Charles (Johnson) is playing very well, and rotating Kony into that spot seemed to spark a little bit for him. Kony didn’t get a sack, but some of the pressures he had and some of his rush in terms of getting the quarterback off his spot, that’s what we’re looking for – and we’re looking for him to do is consistently.”
Rivera may be on to something. After spending most of the season on the side of a milk carton, Ealy has heated up over the past two games, posting three tackles, a sack and an interception (yes, an interception) over that span. Those numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping, but the youngster is trending in the right direction enough to merit a look from teams with a hole up front.
Cameron Wake – DE, Miami Dolphins
After playing as a pass-rushing specialist earlier in the season, Wake has seen his snaps go up of late – by design, according to what defensive coordinator Vance Joseph told Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Cam’s a starter now,” Joseph said, “but his play count won’t go beyond probably 40 snaps a game. ”Cam’s playing well in the run and pass game alike, so he wants to be out there. It helps our defense when Cam’s out there more often.”
Sure enough, Wake played just under 40 snaps in Sunday’s win over the New York Jets – 39, to be exact. The 34-year-old made the most of them, racking up four tackles, two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. As Joseph told Perkins, “When he’s healthy, he’s a special player in the run and pass game alike. He’s proved to be healthy, and he’s playing well for us.”
Gerald Hodges – ILB, San Francisco 49ers
As USA Today’s Chris Biderman wrote, to say that the 49ers run defense was putrid in Week 9 is an insult – to putridity. “The Saints ran for a season high 238 yards,” he said. “Their previous best came last week against Seattle, when they ran for 123. That’s how bad it was for the 49ers run defense, which tried rotating inside linebackers, mixing and matching Gerald Hodges, Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore. But nothing worked.”
Hodges didn’t play full time against the Saints – that task fell to Bellore, who is all but certainly owned in the overwhelming majority of IDP leagues. What Hodges did do was lead the Niners with 11 total tackles, adding a sack of Drew Brees. Given the inordinate amount of time the 49ers defense spends on the field, even if Hodges only gets 65-70 percent of the snaps there’s plenty of opportunity for IDP production.
Korey Toomer – ILB, San Diego Chargers
Toomer told Ricky Henne of the team’s website he intends to make the most of the chance he’s been given to start after the Chargers were hit hard by injuries at his position. “Pags’ system is benefiting me because he is letting me play fast,” Toomer said. “He is putting me in positions not to fail. That is why it is working for the both of us. I feel like these coaches are giving me a chance. Granted, I made good on the situation. These coaches have put me in position to make plays and are not putting too much on my plate. They are letting me fly around. I am grateful for these coaches giving me a call and giving me a chance to play this game.”
Toomer made good on that pledge in Sunday’s wild shootout win over the Tennessee Titans, leading the Bolts with nine total tackles (including eight solos) and adding a forced fumble. It’s Toomer who has taken over the defensive play-calling duties for the Chargers, and with Jatavis Brown unlikely to return until after San Diego’s Week 11 bye there’s probably at least one week to go on the Toomer train.
Jairus Byrd – S, New Orleans Saints
It wasn’t too long ago that Kenneth Arthur of SB Nation was writing that Byrd’s days in the Big Easy were numbered. “When the Saints got him as a free agent from Buffalo in 2014,” Arthur said, “Byrd was supposed to be what Darren Sharper was to the New Orleans Saints during the 2009 Super Bowl season: a ball hawk centerfielder, who picks up passes at will and delivers big hits over the middle. Instead, Byrd has spent his entire Saints tenure either injured on the sideline or playing not to get hurt. He has been a major disappointment and the six-year, $54 million contract that he signed with the Saints is just another one of the ongoing blunders made by New Orleans’ front office since the aforementioned 2009 season. With the Saints selecting safety Vonn Bell in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, Byrd’s days in NOLA are likely numbered.”
Arthur just might be singing a bit of a different tune now – especially if he plays in an IDP league. With the Saints using a three safety package as the default defensive formation of late, Byrd has now put up two straight big games – including eight total tackles in Sunday’s win in San Francisco. So long as the Saints stick with the three safety set, Byrd will be worth looking at if you have a need at the back end.
Hasean Clinton-Dix – S, Green Bay Packers
Last year, Clinton-Dix was a top-10 fantasy defensive back in many scoring systems. However, with Morgan Burnett healthy again Clinton-Dix has been spending more time in centerfield and less time blowing up stat sheets. He’s been so disappointing, in fact, that many IDP owners cut their losses and moved on weeks ago.
Those same fantasy owners are probably kicking themselves right now.
Granted, Clinton-Dix’s three total tackles against the Indianapolis Colts are no big deal, and he’s become a big play-dependent fantasy option. But being big play-dependent isn’t such a terrible thing when a player tallies half a sack and intercepts a pair of passes, as Clinton-Dix did in Sunday’s loss.