It’s high-wire time.
Week 11 brings with it many things. It’s the last of the four-team bye weeks, so outside of two teams off in Week 13 (which well and truly screws some teams in the last week of many fantasy regular seasons) clubs will be relatively close to full strength – for all the good it does some of them.
More importantly, with the regular season winding down the playoff stretch run is underway in earnest. Plenty of fantasy owners are anxiously looking at their 6-4 or 5-5 or 4-6 teams and trying to determine the scenarios that will get them a slot in the postseason tournament.
All of those scenarios share one thing in common – winning.
For more than a few IDP owners, the next loss they suffer will effectively end their seasons. The margin for error is gone. Every decision at every position in every game could be the call that makes or breaks an entire year.
At this point in the season, finding a game-changer on the waiver wire isn’t especially likely. Sure, a Chris Borland type would be nice, but sometimes the best you can hope for is an upgrade over a disappointing starter or an injury stopgap.
Unless, that is, you can find an overlooked veteran on the wire who just reminded everyone of the production he’s capable of.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Eric Berry – S, Kansas City Chiefs
As Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports wrote, Berry was one of the heroes of Kansas City’s comeback win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 10. “On Sunday,” he wrote, “Berry scored a touchdown on what might go down as the best return of the 2016 season. It also gave the Chiefs a chance to mount a comeback against the Panthers.
“With just under 11 minutes remaining in the game, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dropped back to pass and was immediately pressured. Drifting backwards, Newton lofted a pass down the left sideline, which is where Berry snagged the interception.”
One remarkable return later, Berry had put a bow on his best effort of the year, a nine-tackle effort including that pick-six and a season-high seven solos. Berry’s relatively pedestrian numbers this year have landed him on more than a few waiver wires, but Sunday’s big game will no doubt get him another chance on IDP rosters.
WEEK 11 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Trey Flowers – DE, New England Patriots
Coming off a two-sack effort against the Buffalo Bills back in Week 8, Flowers told Mark Daniels and Rich Garven of the Providence Journal that he came out of New England’s bye week brimming with confidence. “It’s been good,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready for the second half of the season; no dings or anything like that. So, away we go.”
It appears the Patriots’ coaching staff shares that confidence.
In Sunday night’s marquee matchup with the Seattle Seahawks it was veteran end Jabaal Sheard (and not Flowers) who was the low man in the DE rotation for the Pats. And given that Flowers responded to the bump in snaps with his second multi-sack effort in a row that change in the pecking order for the Pats may be more than just a one-week deal.
Cameron Wake – DE, Miami Dolphins
As Wake told Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, he’s just now beginning to feel like himself as he works his way back from the Achilles tear that ended his 2015 campaign. “One game — one day, really, at time,” he said. “Had a little bump with the injury, but my mentality is the same as it’s always been. No one’s going to stop me. That’s how I felt before I got hurt. That’s how I feel today. The day I stop feeling that way, that’s time to stop.”
Wake is only playing about 40 snaps a game, but the 34-year-old is getting maximum bang for his proverbial buck. Over his past four games Wake has been on one of patented hot streaks, racking up 11 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles. That’s pretty danged good for a guy who is only on the field about half the time, don’t you think?
Dannell Ellerbe – OLB, New Orleans Saints
As Herbie Teope of The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote, Ellerbe is another injured veteran getting back to full strength after missing most of this season with a quad injury. “I need to be out there,” he said. “I missed too much time already. I changed everything about my diet and now I did a lot of steps to stay from being in the training room. Now, I feel like I’m close, I mean, we don’t want to do nothing prematurely, but I feel like I’m good.”
Ellerbe saw by far his most extensive action of the season in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos, amassing seven total tackles and adding a sack. Given Ellerbe’s long history of durability problems I don’t know that I’d want to have to rely on him as a weekly starter, but provided he doesn’t suffer a setback it appears his workload will only get bigger from here.
Chad Greenway – OLB, Minnesota Vikings
Heading into their Week 10 matchup with the Washington Redskins, Greenway insisted to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that the Vikings weren’t freaking out about their three-game losing streak. “I think it’s an important time for our leadership to identify that it’s a week-to-week business,” Greenway said. “I think it’s never more evident when you’re winning multiple games in a row and you’re losing multiple games in a row, because you can’t get yourself too far up or down in this business. Everybody is just too good for that.”
I don’t know that Greenway still feels that way now that the skid has hit four in a row, but that isn’t the only problem the Vikings have. Starting middle linebacker Eric Kendricks left early against the Redskins with an injured hip, leaving his Week 11 status very much in doubt. Should Kendricks miss time, Greenway will pick up subpackage snaps (and IDP value).
James Bradberry – CB, Carolina Panthers
Bradberry, who has missed time this season with a variety of ailments, told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer his first NFL season has carried more than a bit of frustration. “I feel like I’ve shown glimpses but I haven’t really put together a full portfolio of what I can do,” he said. “Hopefully in the next games I have, I can show that and just prove there was a reason why they drafted me.”
Bradberry gave a preview of what he might be capable of against the Chiefs, tying Luke Kuechly for the team lead with eight total tackles. As if that robust stat line wasn’t enough to drum up interest in the young corner, consider that this week’s opponent (the New Orleans Saints) have given up the most fantasy points to defensive backs this season.
Byron Jones – S, Dallas Cowboys
While speaking with the Dallas Morning News, Jones lauded the job DC Rod Marinelli has done with the Cowboys defense in 2016. “He’s very honest and says more what he wants done and sees on the film,” Jones said. “He’ll give you credit when credit’s due, but he points out things we could’ve done better or errors which we need to improve … It’s not too negative, not too positive.”
It’s doubtful that Marinelli had a whole lot negative to say about how Jones played in Dallas’ wild Week 10 win in Pittsburgh. One week after a one-assist clunker against the Cleveland Browns, Jones tallied 12 stops against the Steelers, including 11 solos. It’s the second time in the last three games that Jones has had at least seven solos since starting strong safety Barry Church broke his forearm.