At this time of the year, there are three types of waiver finds — the out-of-nowhere “exploders”, the getting healthy gang and the back from a bye bandits.
This week’s article is heavy on the last two. Sorry, but there weren’t really any players who came from nowhere to have huge games in Week 11 who are of particular use to Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league owners.
No disrespect to Green Bay’s Kyler Fackrell, who is having a solid third season and just went off to the tune of three sacks against Seattle. But unless you play in a deeper IDP league that awards heavily for big plays (sacks), trusting Fackrell on a weekly basis is asking for trouble.
Now, in shallow formats Week 12 could bring a return to prominence for a couple of IDP studs who were among the first five players drafted at their position over the summer.
In Atlanta, inside linebacker Deion Jones, who hasn’t played since Week 1, practiced last week but wasn’t able to go against Dallas. However, early signs point toward Jones being a go on Thanksgiving night against New Orleans, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Jones plays close to a full complement of snaps.
In Los Angeles, defensive end Joey Bosa has already returned. After missing the entire season to date, Bosa played 31 snaps against Denver in Week 11. Bosa had just one tackle in the game, but defensive tackle Brandon Mebane told Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times that Bosa’s only just getting started.
“It was nice to have Joey back in there,” Mebane said. “He’s a good player. We’ve missed him. I think he looked good, and obviously, he’s gonna get better.”
Mebane will get no argument from me — Bosa and Jones have elite fantasy upside. If by some miracle either is available on the waiver wire, they are the top waiver targets in Week 12. In fact, I can’t think of an offensive waiver pickup this week I’d prioritize over them.
However, if your IDP league takes place on Earth where those guys are rostered, here are some other waiver plays to consider in Week 12.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Reuben Foster, ILB, San Francisco
Per Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted that Foster hasn’t been the same player in his second NFL season.
“I think Reuben is still trying to get back to where he finished last year,” Shanahan said. “He’s not there yet. I think he’s had times where he shows it, but his consistency needs to improve, and he knows that, I know that. He did miss his second offseason for things that we all know about, which is on Reuben. Then when he got here, knowing he was going to be suspended those first two games, he didn’t get as many reps there towards the end and things like that. I think there is a little bit of rust to him, not that that’s an excuse.”
After missing the last two games with a bad hamstring, Foster got the gate in some IDP leagues during San Francisco’s bye week. However, that same team is back at it again in Week 12 against a Tampa Bay team that has been a Top 5 IDP matchup for linebackers most of this season. Foster’s reportedly healthy now, and with an every-down role in a primo matchup on tap, he should be scooped up wherever possible.
WEEK 12 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia
As Glenn Erby reported for Eagles Wire, Graham was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded edge-rusher over the first 10 weeks of this season.
“Graham is the highest-graded edge defenders in the NFL through the first 10 weeks of the season according to Pro Football Focus,” Erby wrote. “Graham, who has three sacks on the season, is followed on the list by J.J. Watt, Trey Flowers, Dee Ford and Calais Campbell. (Philadelphia) as a whole (has) one of the league’s top pass rush units, but it doesn’t always compute to great stats.”
It’s that last part that has been the problem for IDP owners this season. Graham’s 28 tackles and three sacks this season has only been good for 46th among defensive linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. Those numbers aren’t going to send anyone scrambling to grab Graham off waivers this week, but maybe this number will — no team in the NFL has allowed more sacks than the 36 the New York Giants (who come to Philadelphia in Week 12) have surrendered this season.
Sam Hubbard, DE, Cincinnati
Richard Skinner of WKRC wrote that Hubbard is happier to be playing on the edge more after kicking inside in subpackages early in his rookie season.
“I was kind of out of position,” Hubbard said. “I was getting better and better inside, but it’s hard being 60 pounds lighter than the guys you are going against and going against two of them a lot of times. Back on the edge any opportunity I get I’m going to make the most of it. I’m excited for getting out and seeing what we can do this week. I’ve been playing on the edge my whole career, so I’m definitely more comfortable.”
Hubbard’s made the most of his rotational role this season, accruing 26 tackles and three sacks in just 321 snaps. As the season has worn on, Hubbard’s playing time has increased over the last several weeks, which is a good sign ahead of a home date with a Cleveland team that has given up 35 sacks in 2018 — the most in the AFC.
Zach Cunningham, ILB, Houston
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Cunningham credited his uptick in play this season to less hesitation and more film prep and trusting his wheels.
“I got off to kind of a slow start to the season,” he said. “It was more me refocusing myself on what I had to do to get better and watching film and seeing what I can do to improve my game. Speed is a big part of my game. That’s something I use a lot on the field.”
Those wheels have been the garage of late — the second-year pro hasn’t played since injuring his knee in Week 8. However, Cunningham’s expected to be back in action on Monday night in a solid matchup with Tennessee though, and the youngster was riding a three-game streak of 10 or more tackles before going down against the Dolphins.
Nick Vigil, OLB, Cincinnati
Vigil got off to a great start to the 2018 season, ranking among the NFL’s leaders with 49 total tackles over the first five games. Then the third-year pro sprained his MCL in Week 6, and Vigil hasn’t seen the field since.
Per Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Vigil said last week that he’s getting closer to a return.
“It’s been good,” Vigil said. “The knee is feeling a lot better. It’s just kind of a day-to-day thing progressing.”
It’s not yet known if Vigil will be able to get back on the practice field and into action Sunday against a Cleveland team that ranks eighth in fantasy points given up to linebackers this season. However, even if he doesn’t, Vigil’s getting close — all indications are he’ll be on the field for the IDP playoffs. Possibly getting a Top 10 linebacker for those playoffs (Vigil was eighth in fantasy points when he got hurt) is worth the stash.