At this point in the fantasy football season, everything changes.
In Week 14, Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league owners are in one of two situations. In most leagues, this marks the first week of the fantasy postseason. In others, this is the final week of the regular season. In other words, for all of the folks in the first boat and most of the people in the second, the edict this week is clear.
Win — or else. A victory means doing it again in Week 15. A loss ends the season.
Yes, there are a fortunate few IDP owners who have sewn up playoff berth and/or first-round bye who will advance to next week regardless. But those people are all huge jerks and we hate them.
We hate them so much.
For everyone else though, there is no long-term now. The absolute focus must be on the short-term. On getting a win this week.
With that in mind, we’re going to do things a little differently in this column this week. The Week 14 IDP Waiver Wire, with one exception, is all about highlighting players who have highly favorable matchups this week.
With a bit of luck, those players who are set up to succeed by good situations can help you do the same.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Gerald Hodges, ILB, Arizona
As Rotowire pointed out, Hodges is coming off quite the outing in Arizona’s shocking Week 13 upset of the Green Bay Packers — the first time Arizona has won in that building since 1949. Hodges recorded 13 tackles (12 solo) during Sunday’s 20-17 win over Green Bay.
“Hodges has now led (Arizona) in tackles in two straight games, and played a key role in holding (Green Bay) to only 17 points Week 13. The veteran linebacker will draw another start against (Detroit) on Sunday, and work to record another strong outing.”
Hodges is that exception to the great matchups rule I mentioned, although Detroit’s ranking of 12th in fantasy points allowed to linebackers in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring isn’t terrible at all. But Hodges has now tallied double-digit tackles in two straight games as the new MIKE (middle inside) linebacker for Arizona. There’s little reason to think he can’t make it three big stat lines in a row on Sunday.
WEEK 14 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Jonathan Allen, DE, Washington
Per Mark Inabinnett of AL.com, Allen said that he thinks getting back to playing disciplined, hard-nosed defense is the they to Washington making its way into the playoffs.
“I feel like we have to get back to our roots,” Jonathan Allen said on Wednesday. “Be more consistent and just do the little things right. We’ve kind of got away from the little things. Just try to dominate the line of scrimmage as a defensive line – that’s our goal every week. Dominate the line of scrimmage and control their blockers, and if we do that, I feel like we’ll have the success we need.”
Heading into Monday’s matchup with Philadelphia, Allen had been playing better, with 17 total tackles and a sack over his last three games. However, even more that Allen’s huge game on Thanksgiving this recommendation is based on Washington’s home game Sunday with a New York Giants team that leads the NFC in fantasy points allowed to defensive linemen. Matt Ioannidis is worth a look for the same reason if he’s available.
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Pittsburgh
As Ben Cooper reported for Pro Football Focus, before missing time with an injured elbow, Tuitt and Cameron Heyward combined to form one of the NFL’s more underrated one-two punches on the defensive line.
“(Pittsburgh) has a team pressure rate of 41.1 (percent),” he wrote, “which ranks ninth in the league and can be heavily attributed to Heyward and Tuitt, who rank first and tied for second, respectively, on their team in pressures. A deeper look into Heyward’s and Tuitt’s effect on opposing quarterbacks reveals a duo that excels at making quarterbacks uncomfortable. (Pittsburgh) leads the NFL in opposing quarterback’s time to throw on plays with pressure.”
Tuitt was back on the field in last Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, posting two tackles with a pass defensed. The fifth-year veteran has long been a player who makes a bigger impact on the playing field than on the stat sheet, but this Sunday in Oakland Tuitt should have ample opportunities to do both. No team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in 2018 than Oakland.
Thomas Davis, OLB, Carolina
Davis admitted (via the team’s website) that the team’s recent four-game losing streak (and the defensive problems that have contributed to it) has been hard to stomach.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Davis said. “Especially when you have the guys that we have on this defense, the coaching scheme, the aggressiveness … Traditionally, we’ve been really good for a long time defensively. And for us to not be as good as we’re accustomed to being or executing like we’re capable of executing, it’s extremely frustrating.”
Carolina is reeling to be sure, and Davis’ 15 total tackles over the last two games isn’t a production level that’s going to blow open a week for fantasy owners. But Davis is back to playing every down for Carolina, and this week Carolina draws a Cleveland offense that has been a steady source of IDP production for the linebacker position all season long.