If you’re reading this column this week, then odds are there’s good news and bad news for your fantasy team. Well, actually there’s good news, bad news and some more good news.
The first bit of good news is that if you’re reading a waiver wire article in Week 14, then odds are either you’ve already made the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) playoffs or you’re playing for a spot in the postseason this week. Either it’s that, you’re committed to playing the role of spoiler to the best of your ability or you’re just really hardcore about fantasy football.
Those last two are commendable in their own way, for whatever that’s worth.
The bad news is that if you’re reading this, then odds are you also have a hole in your lineup at the worst possible time. Maybe you’re one of the unfortunate IDP owners who lost New York Jets star safety Jamal Adams week. Or you’re concerned about rolling out a player in a mist-win week who hasn’t met expectations this season.
Neither scenario is anywhere close to ideal.
However, all is not lost. Even this late in the season, there are players who are capable of helping your fantasy team out right away. A couple are rookies who have started to hit their stride in the NFL. Another is an undrafted free agent who shined in extended playing time a week ago.
And this week’s IDP Pickup of The Week is a familiar face to IDP owners who is back in the spotlight thanks to an injury to a young star.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Sean Lee, ILB, Dallas
There was a time that Lee was an IDP star in his own right. But thanks to a series of injuries and the arrival of Leighton Vander Esch, Lee was relegated to a part-time role. However, Vander Esch is out now with a neck injury, and Lee told Rob Phillips of the team’s website that he returned for a 10th season for just such an opportunity to help Dallas win games.
“Any way I can help, any role I can do week in and week out, that’s why I came back, Lee said. That’s why I’m here. And whatever that is, I love being part of this team and this organization.”
Lee has been a lot more than just a cheerleader or a fill-in over the past few weeks — he had 12 tackles (nine solo) in last week’s loss to Buffalo and already has almost twice as many tackles as all of last year. Lee’s not the player he once was, but he should at least be a capable third fantasy starter against Chicago.
WEEK 14 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia
To some, Barnett’s become like the IDP equivalent of Miami wide receiver DeVante Parker. He’s got the first-round pedigree. There are flashes of remarkable talent. But through two-plus seasons, the statistical production just hasn’t been there.
However, while Parker was embarrassing the Philadelphia secondary in Sunday’s upset win, Barnett quietly had one of the better games of his career. The former Tennessee standout was a force on the edge, tallying six solos while chipping in a sack that took him to 4.5 on the season — and that was despite missing a chunk of the first half with an injury.
There’s been nothing to indicate that Barnett’s status for next Monday night’s crucial contest with the New York Giants is in jeopardy, and assuming he plays it’s a spot that sets up well for him — a primetime game against a floundering Giants team that’s lost eight in a row and allowed 35 sacks through 12 games this season.
Taco Charlton, DE, Miami
After two-plus disappointing seasons in Dallas that included just about everything except an impact on the field, Charlton was waived by Dallas earlier this season and claimed by Miami. As Alain Poupart reported for the (Miami) Dolphins website, the former first-round pick has spent every day since trying to turn around his career in his new home.
“I just try to work every day I’m out here and show what I can do on the field so they have confidence and faith in putting me in there and believe I can make things happen with what I show on the practice field,” Charlton said. “I try to do my work and do my best to work my butt off at practice so I can play that many plays at be prepared.”
For the most part, he’s done just that — Charlton has more sacks in nine games in Miami than in over two years in Dallas. He’s got a good chance at notching No. 6 this week against the New York Jets, who have surrendered more sacks (46) than all but two teams in the league.
Donald Payne, ILB, Jacksonville
Jacksonville was without two of its young defensive cornerstones last week in middle linebacker Myles Jack and safety Ronnie Harrison. The result of the game was a disheartening loss, But as Kaiyo Funaki wrote for Fantasy Pros, the play of reserve linebacker Donald Payne was a bright spot.
“Donald Payne had the best individual performance as a pro this past Sunday, posting six solo tackles, seven assisted tackles, one (tackle for loss), one sack, and one (quarterback) hit, though (Jacksonian) lost to (Tampa Bay), 25-11,” Funaki said. “With Jack out with a knee injury, Payne did an admirable job filling in. His game today provided firsts in several categories, a surprise considering he hadn’t done much in his three-year career. Though he might be a speculative add heading into a Week 14 game against the (Los Angeles) Chargers, it might be best to wait until more is heard about Jack before making a move. Even then it will be hard to trust someone with a non-existent track record.”
That last part is true enough — it’s entirely possible that Jack might return this week and relegate Payne back to obscurity. But in deeper IDP leagues, linebackers who have just thrown up over a dozen stops with a big play aren’t usually available in Week 14. Here’s the reality —if you don’t claim Payne, someone else probably will.