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IDP WAIVER WIRE: Week 15

This is a special week for the IDP Waiver Wire here at Fantasy Sharks. And not just because the fantasy playoffs are well and truly underway.

No, since starting at Fantasy Sharks back in 2011 (it seems like yesterday) by my math this column marks the 100th time I’ve brought you fine folks waiver wire recommendations. My math may be off a bit, but if you throw in my time at Fantasy Football Oasis I’m well into the triple digits when it comes to this particular exercise.

It has always been and continues to be a pleasure.

This also marks the final time in 2016 that I’ll be offering up recommendations with a focus on 2016. With Championship Week looming, the Week 16 version of the IDP Waiver Wire is usually geared more toward pre-emptive pickups for dynasty and keeper owners.

Odds are pretty good that if you’re playing for a title you aren’t dumpster-diving for a Week 16 starter. One would hope, anyway.

However, before we worry about next week we have to get through this week. And that could mean one last batch of duct tape and chewing gum over the holes in your IDP roster.

Luckily, there’s plenty of both still to be had.

 

IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK

Edwin Jackson – ILB, Indianapolis Colts

With D’Qwell Jackson suspended the rest of the regular season, it fell to Edwin Jackson to assume the role of defensive play-caller for the Colts. The second-year pro told Kevin Bowen of the team’s website ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Houston Texans that he was up for the challenge.

We have to have great communication,” Jackson said. “(D’Qwell) takes authority when he’s on the field and we have to emulate that when we get out there. This week I’m really going to focus even more in stepping up in that leadership role throughout practice and making sure that everything is kind of the same when he was here in the meeting rooms, making sure that everyone as that same focus throughout the week.”

Jackson was on the field for all 72 snaps in Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, piling up 10 total tackles in the game. Yes, only three of those tackles were solos (thanks, Indy stat crew), but any time you can acquire an every-down linebacker this late in the season that player is worth a long look.

 

WEEK 15 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS

Andre Branch – DE, Miami Dolphins

As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported, Branch’s play in 2016 has impressed teammate Cameron Wake. “He’s been a helluva guy to play with,” Wake said. “Helluva teammate in the locker room. But on the field he’s a force. He brings a lot of energy. He’s non-stop. He just keeps going no matter what. And, obviously, he’s getting to the quarterback. So whenever he’s on the field good things are going to happen. And whenever you have a guy like that playing on the other side of you, that makes your job easier as well. Glad to have him.”

IDP owners who scooped Branch off the waiver wire in recent weeks have been happy to have him as well. Branch amassed six total tackles and had a sack in Sunday’s wild win over the Arizona Cardinals – the second time in three weeks that Branch has had five or more stops and reached the quarterback. With Mario Williams suffering through a miserable season, Branch has emerged as a more than serviceable DL2 in 2016.

 

Akiem Hicks – DE, Chicago Bears

Speaking of miserable seasons, how about those Chicago Bears? However, not all the Bears are struggling. In fact, Akiem Hicks is having a career season, and one week after going gonzo to the tune of 10 tackles and a sack against the San Francisco 49ers Hicks backed those numbers up with another half a dozen stops and a sack against the Detroit Lions.

Bears DL coach Jay Rodgers told Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times that he hasn’t been surprised by the big man’s big season. “He played with fire. He played with passion. He played inspired. He was not going to be blocked,” Rodgers said of Hicks’ performance. “It’s all within himself. He’s got that ability to bring it out. It’s just a matter of when it comes out, it’s supposed to look like that.”

Rodgers may not have been surprised, but IDP owners are – and after a second straight huge stat line Hicks has gone from fluke to target – especially given that he’s already set a career high in sacks.

 

Gerald Hodges – ILB, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers defense has struggled mightily in 2016, but Hodges told Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News that things aren’t as bad as they appear. “We’ve showed the type of defense we really are,” Hodges said. “It’s not a fluke or anything like that. We’ve just got to make sure everyone is hitting on all cylinders. People get confused thinking it’s a big, old problem when it’s never really a big problem. It’s just little details here and there you have to tweak and fix.”

There are plenty who will argue Hodges point, but there’s one thing that can’t be argued – Hodges’ nine total tackles (eight solo) and a sack in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets is nothing to sneeze at. Hodges still isn’t playing as many snaps as batterymate Nick Bellore, but there’s enough upside present with the fourth-year pro to make Hodges worth a look in deeper IDP leagues from teams in a playoff bind at linebacker.

 

Joe Thomas – ILB, Green Bay Packers

Thomas had quite the assignment in Sunday’s showdown with the Seattle Seahawks – spy quarterback Russell Wilson. Thomas told Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he knew he had his work cut out for him. “I understood the challenge coming in because you watch film and when he gets outside the pocket, he’s dangerous,” Thomas said.” He makes plays with his feet. I just tried to stay connected to him.”

Thomas did more than just keep Wilson from hurting the team with his legs – he also led the team with 10 total tackles in a blowout win, including eight solo stops. Thomas also played all 71 defensive snaps – the fifth straight week he’s been an every-down player as the result of the injuries that have absolutely ravaged the Packers at inside linebacker.

 

Sean Davis – S, Pittsburgh Steelers

As many young defensive backs do, Davis had some struggles early in his NFL career. But as Mike Frazer of SB Nation wrote, the rookie is rounding into shape. “Davis’ struggles early were mostly with route recognition and open-field tackling,” he said. “In the last three weeks, both of those issues have gone the way of the dodo, and it’s no surprise that the defense has looked better as a whole because of it. It’s not just in the passing game where it’s apparent, either; in fact, it may be mostly apparent in run support.”

One week after making his first career interception, Davis notched the first 1.5 sacks of his NFL career in Pittsburgh’s Week 14 win over the Buffalo Bills. Now the Steelers’ full-time strong safety, the former Maryland standout has also logged seven tackles in each of the last two games – production that places him squarely between the crosshairs of IDP owners who like to stream their defensive backs.

 

Jaquiski Tartt – S, San Francisco 49ers

For the second straight season, a major injury at the back of the San Francisco defense has thrust Tartt into the starting lineup for the 49ers. But as head coach Chip Kelly told David Fucillo of SB Nation, Tartt’s preparation hasn’t changed since his role has grown. “He’s practiced the same way he’s practiced every other week,” Kelly said. “He’s always in tune with the game plan and works extremely hard out there. He’s played a ton of snaps for us. So, it’s not like he hasn’t played football for us. So, he’s been out there a ton for us except for the one game he missed I think with the muscle injury. But, besides that he’s played a ton of football for us. So, yeah, he’s ready to go.”

I mentioned Tartt in this space a few weeks ago after Eric Reid got hurt, but after seven total tackles over his first two starts many IDP owners likely cast Tartt back onto the wire – just in time for the second-year pro to explode for 10 solos and a sack against the Jets. If you’re wondering if defensive backs do this on purpose just to make IDP owners crazy, the answer is yes – yes they do.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.