Some days you’re the windshield, others you’re the bug.
Many IDP owners no doubt felt like the latter in Week 2. Whether it was the ankle injury suffered by star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah of the Detroit Lions early in a juicy matchup with the Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David failing to record a single stat for the first time in his career against the Arizona Cardinals or Cleveland Browns safety Ibraheim Campbell getting benched (maybe) against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday’s action left many fantasy owners somewhere between disappointed and apoplectic.
Still, as infuriating a week as it was, it remains important not to panic. Freaking out accomplishes precious little besides driving liquor sales. Ansah will be back – hopefully soon, although after his big game batterymate Devin Taylor shouldn’t be available in any IDP leagues.
David’s poor performance was an aberration – a perfect storm borne of the combination of a poor matchup, a blowout game and just plain old bad luck.
Campbell? He was one of my favorite DB value plays entering the 2016 season. Instead it’s looking like he’s an object lesson in why it’s unwise to invest heavily at his position. Maybe he’ll work his way back into the starting lineup. Maybe he won’t. But as things stand right now, the best case is gluing him to the bench. The worst is cutting him loose to add a player who can help your team in Week 3.
Of course, a bad break for one player means an opportunity for another. And that Cleveland player is one of the recommended waiver wire pickups in Week 3 – but not the Pickup of the Week.
IDP WAIVER WIRE PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Frank Clark – DE, Seattle Seahawks
I could have listed Detroit’s Devin Taylor or Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings here – a pair of young defensive ends who are making the most of an increase in playing time so far this season. But the reality is that in all but the shallowest of IDP leagues those players aren’t available anyway – or at least they shouldn’t be. However, the reality also is that Taylor and Hunter aren’t the only young ends off to a hot start in 2016.
Despite playing in less than 60 percent of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps so far this year, Clark has already piled up three sacks, including two in last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Through two games, Clark ranks sixth among 4-3 defensive ends at Pro Football Focus. Given his relatively low snap count, Clark is going to be a higher variance IDP option, but he’s thriving so far this season and draws a favorable Week 3 matchup at home against the San Francisco 49ers.
WEEK 3 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Dante Fowler – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Before the season, Jacksonville DC Todd Wash told Michael DiRocco of ESPN the key to success in Year 2 of Fowler’s career lied his mental approach to the game catching up to his impressive physical gifts. “We all know the physical attributes that he has,” Wash said. “The thing that we are challenging Dante on now is being a pro, being great in the classroom, taking it from the classroom to the field, studying more tape on his own. We’re really pressuring him right now to be a pro. I think you have to do that with every young player. They do not know what the league is like or what they have to do. We set some things out for him — you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that — and he’s reaching those expectations.”
It appears that all the work in the classroom and weight room is starting to pay dividends. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft logged five tackles in a Week 2 loss to the San Diego Chargers, pitching in the first two sacks of his NFL career. There are going to be ups and downs with any young defensive end, but Fowler offered a glimpse in Week 2 of just how good he can be.
Noah Spence – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As Chris Wesseling of NFL.com wrote, during training camp Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter had plenty of praise for his rookie pass-rusher. “(He’s been) solid every day,” Koetter said. “Every day the kid flashes. For a rookie, he hasn’t hit any slump days, so to speak, where he’s had an off day. Every day he flashes; he’s got a nice motor, he pushes himself hard.” Now, it appears the youngster is going to get a chance to put his money where Koetter’s mouth is.
Spence, who starred after Eastern Kentucky after being dismissed from Ohio State, picked up the first sack of his NFL career in Tampa’s Week 2 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. With Jacquies Smith on injured reserve and now Robert Ayers nursing an injured ankle the Bucs are all kinds of banged up along the defensive front – and that’s going to mean an increase in playing time for Spence moving forward.
Sean Weatherspoon – OLB, Atlanta Falcons
With rookie linebacker De’Vondre Campbell banged up, Weatherspoon started for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 – the first time he’s started an NFL game since 2013. And Weatherspoon played pretty well, posting eight solos in a win over the Oakland Raiders. He told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it felt good to be back in the starting lineup – even if he doesn’t know how long it will last.
“It was fun to start,” Weatherspoon said. “It was fun to go out there and be counted on. Fun to do your job. Some of them you leave out there and some of them you want back. But ultimately, we came here for one thing, and that’s what the late great Al Davis would say, just win, baby, just win. It helps so much when you can come on the road and win.” So long as Campbell sits, “Spoon” will be worth a look as an IDP LB3.
Tahir Whitehead – ILB, Detroit Lions
The Lions aren’t just banged up on the defensive line. Injuries have beset the LB corps, with DeAndre Levy scratched from Week 2 complements of an injured quad. It’s a worrisome injury, given that Levy missed all of the 2015 season with a bad hip. But in IDP leagues, every dark cloud has a silver lining – or in this case, silver and Honolulu blue.
With Levy out, Whitehead becomes far and away the team’s “best” linebacker, and a player who will be on the field every down by default. That isn’t necessarily good news for the Lions, but Whitehead made no excuses while speaking to the Detroit Free Press after tallying 10 total stops for the second week in a row. “Just gotta play more aggressive,” Whitehead said. “It’s all a learning curve.”
Tyvon Branch – S, Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals were dominant against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but not everyone in the desert is all smiles right now. As Jess Root of USA Today reported, Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu isn’t overjoyed that his role as slot cornerback has, at least for now, been given to free agent addition Tyvon Branch.
“I don’t necessarily like it, but I’m still trying to get back in a rhythm,” Mathieu said. “It’s a new challenge for me. I just try to embrace and accept it.”
Mathieu’s IDP owners aren’t loving the change either, but through two games, at least, it’s meant big numbers for Branch – including 10 tackles against the Buccaneers. As with Tony Jefferson last year, this could be a game-dependent situation where Branch’s fantasy value lurches from sky-high to non-existent, but at present Branch looks to be the proverbial hot hand worth riding.
Derrick Kindred – S, Cleveland Browns
According to Andrew Gribble of the team’s website, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise given head coach Hue Jackson’s praise of the rookie fourth-round pick that Kindred replaced Campbell at strong safety against the Baltimore Ravens.
“He made one of the best tackles I’ve seen on the tape in the game on a running back,” Jackson said. “He fills holes. He flies around. He plays the game the way it is supposed to be played. He just needs more game experience. He is a young player learning how to play in the National Football League. We are really excited about his future.”
Kindred got some more of that game experience against the Ravens, finishing with five solos and two passes defensed in relief of Campbell. There were reports Monday that Campbell was actually dinged up and wasn’t benched per se, so this switch may not stick. But if it does, the same reasons I liked Campbell (shaky linebacker play and a defense that will be on the field all day long) apply to Kindred as well.