The Individual Defensive Player (IDP) landscape was very nearly shaken to its core in Week 2.
When Tampa Bay middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (the first defensive player taken in many leagues) went down against Chicago, there were more than a few gasps. When Alexander was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game, those gasps turned to groans as folks thought back to Week 1 and Arizona tailback David Johnson’s dislocated wrist.
As it turns out, though, you can hold off on the panic attack. Per Ira Kauffman of Joe Bucs Fan, Alexander said after the game that his hamstring was “fine” and that he could have re-entered the game had it not already been well in hand. That’s good news indeed, although given that it’s the same hammy that bothered him in training camp there’s always the possibility of re-aggravation.
A re-aggravation that would thrust rookie Kendell Beckwith into a three-down role in the middle of Tampa Bay’s defense.
Alexander may have dodged the proverbial bullet, but there were other players who weren’t so lucky. And any time an NFL player gets hurt, it both opens a hole in the lineup and an opportunity for someone else to step into that hole.
It’s an unfortunate reality of life in the NFL.
Before we get to the Week 3 waiver wire recommendations, a quick note. In last week’s column, I railed against panic-dropping proven performers like Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Mark Barron, who had just one tackle in the Rams’ Week 1 win over Indianapolis.
In Week 2, Barron piled up 10 solos in a loss to Washington– and I got asked on Twitter about dropping Alexander for him.
Now I know how Don Quixote felt.
WEEK 3 IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas
As Sam Quinn wrote for 247 Sports, Lawrence’s hot start has been a bright spot for a Dallas defense that struggled badly in a loss to Denver in Week 2.
“The evolution by Lawrence was one of the most important preseason storylines for (Dallas),” Quinn said. “(Dallas) desperately wanted to improve on the defensive line, but with limited cap space it couldn’t afford to go out and sign a big star. It used its first-round pick on Taco Charlton, but relying on rookies is dangerous. Somebody on the roster already had to step up.”
Lawrence made an appearance in the first IDP Waiver Wire column of 2017 after racking up two sacks against the New York Giants. But he remained available in enough leagues for me to beat the drum again after he added two more against Denver. It’s only been two games, but Lawrence appears on the verge of finally fulfilling the promise he showed as a rookie. At this point, not only should he absolutely be rostered in all IDP leagues, but with a great matchup coming against Arizona in Week 3 Lawrence is also a must-start.
WEEK 3 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle
Per CBS Sports, Bennett was a very busy man in Sunday’s win over San Francisco.
“Bennett posted one sack, two tackles for a loss and one pass deflection in Sunday’s win over (San Francisco),” they said.
Bennett didn’t come across many tackles in Sunday’s win, but he made the most of his limited opportunities with yet another sack. The star defensive end played 42 of the team’s 49 defensive snaps and now has 2.5 sacks through the first two games of the season.”
Bennett’s run-in with the Las Vegas police and national anthem protest has stolen all the headlines, but the 31-year-old is quietly rebounding big-time from a relatively disappointing 2016 campaign. Bennett now has half as many sacks already as he recorded all of last season, and Bennett’s playing full-time. As it turns out reports of his IDP demise may have been premature.
Brooks Reed, DE, Atlanta
Reed notched two sacks (to go along with five tackles) in a Week 1 win over Chicago, and at the time he told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it felt good to get the season off to a good start.
“It was an awesome feeling to do that for the team and contribute toward the win,” Reed said. “In a situation like that on the last down and it came down to who was going to make that last play. It’s an awesome feeling. It’s just awesome to be a part of it.”
Reed was shut out of Sunday night’s big win over Green Bay, so you might be wondering why he’s listed here. It has less to do with Reed than with 2016 sack king Vic Beasley, who could miss a month after injuring his hamstring. That means more snaps for the likes of Reed and Adrian Clayborn – and more opportunities to produce for IDP owners.