We’re three weeks into the 2015 NFL season, and that means a couple of things. First, injuries are starting to mount. In Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints alone, the Carolina Panthers lost both defensive end Charles Johnson and outside linebacker Thomas Davis to injuries.
Davis’ Week 4 status as the result of a pectoral injury isn’t known, but head coach Ron Rivera told David Newton of ESPN that Johnson will miss at least Week 4 with a severe hamstring pull.
“We’ll see how long it’ll be,” Rivera said. “But he most certainly will be out this week for sure. … Hopefully, [the bye] will give it time to calm down a lot and get some strength back, and we’ll see how he is coming out of the bye.”
Add in that Week 4 brings with it the beginning of the byes (only two teams, because the NFL bye schedule was designed by a chimp with a crayon), and more than a few IDP owners are looking to upgrade or for a spot-starter on the waiver wire.
Well, we’re here to help, beginning with rectifying something that wasn’t of much help at all to IDP owners a week ago.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Jordan Hicks – ILB, Philadelphia Eagles
In this very article a week ago, I advised fantasy owners to pick up veteran DeMeco Ryans of the Eagles in light of the injuries that wracked the Eagles at inside linebacker in Week 2. However, it was the rookie Hicks who severely outplayed Ryans from both a snap-count (79 to 56) and statistical (10 solos to three total tackles) standpoint in Philly’s first win of the season.
Um – oops.
As Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice reports, Hicks hasn’t looked like a first-year player. “If you add it all up,” Kempski said, “in roughly six quarters this season, Jordan Hicks has 17 tackles, an INT, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup, and he knocked out Tony Romo for half the season. Not too shabby for a rookie, if that’s how you see him.”
We see him as a definite IDP add.
WEEK 4 IDP WAIVER WIRE PICKUPS
Jared Allen – DE, Carolina Panthers
Yes, you read that right. Either Rivera wasn’t being completely truthful about the severity of Johnson’s injury, or the 3-0 Panthers were looking to add more pieces to an inconsistent pass rush around him. Either way, as Jay Glazer of FOX Sports first reported Monday afternoon, Allen is on the move, dealt from the Chicago Bears to Carolina for a conditional draft pick next year.
Granted, at 33 years old Allen is far from the player who was once arguably the most feared pass-rusher in the National Football League. Still, it wasn’t all that long ago (2013) that Allen eclipsed 50 tackles and racked up 11.5 sacks for the Minnesota Vikings. The Panthers aren’t exactly loaded at defensive end, and it isn’t a stretch to imagine Allen playing substantial snaps not only Sunday against Tampa Bay (out of necessity) but also after the Panthers return from their Week 5 bye.
Stephon Tuitt – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
As Bryan DeArdo of 247 Sports reports, Tuitt has been on quite the rampage over the past two weeks. “The 6’6, 303-pound Tuitt made his presence felt in both games,” DeArdo said, “making 10 tackles to go with 2.5 sacks as the Steelers defense regained its swagger after its poor performance in Week 1 vs. New England. After making just one tackle against the Patriots, Tuitt made four stops to go with 1.5 sacks in Pittsburgh’s 43-18 win over the San Francisco in Week 2. On Sunday, Tuitt was a one-man wrecking crew in recording five tackles in the first half of Pittsburgh’s 12-6 win at St. Louis. Tuitt, who finished with six tackles, had two tackles for loss while also recording a sack of Rams quarterback Nick Foles.”
Granted, this week’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens is both unfavorable from an IDP perspective and the dreaded Thursday night slopfest. However, it’s awfully hard not to notice a 300+ pound defensive end who has ranked third among linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring over the past two weeks.
Hau’oli Kikaha – OLB, New Orleans Saints
Not a lot has gone right for the 0-3 Saints so far this season, but the play of Kikaha has been a bright spot. The rookie second-round pick has shown not only a nose for big plays (two sacks, two forced fumbles), but also better than expected tackle production, averaging six stops a game so far this season.
Head coach Sean Payton told John DeShazier of the team’s website he’s been pleasantly surprised by Kikaha’s progress. “There’s some snaps that you saw on his college film, but it’s been great for him to demonstrate it at this level,” Payton said. “And I think it’s good for our players to see. It’s something we’re coaching and it’s something that, I think, is more a part of the game than it ever has been. It actually was a factor last week – we got some short-field opportunities, and the same happened to us.”
Kikaha’s been a pleasant IDP surprise, and one that now merits a long look from IDP owners in most scoring systems.
A.J. Klein – OLB, Carolina Panthers
With middle linebacker Luke Kuechly set to meet with an independent neurologist Tuesday, Rivera told Newton that the IDP stud will hopefully be back on the field in Week 4. “If it’s good news [Tuesday], then we can get him rolling on Wednesday,” Rivera said. If that’s the case, Kuechly will push Klein, who paced the Panthers with 10 total tackles against the Saints, out of the starting lineup at middle linebacker.
However, the pectoral injury suffered by Davis in last week’s win could just as easily push Klein right back into the starting lineup on the strong side if Davis is forced to miss any time. If you’re an IDP owner in a deeper league with a short-term hole at one of your linebacker spots, you could likely do worse than Klein as a speculative add in Week 4.
Chris Conte – SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Major Wright sidelined the past two weeks, Conte has been pressed into service at strong safety for the Bucs. And as CBS Sports reported, Conte has made the most of the opportunity. “Conte made a second consecutive start in place of Major Wright,” they said, “and once again was one of the team leaders in tackles. The veteran safety has put in two solid performances against the pass, with the Texans’ biggest play through the air on Sunday covering only 29 yards. Conte also had an active day defending the run, as Alfred Blue frequently broke into the second and third levels of the Bucs defense on his way to a total of 139 yards on the ground.”
Granted, the potential return of Wright in Week 4 could push Conte back to the bench. Or Wright could sit again. Or Lovie Smith could sit Wright regardless of health given Conte’s play, especially given Smith’s long history of playing musical safeties. Much is unknown where Conte is concerned, but this much is certain – over those past two starts, Conte ranks sixth among safeties in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
Jimmy Smith – CB, Baltimore Ravens
Through three weeks of the 2015 season, no cornerback has amassed more fantasy points than Smith, who tallied four total tackles and an interception while being abused by A.J. Green in last week’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. “I’m too emotional to speak right now,” Smith told Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun after the game. “I’ll speak with you later this week.”
Well, the fifth-year veteran probably won’t be feeling especially chatty after Thursday night’s tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers either. Yes, the Steelers will be without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but not without star wide receiver Antonio Brown, who ranks first in the AFC in receiving yards and sixth in targets.
With the 2015 season underway, Fantasy Sharks has you covered. Whether it’s player rankings and projections, waiver wire targets, rookie analysis for dynasty leagues or strategy tips, IDP Staff Writer Walton Spurlin and IDP Senior Staff Writer Gary Davenport have all the information you need to dominate your IDP league in 2015. Also, for the latest IDP news and player updates follow IDP Sharks on Twitter