There’s a truism in fantasy football. Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend.
It’s just as accurate on the defensive side of the ball as it is with offensive players. For example, I spent a good portion of last week talking people off the social media ledge where Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David was concerned after David posted the first goose-egg of his NFL career against the Arizona Cardinals.
It was a fluke. David was back at it Sunday in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams, racking up eight total tackles and adding a sack and a forced fumble.
This week the concern will be over Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, who has yet to record a sack three weeks into the season. Is that cause for concern? Yes. Should you consider dropping Mack for one of the waiver wire options in this article? Sure! If you’re stoned. Or insane.
However, after two doughnuts in three games, it’s time in most IDP leagues to bid adieu to Vinny Curry of the Philadelphia Eagles. I liked Curry quite a bit entering the season. Figured he’d make the most sense at LDE for the Eagles. But the snaps haven’t been there, neither have the stats, and with the Eagles on a bye in Week 4 it’s time to say adios.
Ditto for Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Ben Heeney. The second-year player came into his second NFL season with more than a little hype thanks to his role as the “green dot” defensive play-caller. Then he lost said green dot. Then he lost his starting job altogether to rookie Cory James, one of a pair of first-year Raiders we’ll be talking about more shortly.
Such is life in IDP. For every player who meets or exceeds expectations, there’s one who doesn’t come close. And sometimes all you can do is bite the bullet and move on.
Whether it’s moving day, the injury bug hit your team in Week 3 or the beginning of the byes have you in a mini-lurch, here’s a look at some IDP waiver wire options in Week 4 — beginning with a player who went from the outhouse to the penthouse in the span of an afternoon.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Denzel Perryman – ILB, San Diego Chargers
Perryman entered the season amid expectations of a breakout campaign from the second-year pro. Not only did that not happen, but after playing on only 63 of 141 possible snaps over the season’s first two games many IDP owners cut Perryman loose. Those same IDP owners are probably kicking themselves now, as the Achilles injury suffered by Manti Te’o in Sunday’s loss in Indianapolis should lock Perryman into an every-down role moving forward.
Perryman posted easily his best stats of the young season against the Colts, amassing nine total tackles and adding a sack. He also suffered what appeared to be a knee injury toward the end of the game, but it didn’t look to be serious. Assuming it isn’t, and that Perryman’s good to go for Sunday’s game with New Orleans, he’ll be on the IDP LB3+ radar.
WEEK 4 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Damon Harrison – DT, New York Giants
As Dan Henton of USA Today wrote, when New York defensive coordinator Dave Merritt was asked about who has become a leader for the Giants’ re-tooled defense, the first player he mentioned was the mammoth nose tackle.
“The number one guy that I’m going to name is Snacks,” Merritt said. “This big guy, he’s no nonsense. One of the things that he does is hold everyone accountable, coaches, too. To have a guy that’s come in here and going to be forceful, able to be firm when he says it, that’s a good thing.”
Harrison was a leader for Big Blue in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Redskins, piling up an eye-popping nine solos. He isn’t going to rack up those numbers every week or tally many sacks, but in tackle-heavy and/or DT-required formats Harrison should absolutely be rostered.
Timmy Jernigan – DE, Baltimore Ravens
We’re witnessing a coming-out party with Jernigan, who was drafted in the second round by the Ravens back in 2014. In each of his first two NFL seasons Jernigan amassed four sacks, but 2016 has seen the former Florida State star get to the opposing quarterback in three straight games while adding 10 total tackles.
Per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Jernigan’s play has inspired praise from head coach John Harbaugh. “Timmy is playing really well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s worked hard. He’s improved as a football player. It’s important to him. He wants to be a great player. That’s what he works for every day, and it’s paying off.”
Jernigan’s hot start should also inspire IDP owners with a need up front to make with the claiming.
Cory James – ILB, Oakland Raiders
In the leadup to his first NFL start, Oakland DC Ken Norton Jr. told Kevin Boilard of 247 Sports he expected James to do just fine. “Well, you saw Cory [James] during the training camp and preseason,” Norton said. “He really stepped up and he showed a lot. He’s a big, strong guy, very instinctive, plays really hard and he makes plays. So, he’s a guy that you certainly want to take a good, strong look at.”
James acquitted himself fairly well, making six stops (all solo) while playing on 65 of 69 defensive snaps. The Raiders also played much better as a unit, which may well lead Norton to stick with this personnel grouping for a while. Assuming he does, James is absolutely worth a look from IDP squads who have a hole to fill at linebacker.
Christian Kirksey – ILB, Cleveland Browns
As Hayden Grove of Scout wrote, Kirksey’s a big fan of new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s aggressive scheme. “Ray, he is like a mad scientist,” Kirksey said. He is ridiculous when it comes to putting guys on the field and putting them in the best position to make plays… We are still developing guys. I just believe Ray has a master plan and that he will develop everyone into being the best player they can be.”
It’s a scheme that appears to agree with Kirksey. Through three games the 24-year-old has made 22 total tackles, including nine stops (eight solos) in last week’s overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Browns’ offensive woes are going to mean lots of time on the field for the defense – and lots of tackle opportunities for Kirksey.
Clayton Geathers – S, Indianapolis Colts
Geathers is a player I was high on over the summer, only to see a broken foot put the kibash on his early-season IDP value. However, Geathers is healthy again and back in the starting lineup for the Colts, making six tackles and sealing an Indianapolis win with a forced fumble late in Sunday’s matchup with the San Diego Chargers.
Geathers told Mike Chappell of Fox 59 that it feels good to be back at it. “It feels good to be back on the field with the guys,’’ he said. “To get back to work, to get back on the field is great. Now I am feeling stronger and better than ever.’’
Geathers’ stat line against San Diego wasn’t jaw-dropping, but given his long layoff it’s understandable that it might take a bit to knock the rust off. Once he does that, he has the potential to serve as a fine IDP DB2 – one with a top 15 fantasy ceiling.
Karl Joseph – S, Oakland Raiders
James wasn’t the only Raiders rookie who made his debut defensively in their victory over the Tennessee Titans. The team’s first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft made his first start as well. And Joseph didn’t disappoint from a statistical standpoint, pacing the silver and black with 10 total tackles.
According to Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury-News, Joseph’s play earned the praise of head coach Jack Del Rio. “My eyes told me that he did some good things,” Del Rio said. “I’m sure there will be things that weren’t perfect, but I thought he gave us, throughout the whole week and the way we played and the way the defense played, I thought he gave us a little bit of a spark.”
Joseph was a player many IDP pundits viewed as an upside DB2 pick before he surprisingly lost his starting job late in the preseason. Now that Joseph has reclaimed that starting role, he’s reclaimed his IDP value as well.