What a craptastic week Week 4 was for IDP owners.
That’s the best word I can think of to describe a week that began with fantasy football’s top defensive lineman being ruled out for the season and ended with IDP’s top linebacker (at least in my opinion) following suit.
That’s exactly what happened though. A few days after the revelation that Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had re-injured his surgically repaired back and would have to go back under the knife, San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman went down in a heap in the team’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
No sooner did the injury happen than former San Diego Chargers team physician Dr. David Chao offered an ominous diagnosis. “Bowman down with classic eccentric load injury,” Chao tweeted. “By video, this is left Achilles rupture.” By Sunday evening numerous sources were reporting likewise, and on Monday the news was confirmed – Bowman will require surgery to repair a torn Achilles. His season is over, and for the second time in three years Bowman is staring at a lengthy rehab after a serious injury.
After a week that saw two of the top five individual defensive players overall entering 2016 go down with season-ending injuries, it’s an understatement to say that many IDP owners are searching for replacements. They’re also searching for meaning to their lives and the liquor cabinet.
I can only help you with the first one – so here’s a look at some IDP waiver targets, beginning with the player who will be tasked with stepping into Bowman’s role in the middle of the Niners defense.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Michael Wilhoite – ILB, San Francisco 49ers
Actually, if you want to be technical, Wilhoite was already in the game when Bowman got hurt against the Cowboys. After a dismal showing against Seattle last week, Gerald Hodges was benched, opening the door for Wilhoite to step back into the starting lineup – as he was most of last year.
The changing circumstances in San Fran make Wilhoite’s comments to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area a couple weeks ago seem eerily prescient. “In the NFL, 16 games is a long season,” Wilhoite said. “You’ve seen some of the greats go down at any point in time. I think everybody, no matter if you’re a three or a two, you have to stay prepared. “
Make no mistake, the drop-off in talent from Bowman to Wilhoite is steep, as evidenced by Ezekiel Elliott running all over the 49ers in the second half Sunday. But IDP owners should be a lot more interested in the fifth-year pro’s past history of production and 12 total tackles against Dallas (including 10 solo stops).
WEEK 5 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
As Josh Stim of 247 Sports wrote, Ngakoue continued his early hot streak Sunday morning in London. “This week he added an interception off Andrew Luck and another sack,” Stim said, “taking advantage of a rare opportunity to play in front of a national TV audience, given that the Jacksonville Jaguars played the Colts early in London.”
It’s relatively rare for a rookie lineman to make a big statistical dent. Rarer still to do it from the end spot. And three straight games with a both a sack and a forced fumble is just flat showing off. There’s little chance Ngakoue can maintain this torrid pace, but he’s shown more than a enough to be worth a look from DL-needy IDP squads – even with the Jaguars on a bye in Week 5.
Derek Wolfe – DE, Denver Broncos
After the Cincinnati Bengals gained nearly 150 rushing yards against the Broncos in Week 3, Wolfe pledged to Mile High Sports Radio that there wouldn’t be a repeat against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4.
“We were out of position a little bit,” Wolfe said. “We had some guys not setting the edge, and I was out of position a little bit. A couple of those runs were my fault. A couple of those broke off inside because I wasn’t where I needed to be. I got that nipped in the bud the second half and you saw what happened in the second half.”
Not only did the Broncos stuff the run in a blowout win over the Bucs, but Wolfe chipped in six total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Now up to four sacks on the season, Wolfe is rapidly becoming the sort of high-floor IDP DL2 Malik Jackson was for fantasy owners while with the Broncos last season.
Jatavis Brown – ILB, San Diego Chargers
Last week, when Manti Te’o of the Chargers went down with a season-ending injury, Denzel Perryman stepped into an every-down role as the defensive play-caller and had a very nice game. He was the Pickup of the Week in this column last week. So of course, he promptly went out and aggravated his shoulder injury against the New Orleans Saints, playing all of 25 snaps as the Chargers fell apart late…
The main statistical beneficiary of the carnage at inside linebacker for the Chargers has been rookie Jatavis Brown. Brown paced the Bolts with seven solos Sunday, giving him 13 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in the past two weeks. Even if a healthy Perryman reclaims “green dot” duties (no sure bet), Brown’s going to see enough opportunities to maintain IDP relevance.
Vince Williams – ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Williams filled in for an injured Ryan Shazier Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs – and by “filled in” I mean went completely bonkers, racking up 16 tackles (including 14 solos) and the first full sack of his NFL career. Williams told the Beaver County Times his goal was simply to get the Terrible Towels at Heinz Field a-wavin’.
“I just wanted to go 110 for my dog,” Williams said. “I love sending Steelers Nation home and to work on Monday with something to brag about.” It’s unknown how long the oft-injured Shazier will be sidelined by his latest injury, but so long as he’s out, Williams should absolutely be rostered in just about all IDP formats.
Kurt Coleman – S, Carolina Panthers
To say that things aren’t going according to plan for the defending NFC champions is akin to saying that the Grand Canyon is a fairly impressive ditch. However, there was a silver lining to the team giving up approximately all the passing yards ever to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday – at least for IDP owners looking for help in the secondary.
As Austin Van Ryn of Fantasy Pros wrote, the pick-six reeled in by Coleman in the game was emblematic of his knack for making plays. “Coleman, the eternal opportunist, was just in the right place at the right time,” He wrote. “After being deflected by a teammate, Coleman was able to reel in the ball for the easy score. Coleman is on the up and up.”
Coleman also added six solos in the game – easily his best outing so far this year.
Daimion Stafford – S, Tennessee Titans
As Jim Wyatt of the team’s website wrote, Stafford’s approach to the game recently earned the praise of head coach Mike Mularkey. “He has really had a good year, a really a good year,’’ Mularkey said. “He is playing good football. And to be voted captain, it shows you teammates recognize he is doing things the right way. I just think he is all business now. I think early on he was happy being in the NFL, at least that was his body language. But when he comes out here now, it is all about working and getting better. He still has fun, there is no doubt he is having fun. But it is a different kind of fun the way he approaches things.”
With Da’Norris Searcy sidelined by a high-ankle sprain, Stafford drew the start at strong safety, amassing seven total tackles in a loss to the Tennessee Titans. Searcy is likely to be sidelined a few more weeks, meaning a few more starts for Stafford behind a so-so LB corps on a defense that’s spending a lot of time on the field.