Sometimes, the IDP Waiver Wire can be more of a tightrope. And as is sometimes the case with tightropes, occasionally you fall off, hit the ground and go splat.
That happened with a couple IDP waiver targets last week. With NaVorro Bowman out for the season, the general belief was that Michael Wilhoite was the linebacker to own – the one who would slot into an every-down role. Wrong-o. Wilhoite’s game Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night wasn’t terrible (5 tackles and half a sack), but relatively speaking it was a disappointment.
That disappointment was nothing compared to how fantasy owners of Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Cory James felt after his Sunday tilt with the Chargers. Despite playing every snap against San Diego, the rookie put up only one solo and one assist.
It just goes to show that sometimes what we assume NFL coaches will do and their actual plans aren’t the same thing. It also shows that sometimes it just doesn’t matter what we think we know – from time to time players just have bad statistical games.
Still, when adversity strikes there’s not much you can do beside shake it off and get back after it – and so it’s off to explore this week’s IDP waiver wire options, beginning with the young linebacker who bumped Wilhoite from that every-down role last Thursday.
IDP WAIVER WIRE PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Nick Bellore – ILB, San Francisco 49ers
As David Fucillo of SB Nation wrote, from an NFL perspective Bellore had his share of struggles in his first NFL start. “I realize that Nick Bellore is not NaVorro Bowman,” he said. “The drop-off was to be expected, and some might say it is unfair to pile on Bellore, who likely did the best he could. None of that makes this any less frustrating. Bellore is certainly going to give it his all, but hopefully the flashier stats will not fool anybody. If he starts the rest of the season, there’s a decent chance he could finish the season leading the team in tackles. But there’s a reason he has spent most of his career primarily on special teams.”
Bellore was credited with an eye-popping five missed tackles against the Cardinals. However, the stat of interest to IDP owners is the 11 total tackles (including seven solos) and half a sack Bellore piled up. The fact is, if Bellore keeps missing stops and getting pushed around he may not be long for the lineup. But so long as he’s in there, Bellore is going to put up numbers.
WEEK 6 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Joey Bosa – DE, San Diego Chargers
Thanks to a prolonged holdout, Bosa’s rookie season got off to a rocky start. And the youngster allowed to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune that he’s got catching up to do. “I’m the last one out of the facility every single day,” Bosa said. “I know I missed a lot, and I have a lot to prove. It’s a bummer when you’re working as hard as you do and you still don’t have that support that you want. I’m just going to keep doing what I do, keep my head down, keep working hard. Hopefully, we start winning some games. I know we will.”
The No. 3 overall pick saw his first game action of 2016 Sunday against the Raiders, paying 27 snaps. Bosa certainly made the most of those snaps, piling up five tackles and a pair of sacks despite the limited playing time. Those numbers can’t be expected every week, of course, but it was a window into just how talented and productive Bosa has the potential to be.
DeMarcus Lawrence – DE, Dallas Cowboys
Heading into Lawrence’s 2016 debut, Kevin Brady of Inside the Star wrote expectations were high for the Cowboys’ best pass-rusher. “To be honest,” Brady said, “I think it is fair to expect a lot out of Lawrence. All of the reports out of training camp about him were glowing, and he looked excellent against the Cowboys offensive tackles during one on one drills.”
The Cowboys had success against the Cincinnati Bengals as a whole, but Lawrence didn’t share in the fun, failing to record a stat in 17 snaps. However, as Lawrence gets into game shape his snap count and production are sure to increase, and this week’s matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers is a favorable one for defensive linemen.
Demario Davis – ILB, Cleveland Browns
Heading into the 2016 season, I was high on Davis’ prospects in the middle of a bad Cleveland defense. I assumed that the fifth-year pro was best positioned to take advantage of the ample tackle opportunities the team would see thanks to being on the field all day long. Over the first month of the season at least, I was wrong (I know, I know – it’s a shock). The opportunities were there, but only once did Davis top the five-solo mark in a game.
Last Sunday against the New England Patriots was a different story. Davis had easily his best game of the season, hitting double digits in tackles for the first time and chipping in a batted pass. There’s no guarantee that Sunday’s showing was the beginning of a rebound and not a one-game bump, but fantasy owners hard up for LB help aren’t really in a position to worry about the details at the moment.
Perry Riley – ILB, Oakland Raiders
At this time a week ago, Riley didn’t even have a job. But with Ben Heeney on injured reserve and Malcolm Smith nursing a groin injury, the Raiders signed the veteran linebacker and then plugged him into the starting lineup against the Chargers Sunday. Riley didn’t just play every down – he led the team with seven total tackles, added a forced fumble and received the highest game grade of anyone at the position on the team from PFF.
Riley told Vic Tafur of The San Francisco Chronicle it felt good to be back on the field. “I’ve been playing football for 22 years now, never took a year off,” Riley said, “so at the end of the day, it comes back to making tackles, making plays, and that’s what I try to do.”
It’s unsure what role Riley might have once Smith is healthy, but given how he played against the Bolts Cory James may well find himself in a fight for his starting job.
Vonn Bell – S, New Orleans Saints
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton told Nick Underhill of The Advocate that the Saints are working on ways to get Bell on the field more. “I think he’s explosive and I think he has play-making ability,” Payton said. We’re pleased with his progress and are continuing to work on getting him more and more snaps.”
Bell was a big part of the Saints comeback win over the San Diego Chargers back in Week 4, posting six total tackles and forcing a key fumble. Bell also played a season-high 69 snaps, demonstrating that the former Ohio State star has taken the free safety job from Jairus Byrd.
There’s going to be plenty of opportunities for IDP production at the back end of one of the NFL’s worst defenses. And there should be room on IDP rosters for the rookie safety.
Ask not for whom the Bell tolls – it should be tolling for thee.
D.J. Swearinger – S, Arizona Cardinals
Despite getting a badly needed win over the San Francisco 49ers last week, Swearinger told Adam Green of Arizona Sports there are still a number of areas where the team needs to improve – including when it comes to forcing turnovers.
“Every day in practice we attack the ball and one thing that I always say we need to get more of is the punch-outs. There’s a lot of fumbles out there to be made because the running back is carrying the ball loose. We do a good job getting our hands on the ball and intercepting it but we can be better punching it out.”
Swearinger posted seven total tackles and a sack last Thursday against the Niners, but the most important number he put up is 78. That’s Swearinger’s snap count – 100 percent of the team’s that evening – and it would appear to indicate that Tyvon Branch’s season-ending injury has opened the door to a full-time role.