This writer stands before you a sad camper.
In addition to analyzing both fantasy football and the NFL for a number of websites (including this one), I’m a fan of the game. An avid one. I probably wouldn’t be doing the former were it not for the latter. And as a fan Week 5 just sucked.
Partly because my beloved (sigh) Cleveland Browns won a race to the bottom of the NFL, falling at home to the New York Jets in a dog-ugly game. If there was any doubt who the worst team in the NFL was, the Browns answered it Sunday.
But the fact the Browns stink isn’t really news.
And the real pain came Sunday night.
The Browns are my team, but without question my favorite player in the NFL is Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Partly it’s because I love defense, and Watt (when healthy) is arguably the best defensive player in the game. And partly it’s because the 28-year-old is a better person than player, as evidenced by the millions he helped raise to benefit hurricane victims in Houston.
Watching Watt be carted off the field after suffering a season-ending tibial plateau fracture was a rotten way to see his 2017 campaign come to a close.
As bad as the injury was for the Texans, it was also a crushing blow to IDP teams – many of whom made Watt the first defensive player taken this year. Now those fantasy owners are scrambling to fill a gaping hole in their roster.
As such, it seems only fair that this week’s IDP Pickup of the Week is a lineman.
Here’s hoping for a quick and complete recovery, J.J.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Myles Garrett – DE, Cleveland Browns
Garrett’s NFL debut was something, even if the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft played fewer than 20 snaps. Garrett recorded a sack on his first play – the first time in 25 years that has happened. He then added another later in the game.
As Dan Labbe reported for Cleveland.com, Garrett’s performance impressed another of the Browns’ first-round rookies. “I’m sure you guys could already see the impact he makes,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “His first play on the field was a sack. … His presence is clearly evident, even with the little that we are playing him right now.”
Given how well Garrett failed with those limited snaps, it’s not a stretch to imagine that the youngster’s snap count is going to trend upward with all due haste. And while it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect that sort of per-snap production from Garrett every week, the rookie gave us enough of a taste of his upside to merit a pickup from IDP owners.
WEEK 6 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
David Irving – DT, Dallas Cowboys
Before last week’s matchup in Dallas, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Joni Epstein of the Dallas Morning News that he wasn’t looking forward to Irving returning to the Cowboys lineup. “So you bring him back and look at the success DeMarcus (Lawrence) has had already this season, it definitely gives you formidable guys on both sides,” Rodgers said. “DeMarcus has been playing on our right a lot, which is where David was playing primarily last year. So it’ll be interesting to see what they do as far as reps, getting him back up to game shape.”
Irving, who was playing in his first game this year after drawing a four-game suspension, seemed to be in fine shape – like Garrett he piled up two sacks in his first game action this season. Irving’s positional eligibility is a bit of an enigma right now (he’s listed at DE at Yahoo and as a DT at My Fantasy League), but after that big game and with Lawrence drawing lots of attention from opponents there’s little question Irving rates a look from fantasy owners.
Kawann Short – DT, Carolina Panthers
Per Tim Weaver of Panthers Wire, Short rampaged like a movie monster in Carolina’s big Week 5 win in Detroit. “Short was in rare form against Detroit. He was constantly harassing Matt Stafford in the backfield and forcing one of his two fumbles. Short graded out at 88.1 overall (at Pro Football Focus), which tops Carolina’s defense.”
Short’s PFF grade isn’t as important to IDP owners as the two sacks of Matt Stafford he amassed to go with three solos and that forced fumble. Short got off to something of a slow start, but he’s been red-hot of late, racking up three sacks over the last two games. Short’s the sort of disruptive three-technique that isn’t just of interest in leagues that require his position – if he keeps getting the quarterback he’ll have plenty of value in “standard” IDP formats as well.
Zach Cunningham – ILB, Houston Texans
With Brian Cushing serving a 10-game PED suspension, Texans head coach Bill O’ Brien has turned to a rookie platoon of Dylan Cole and Zach Cunningham at the position. He told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that he’s been pleased with the play of his young linebackers.
“I think both those guys are playing pretty well,” O’Brien said. “For young players, it’s their first year in the league, both those guys really understand our defense. They both can run, they both can hit. They play very hard, they help us on special teams. So, yeah, I would expect those guys to continue to improve and play a big role in our defense.”
Of the two, Cunningham’s playing the most next to Benardrick McKinney – almost 75 percent of the snaps in Sunday night’s loss to the Houston Texans. Cunningham turned those snaps into nine total tackles – production worth consideration from LB-needy IDP clubs with bye week or injury issues.