Things are about to get really interesting in IDP leagues.
For starters, by the end of Week 7, the fantasy regular season will be at least halfway completed – more, in many cases. And unless you’re one of the fortunate few sitting at 6-0 or 5-1, that means with each passing week the margin for error shrinks.
Also, in addition to the always popular and ever-increasing injuries that have shelved the likes of Los Angeles Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, after another two team bye week in Week 7 the two weeks that follow each feature six teams taking the week off.
In other words, not only do fantasy owners have to take into consideration finding replacements for guys who are hurt, but it’s also likely wise to start planning ahead for two weeks when a sizable chunk of the roster may be on siesta.
With those cheerful thoughts in mind, let’s take a look at IDP Waiver Wire targets for Week 7, beginning with a defensive back set to see a much larger role thanks to one whopper of a Week 6 injury.
IDP WAIVER WIRE PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Isa Abdul-Quddus – S, Miami Dolphins
That injury befell Miami Dolphins strong safety Reshad Jones. Per Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, the Dolphins fear that Jones suffered a torn rotator cuff in last week’s big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the diagnosis proves correct, then Jones’ season is probably kaput.
Yes, that’s right — the top defensive lineman (J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans), top linebacker (NaVorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers) and top defensive back (Jones) on my draft board entering 2016 will all have suffered season-ending injuries — and the season isn’t even halfway over yet.
Assuming that Jones is done, the most logical course of action for Miami is to slide Abdul-Quddus (who has struggled as the starter at free safety) over into Jones’ spot. Should that prove to be the case, the same factors that benefited Jones in fantasy leagues (a suspect and banged-up Miami LB corps) would apply to Abdul-Quddus as well. This isn’t to say he’d suddenly become a DB1 — but the potential for DB2 numbers is certainly there.
WEEK 7 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Cliff Avril – DE, Seattle Seahawks
With batterymate Michael Bennett sidelined by a knee injury, Avril stepped it up in Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, notching a pair of sacks and forcing a fumble. Bennett told Eric Mandel of ESPN 710 Radio in Seattle he wasn’t surprised by the outburst.
“Each week we focus on getting off the ball and getting time to get to those guys,” he said. “We have the best rushers in the NFL with Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel, (Athyba) Rubin and all those defensive tackles. Those guys play so many plays and they do so many great things.”
Bennett may not have been surprised, but IDP owners were, as Avril matched his season total in sacks in that one game. However, with both Bennett and Frank Clark nursing injuries Avril is going to be on the field that much more, and the 30-year-old has now reached the quarterback in back-to-back contests.
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans
Before their meeting back in Week 4, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien talked up Casey while speaking to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “Jurrell Casey is one of the best players we will play all year,” O’Brien said. “They move him around a lot. He does a lot of different things on the interior of the line. He plays end. He plays over the guards. He plays over the center. He’s an excellent player.”
Casey was quiet in that game, just as he had been to that point in the season, which got the sixth-year veteran cut loose in more than a few IDP leagues. However, over the last two weeks it’s been a different story. Casey’s sack of Cody Kessler in Sunday’s win in Cleveland gives him three sacks in the last two weeks, and with another highly favorable IDP matchup upcoming against the Indianapolis Colts Casey has a good shot at keeping his hot streak going.
Dont’a Hightower, ILB, New England Patriots
As Kevin Duffy of Mass Live wrote, Hightower was a force defensively for the Patriots in their Week 6 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. “One of the biggest plays of the game: Dont’a Hightower‘s sack of Andy Dalton early in the third quarter,” Duffy said. “It was the second safety Hightower has forced in as many weeks. Hightower had a monster game overall, totaling 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, a tackle for loss, and the safety.”
I don’t have to tell you that stat lines like that are the type that get the attention of IDP owners. I also shouldn’t have to tell you that you can’t expect a safety every week. However, Hightower has always shown some aptitude for making the big play, and so long as Jamie Collins’ bad hip sidelines him there will be that many more tackle opportunities for Hightower.
Albert McClellan, ILB, Baltimore Ravens
Collins wasn’t the only big-name fantasy linebacker on the shelf Sunday. He was joined by C.J. Mosley of the Baltimore Ravens, who was sidelined against the New York Giants by a hamstring injury. That meant a start for sixth-year reserve Albert McClellan. The 30-year-old answered the bell, posting seven solos and two assists in a Ravens loss.
Before the season, head coach John Harbaugh touted McClellan’s ability to get the job done while speaking with Ryan Mink of the team’s website. “Albert has started here at times, and he’s never disappointed,” Harbaugh said. “He’s doing a good job.” Whether it’s inside subbing for Mosley or outside taking the place of Terrell Suggs, McClellan will likely see a big boost in snaps moving forward, although fantasy owners would certainly prefer he remain inside for a little while.
Vonn Bell – S, New Orleans Saints
Per ESPN’s Mike Triplett, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said he was already impressed with his rookie safety. “I think he’s shown some really good signs on tape,” Payton said. “He’s really quick and explosive. I think he’s a pressure player, so when he rushes I think he can really get to QB pretty quickly. He has a good burst. He’s done a really good job. He has opened some eyes. Now there are still a handful of things that he has be a little quicker on, but I’m pleased.”
Apparently Bell has continued to improve – so much so that he’s bumped Jairus Byrd from the starting lineup. In the two games since doing so, Bell has posted 13 tackles and forced a fumble, including seven stops in Sunday’s wild win over the Carolina Panthers. The youngster from Ohio State has room to improve, but he also has tons of talent – talent that equates to IDP upside.
Lamarcus Joyner – CB, Los Angeles Rams
Thanks both to injuries and the loss of Janoris Jenkins to free agency, Joyner is playing more than ever in his third NFL season. As he told Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News, that’s just fine with him. “You can never predict what’s going to happen,” Joyner said, “but the coaches said I was going to have a big role, and so far they have fulfilled their words. I’ve been put in positions to help this defense out a lot, so I’ve really been enjoying that this year.”
With the Rams playing a lot of nickel defense this year, Joyner has spent more than a bit of time close to the line of scrimmage. Against the Detroit Lions, that equated to a big day, with Joyner piling up 10 total tackles and a pass defensed. That makes three times in six games that Joyner has had at least six solos in a game, and twice that he’s posted nine or more total stops. The former number puts Joyner squarely on the target list for IDP owners in CB-required formats. If the latter keeps up his value could extend into “standard” IDP leagues as well.