It was drowned it in the fantasy apocalypse that was Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone, but there was nearly a catastrophic injury on the defensive side of the ball for the second week in a row in Week 6.
At least it certainly felt catastrophic when it was announced last Thursday night that Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was in the NFL’s concussion protocol after taking a shot to the head. It would have marked Kuechly’s third straight season with a concussion—concussions that have cost the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year nine games over the last two seasons.
Except now we’re not sure if Kuechly suffered a concussion or not.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, while Kuechly’s officially in the protocol the Panthers don’t think he actually was concussed, which defensive coordinator Steve Wilks asserted was very good news indeed.
“It’s always encouraging, not just from a standpoint of Luke getting back on the field, but with his health,” Wilks said. “It’s good to know he was feeling a lot better today, in good spirits and being his old self. I’m excited about that.”
Fantasy owners (not to mention the Panthers) appear to have dodged the proverbial bullet where Kuechly’s concerned—it looks like he’ll be back on the field when the Panthers head to Chicago.
But if you weren’t as lucky and have a hole to fill in your defensive lineup due to an injury or bye week issue, here’s a look at some of the top IDP waiver pickups for Week 7.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Craig Robertson – OLB, New Orleans Saints
Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Detroit Lions, Robertson told Amos Morale of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he wasn’t going to change his approach now that he would be starting in place of the injured Alex Anzalone.
“Nothing changes,” he said. “Just got to go out and make plays and do whatever you can do to help the defense win. I just want to win. That’s what I told them when they voted me as captain. I told them ‘I’ll do whatever I got to do to win. Want me to play special teams? That’s fine.”
The Saints did win, thanks in no small part to Robertson’s 11 total tackles and strip-sack of Matthew Stafford. The sixth-year pro showed he could be a valuable IDP asset when he piled up 114 total tackles as a three-down starter for the Saints a year ago. Now that he’s back in that role, the 29-year-old should absolutely be back on IDP rosters.
WEEK 7 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Alex Okafor – DE, New Orleans Saints
Okafor caused the fumble that led to one of the Saints three (yes, three) defensive touchdowns on Sunday in the Big Easy – a play that earned kudos from one of the other defenders who scored. “There were so many big plays today,” defensive end Cameron Jordan told Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Alex Okafor sack-fumble in the end zone, (and) his best friend (safety Kenny Vaccaro) picks it up. It was the Texas connection; it was cute.”
Given the ridiculous stat lines posted by so many Saints defenders Sunday, it’s not a shock that the team makes a waiver wire double-dip in Week 7. Okafor’s really wasn’t even all that wild, either – he had two solos to go with that strip-sack. However, the sack was Okafor’s second in the last three games, and he’s been posting solid tackle numbers all season long – almost four stops a game.
Solomon Thomas – DE, San Francisco 49ers
Thomas got off to a slow start in his NFL career, but back in September 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told Chris Biderman of Niners Wire he wasn’t at all worried about the third overall pick in April’s draft. He has the quickness and he has the size to do both (play inside and outside), so I think the more we can move him around, the better,” Shanahan said. “But, that’s also a lot to put on a guy, too. Each position is slightly different. There’s different stunts, different coverages, different ways to play protections and stuff. That takes time. We need him to get better. He will get better, you know.”
It would appear Shanahan knew of what he spoke. Thomas’ playing time and in-game impact have both ratcheted up in recent weeks. Over the last three games the former Stanford standout has tallied 16 total tackles and two sacks – including a Week 6 effort against the Washington Redskins in which Thomas not only had a sack but also led San Francisco with nine total tackles.