“Don’t want to make it tough. I just want to tell you that I’ve had enough. It might sound crazy but it ain’t no lie. Baby bye bye bye.”
Yes, that’s right. I’ve reached the point in the season where I’m quoting ‘N Sync lyrics.
You’re probably wondering what could possibly make me do something so awful. So cold-hearted and foul. What possible emotional trauma must I have suffered to want to spread my misery unto all my loyal readers – all four of them?
Blame the NFL offices in New York and whatever rocket surgeon designed this season’s bye schedule.
Courtesy of that big thinker in the Big Apple, six teams (the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers) have the upcoming week off. The same thing happens in Week 9.
In other words, many fantasy rosters are about to start springing multiple leaks. Some IDP owners will probably have no choice but to hit the waiver wire in hopes of being able to field a full lineup at a point in the season where every week takes on added importance. Thanks for nothing, Goodell.
Given that, this week more than ever it’s vital to make good use of waiver priority and bring aboard players who can help get us through these “big byes.”
Here’s a look at a group of players who should be able to do just that, beginning with a young linebacker coming off a big game.
IDP PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Jordan Hicks – ILB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles played their best game of the season in Week 7, stunning the previously undefeated Minnesota Vikings. However, Hicks told Evan Macy of Metro US that we shouldn’t have been so surprised that the Eagles won going away.
“To me, it’s all about us,” Hicks said. “If we are doing what were supposed to be doing and playing the way we are supposed to be playing, I think we can be dominant against any team. That’s just me. I have confidence in our guys. Not looking anywhere else but in this locker room.”
Hicks entered 2016 amid more than a little hype in IDP circles, but uneven production borne of an up-and-down snap count may have led impatient fantasy owners to cut bait. However, Hicks played all 76 snaps against the Vikings and had a huge game, piling up 11 total tackles with a sack. If he’s available in your IDP league, Hicks should be the top priority in Week 8.
WEEK 8 IDP WAIVER WIRE TARGETS
Joey Bosa – DE, San Diego Chargers
Generally speaking, it takes rookie pass-rushers a little time to adjust to the professional game. Even the best young D-linemen often struggle early in the careers. Then there’s rookie end Joey Bosa of the San Diego Chargers. Bosa apparently didn’t get the memo – because the only folks struggling are the linemen trying to block the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
In just three NFL games, Bosa has tallied 11 tackles, four sacks and five tackles for loss – despite playing well less than half of San Diego’s defensive snaps. As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk tweeted after Bosa picked up two sacks of Matt Ryan Sunday, “It is ridiculous how good Joey Bosa is. I mean he’s just getting his feet wet as a pro and he’s already flat-out embarrassing NFL O-linemen.”
Think maybe his snaps are going to increase moving forward?
William Gholston – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gholston had arguably the best game of his four-year NFL career Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, tallying seven total tackles and adding his first sack of the season. As Sander Philipse of SB Nation reported, it was a performance that impressed Tampa defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
“I thought Will had his best game that I’ve seen and I’ve watched all of his games from last season,” Smith said. “He was very aggressive, not only in defending the run, but he was really getting off the ball and rushing the quarterback. I think he can be a force, he’s a big, strong man [and] when he understands how to use his leverage and use his long arms, he’s going to be a guy that can put pressure on the quarterback.”
Now, Gholston has never really been a big sack guy – his season high is three, back in 2015. But Week 7 marked the second time this season that Gholston has posted at least six tackles and he played nearly every snap against the Niners. Like Campbell Gholston doesn’t have a good IDP matchup in Week 8, but with six teams taking the week off just the fact he’s playing is good enough.
De’Vondre Campbell – OLB, Atlanta Falcons
Campbell lost a month of his first NFL season to an ankle injury, and the rookie linebacker told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that is wasn’t easy to be rendered a spectator. “I’ve never been injured before so just sitting there watching, that probably was the hardest part for me,” Campbell said. “But it definitely helped me grow and helped me become a better person in terms of being able to deal with adversity.”
After playing limited snaps in last week’s loss in Seattle, Campbell was on the field for all 74 of the Falcons’ defensive snaps Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Campbell paced the Falcons in Week 7 with 10 total tackles, and while his upcoming matchup with the Green Bay Packers isn’t a favorable one, IDP owners with a need at linebacker thanks to injuries or the big bye don’t have the option of being overly choosy.
Perry Riley – ILB, Oakland Raiders
Riley, who spent the beginning of the 2016 season out of work, joined the Raiders a few weeks ago. And as defensive coordinator Ken Norton told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN, the seventh-year veteran hasn’t wasted any time making an impression on his new team.
“Just his work ethic, his passion for the game, his hunger for knowledge in coming here,” Norton said. “You can tell that his years of experience have really helped him with the ability to come out here and play right away. You can tell he’s paying attention.”
The Raiders apparently think enough of Riley that he has supplanted rookie Cory James (who supplanted Ben Heeney) as the starter at middle linebacker for the silver and black. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars that meant only two tackles, but Riley was on the field for every snap. Should that stay the case, bigger numbers will come.
David Amerson – CB, Oakland Raiders
As Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted, Sunday’s 17-point win (the Raiders largest margin of victory this season) had Amerson feeling his oats. “We have so many good players & coaches,” Amerson said, “the sky is the limit. Once we all start clicking, we can go out here & beat teams 30-0.”
There are a couple of reasons why Amerson is worth rostering in both IDP leagues that require cornerbacks and those who don’t differentiate between that position and safeties. The first is a mini hot streak – Amerson has 11 tackles over the past two games and added an interception to his four stops against Jacksonville.
The big reason, however, is Oakland’s Week 8 matchup. The Raiders will continue their tour of Florida with a trip to Tampa to face the Buccaneers next Sunday, and Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and company have been a fantasy goldmine for defensive backs in 2016.
Donte Whitner – S, Washington Redskins
When the season began, Whitner was watching the games on television just like the rest of us. Sunday against the Detroit Lions, Whitner was playing every snap as the Redskins starting strong safety. As Mike Jones of The Washington Post wrote, the recently signed veteran’s experience is what spurred his quick rise up the depth chart in D.C.
“Whitner brings a lot of experience,” Jones said. “He’s obviously not a long-term solution at that position. But this team finds itself — somewhat unexpectedly — in win-now mode. And because of that pressure, it’s hard to go young and live with some of the mistakes that might come with that youth when you can go with a more-experienced player — even if that player might have less gas left in the tank. The hope is that the older, wiser player is savvy enough to know how to compensate for his limitations while getting the job done.”
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but Whitner did manage eight total tackles against the Lions in Week 7. So long as he’s playing full-time and putting up those sorts of numbers, Whitner is going to be worth a look from IDP owners with a hole at the back end.