They didn’t make it easy on Individual Defensive Player (IDP) owners in 2013.
By this time of year, many fantasy owners are already in scramble mode. Playoff dreams are circling the drain. Injuries and a bad beat here or there have conspired to leave teams with precious little margin for error.
So, of course now is the perfect time for back-to-back six-team bye weeks.
Those byes may be a much-needed break for NFL players, but they’re a real pain in the butt in IDP leagues.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some Week 9 waiver options on defense that may help take some of the sting out of your backside.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Bruce Carter, OLB, Dallas
Carter was a highly-touted fantasy linebacker heading into 2013, as many a pundit expected him to thrive as the weak-side linebacker in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 in Dallas. That hasn’t come to pass, and with only five total stops over the past two games, the third-year pro has likely been shown the door in many leagues. Carter is also losing nickel snaps, but this week the Cowboys face a Minnesota Vikings squad that isn’t exactly renowned for spreading opponents out. There’s more than a little risk involved with starting Carter this week, but there’s also more than a little upside for teams in a bind at linebacker.
WEEK 9 WAIVER WIRE PICKUPS
Chris Long, DE, St. Louis
After a start to the season that saw Long amass only 2.5 sacks in seven games, the 28-year-old was cut loose in many IDP leagues. However, Long exploded in the Rams’ Week 8 loss to Seattle, racking up more sacks of Russell Wilson than he had all season long. You can’t expect Long to have another three-sack outing this week in a bad IDP matchup with the Tennessee Titans, but the sixth-year veteran’s outburst has Long back on the IDP map.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami
The second-year pro has been a pleasant surprise for both the Dolphins and IDP owners in 2013, but despite 4.5 sacks on the season (including one in each of the past three games) Vernon is still available in many leagues. This week’s matchup with a Cincinnati Bengals team allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points to defensive linemen this year isn’t favorable, but a lot of IDP owners are grasping at straws in Week 9. As straws go, you could do a lot worse than Vernon.
David Hawthorne, ILB, New Orleans
It wasn’t that long ago that Hawthorne was a reliable IDP asset, with the 28-year-old tallying more than 100 tackles three straight years from 2009-11. Injuries last year and a new role this year robbed Hawthorne of much of that value, but it appears a rebound of sorts may be in the works. Over the past three games Hawthorne has logged 20 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, including eight solos and a sack last week against the Buffalo Bills. Toss in a solid IDP matchup this week with the run-heavy New York Jets, and the sixth-year veteran is a decent pickup for Week 9.
Dont’a Hightower, OLB, New England
out for the season, Hightower has assumed the role of defensive signal-caller for the Patriots, and so far that role has parlayed itself into solid statistical production. Over the past two games since Mayo went down, Hightower has amassed 21 total stops, adding a sack for good measure. This week the Patriots face a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has been fairly kind to opposing linebackers in 2013, so teams in need of some linebacker help should make adding the former Alabama star a priority.
Troy Polamalu, SS, Pittsburgh
Polamalu is a great player who may well one day find himself enshrined in Canton, but his particular brand of havoc has always made the 32-year-old a streaky IDP option. Last week’s three-tackle game is a perfect example, with a sack and interception saving his proverbial bacon. Starting the hirsute one is almost always going to be something of a gamble, but the New England Patriots, who the Steelers face in Week 8, have been a top-five IDP matchup for safeties in 2013. No guts, no glory, right?
Greg Toler, CB, Indianapolis
In Week 7, I recommended Toler as a plug-and-play IDP option in cornerback-required leagues against the Denver Broncos. Toler responded with a goose-egg borne of a groin injury suffered early in the game. That injury certainly makes Toler a risky add this week, but if the fifth-year pro plays in Week 9 there’s a lot to like about his prospects against a Houston Texans team surrendering the second-most fantasy points to cornerbacks this season. Monitor his groin (not too closely … don’t want to get locked up), but if Toler ends up good to go against the Texans, the 28-year-old is a sneaky good play this week.
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Gary Davenport is the IDP Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, In addition to his work at Fantasy Sharks and at IDP Manor, Davenport’s IDP work has been featured in a number of national print publications and on both satellite and terrestrial radio.