In this week’s waiver wire, we have an intriguing prospect at defensive end whose role is likely to grow substantially, an old favorite who broke through, a young coverage specialist who is making the most of a small role, a journeyman who put together an amazing week, and a crowded safety position that didn’t get much clearer. Let’s get started!
Arden Key, DE OAK
I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for high-ceiling guys. So much so that I become blind to their floor. That bias revealed, I really liked Raiders’ defensive end Arden Key as a college prospect. And what’s not to love? He set the LSU team record for sacks in his sophomore year with 12. He was tearing up the SEC, and then… something happened. He left the team for a while, struggled with his weight, and then limped along with a myriad of injuries. While his name was once bandied about as a top five overall pick, by the time draft day 2018 came around, Key slipped into the third round.
It didn’t seem like Key had a direct path to snaps in his rookie year, either. With Khalil Mack on one side of the defensive line and Bruce Irvin on the other, Key was most likely to make an impact on special teams, if at all. Well, we all know what happened next. Mack was traded, Irvin was cut, and now Key is seeing significant snaps.
A word of warning: don’t blow your blind bid waiver dollars on Key or drop a consistent producer from your roster to grab him. He has only one sack in 2018 and is a work in progress. But if you’re out of contention this year and looking for a prospect for the future, Key should get plenty of opportunities to prove he belongs.
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Ryan Kerrigan, LB WAS
It may be odd to see Ryan Kerrigan, who has had plenty of previous success in IDP leagues, listed in a waiver wire article. But I’ve seen him hit the bone pile in plenty of leagues after a very slow start in 2018.
Kerrigan didn’t record a sack in the first three weeks and only had one tackle in that span. Ouch. Over the first six weeks of the season, he had only one sack and four tackles. However, Kerrigan is the perfect example of a player who was generating hurries but not sacks: those hurries usually turn into sacks. During those first six weeks which were so lean in the box score for Kerrigan, he actually had 16 hurries, a very good number. What happened next? Here are his stats for weeks seven-nine: Four hurries, two sacks; eight hurries, one sack; one hurry, one sack.
Kerrigan is still on the outside of startable in tackle-heavy leagues, but if you’re in a big play league, Kerrigan is a priority add.
Alex Anzalone, LB NOS
Alex Anzalone is a fun player to watch. Coming out of college at Florida, Anzalone had straight-line speed and lateral quickness to spare, although he needed some time in the weight room. Although his strength is as a coverage linebacker, Anzalone is a willing tackler.
Right now, Anzalone is only getting around 20-30 snaps a game, as more established ‘backers Demario Davis and AJ Klein are soaking up the tackles. Davis is fine. Klein is fine. Neither is going to be compared to Luke Kuechly, but they do their jobs. And frankly, with the team firing on all cylinders like the New Orleans Saints are right now, I don’t see the coaching staff changing much in the linebacker corps. So Anzalone will probably stick around that 20-30 snaps.
However, you saw a flash of what Anzalone is capable of if he puts it all together in this week’s game against the Rams. On just 27 snaps, Anzalone recorded three solo tackles, two assists, one quarterback pressure, and about the prettiest interception you’re going to see from a linebacker, which turned out to be a real game changer.
Anzalone is getting limited opportunities, but he’s a good dynasty stash and should at least be on your watch list, if not your bench.
Julian Stanford, LB BUF
This is more of a short-term recommendation, but Tremaine Edmunds missed this past week with a concussion and Stanford stepped in and had a huge game. If Edmunds misses more time this season, or if you just want to handcuff the talented rookie, Stanford is worth an add.
The 28-year-old journeyman was drafted by the Jaguars in 2012 and has spent time with Detroit and the Jets as well before joining the Bills this year. He’s not a supreme talent, and has never eclipsed 20 solo tackles in a year in his career. (In fact, the one year he got close, 2016, he had 18 solos and nine missed tackles, which is terrible.)
But his moment in the sun came Sunday, and he made it count. Seven solo tackles, one assist, a forced fumble, and a sack. Don’t expect those kinds of numbers going forward, but plenty of experts (myself included) thought fellow linebacker Matt Milano would have a big day Sunday with Edmunds out. He didn’t, only tallying two tackles, and Stanford was the star instead. If Edmunds misses more time, grab Stanford.
Jermaine Whitehead/Kentrell Brice/Josh Jones, S GBP (UPDATE)
This trio was on my waiver wire list last week because we didn’t know how the Green Bay backfield was going to shake out with HaHa Clinton Dix traded away. Here’s an update on that situation.
Josh Jones ended up taking 51 of the strong safety snaps, Kentrell Brice took 21 at the position, while former cornerback Tramon Williams slipped into the free safety role, tallying 71 snaps. However, the favorite to assume a lot of the Clinton Dix role was Jermaine Whitehead, and he was banged up and only took 15 snaps at strong safety. Despite the injury, Whitehead had three tackles on those 15 plays. Jones had the best stat line of the day with four tackles and three assists. Brice had one tackle and one assist. Williams logged five tackles and one assist at free safety.
What did we learn? Nothing. I don’t think we can make any long-term dynasty predictions based on this one game, especially with Whitehead’s injury. It’s still a situation to monitor going forward, and I still like Jones the best for the long term.
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