I want to make an important caveat about the waiver wire column now that we’re in the home stretch. Obviously, DLF is all about long-term player value, and not about chasing the hot hand. And let’s be honest, most of the time we chase the hot hand on the waiver wire.
This time of year, it’s important to assess your team and ask yourself if you need more prospects or hot hands. If you’re in contention, obviously you want the players who can help you win now. If you’re out of contention, the emerging talent is far more important, with an emphasis on younger players whose arrows are pointing up.
I’ll do my best to distinguish between the two types of players going forward. It’s crucial to do so, because it doesn’t help your team to cut an underperforming young player with a bright future to grab an older veteran who has put together a nice streak of four games. As always, refer to DLF’s IDP rankings to make final calls on trade value or whether to drop a player.
On to this week’s picks!
Da’Shawn Hand, DT DET
I really like Hand as a player, but haven’t been quick to recommend him because of opportunity. He definitely falls into the “young player, moving in the right direction” category discussed above.
The Alabama rookie has played well with limited snaps in 2018. In the first half of the year, he was moved around the defensive front’s interior and posted really solid tackle numbers. In week seven, the Lions used him at nose tackle, and he posted an astounding eight hurries. Eight! It went largely unnoticed because he didn’t convert any to sacks. Since the acquisition of Damon Harrison, Hand has played some DT and some DE. His tackle numbers have suffered, but he’s still been applying pressure to the quarterback.
I love players who can play multiple positions, but let’s be honest: Hand lacks the quickness needed to play end. He’s a DT, but he could be a very good one. If you’re in a DT-required league, he’s definitely one to stash for the future.
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Alex Okafor, DE NO
I’m not going to lie, the defensive end waiver wire is a ghost town, at least when it comes to long-term dynasty value. However, Okafor’s production on limited snaps is worth noticing.
We all assume the future of the Saints’ defensive end position belongs to Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. Okafor isn’t ready to yield all of his snaps to the rookie Davenport – not yet. Okafor’s snaps have been in the 30s or 40s all year in 2018, and he’s done plenty to deserve the playing time he’s getting. He’s gotten at least one QB hurry in every game but one this year, and has 21 on the year, an average of two per game. His four sacks mean he’s not quite getting there, but he’s been quite disruptive.
He’s not going to give you robust tackle numbers, but Okafor is a decent fill-in if you’ve been hit with injuries on your roster. While his value is likely to taper off as Davenport’s star rises, Okafor is someone you can use right now in a pinch.
Hardy Nickerson, LB CIN
The Bengals’ linebacker positions have been a musical chairs act this year, so it’s been hard to recommend anyone. However, we know that Cincy linebackers produce numbers, and Nickerson definitely has been doing that.
Even with Vontaze Burfict back, Nickerson played all 79 snaps this week, and logged ten solo tackles and an assist. While his PFF grades aren’t great (46.6 overall), he is producing too well to ignore. I don’t love him long-term, but if you need a plug-in player, Nickerson should be on your waiver wire. A word of note: watch the availability of other Cincinnati linebackers, as they would likely cut into his production.
Adarius Taylor, LB TB
With linebacker royalty Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David out, there have to be all kinds of tackle opportunities available for their replacements, right? Well… Adarius Taylor hasn’t set the stat sheet on fire. He had four solos this week against the Giants. Not terrible. But no one is going to mistake him for Kwon or Lavonte.
That said, as Adarius mans the weakside linebacker position, middle linebacker Riley Bullough didn’t do much of anything either, tallying just two tackles.
I believe this will turn around, especially for Taylor. Even as his tackle numbers are meh, his PFF grade was second on the entire defensive unit Sunday, while the two guys who took snaps at middle linebacker were second-to-last and dead last in PFF scores.
Kyler Fackrell, LB GB
For many years, the great disruptor on the Green Bay defense was Clay Matthews. As he reaches the sunset of his career, could a new disruptor be taking his place?
He doesn’t have Matthews’ flowing blonde hair, or his pedigree, but Kyler Fackrell has definitely made waves this year on a defensive unit that has had its troubles. This week’s three sacks – the second time he’s done that this year – definitely opened a lot of eyes that he may be on the rise.
Fackrell, about to turn 27, was drafted out of Utah State in the third round of the 2016 draft. While he had the right frame, he lacked overpowering strength and had only average short-area quickness. But he’s a lunch-pail hard worker on the field, which fits right in with Green Bay’s overall team.
You have to be careful drafting OLBs in tackle heavy leagues. But in big play leagues, Fackrell is definitely worth rostering for 2018 and has a chance to remain effective over the long term.
Fackrell’s snaps have risen steadily as his effectiveness has been increasing. While he only had 20-30 snaps a game from weeks three-eight, the last three weeks have seen him on the field for 36, 49 and 58 snaps respectively.
Anthony Harris, S MIN
Everyone knows Harrison Smith is one of the best safeties in football and has been for a while. What many don’t know is the free safety position next to Smith has been surprisingly productive as well, even as the faces have changed over the years.
Anthony Harris is the latest free safety to earn a spot in IDP lineups. While he’s not the best option for tackle-heavy leagues, Harris has a penchant for big plays, which showed up again Sunday. He took two interceptions off Trubisky, to go with three solo tackles and an assist. Harris is great in coverage and received an overall PFF score in the mid-90s twice this season.
Still, his upside is capped, so I would only use Harris as a fill in for a few weeks. The Vikings face some pass-heavy attacks coming up (Packers, Patriots, Seahawks, Dolphins, Lions) to close out the fantasy year. Harris could have a few more big performances before 2018 comes to a close.
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