Some words of advice before looking over this week’s IDP waiver wire options: hold your nose. It’s getting pretty stinky out there.
At this time of the year, I’m more apt to hit on non-contenders for help via trade than I am to plug in a waiver wire option. It’s not always possible to pry an IDP producer away for a reasonable return though, so I’ll keep digging in this column for anything of value. And there are still some decent options out there, particularly in more shallow formats or in leagues where some managers have checked out.
If you have questions on players I haven’t covered, feel free to throw them in the comments section and I’ll try to get you an answer before typical waiver runs on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings.
Samson Ebukam, SF
Ebukam has been the primary beneficiary of Dee Ford‘s absence. The former Ram played a season-high 51 snaps (73 percent) in week nine, but still managed just two total tackles. At least the volume is there for now. Arden Key was disruptive on 25 snaps with a sack on two quarterback hits. And of course Charles Omenihu is set to join this group following his trade from Houston. Ebukam seems like the best bet for production here if you want to take a chance on someone outside of Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead.
Yetur Gross-Matos, CAR
Mac Jones did a number on Brian Burns’ ankle, and the star edge rusher ended up missing time and finally being ruled out of Sunday’s loss to New England. Gross-Matos (two solos on 27 snaps) would be in line for more work in the short term if Burns misses time. The 38th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had a disappointing season as a rookie, and may have been dropped in some 12-team leagues after Haason Reddick’s hot start to the season.
Justin Hollins, LAR
Sean McVay made some interesting comments about Hollins in the wake of the Von Miller trade, hinting that the versatile Hollins could get snaps at inside linebacker once he returns from injured reserve (he suffered a pec injury in week three). I know most IDP aficionados would simply prefer to have clarity between Ernest Jones and Troy Reeder, but if there’s truth behind McVay’s comments, Hollins could yet have fantasy value later this season. He’s worth rostering in any spots that he’s been dropped.
Kenny Willekes, MIN
With Danielle Hunter out for the remainder of the season and rookie Patrick Jones apparently not yet ready to contribute, it was Willekes who stepped up to lead Minnesota edge rushers in production with four solo tackles, three assists and half-a-sack on two quarterback hits. The second-year pro made his debut in week eight but didn’t register in the box score. Not that this was a high-snap game for the Vikings defense (98), and Willekes (41) still trailed Everson Griffen (87) and D.J. Wonnum (72), but the production was still encouraging.
- Melvin Ingram, KC – The veteran made his Chiefs debut after being traded from Pittsburgh prior to the deadline. He played just 29 of 63 snaps and finished with just one assist, but his role should only grow moving forward. And hopefully, he’ll be redesignated to defensive end from linebacker on MyFantasyLeague.
- Jonathon Cooper, DEN – He was really too good to last until the seventh round of the NFL Draft, still Cooper seems to be a nice fit in Denver’s scheme. With Von Miller in Los Angeles and Malik Reed on the inactive list with a hip injury, Cooper crushed a big opportunity with a pair of sacks and four total tackles while playing 56 of 62 snaps. At least until Bradley Chubb returns from injured reserve, Cooper should play plenty as option 1B to Reed, and ahead of veteran journeyman Stephen Weatherly (one quarterback hit on 55 snaps).
- Quincy Roche, NYG – Roche has quickly ascended to a major role in the wake of Lorenzo Carter’s injury. The Steelers’ sixth-round pick got his first career sack and forced a fumble that was the final nail in the coffin for the Raiders. He totaled two quarterback hits on the day to go along with two solo tackles and a couple of assists while playing 50 of 69 snaps.
Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson, LAR
I bet Gaines was a very tired man on Monday morning after logging a career-high 57 snaps (98 percent) against Tennessee. Gaines seemed to be the main beneficiary in playing time with Sebastian Joseph-Day headed to injured reserve with a pectoral muscle injury that requires surgery. Gaines had half-a-sack on one quarterback hit to go along with two solos and an assist against Tennessee.
From a fantasy perspective, I’m more interested in the more talented Robinson, who picked up five solo tackles and an assist on 38 snaps (66 percent). Robinson shed 25 pounds in the off-season after changing his diet and workout regimen, and I’ve been hoping to see more of him in the backfield this year. Maybe with the additional opportunity we’ll start to see more playmaking ability from the 2016 second-round pick.
Jordan Elliott, CLE
The second-year tackle’s usage has been on the upswing over the past three weeks, and he hit a season-high in snaps (38) and snap share (51 percent) against the Bengals. He logged just three assists and a quarterback hit, so this is more of a stash than a plug-and-play. Looking past 2021 for dynasty purposes, Elliott is currently the only viable defensive tackle under contract; both Maliks (Jackson and McDowell) will be free agents.
Tedarrell Slaton, GB
A rookie fifth-round pick from Florida, Slaton played a full-time role after stud Kenny Clark left with a back injury and finished with four total tackles. If you’re desperate for help in defensive tackle-premium setups, keep an eye on Clark’s status. Slaton should be viable from a volume perspective should Clark miss time.
- Taven Bryan, JAC – I see those two sacks, but no – it’s not happening. The potential held our hearts for a couple of seasons but we’ve all moved on and we’re not looking back. Jacksonville runs a big rotation inside, and Bryan played just 20 snaps.
- D.J. Jones, SF – He’s having a really good season. Week nine was his best tackle showing with eight combined tackles (one in the backfield) on 41 snaps (59 percent).
Krys Barnes, GB
The book seemed to be closing on Barnes after the Packers signed Jaylon Smith in early October, but following Smith’s release, Barnes solidified in the No 2 linebacker spot behind De’Vondre Campbell. He had a nice touchdown-saving hit on a Darrell Williams run near the end of the first half, and played well in general while leading Green Bay in tackles with seven solos and two assists (one for a loss) on 42 of 65 snaps. Scoop him up in leagues that he’s been dropped. Even if you can’t justify using him in the short term, there’s a chance that he’s a full-time linebacker in 2022 if Campbell signs elsewhere in free agency and/or a scheme change provides opportunity for two linebackers.
Nicholas Morrow, LV
Morrow may be sitting on waiver wires in leagues with shallow injured reserve spots. I haven’t seen a timetable for his return, but he was the linebacker of choice for the Raiders over the second half of 2020, and he was a productive fantasy option in weeks that he saw full-time work. Denzel Perryman – despite the unexpectedly awesome fantasy production – and Corey Littleton haven’t exactly been world-beaters as NFL linebackers, so I think the door would be open for Morrow to quickly find himself in a full-time role once he makes it back from the ankle injury he suffered during the pre-season.
- Neville Hewitt, HOU – He’s back! Well, not really. Those who have been waiting on Hewitt’s emergence can rejoice in his five-solo, four-assist performance, but know that it came on just 28 snaps and he played well behind Zach Cunningham and Kamu Grugier-Hill. With Christian Kirksey headed to injured reserve – stunning, I know – the Texans added Eagles castoff Eric Wilson last week. The situation in Houston is definitely fluid, but you can’t trust Hewitt or Wilson for fantasy right now. Plus, the Texans are coming up on a week ten bye.
- Josh Bynes, BAL – The light didn’t turn on for Patrick Queen during the Ravens’ bye week, and it was again Bynes (11 total tackles – one for loss – and a pass defensed) who led the linebacker corps in snaps (45 of 54) and production.
- T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor, PHI – Edwards is definitely the short-term play right now, playing all but three snaps and amassing a dozen total tackles. Taylor is getting his opportunity as the second linebacker, and finished with six solos (one in the backfield) and two assists. No Eagles linebacker has proven to be worth a flip in coverage, so I wouldn’t count on anyone here being a dynasty asset.
Johnathan Ford, JAC
The journeyman defensive back is getting more run as a nickel defender with corner Tre Herndon out of favor and inactive. Ford played all but one snap and had a massive week nine with an interception, three passes defensed and six solo tackles while seeing a lot of Bills slot receiver Cole Beasley (targeted 11 times). I don’t see that type of volume against the Colts, but he’s viable as a streamer if you’re thin at safety.
Eric Murray, HOU
Murray is back from the dead and back to a full-time safety role following the benching of Lonnie Johnson (special teams snaps only). Given new life, Murray responded by picking off a pass and registering five solo tackles and three assists. The Texans have a bye coming up in week ten, but if you’ve been counting on Johnson anywhere, Murray is your replacement.
Neasman stepped into Marcus Maye’s spot after the impending free agent tore an Achilles tendon Thursday night. He didn’t register any production, but he’s worth consideration going forward if you are really short at safety.
- Geno Stone, Anthony Levine and Ar’Darius Washington, BAL – Brandon Stephens (see below under cornerbacks) is the likely replacement for DeShon Elliott, but these three are worth keeping an eye on in really, really deep leagues in case Stephens isn’t up to the challenge.
- Tavon Wilson, SF – With Jimmie Ward inactive, Wilson had a big fantasy outing with five solos, three assists and a pass defensed on 69 snaps. If you’re looking for a one-week streamer, Wilson is viable if Ward misses a second straight week with his quad injury.
- Talanoa Hufanga, SF – He played all 70 snaps but disappointed with just two solos and an assist. And that’s with Arizona running the ball 39 times. Hang on to him for dynasty purposes and only start him if desperate.
- George Odum and Andrew Sendejo, IND – Khari Willis was placed on injured reserve last week so Odum can be considered a viable safety streamer until Willis’ return. Odum had five solo tackles and a fumble recovery against the Jets. Those in really deep leagues might want to consider rostering former Packer and Jaguar Josh Jones in case of an Odum demotion. Sendejo (two solos and an assist) has less value as the replacement for Julian Blackmon (torn Achilles).
- Caden Sterns, DEN – The rookie fifth-rounder from Texas is looking more and more like a player who could take over a full-time role following the departure of Kareem Jackson, which is likely to happen in the off-season. Sterns is making the most of limited snaps (17 in week nine), and picked off a Dak Prescott pass and registered two solo tackles on defense.
Camryn Bynum, MIN
The Vikings placed Harrison Smith on the reserve/COVID-19 list late Sunday morning, leaving the safety spot opposite Xavier Woods to Bynum. The rookie fourth-round corner responded with a fantasy CB1 performance, picking off a pass and tallying a massive nine solo tackles and three assists. Keep an eye on this situation: If Bynum is in line to again take snaps at safety in place of Smith in week ten, he’s golden as a cornerback streamer.
Michael Carter II, Brandin Echols and Bryce Hall, NYJ
Gang Green is really green at corner, with rookies Echols (five solos and an assist) and Carter (three solos) now playing major roles next to second-year pro Hall (two solos, an assist and a pass defensed). Both Echols and Hall are seeing full-time snaps, with Carter playing in nickel. All are worth consideration in week ten in a nice matchup with Buffalo.
Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting, TB
Both Davis – sidelined since week four with a quad injury – and Murphy-Bunting, who suffered a nasty elbow injury in the season opener, could return coming out of Tampa Bay’s bye. Both should be added in any decent-size cornerback-required leagues in which they were dropped given the pass-oriented game scripts that the Buccaneers’ opponents typically find themselves in.
Kevin King, GB
The veteran has always been a good fantasy play when he’s on the field. King played all 65 snaps after rookie Eric Stokes injured his knee during pregame warmups, and finished with four solos, three assists and a pass defensed. If Stokes misses week ten, King looks like a good streaming candidate against Seattle.
The rookie third-rounder is the early bet to fill the safety spot vacated by DeShon Elliott, who is out for the season with torn pectoral and bicep muscles. Stephens, classified as a cornerback on MyFantasyLeague, will be playing the lesser of the safety roles from a fantasy production standpoint but he’s worth streaming consideration as long as he holds down the job. He finished week nine with two solos, an assist and a pass defensed on 18 snaps.
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