Football is back, as is this dynasty IDP waiver wire column! Please, before you skip down to player names, I’ve got some ‘splainin to do.
This weekly column is geared more toward 14- and 16-team dynasty setups, or 12-team setups with fairly large roster limits (65 spots or so). The reason is there are plenty of sites, podcasts and Patreons (and good ones – this is not a dig) providing what I would consider obvious waiver wire advice for leagues that are of the “start eight IDPs” variety with combined defensive lines and defensive backs. My goal is to write this for managers who must dig deeper on the wire in order to stay ahead for both this season and future years.
With that in mind, I’m probably not going to list many IDPs you can find in my top 150 rankings. I’ll list some obvious “shallow” league options but I don’t plan to go into much detail on those players unless there’s some growing dynasty (this season and beyond) appeal. Also:
- Not everyone I list is a recommended add. Sometimes I may just want to write up a player to convince you not to waste your FAAB on him.
- Don’t panic on good players, or cut bait on highly ranked rookie IDPs. It’s one week.
Thanks for bearing with the introduction but I wanted to set some context for why this waiver wire list should look a bit different than others you’ll find. And with that, let’s hit the wire!
Basham and Epenesa are clearly third and fourth fiddle to Gregory Rousseau and Von Miller but, given Buffalo’s propensity to rotate on the defensive line, both backups should garner waiver wire consideration in leagues with deep benches. Now, the Rams’ offensive line was not hitting on much in the season opener, but fantasy production could be in play in weeks Buffalo gets out to a big lead.
Epenesa’s night – a sack and a half on four quarterback hits to go along with two solo tackles on 36 of 66 snaps – was especially promising after a couple of lackluster seasons to start the 2020 second-rounder’s professional career. Basham saw 26 snaps and tallied one sack on two quarterback hits, two solo tackles and a pass defensed.
Malik Reed, PIT
Reed is not a special player by any means, but he’s made a reputation by being productive when called upon. Entering the final season of his rookie contract, Reed was not going to see the same opportunity he did for three seasons in Denver after being dropped behind Baron Browning on a deep Broncos’ outside linebacker depth chart. A trade to Pittsburgh before the start of the season provided hope for Reed’s fantasy outlook, and Sunday’s unfortunate injury to T.J. Watt again puts Reed in a position for serious snaps for the next couple of months – and possibly the remainder of the season. Outside of Alex Highsmith, the Steelers simply do not have any other quality edge rushers to speak of. It’s “next man up” in Pittsburgh, and Reed is that next man.
Dominique Robinson, CHI
Robinson was one of my favorite last-round picks in rookie drafts, and he shined in his debut with a sack and a half, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, five solo tackles and two assists. Not bad for a fifth-round pick who was playing wide receiver as a third-year collegian in 2019! Robinson isn’t going to be much more than a situational pass rusher as a rookie, but there’s potential for a much larger role in the near future. Robert Quinn is a late-season trade candidate as a 32-year-old edge on a team that is not expected to compete for a playoff spot, and Al-Quadin Muhammad is an average talent who may not see part two of his two-year deal.
31 other teams are going to be sorry they let Dominique Robinson fall to fifth round.pic.twitter.com/Wl3AJguZye
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 11, 2022
Rashad Weaver, TEN
We barely saw Weaver as a rookie due to an early season broken fibula, but he still looked likely to figure into Tennessee’s plans as a third outside linebacker in 2022. His role changed drastically when Harold Landry tore an ACL earlier this month, and Weaver didn’t disappoint as an injury fill-in with two sacks, three solo tackles and an assist in week one. He’s looking like a solid fantasy depth option at edge in his sophomore campaign.
- Carlos Dunlap, KC – With Frank Clark and George Karlaftis playing ahead of him, I can’t get on board with using a roster spot on Dunlap despite his one-sack, four-tackle Chiefs debut.
- Jerry Hughes, HOU – Jerry Hughes, 2021 in Buffalo: 558 defensive snaps, two sacks and 18 total tackles. Same Jerry Hughes, 2022, week one in Houston: two sacks, three solo tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. Might he have been taking one for the scheme as a Bill?
- Terrell Lewis, LAR – Lewis (23 snaps) outshined Justin Hollins (35 snaps) with three solos and an interception. He has a long career of knee issues though and is going to have to play managed snaps if he’s going to stay healthy. You’d have to be in a deep league to ever consider plugging Lewis into your lineup.
- Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines, NYG – Keep in mind the Giants were without rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux and second-year man Azeez Ojulari, but Ward and Ximines each put up six total tackles, and Ximines hit Ryan Tannehill twice and registered a pass defensed in coverage. I’m still not rushing to pick up either one of them.
Justin Madubuike, BAL
Baltimore has been grooming Madubuike for a leadership role since drafting him in the third round of the 2020 draft, and the third-year tackle could be ready to break out and assume semi-star status. He had a nice week one with half a sack and five total tackles, and in true position formats, he should make a nice DT2 for your roster.
Plays in the backfield are a decent indicator of future success, and the long-limbed, energetic Odighizuwa registered two tackles for loss against the Buccaneers on Sunday night. The UCLA product actually led all 2021 rookie defensive tackles in plays in the backfield (quarterback hits and tackles for loss), and even as a rotational player, he should provide value as a depth defensive tackle capable of big plays on any given week.
Jordan Phillips, BUF
Phillips did his best work with Buffalo in 2018-19, and after two injury-plagued seasons in Arizona, the 2015 second-rounder returned to the Bills in the off-season. It was likely the game of his season (one and a half sacks, two solo tackles and two assists), but he looked dominant against L.A.’s overmatched offensive line on Thursday night. And he legitimately could be a fantasy factor this year if Ed Oliver’s ankle injury is of the nagging variety. And, how could you not want a piece of a 340-pounder with a sweet spin move? Football is fun.
#Bills DT Jordan Phillips…
1.5 sacks/5 pressures vs. LA.
Spin move here. Win the interior 1-on-1. pic.twitter.com/0omTX5XdLf
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) September 9, 2022
- Greg Gaines, LAR – He’s spoken for in most places, but just in case he gets dropped after a quiet week one, remember that he’s a good tackle who played 55 of 59 snaps for the Rams in the opener. Volume is almost always your friend.
- Grover Stewart, IND – Stewart shined with five solo tackles (two in the backfield) and a quarterback hit, and he’s one of the league’s better nose tackles, but playing two-gap over the center does not equate to consistent fantasy production.
Edwards moves like he’s wearing ankle weights but he’s the lone full-time linebacker in Philly. He’s taken in most places, but with full-time usage his line of five solos, two assists and a pass defensed should more-or-less a statistical floor. Just keep in mind that from a dynasty perspective, his contract voids after this season, and third-round pick Nakobe Dean is waiting in the wings if he shows anything during his rookie year.
Kamu Grugier-Hill, HOU
Give it up for Grugier-Hill. He may not be a good NFL linebacker, but he is a tackle machine who had a couple of absolute monster performances in 2021 – his first year receiving meaningful snaps. His 2022 debut was right up there with 14 solo tackles (one for loss), four assists and a pass defensed. You probably couldn’t get anything more than a fifth-round rookie pick for him if you were trying to move on in the off-season, so kudos if you held your ground and started him in week one. I’m not sure how many waiver wires he’s on, but if Houston is going to again count on him as one of its two full-time linebackers, he needs to be rostered.
Has Luvu, the former Jets edge, found a home at off-ball linebacker for the Panthers? Luvu shined in a contributing role during his first year in Carolina in 2021. He was talked up quite a bit during the off-season, and seemed to be receiving starter treatment during pre-season games. His stat line of five solo tackles, one assist and a quarterback hit wasn’t spectacular, but he outsnapped Shaq Thompson according to Pro Football Focus’ Jon Macri.
Looking into the crystal ball, Luvu – with a good showing this season – could be setting himself up well for the primary linebacker role in 2023 as well. While I’m not saying Carolina will look to jettison Thompson, that cap savings of more than $13 million will be more palatable if Luvu, who signed a relatively low-cost two-year deal in February, proves to be up to the challenge. He should be a priority add in leagues that he’s available.
- Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed, IND – Franklin (six solos, two assists) and Speed (seven total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble) had nice days but Shaquille Leonard’s return (he was inactive Sunday) looms large for their fantasy roster worthiness.
DeShon Elliott, DET
Elliott strikes me as an underrated NFL player who, after three years in Baltimore, is getting a prime opportunity to earn a long-term spot in Detroit. He’s a versatile defensive back with good size, and based on week one usage, the Lions may see him as a better box option than Tracy Walker. Elliott tallied six solos in his Detroit debut so he’s not likely to be highly sought out among available safeties if you’re looking for a bargain option on the wire.
Marcus Epps, PHI
Epps led the Eagles in tackles with eight solos (one for a loss) and two assists, and generally staked his claim to the safety spot opposite new addition Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. It’s a contract year for Epps – as well as Gardner-Johnson – so it’s hard to say he has any dynasty appeal, but he’s worth snagging if you find you need cheap safety help.
Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins, ATL
We had to wait through a year of Duron Harmon and Erik Harris, but we are finally seeing prominent roles for the Falcons’ safety duo of Grant (five solo tackles, five assists, one quarterback hit, one pass defensed) and Hawkins (five solos, one assist, one pass defensed). They seem to be playing interchangeable safety roles, with Hawkins in the box role slightly more often than Grant, but they both saw full-time work.
Talanoa Hufanga, SF
Hufanga had a coming-out party in week one, picking off Justin Fields and racking up nine solo tackles, two assists, and two tackles for loss. He’s a hard player to watch and not love – of course that’s coming from a fan of Troy Polamalu. Hufanga is a natural box safety, and I wondered after his rookie year if he’d be able to play in two-high sets, but I don’t know that it matters given the 49ers’ lack of decent options at the position. Even once Jimmie Ward returns to the field, Hufanga’s got a full-time gig locked up. Perhaps he’ll maintain fantasy relevance – something we haven’t really seen from a San Francisco safety in a while. Put in a nice bid for him if you need safety help.
Nick Scott, LAR
The Rams’ tandem of Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp seemed like sure-fire, full-time safeties who could provide (albeit inconsistent) low-end S2 or S3 production on the season. Scott stole the show in the season opener with his downhill physicality, and had a nice night sans being on the receiving end of a Josh Allen stiff arm. Scott, who converted to safety from running back at Penn State, forced two fumbles to go along with three solo tackles, four assists and a pass defensed.
Fuller, who may be struggling with an injury dating back to the pre-season, played just 18 snaps to Scott’s 52. It’s too early to dump Fuller in dynasty formats until we know for sure whether he’s been supplanted by Scott – plus both Rapp and Scott are in the final years of their rookie deals.
- Camryn Bynum, MIN – He killed it as a rookie when subbing in for Harrison Smith. He’s not quite as appealing playing alongside the veteran, and rookie Lewis Cine (inactive) will eventually come into play. Still, for now Bynum (four solos, three assists) is a good bench stash for future seasons or bye week starts.
- Grant Delpit, CLE – Delpit didn’t make much of a dent in the box score (two solos, one assist and an interception), but he was playing a full-time safety role, and he was playing half-time snaps in the box. If that type of usage is in the cards, better fantasy days should be ahead for the 2020 second-rounder.
- Darrick Forrest, WAS – Kamren Curl owners commiserate. This should have been his stat line: four solos, one assist, one interception, two passes defensed, one forced fumble. Forrest should only be in play for really big leagues, and only until Curl (inactive with a thumb boo-boo) returns to action.
- Jonathan Owens, HOU – I’m the first to admit I’d never heard of Jonathan Owens until Sunday. Yes, he caught my eye with 11 solos, four assists and one pass defensed. Given that he’s already 27 and has 179 NFL defensive snaps to his name before week one, I doubt there’s a future IDP asset here.
- Marcus Williams, BAL – Who says deep safeties can’t have big days? Williams logged ten solo tackles, two assists and an interception in his Ravens debut. That type of production is going to be tough to maintain if he’s mostly playing deep, which Williams does. Baltimore also played a high number of snaps against the Jets, so consider this week a bit of a statistical outlier for Williams.
Troy Hill, LAR
Hill was a starting fantasy cornerback when he was last with the Rams in 2020. He didn’t see the same snap volume in Cleveland in 2021, but he could be back to a near-full-time role with Los Angeles. In the opener, he played mostly outside with a handful of snaps in the slot, and led the Rams in tackles with six solos and two assists to go along with an interception. If you find yourself disappointed with your options at corner, Hill should look inviting if he’s on your waiver wire.
Nate Hobbs, LV
Hobbs impressed as a rookie slot defender and appears to have carried over his good play into 2022. The Raiders don’t have much to speak of in terms of quality corners (sorry, fans of Rock Ya-Sin and/or Anthony Averett), so Hobbs is set up to play plenty and pick up work on the outside in addition to slot duties. It wouldn’t surprise to see Hobbs with CB1 numbers on the season at the conclusion of 2022, so he’s worth dropping a little FAAB on even if you’re loath to do so on a corner.
Dane Jackson, BUF
Buffalo drafted Kaiir Elam to provide a playmaker opposite Tre’Davious White, but Jackson, who played all but two snaps in the opener, should warrant fantasy consideration until White returns from last season’s ACL injury. As long as Buffalo’s offense is clicking – and there’s no reason to think it won’t most weeks – the former Pitt Panther should see plenty of opportunity for big plays. Jackson collected an interception of Matthew Stafford to go along with four solos and an assist against the Rams.
Jeffrey Okudah, DET
The former third overall selection has had a rough start to his career. He looked over his head during an injury-plagued rookie season, then tore an Achilles in the 2021 opener. He could be on the verge of realizing his potential this season, and in the meantime, he’s going to be tested on the outside. His week one stat line of seven solo tackles, three assists and one pass defensed sound nice for fantasy’s sake.
- Kristian Fulton, TEN – I have a feeling Fulton (five solos, one assist, one forced fumble) is going to find his way into many of my starting lineups this season. He’s well positioned to lead Titans corners in snaps and production.