Perhaps a wacky Week 8 in IDP fantasy streaming should have prepared us for the wacky trade deadline of Week 9. Our recommendations ran the full gamut from being injured in the game to being benched before it.
For example, Bengals end Michael Johnson played just 26 snaps before leaving with a back injury and had just one tackle. Our other end, the Chiefs Chris Jones, played just 37 snaps but was able to manage three tackles. Our linebacker, Nigel Bradham, turned in a predictably productive outing with five tackles and a pass defended. Our defensive backs left a lot to be desired as Eddie Jackson, fresh off two touchdowns the week before, managed just one tackle and had his streak of a game with a pass defended end at four. Of course, that was better than our cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who ended up being benched before the Chiefs Monday night game against Denver. It’s safe to say we won’t be recommending him again anytime soon.
But it’s a new week and several teams are on byes, forcing us to ramp up our IDP streamers. Let’s see who we should play this week.
Even before the devastating news of Deshaun Watson’s torn ACL, Anderson was an attractive option this week. He’s recorded a sack two weeks in a row, which includes his best game of the season in Week 8 with seven tackles, three for a loss and even a blocked field goal for good measure. In all fairness, his productivity came out of nowhere. Before Week 7, he didn’t have a game with more than two tackles and had zero sacks. It was only in Week 7 that he had three tackles and a forced fumble before his big game last week.
But Anderson has a couple more things going for him this week. First, opportunity. Besides edge rusher Jabaal Sheard, Anderson’s seen the most snaps along the Colts defensive line over the course of the season, seeing about 41 snaps per game. He also faces a Texans offensive line that ranks as the second-worst pass-blocking unit according to PFF. And with Watson’s injury, the Colts will be facing Tom Savage, who was sacked an incredible six times in one half in Week 1 before being benched for Watson. Between the offensive line and the lack of ability to not get sacked from Savage, Anderson will have a good chance to put up big numbers again this week.
Each week, I continue to be amazed that Woodyard isn’t played more in IDP leagues. No, he doesn’t make the same big plays as typical LB1s or 2s, but he plays every down and is about as sure thing as there is for 8-10 tackles a game. As in, he has eight tackles in all but one game this season and currently sits 15th in the league in tackles on the season at 57. Woodyard now draws the Ravens, who give up the most fantasy points to off-ball linebackers. They’ve also given up 13 tackles the last few weeks to their opponents’ top tackler, Lawrence Timmons of Miami last week and Eric Kendricks of the Vikings the week before.
But it’s not just tackles that Woodyard is good for. He’s created eight pressures out of 43 pass-rush snaps for a 15.1 percent pass-rush productivity rate, good for 11th out of 51 qualifying linebackers. He also sees a healthy amount of targets his way, seeing 33 so far, good for 13th out of 47 qualifying linebackers. Joe Flacco has averaged one-pick-per-game so Woodyard has a good shot to contribute there too. Either way, Woodyard may not have a high ceiling but has a higher floor than most.
It’s been three years since Matthews recorded double-digit sacks in a season, and isn’t nearly as effective anymore but he still sees the field a ton and has plenty of opportunities to fill the stat sheet. A perfect example of this dichotomy is Matthews doesn’t have a game with more than five tackles this season but he’s still recorded 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defended.
This week, Matthews gets the Lions, who will provide ample opportunities to make a play. For starters, the Lions run an average of 65.7 plays per game, good for seventh in the league. The Lions also give up the fourth-most sacks per game at 3.6. The Lions also give up the eighth-most fantasy points to edge rushers — great news for Matthews, who rushes the quarterback over 90 percent of the time.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers will go with Brett Hundley again at quarterback after the broken collarbone to Aaron Rodgers. If the last game Hundley started is similar, the opposing team’s offense will have the ball a lot. In Week 7 it was the Saints who had the ball at Green Bay for over 36 minutes and 75 offensive plays. If the Packers defense has to see 75 plays again, Matthews would be hard-pressed to not have a decent day.
While Karl Joseph is the more popular Raiders safety, Nelson has actually had a very similar stat line this season. Nelson has 44 tackles to Joseph’s 46, while Nelson has two passes defended compared to Joseph's three. All that despite the fact that Joseph has seen six more targets his way. So it’s curious, this season anyway, that Joseph is consistently ranked much higher than Nelson.
The Raiders play the Dolphins this week and Nelson should see plenty of opportunity. The Dolphins pass an average of 35 times per game and may pass even more now that running back Jay Ajayi has been shipped out. Miami also is the fourth-worst when it comes to throwing interceptions at 1.3 per game with quarterback Jay Cutler throwing a pick in five straight games. And even though Nelson has only two passes defended this season, he’s actually had double-digit passes defended three seasons running so he’s fully capable of improving that number quickly.
A week ago, the leading tacklers for the Dolphins’ opponent, The Ravens, were both members of the secondary in a Ravens blowout with Miami behind most of the game. Currently, the Raiders are three-point favorites against Miami, which, if that holds, could mean a lot of pass attempts for the Dolphins if they’re behind early.
After last week’s whiff of a cornerback, we won’t be deterred in recommending another. After missing the first two games to injury, Crawley has played every snap since and played quite well, improving on his rookie season last year and is currently PFF’s 20th-ranked cornerback. Through only five games, he has 24 tackles but, more importantly, has seven passes defended so far including a pick. In Tampa, the Saints opponent this week, Crawley should see plenty of action. Tampa Bay is second in the league in pass attempts at 39.9 per game and if that wasn’t enough, they also give up the seventh-most fantasy points to cornerbacks.
A big reason for that is Tampa's quarterback, Jameis Winston. He currently ranks 26th out of 31 ranked quarterbacks in PFF’s adjusted completion percentage and is coming off his worst game of the season, passing for 210 yards, no touchdowns and two picks. If the Saints defense, which averages three sacks a game, can get to Winston, he’s only 22nd in PFF’s QB rating if he has 2.5 seconds or less to throw and should lead to more mistakes.