2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.6% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 61.8% Highest, 46.6% Lowest).
In a year that has seen more than its share of devastating injuries, IDP owners everywhere have been scrambling to fill holes left by their “sure-thing” draft picks. While some of those replacements have shown flashes at times (Jelani Jenkins, Jasper Brinkley), they have yet to truly dominate statistically like we saw in Week 9. The top three scoring IDPs for the week were Jacquian Williams, Chris Borland and K.J. Wright, all of whom got their starting jobs thanks to injuries to more proven commodities. We even saw huge weeks in big-play leagues from guys like James Harrison and Whitney Mercilus, who weren’t even really on the radar. Performances like these are often very difficult to see coming, but if you pull the right string, the payoff can be enormous. With another IDP mainstay down for the year (see you next year DeMeco), there is yet another opportunity to look towards an unproven backup (this time Casey Matthews) with a chance to shine.
Jacquian Williams – I just mentioned him, but any time a lightly owned IDP puts up 18 tackles, it’s time to take a second look. The Giants’ depth chart at LB has been a mess for the last couple of seasons, and never more so then it is right now (OurLads has Jameel McClain starting at both MLB and SLB, which sounds sub-optimal). Williams has been on the IDP radar for a while now, and he has finally broken out now that his playing time has increased. I don’t see anything special about his game, and I often get lost spelling his name, but he’s the guy to own in the Big Apple for the rest of the season.
Jamie Collins – Dont’a Hightower may have had the first big week after Jerod Mayo went down, but make no mistake that Collins is the LB to own in New England. Collins was considered the top sleeper/breakout candidate among LBs before the season started, but injuries and the presence of Mayo limited his production. Mayo’s unfortunate injury coincided with Collins looking healthy for the first time all year, so voila! We have ourselves a bona fide LB1.
Everson Griffen – He isn’t the household name that Jarred Allen was in Minnesota, but Griffen has quietly been on a tear lately, with 8 sacks in his last 5 games. Okay, maybe that’s not so quiet, but you don’t hear the talking heads of the world bringing him up alongside J.J. Watt. As an IDP owner, that’s just how I like it. With Griffen heading into the bye this week, and many owners not carrying a DL on their bench, you may have a chance to nab Griffen off the waiver wire. With a great ROS schedule, it’s worth a roster spot to get potentially elite production for free if you can.
Mark Barron – The most asked questions I got last week were about Barron, and justifiably so. Any time a top-10 player at a given position gets traded mid-season, uncertainty rules the day. How long will it take for him to learn the playbook? What role will he play in the new scheme? Has he found a new house yet or will he be renting? Barron only got in on Special Teams last week, and he’s expected to see limited time in the secondary this week. To me, that makes him unstartable. But on the flip side, if his stat line is terrible again, it makes him a buy low candidate. Stay tuned.
T.J. Ward – It’s about damned time! Another guy I’ve received several questions about, Ward has been nothing but disappointing all year, breaking the 5 tackle mark only once before last week. As I mentioned, the Pats are a great matchup for tackle-heavy safeties, and that rang true for Ward as well, as he tied his season high with 8 tackles. Looking forward, his schedule is middling at best, but for one week he at least looked the part of a startable DB.