|Week 4||54.3%||15 out of 21||59.9%||31.5%||Top 75%|
|2015||59.2%||5 out of 19||61.9%||50.1%||Top 30%|
In August, it’s easy to draft a guy who’s going to miss the first four games with a suspension. “I’ll be patient,” you tell yourself. “I’m getting him at a discount, and worst-case scenario I’ll be 2-2 when he comes back.” You probably also talked yourself into Jeff Janis and Devin Funchess. As soon as the games start, things change, and even the best laid plans can go awry. I bring this up because both Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy return from suspension this week, and there is a decent chance that at least one of them is on your waiver wire. If that’s the case, pick them up NOW. McClain had a resurgent 2014, proving himself as a borderline weekly starter when he was healthy. I’d be hesitant to start him this week, as he will likely rotate with Anthony Hitchens, but given the uncertainty surrounding Sean Lee’s concussion status, McClain is absolutely worth picking up. The bigger deal is obviously Hardy, who has the potential to inject some life into what has been a miserable DL position so far in 2015. He immediately becomes a top-20 DL, with top-5 upside.
I led with that positive news, because the rest of the news from Week 4 is all injury-related. The headline goes to Alec Ogletree, who will likely miss most of the season, if not all of it, with an ankle injury. But in addition to Ogletree and the aforementioned Lee (who is supposedly going to be fine), injuries of varying degrees were suffered by Paul Posluszny (ankle), Jelani Jenkins (shoulder), Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), Jerrell Freeman (hamstring), David Harris (knee), Calvin Pryor (knee) and Antrel Rolle (ankle). There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding all of these players, not to mention guys like Luke Kuechly, who still haven’t returned to the field from previous injuries. This makes roster management and managing the waiver wire more important than ever. I’m happy to answer specific questions in the Comments section, but as a rule I wouldn’t panic in the face of injuries if I’m .500 or better. If I’m 1-3 or 0-4, it’s time to make moves so I would try to sell low on injured players or bite the bullet and drop them for better options.
But enough of the bad news, here are the bright spots from Week 4:
Stephon Tuitt – As I mentioned above, this has been a rough year for the big guys up front in IDP leagues. J.J. Watt has shown off his usual dominance, but there are disappointments all across the league (specifically in Miami and Buffalo), and IDP owners have been left scrambling. Enter Tuitt, currently DL2 on the year, who has put on a tour de force the last three weeks, with 21 tackles and 3.5 sacks. I expected this to be the year that Cameron Heyward became an every week starter, which has been the case, but I did not see this level of play coming from his bookend. Given the lack of high-ceiling options out there, as well as his matchup, I have Tuitt as one of my biggest one-week risers of all time.
Ziggy Ansah -There was considerable doubt that Ansah would even play last week after a painful-sounding groin injury, and given that he played on MNF, I wouldn’t have blamed you for looking elsewhere. But you would have been wrong, as Ansah raised some serious hell in Seattle’s backfield, putting up three tackles and two sacks. His numbers understate the impact he had, and given the departures that Detroit’s front four has faced since last season, his 4 sacks in four games is even more impressive. I was probably too low on Ansah in the preseason, because he is one of the few legit studs that we have left at DL.
Malcolm Smith – There has been a ton of turnover at Linebacker for the Raiders. It started with the signing of Curtis Lofton, followed by shifting Khalil Mack to DE (not in most IDP leagues yet, however), trading Sio Moore, and ending with promoting and then demoting Ray Ray Armstrong as a three-down LB. The one constant through all of that has been Smith, who looked for a while like he might go down as nothing more than the answer to a trivia question. Smith’s play in Oakland has been a revelation, and for IDP owners, he’s been an unlikely LB1 through four weeks. He will never be the most talented player, but he has a nose for the ball, and will rack up consistent points in both run and pass coverage through tackles. If you bought low on him I applaud you, and if for some reason he’s still out there, I’d move on him as a legit LB2 for the rest of the season.
Hau’oli Kikaha – Before the season, the rookie LB in NOLA on everyone’s mind was first rounder Stephone Anthony. And after a slow start, Anthony has started to deliver on his pedigree. But the true stud so far has been his second round counterpart. Kikaha was a sleeper before the season, but there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding how he would be used. He’s got above average pass rush skills, but as a 4-3 OLB, Kikaha would need to be more versatile than he showed in college. He’s delivered so far, with 26 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in four games. Things are not looking great for New Orleans, but they seem to have found their LB duo of the future.
Jonathan Cyprien – It’s about time! I had Cyprien ranked as my #2 DB heading into the season, but injuries and ineffectiveness have gotten his season off to a rocky start. He bounced back with a vengeance against the Colts, racking up 14 tackles and a fumble recovery to lead the way among DBs in Week 4. As long as he stays healthy, Cyprien remains one of the highest ceiling DBs out there, but I wouldn’t want to pair him with another injury risk like Charles Woodson, because it’s hard enough to justify holding one extra DB on your roster, let alone two.
Josh Norman – If you’ve watched any highlight shows this week, you’ve heard Norman’s name on loop as the next shutdown corner in the NFL. As an IDP owner, that’s usually bad news. Quarterbacks tend to avoid throwing the ball near shutdown corners. I’m not sold on Norman as that big of a threat yet, but I’m still not super high on him, despite his DB2 status on the year (behind Reshad Jones, who may or may not be my man crush). For one, Norman has relied heavily on the big play to put up his points, with 4 interceptions in four games, including 2 pick sixes. But primarily, I just don’t see a former 5th round pick turning into a shutdown corner or an IDP starter in his 4th season, with no prior evidence that he has the talent to do so. With a bye this week, I see no reason to treat Norman as anything other than a streamer at DB.