The season is moving right along, and three weeks in, you can pretty much leave 2020 in the past, and focus solely on what is happening in 2021. Much of our analysis early in the season is colored with what players and teams did last season, but the more information we get coming in, the past has less and less bearing how we should value players for this season. After all, those 2020 points can’t help you anymore. Let’s take a look at the top waiver wire target at each IDP position heading into Week 4.

To qualify for this article, player must be under 50% rostered on Fantrax. 

Defensive Line/EDGE

Javon Hargrave, Philadelphia Eagles

Javon Hargrave has been on fire to start the 2021 season in all facets of the game. The veteran defensive tackle is absolutely EATING, showing dominance against the run as well as the pass. As a pass rusher, he’s accumulated 4 sacks over the first three games, tied for 4th in the league, and #1 among interior defensive linemen. He also leads interior linemen in pressures (15) and pressure rate (25.4%), according to Next Gen Stats. His previous career high for sacks is only 6.5, and with 14 games to go, I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t shatter his personal best, perhaps even double it. 

He has also racked up 18 combined tackles, averaging 6 stops per game thus far. Just like with his pass rushing statistics, he’s on pave for a career year for tackles, as well as tackles for loss. If Hargrave continues at his current rate, he’ll finish 2021 with 102 combined tackles, obliterating his personal best of 60 with the Steelers in 2018. Over his first five NFL seasons, he’s averaged 5.4 TFLs per year…he already has 5 in three games! 

At only 46% rostered, he’s just sitting out there in the majority of leagues. Don’t be the one who writes off this production as unsustainable. Pick him up while you can, and reap the rewards.

Linebacker

Tae Crowder, New York Giants

The New York Giants are one of five teams still in search of a win this season, and unfortunately for their defense, they just lost their leader, Blake Martinez, to a torn ACL. Perhaps their biggest free agent addition last year, Martinez was an every-down middle linebacker who wore the green dot for the defense, so the loss goes beyond just his production. Speaking of production, he has been a locked-in LB1 for IDP rosters dating back to his time in Green Bay, so replacing those points in your weekly lineups won’t be easy. 

My recommendation is to turn to the Giants’ next man up, which looks to be second-year linebacker Tae Crowder.  The NFL Draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant” from 2020 is about to become very relevant very quickly. Considering his draft capital (or lack thereof), Crowder actually had a fairly productive rookie season. Not only did he make the team, which isn’t a given for a 7th round pick, but he got a decent amount of playing time. Martinez was the only full-time inside linebacker, but Crowder played the most snaps of any other Giants LB, as he was on the field for 37% of the team’s defensive plays. He turned that playing time into 56 combined tackles, also second among LBs to Martinez’s 151 stops. 

While we may not see 150+ tackles from Crowder, the opportunity will certainly be there in the absence of Martinez. Crowder played 98% of the snaps vs. Atlanta, including every snap after Martinez left the game. Joe Judge and company also entrusted Crowder with the green dot, which gave him the responsibility of relaying the plays to the rest of the defense. He finished the day with 11 combined tackles, which led the team, and I expect that to continue as long as he is trusted with the same amount of playing time moving forward. With journeyman Reggie Ragland and undrafted rookie Justin Hillard behind him on the depth chart, I expect the Giants to lean on Crowder like they did on Sunday. 

Defensive Back

Andrew Wingard, Jacksonville Jaguars

If you’d told me in the off-season that Andrew Wingard would be one of the starting safeties for the Jaguars, I would’ve called you crazy. After signing as a free agent, Rayshawn Jenkins was a lock, and he’s played every snaps for the Jags thus far. Across from him, however, was a wide open spot. 

There were two incumbents on the roster in Josh Jones and Jarrod Wilson, both looking to reclaim their respective roles from a year ago. Well, neither of those guys even made the 53 man roster. Jones is still unemployed, and Wilson is playing a part time role for the hapless Jets. Another candidate for starting spot was Andre Cisco, whom General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Urban Meyer selected at the top of the 3rd Round of the draft back in April. With the release of Jones and Wilson, I expected, as did many others, that Cisco had done enough in camp to earn the job. To quote the incomparable Lee Corso, “not so fast, my friend.” 

Prior to Week 1, Defensive Coordinator Joe Cullen stated that Wingard and Cisco would be in a rotation, while maintaining that Cisco wasn’t far behind Wingard. For the first couple of weeks, he was true to his word. Wingard was the starter in both weeks, and played the majority of the snaps, but he did come off the field for Cisco at times. The split in Week 1 was 70/30 in favor of Wingard, and Week 2 skewed slightly more in his favor at 74/26. In Week 3, however, the rotation was abandoned. Wingard played every snap against the Cardinals, while Cisco didn’t take a single snap on defense. This is obviously not good news if you were holding out hope for Cisco to take over anytime soon, as he’s played less and less with each consecutive week. Wingard, however, is available in 90% of Fantrax leagues, and as long as he keeps the job, he’s worth an add. He has had between 6 and 8 combined tackles each week, so the consistency is there. Those tackle numbers will likely only increase if Cullen has given up the on the rotation with Cisco. In dynasty, I still prefer Cisco, but it doesn’t look like the production will come as fast as we’d hoped.

 

Thanks for checking in, and as always you can find me on Twitter @CantALoupe_FF. Good luck in Week 4!