The first couple of weeks are arguably the most important for fantasy owners as those hidden/unexpected waiver wire gems are just sitting out there for the taking. Through careful research and a little bravado on your part, these early season pickups could be the difference in you winning your league or not.
With this said, let's get right to the Guru's waiver wire selections for this week.
1. DE Jabaal Sheard (CLE) - I've had Sheard listed as a sleeper in my Weekly IDP Rankings (IDP) in each of the first two weeks of the season. He was one of the more NFL-ready ends coming out of the draft this season and will likely see more snaps at his position than any other rookie in the league. He already has 5 tackles for loss this year and notched his first NFL sack last week. Scoop him up now and insert him into your DL3 spot.
2. RDE Michael Johnson (CIN) - Johnson is another young defensive end that is really starting to grow on me. In his first two seasons in the league, Johnson was playing in a fairly foreign position at outside linebacker (quite unsuccessfully). With that experiment over, he has now moved into a near every down defensive end role. The significant increase in snaps along with Johnson's improved play against the run have catapulted him into the DL2+ tier. He has four favorable matchups in the next four weeks as well. It's time to jump on the bandwagon.
3. RDE Derrick Morgan (TEN) - Due to injuries, Morgan has done close to nothing since entering the league last season. As a result, many owners (even those in dynasty leagues) have given up on him. Morgan showed last week that owners may have made a mistake. Admittingly Morgan is probably still in the DL4/5 range for the majority of this season as he is still getting up to game speed after missing all of the preseason due to injury. But, he's worth a bench spot in dynasty leagues. He's got the skills to be a top 10-15 linemen in the league if he can just stay healthy.
4. DT Cullen Jenkins (PHI) - Jenkins was somewhat miscast in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme and seems much more comfortable playing as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He's already registered 3 sacks this season and could be on his way to double digit sacks before season's end. Considering the quality of the cornerbacks in Philly and Jenkins nonstop motor, you have to consider him a DT1/DT3+ until proven otherwise.
5. RDE Will Smith (NO) - For those struggling at the defensive line position, Will Smith could be a sneaky pickup. He's likely available on a lot of waiver wires as he was serving a two game suspension for his involvement in STARCAPS. He may take a couple of weeks to get back into the groove of things, but I expect DL3+ numbers at minimum and possibly much higher now that he has some better talent surrounding him on the defensive line.
1. SILB Navarro Bowman (SF) - It has been Bowman, not perennial IDP stud Patrick Willis, that has led the 49ers in tackles in each of the first two weeks of the season. When watching the game film on Bowman, it becomes evident that he's destined to be a special type of linebacker and is good enough to compete with Willis for tackles on a week to week basis. At age 33, Takeo Spikes put up 81 solo tackles playing alongside Willis last season and I see no reason Bowman can't beat that number. Expect 85-90 solos out of Bowman this season which is good enough for LB2 status in most leagues.
2. MLB Dan Connor (CAR) - I warned against picking up Connor last week due to the fact that even with the injury to Jon Beason, he would remain a two down linebacker. With this said, Dan "Not the One from Roseanne" Connor put up a stinky stat line of 2-0-0 in Week 2. However, due to the tragic and potentially career-ending ACL tear suffered by Thomas Davis, Connor's value is likely to skyrocket. He's the best bet to play alongside James Anderson in nickel packages and you can bet the Panthers defense as a whole will see a lot of tackle opportunity as opposing offenses will look to run it directly at their suspect set of linebackers. Connor, a Penn State alum, plays a lot like two other former Penn State players, Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee. Assuming he becomes an every down linebacker, Connor has a decent probability for low LB1 numbers.
3. MLB Mason Foster (TB) - Foster entered the season on my IDP sleeper list. However, after news came out that he was going to play a limited role to start the season, his value took a significant hit in my books. His solid box score numbers from Week 2 (7-3-1 with a FF) were a result of a high number of rushing attempts by the Vikings and an injury to fellow linebacker Quincy Black which allowed Foster to play in subpackages. Foster still has a lot to learn about being a MLB in a Cover-2 based defensive scheme and is likely to return to a two down role when Black is healthy enough to return to action (probably this week). My advice is to let Foster hang on the waiver wire in redraft leagues unless you are looking for depth at the LB4/5 position. He remains a great pickup in dynasty leagues, however.
4. WLB Wesley Woodyard (DEN) - With DJ Williams still questionable to play this week against the Titans, Woodyard may get another start. In spot fill-ins, Woodyard has proven that he can put up impressive fantasy numbers. He had 13 tackles last week (10 solo) and 6 tackles the week before. Obviously, he's not going to be a long-term solution for owners at the linebacker position, but he can provide LB2 value as long as Williams is out.
5. SILB Rocky McIntosh/WLB Thomas Howard (WAS/CIN) - The upside of both of these players is limited, but that doesn't mean they can't be worthwhile additions to your IDP roster in deeper leagues. Both are every down players on defenses that receive above average tackle opportunity and have produced consistent box score numbers for a better part of their careers. If you pick their weekly matchups wisely, they are nice bye week/injury fill-ins.
1. SS Jon McGraw (KC) - I mentioned McGraw in last week's IDP Waiver Wire article as one of the top free agents to target at his position. In Week 2, he continued to put up strong numbers as he had 10 total tackles and an interception. There are a couple of reasons why a mediocre talent such as McGraw is putting up such surprising numbers. First, he plays on a defense that is receiving a high amount of tackle opportunity. Secondly, the Chiefs play McGraw as in-the-box strong safety bringing him close to the line of scrimmage. And lastly, McGraw has been sliding into an OLB role in subpackages (a la Bryan Scott from a few years ago). As long as Kansas City continues to use McGraw is this fashion, he's going to put up DB2+ numbers.
2. SS Morgan Burnett (GB) - Burnett somehow managed to top his Week 1 fantasy performance (14 total tackles) in Week 2 with 7 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 INT, and 2 pass deflections. It's not likely that he is available on your waiver wire, but if he is, grab him. There is one caveat, however; now that free safety Nick Collins is out for the year, Burnett may have to take on more coverage duties which will take him further away from the ball and tackle opportunity. Even if this is the case, he's a DB2 in the worst case scenario.
3. LCB Jason McCourty (TEN) - The cornerback positions in Tennessee have been extremely productive over the last couple of seasons from a fantasy perspective (e.g. Cortland Finnegan, Alterraun Verner). McCourty won the starting corner job opposite Cortland Finnegan this off-season and hasn't looked back. He's got good size for the position and with the Titans' propensity to keep their defense on the field for an above average amount of time, he could very well finish the season as a top 7 CB.
4. LCB Antoine Winfield (MIN) - Winfield is a player that has managed to fall through the cracks of many waiver wires over the last couple of seasons. He's not even rostered in some of my deeper leagues and I don't really understand why. He's perhaps the best tackling cornerback in the league who receives ample opportunity due to Minnesota's use of Cover-2 defensive schemes. I'm not saying he's going to continue to put up 11 solo tackles every week, but he has had 70+ solo tackles six times in his career and is worth a mention in the elite fantasy cornerback category.
5. FS/CB Antrel Rolle (NYG) - With all the injuries to the cornerback position, Rolle has been asked to move into a slot corner position in nickel subpackages. Playing closer to the line on third downs has had a definite positive effect on Rolle's tackle numbers as he already has 22 total tackles through the first two games. Expect that production to continue for a good part of the season as the Giants are still a few weeks away from getting Prince Amukamura back.
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Last Updated: September 20, 2011 Related Posts: