IDP Corner: Week 14

Diving fully into end of the year strategy this week, opportunities for points must be found and while most teams have figured out by now if they have promoted a new player over a veteran of the team or not, injuries have run a bit rampant over the past week or two. So join me as we explore some players with chances to step in and fill some injured or suspended shoes.

Defensive Backs:

Jairus Byrd – With a suspension that will impact the Saints for the rest of the season Kenny Vaccaro’s shoes will be filled by Byrd (as far as a line up goes). Byrd already plays a decent amount of snaps, and other safety Roman Harper does as well, so Vonn Bell actually has the biggest upside in NO, but I think Byrd’s play will result in the best numbers over the last four games of the season. 

Anthony Harris – With the injury that likely will impact his team the most, Harrison Smith being out is a tough pill to swallow. MIN had a great streak of wins opening the season, and Smith’s play can often determine if the defense will be working in that game. Harris is the more senior of the two options that the Vikings have to replace Smith with, the other being rookie Jayron Kearse. Neither player has a great body of work to extract a decent expectation out of, so I lean to Harris due to him being with the team longer and having a better chance of understanding their playbook and knowing divisional rivals better. With Smith out for the rest of the season, if Harris or Kearse do a decent job, they could be a sneaky late season pickup that gets you through the fantasy playoffs.

Steven Terrell – Admittedly I’m far from a Seattle fan (full disclosure, NE fan since birth), so I wasn’t too torn up to see Earl Thomas end up on the IR. Over the past three weeks Thomas wasn’t producing too much, and Terrell has been stepping in for some of those lost fantasy points, now he will be grabbing the open starting spot. There are a good deal of talented players in the Seattle defense, so I don’t expect Terrell to shatter expectations here, but he’s been pulling in decent stats the past three weeks, and my expectation is that he will continue at about the same scoring rate. Deshawn Shead might be the guy who actually sees any significant up tick in point production.

Linemen:

Andre Branch – Not listed as fully out, but Mario Williams is currently coded as doubtful, and many lineups are currently listing Branch as the starter due to Williams missing 2 practices this week and was limited in an early week practice. Arizona gives up a good chunk of points to DEs and Branch has been playing well, so this could be a jumpstart to him stepping into a higher scoring bracket.

Romeo Okwara – With a sports hernia sidelining Jason Pierre-Paul for the rest of the regular season, Okwara and Kerry Wynn will be filling his shoes. Okwara looks like will be the starter for now, though he and Wynn have done relatively little this season, so this battle is a statistical coin flip currently. Also, look out for Damon Harrison to potentially play a bigger role than he has been, as far as point production goes.

Linebackers:

Mike Hull – Well, Miami’s LBs are in tough shape, Kiko Alonso is doubtful (and it seems like signs are pointing to out) and Jelani Jenkins is also doubtful (again seems like he’ll be out), both players have both an arm and a leg ailment. Hull will be filling in for Alonso while Donald Butler will be the likely starter for Jenkins, though Neville Hewitt has produced more than both players combined so far this season. Still, Hull is who stepped in when Alonso slowed off last week, and as a middle linebacker he has the best potential to grab points. Arizona typically does not give up many points to LBs but, you can expect them to attack this injury riddled point on Miami’s D, so there could be some surprise points incoming.

Edwin Jackson – The Colts’ defense can not catch a break this season, D’Qwell Jackson’s suspension is just the next item in what can only be described as a season that is a comedy of errors. First the Colts cut their leading tackler in Sio Moore after week 4 (who was not playing into their system, and basically just doing whatever), and then they have just been repeatedly hit with injury after injury. Currently, Antonio Morrison and Akeem Ayers are listed as the two starting middle LBs in Indy, but Edwin Jackson has been the MLB that has been putting up points over the past three weeks. He is criminally under owned right now, and with it looking like OLB Robert Mathis will be out for a second week (even though he says he has a “Good Shot” at coming back, he was out due to a bicep tear, and it is no fun trying to arm tackle when coming back from that injury), I think Edwin will be the player to grab.

Joe Thomas – In short Nick Perry is out, Blake Martinez is questionable, and Jake Ryan didn’t come back all that great against HOU last week. Thomas, hasn’t been amazing but, he has been consistent since the day before halloween this year. Ryan was playing well earlier this season, and reports say Julius Peppers and Datone Jones will get more playing time, but they will be needed on the line this week, not in the midfield. I think after this week Ryan may be the better player to eye til Perry is back from his hand surgery.

Travis Freeney – The Saints just signed Freeney off of the Steelers practice squad. While the Saints’ D line has plenty of sacks, the LBs are sorely deficient in that category, so Freeney speed could get him on the field to help mix up their relatively vanilla play style. Currently he’s just a player on my radar, but should this weekend go well for him, it might be a good time to buy next week.

Good luck to everyone with the coming games this weekend, and as always if you have questions feel free to reach out via twitter to me @decoylife or the other gurus  @TFFGurus, @DaFantasyFather, and @TheFantasyBoys.

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