Bye week blues got you feeling down? Gary Davenport is here to turn that frown upside down with his favorite IDP sleepers for Week 7 of the fantasy football season.
No, I’m not talking about the pivotal battle between American forces and the Japanese navy in June of 1942. I’m talking about something much more important.
The battle to keep seasons afloat at the midway point of the fantasy football regular season.
Sure, it’s great if you’re sitting at 6-0 or 5-1 so far this year. But for every fantasy squad that’s riding high six weeks into the year, there’s a 3-3 or 2-4 team scrambling like crazy to keep the season from coming off the rails. It’s not even Halloween yet, and already many fantasy owners are hip-deep in desperation mode.
And even if the season’s going well, there are other considerations like playoff seeding, first-round byes and the good old-fashioned All-American desire to step on your opponent’s neck.
Of course, there are a number of factors that make keeping things rolling as we crest halfway hill difficult. Week 7 brings with it another four-team bye-week. Prominent IDPs like linebacker Joe Schobert of the Cleveland Browns and rookie sensation Devin Bush of the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t playing this week. Nether are injured players like Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap and Los Angeles Rams safety John Johnson thanks to injuries.
There is no shortage of IDP owners scavenging the waiver wire for IDP sleepers owned in a low percentage of the fantasy football leagues at Fantrax (say 20 percent or less, just for the sake of argument) who have a good shot at a solid statistical effort in Week 7.
That rather felt like a segue.
WEEK 7 IDP SLEEPERS
Alex Okafor – DE, Kansas City Chiefs (at DEN) (12 Percent Owned)
The Kansas City Chiefs made a number of big-name additions this year in free agency, including defensive end Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu. The addition of Okafor didn’t make the same splash, but Dan Schmelzer of NFL Mocks talked up his addition as one of the most underrated moves the defending AFC West champs made in 2019.
“Okafor is an incredibly powerful player who sets the edge well, can maintain leverage against blockers and has useful upside as a pass rusher,” he said. “With the Saints the past two seasons and Arizona Cardinals earlier in his career, Okafor was used a lot in stunt situations as a pass rusher and he showed up well in those particular scenarios.”
The Chiefs have been struggling of late, but Okafor’s quietly been solid—six tackles and a sack in his last two games. Thursday night’s matchup with the Denver Broncos isn’t a great one from a fantasy perspective, but the Chiefs will be fired up and looking to get things back on track after dropping two games in a row.
John Simon – DE, New England Patriots (at NYJ) (10 Percent Owned)
Heading into his second season with the Patriots, not a lot was expected from Simon in 2019. But as Mike Dussault wrote for the team’s website, head coach Bill Belichick praised Simon as an ideal Patriots lineman—an unheralded but hard-working lunchpail type who comes to Boston and starts playing over his head.
“[John’s] a very instinctive player, he’s got excellent playing strength, a great motor,” said Belichick. “He does a good job of finding the ball and diagnosing plays, be they runs, passes, or plays that guys on the end of the line of scrimmage have to handle, misdirection plays, screens, things like that.”
Through six games, it’s been Simon—and not Michael Bennett—who has emerged as the D-Lineman to own in IDP leagues in Beantown. This isn’t to say that he’s put up gaudy numbers, but over the last three weeks, he’s been a top-25 defensive lineman. In Week 7, Simon and the Patriots get a New York Jets team that ranks among the three most generous teams in the NFL to his position this season.
Najee Goode – OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars (at CIN) (2 Percent Owned)
There was a surprise in Jacksonville just prior to last week’s game with the New Orleans Saints—rookie linebacker Quincy Williams was benched in favor of veteran journeyman Najee Goode. Per the team’s website, head coach Doug Marrone was impressed with the 30-year-old’s performance.
“I thought he played well,” Marrone said. “I think you’re always going to want some plays back, especially early on in the game. You look at the first half and we really struggled early on [on offense] and I think the first half we gave up 11 yards rushing. So, that second level, and being at the right place and making sure that we handle our gaps is important. I thought he made some good plays in space; he made some nice open-field tackles. I thought he did a very good job. So again, we’re still working with Quincy [Williams]. We’re still going to keep bringing him along and we’ll just take it week-by-week and a lot of it depends on what’s in the game plan and what we’re trying to get accomplished of who plays.”
Goode had six total tackles and a pass defended in the loss to New Orleans, and while he’s hardly a game-changing talent he was far better than Williams has looked of late. For the time being at least, Goode’s locked into a three-down role for the Jags—and that makes him IDP-relevant.
David Mayo – ILB, New York Giants (vs. ARZ) (12 Percent Owned)
Speaking of veteran journeymen, Mayo’s not as old as Goode, but he’s gotten around—the Giants mark his third team in four-plus NFL seasons. However, as Nick Falato wrote for Big Blue View, after averaging 10 tackles a game over the last three weeks in New York it appears that Mayo may have found a long-term landing spot.
“Mayo has had three starts with the New York Giants; it hasn’t been perfect, but he’s shown an exceptional ability to key and diagnose run plays while aggressively coming downhill and forcing negative plays for the opposing offense,” he said. “According to Pro Football Focus, Mayo ranks third in rush defense (grade of 82.1), second in overall defense (grade of 78.6), and fourth in stops (12) on the New York Giants defense.”
Over that same three-game span, Mayo ranks among the top-10 linebackers in all of fantasy football. Expecting that to keep up may not be reasonable, but Mayo appears entrenched next to Alec Ogletree ahead of a surprisingly favorable fantasy matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.
Marqui Christian – S, Los Angeles Rams (at ATL) (1 Percent Owned)
As Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire wrote, Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay indicated before John Johnson hit IR that it would be Christian, and not rookie Taylor Rapp, who will take over the starting job at strong safety. DaSilva then went on to question whether that was the best idea McVay’s ever had.
“So why Christian over Rapp,” he asked? “After all, the rookie (Rapp) has played 187 snaps this season – while missing one game due to injury – compared to just 68 snaps for Christian. Rapp has been the better player through six games, too. Christian isn’t great in coverage and has missed three tackles on 11 total attempts. That’s a missed-tackle rate of 27.3%, which would rank seventh in the NFL if he met the minimum number of attempts to qualify.”
Here’s the thing—IDP owners shouldn’t care even a little whether Christian is great or terrible—at least not in the short-term. All that matters is that Christian will (per McVay, at least) draw the Week 7 start against an Atlanta Falcons team that is allowing the most fantasy points to defensive backs by a sizable margin.
Troy Hill – CB, Los Angeles Rams (at ATL) (2 Percent Owned)
For the second straight week, the defensive back recommendations in this piece contain a cornerback and safety that play for the same team. For the second straight week, that team just so happens to face the Atlanta Falcons in their next game.
This is not a coincidence.
The flurry of trades that sent cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore and brought All-Pro Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles made all sorts of headlines this week. But there was one more ripple effect that went largely unnoticed after those moves were made and veteran cornerback Aqib Talib was placed on injured reserve.
Fourth-year veteran Troy Hill will move into the starting lineup on the outside opposite Ramsey. It’s a spot where Hill has already shown he can put up numbers when afforded the opportunity. If there’s one thing there won’t be any shortage of Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s opportunities for cornerbacks to make plays.
Got a few IDP sleepers of your own? Let us know about them in the comments below. You don’t get to say, “I told you so,” if you don’t tell us so.
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