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WEEK 12 IDP SLEEPERS: Mining for Stretch-Run Fantasy Gold

Gary Davenport is here with his favorite Week 12 IDP sleepers to help you plug the holes and keep your team afloat as we head toward fantasy playoff time.

I’m not making this any easier on myself.

With the fantasy playoff stretch run kicking into high gear, IDP owners in need of spot-starters can’t afford to miss when they insert a sleeper into the lineup. All it takes is one bad stat line to lead to a loss. In many cases, that one loss is all it takes to seal the deal and kill off postseason aspirations once and for all.

I need to hit on these, dagnabbit. And in at least two cases last week here at FantraxHQ, I most assuredly did.

The very first player I recommended in last week’s column was Oakland Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, who went on to explode for four sacks against the Cincinnati Bengals and finish Week 11 as the single highest-scoring defensive lineman in the league.

The next-to-last one I recommended was New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams. He sealed a win for the Saints over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a pick-six—and sealed more than a few IDP victories in the process.

I don’t mention these players because I’m looking for an attaboy. I give myself plenty of those, because I’m special and I like me, by golly. I mention them simply to demonstrate that there are players owned in 20 percent or fewer of the IDP leagues ot Fantrax who are capable of producing the kinds of stat lines that can win you a week. There is gold hidden in the depths of your IDP league’s waiver wire.

You just have to know where to dig.

My shovel, please.

For more help getting ready for NFL Week 12, check out our Waiver Wire Recommendations and  FAAB Guide.


Jarran Reed – DT, Seattle Seahawks (at PHI) (19 Percent Owned)

The Seattle pass rush has been stuck in neutral most of the 2019 season. But even when it was generating little pressure a few weeks back, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told Brady Henderson of ESPN that he was confident the return of tackle Jarran Reed from suspension would give the unit a big boost.

“Again, I think this is something you guys are going to worry about a lot more than I am, really, Carroll said at the time. We’d love to get more sacks. We’d love to have more hits on the quarterback whenever because that gives us the ball for the most part. We just want to keep battling away.”

Sure enough, in Seattle’s huge Week 10 win over the previously unbeaten 49ers, the Seahawks pass rush looked light-years better. Reed, who had 10.5 sacks during a breakout 2018 season Seattle, was a big part of that—he tallied four tackles, a forced fumble and his first 1.5 sacks of the 2019 season. Simply put, Reed’s too good a player to be this widely available, and he appears to be rounding into shape.

Chad Thomas – DE, Cleveland Browns (vs. MIA) (5 Percent Owned)

By virtue of the indefinite suspension handed down to star defensive end Myles Garrett, there is now a gaping hole on one end of the Browns defensive line. That hole will be filled Sunday by second-year pro, Chad Thomas, and Cleveland D-line coach Tosh Lupoi thinks that Thomas has the talent to become a quality starter in the NFL.

“That’s all up to Chad,” Lupoi said, via Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository. “His play has improved if you evaluate him from week to week. He takes it seriously. He’s accountable. He has the length, the ability, the change of direction. … He can transition and rush. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s capable of playing as a quality starter in this league. That’ll be a matter of how important it is to him.”

Thomas has made two starts this year in place of the injured Olivier Vernon and has recorded a sack in each of his last two games—including last Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’ll be a full-time player from here out, beginning this week in a prime IDP matchup with a Miami Dolphins team that has given up over 40 sacks in 10 games in 2019.

James Burgess – ILB, New York Jets (vs. OAK) (9 Percent Owned)

Since going undrafted out of Louisville, James Burgess has been on the practice squad of half a dozen NFL teams. It’s where he started this season as well. But as injuries tore through the Jets ILB corps, Burgess went from practice squad to active roster to playing every snap last week against the Washington Redskins—and doing so pretty well.

“Following season-ending injuries to ILBs Blake Cashman and Albert McClellan, this third-year pro who played for Gase’s 2018 Dolphins got activated from the practice squad,” Steven Blush of The Jet Press wrote. “Against the Redskins in Landover, MD, the son of former NFL, CFL, and All-XFL linebacker James Burgess led this defense with five solo tackles, four assists, and 0.5 sacks. And Jr. covered tight ends well enough that there were no huge plays over the middle.”

Admittedly, Burgess probably isn’t any kind of long-term answer for the Jets inside—once Avery Williamson and C.J. Mosley are healthy again he’ll as likely as not be looking for work again. But in Week 12 Burgess is going to be a three-down linebacker against the Oakland Raiders. And right now, that’s all that matters.

Nick Kwiatkoski – ILB, Chicago Bears (vs. NYG) (18 Percent Owned)

This isn’t the first time that Kwiatkoski has stepped into a starting role for the Bears—last week’s tilt with the Los Angeles Rams marked the fourth-year pro’s 16th career start. But as defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano told Larry Mayer of the team’s website, the ease with which Kwiatkoski can go from reserve to starter is a rarity—even at the game’s highest level.

“It’s preparation,” said Pagano. “We ask them all to come in and prepare like starters and ‘Kwit’ is a guy that does that. He’s kind of the poster child for that guy. It’s a great example for any of the other guys that are sitting in a backup role right now and play a major role on special teams; how to be a pro, how to go about your business day-in and day-out when your number’s called. He’s sure stepped up and done a great job for us.”

Yes, I recommended Kwiatkoski a week ago in this column. Yes, he didn’t do a whole lot—four total tackles in a Sunday night loss in Los Angeles. But that stat line came in a bottom-10 fantasy matchup for linebackers I was hoping he could buck. This week the Bears host a New York Giants team that leads the NFL in fantasy points per game surrendered to the position.

Ricardo Allen – S, Atlanta Falcons (vs. TBB) (14 Percent Owned)

After playing terrible defensive football the first half of the season, the Atlanta Falcons have looked like an entirely different team over their last two games. While speaking with Kelsey Conway of the team’s website, sixth-year safety Ricardo Allen credited improved execution at all three levels of the defense for the dramatic turnaround.

“They’ve been causing disruption,” Allen said of the defensive line. “The quarterback can barely keep his eyes down the field. Once he does, the secondary, we’ve been playing tight enough coverage, people aren’t just getting the easy access down the field anymore. I think it’s a double combination of the reason we’re getting interceptions is because last week, the defensive line came out and started showing people if you don’t get the ball out fast enough, we’re going to get sacks. Today, he was trying to get the ball out, and we were still able to get pressure, and we made plays in the secondary.”

Allen snared one of those interceptions last week against the Carolina Panthers, pitching in six total tackles. Since the bye, the Falcons have playing Allen in more of a box safety role. It’s helped key both better defensive play from the team and better stats from Allen ahead of Sunday’s NFC South showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Juston Burris – S, Cleveland Browns (vs. MIA) (5 Percent Owned)

It’s not just Myles Garrett who the Browns lost last week against the Steelers—strong safety Morgan Burnett went down with what turned out to be a season-ending Achilles tear. That means that journeyman safety Juston Burris will start Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, and Jake Burns of 247 Sports believes Burris is up to the task.

“The challenge for Burris will be showing not only can he hold down a spot in a depleted secondary, but also show he can be an answer when all things are even,” Burns said. “He has the ability and he has shown he can do just that. An effective tackler who is comfortable playing in space or close to the line of scrimmage. His former cover skills as a corner play well in his new safety role and does well seeking out and feeling route combinations.”

The start will be Burris’ eighth in the NFL, and the former North Carolina State standout has shown this season he can make an impact on the stat sheet—including five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception last week against the Steelers. Throw in a top-10 matchup with the Dolphins and positional eligibility as a cornerback with some IDP providers, and you have a sneaky-good IDP option in Week 12.

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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