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We have finally hit double-digits, everyone. We are now at the time of the year when the leaves are few and far between on the trees. The brisk fall air reminds us that we will soon be in hibernation mode. The holidays are around the corner, and believe it or not, we are starting the playoff push! That makes these next 3-4 weeks the most critical of the season. We have short-term and long-term decisions to make, but who are the candidates available on the market? Here we go, guys! RING THE BELL!
The Fortune 5
EDGE Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams
We start the week with a rookie who is arguably the defensive steal of the past draft. He is currently the rookie IDP1 and, in standard scoring IDP PPR leagues, is a top 10 rookie. The third-round pick out of Tennessee has made his presence on this Rams defense felt. He has 39 tackles and five sacks in just over the halfway point of his rookie year. I know that rookie of the year narratives can be storyline and narrative-based, but my man Young deserves consideration and must be the leader in the clubhouse defensively.
LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, New England Patriots
Bentley is quietly having a very solid year. He is currently pacing for 130+ tackles and six sacks! He has shown us that he is far and away the best IDP option for the Patriots' defense and is one of the best value linebackers in all of fantasy football. He currently sits in the top 25 amongst all linebackers and was likely a deep addition to dynasty rosters last season. If you drafted or acquired Bentley at all this season, you have found a player that you know will contribute to your roster and is peaking at the right time for your team.
EDGE Boye Mafe, Seattle Seahawks
From Premiere Penny to Penthouse, we can no longer act like Boye Mafe isn't a player who needs to begin starting on your roster until this heater is over. He has put together incredible back-to-back performances. He has had 14 tackles and two sacks the past two weeks and now faces three straight teams with less-than-mobile quarterbacks. He now has sacks in six straight games, so I am all in on him until this feat is complete. If you need a playoff push, it's time to go chips in the middle on Boye Mafe.
DT DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts
Remember this guy? Buckner is in season number 9 and is just as dominant as he has always been. He had two early-season stinkers, which made everyone go into a panic, but if you held firm, you have been more than rewarded over the course of the last few weeks. Not many players can change a game quite like Buckner can when he plays well. While there were signs he may be aging early this year, those rumors have been dispelled, and we are seeing a motivated and dominant Buckner resurging just in time for this final regular season push.
S Jonathan Owens, Green Bay Packers
Sometimes, the best boost a player can have is at someone else's expense. Owens is now in a starting role for Green Bayu due to the injury to Darnell Savage and played 100% of snaps last week. All other safeties combined for three total snaps. In these snaps, he produced eight tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Savage was placed on IR, so he has at least three more games to miss, opening what appears to be a prime spot for Owens to be an immediate contributor to your IDP roster. Safeties may be easy to pick up and start, but not many will have the runway for points like Owens will.
The Falling 4
EDGE Andrew Van Ginkel, Miami Dolphins
Say it isn't so! It appears our dream season for Van Ginkel may crash back into reality. With the return of a healthy Jaelen Phillips, we have seen Van Ginkel lose snaps at an alarming rate, and now the stats seem to be following this downward trend. He has played a total of 41 snaps over the last two weeks, while Phillips and Bradley Chubb have averaged 43+ in each of those two games. Van Ginkel needs to be back on your bench or, even worse, the wire!
DT Leonard Williams, Seattle Seahawks
When a player gets traded to a team that is notable defensively, it is easy to get overly excited about what the potential output could be. Williams was a perfect candidate for this excitement but isn't going to be a solid fantasy asset to trust for this regular season push. He played the second most snaps for his new team at the defensive tackle position but failed to produce more than two total tackles. He has always been a very volatile player, but we appear to be in the back build of a wave. At this point in the season, it is far too risky to wait and see if we can get anything out of him in our starting lineups.
LB Daiyan Henley, Los Angeles Chargers
One of the off-season IDP darlings was Daiyan Henley due to him potentially getting some snaps because of his athleticism and the unknown within the Chargers linebacker position group. He is a rookie, so it is always important to temper expectations, but we need to be alarmed that even when the position is banged up the team doesn't trust him with significant snap counts. It is one thing if you can't beat out Eric Kendricks or Kenneth Murray. It is another if you cannot beat Nick Niemann, a third-year man with little to no experience or expectations.
LB David Mayo, Washington Commanders
The dream is dead, folks. Our waiver wire darling in the short term was fun while he lasted, but it appears the Commanders weren't happy with what they saw. I will always remember your two-game stretch where you had 20 tackles. It appears he is not only in a timeshare with Casey Toohill but also with Khaleke Hudson. When you are fighting for snaps with these guys, you are too risky for me to put my faith behind you. Sorry, Mayo, I'm more of a mustard guy now…
S Alohi Gilman, Los Angeles Chargers
One of the surprise producers this year for me has been Gilman. The easy money says that Derwin James is the man in this position group you want to manage, but Gilman, when healthy, has produced some monster numbers. He suffered an injury that has held back his true potential so far this season, but despite missing four games, he has still played the second most snaps at the position this year and has 26 tackles in four games where he contributed. Keep Gilman on your roster, and don't be afraid to start him.
LB Zach Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles
I refuse to give up on Cunningham as a viable option in IDP. Call me crazy, but the numbers tell us he will contribute when given the opportunity. He is currently the team's third-highest snap-count player and is producing on the stat sheet as well. It is also alarming that Nakobe Dean can't seem to stay healthy, which will benefit Cunningham's opportunity for tackles and other notable defensive stats. Buy Cunningham now and remember he was once the no-doubt IDP1, although it was many moons ago…
LB Segun Olubi, Indianapolis Colts
Are you guys ready to get weird? If you can tell me that you have heard of Olubi, then you are more plugged into NFL defenses than most. If you aren't familiar, then you need to become familiar quickly. He started at middle linebacker last week for the Colts and played every defensive snap, showing the team's belief in him as a coverage linebacker and a run-stopper. He proved them right by compiling six tackles and an interception in this one-game showing. He will be relegated to the bench once Zaire Franklin returns. But we have seen Shaquille Leonard's better days, and there is a realistic possibility that he will regress more and more as the season goes on. If either Franklin or Leonard misses time, Olubi needs to start for your team. He is also a great candidate for a long-term hold as we monitor whether Leonard continues to regress and if he remains healthy.
It is beginning to be that time of the year. Your decisions matter more than they ever have. Whether it is building a winner or preparing for the next season, now is the time to be aggressive in your decision-making. It is time to make those waiver moves and trades and make sure you continue to follow me on Twitter (X) @mattmontyff for more IDP and fantasy football content as always, make sure you're following @footballguys to get all the great content from your favorite analysts!
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