Week 14 IDP Hits

Losing T.J. Watt in Week 1 was a big blow to IDP lineups. But overrating his return might have hurt more.

I’m calling myself out here.

A healthy Watt can be 1 of the strongest forces in all of fantasy football. He crushed it so hard last year that he ranked 2nd among LBs in balanced-scoring points per game (3 sack points per tackle point). For context, the next sack-driven guy in those standings was Micah Parsons, at LB20 – with Shaq Barrett and Chandler Jones at LB29 and LB30, respectively.

Watt started this year the same way, racking up 6 solos, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, an INT and a pass deflection against the Bengals in Week 1 – a game he left before OT.

So the idea of benching an active Watt when he returned for Week 10, honestly, didn’t even cross my mind. Turns out it should have.

Watt has just 6 total pressures in his 4 games back. That ties for 51st among all edge players over that span, according to Pro Football Focus. He has 3 QB hits and a half-sack. That’s enough to put a pass-rusher in play for IDP lineups, but it’s far from the must-play status we’re used to for Watt.

And it makes sense. Watt was not only coming off a 9-week recovery from a pectoral injury. He also had knee surgery while he was out. And he has added a rib injury over the past couple of weeks.

It’s OK if the guy is merely performing at mortal levels right now. But we need to adjust our expectations as we set lineups. I have done so in my Week 14 IDP rankings. Sorry I expected more than was reasonable from Watt over the previous 4 games.

Pittsburgh’s other edge starter, Alex Highsmith, probably doesn’t hate having Watt back. Highsmith delivered 4 QB hits in the season opener (with Watt), then 5 more in the 7 games he played without Watt. Since the return, Highsmith has 6 hits and 3.5 sacks through 4 games.

Obviously, there’s more than just Watt’s presence at play here. But getting the 2021 defensive player of the year back on the other side of the formation certainly can’t hurt Highsmith’s situation.

Other Notes for NFL Week 14: