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Free Agent Focus

Week 18 IDP Free Agent Focus

By Matt Schauf 6:19am EST 1/3/23

I make these waiver-wire recommendations with a variety of league formats in mind. Make sure to check your Free Agent Finder for the best available options in your specific league.

Morgan Fox, DL, Chargers

Fox followed his biggest game of the season – 6 tackles, 2 sacks vs. the Colts – with another sack among 2 tackles for loss in Sunday’s win over the Rams. He now has sacks in 3 of his past 4 games and QB hits in 4 of his past 5.

Next comes Denver, which has allowed 4+ sacks in 4 straight games; 6+ in 3 of those.

Anthony Nelson, EDGE, Buccaneers

Injuries have elevated Nelson’s role throughout his 4th season, to the point that he has become a full-timer over the past 4 weeks. After playing a then-season high 83% of snaps at San Francisco in Week 14, Nelson has stayed on the field for every snap the past 3 games.

That 4-game span has seen the 25-year-old register 4+ tackles every time, with 2.5 sacks, 3 QB hits and 3 forced fumbles.

Week 18 opponent Atlanta hasn’t allowed a ton of sacks – primarily because the Falcons don’t throw the ball that much. But the run-heavy offense sets an attractive tackle floor, with upside.

Robert Spillane, LB, Steelers

It took until Week 16 for Pittsburgh to start Spillane in consecutive games, despite this being his 4th year with the team. He has now played every snap in 3 straight contests, though. And the veteran has supplied 7, 12 and 9 tackles in those games. Sunday included a season-high 8 solos.

The Week 18 meeting with the Browns looks like a negative scoring matchup by adjusted fantasy points allowed to LBs, but Cleveland has supplied solo tackles and assists to LBs at rates above league median. This will be another good tackle spot for Spillane.

Tony Fields II, LB, Browns

Fields led Browns LBs in playing time for the 2nd straight game in Sunday’s win at Washington and posted a team-high 9 tackles (5 solo). That gives him 2 straight games of 9+. Fields should find more opportunities in the season finale against the Steelers, who lean on RB Najee Harris and a short passing game.

Quincy Williams, LB, Jets

Williams collected 10 tackles for the 2nd straight game in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. His playing time has wavered at points this season, but the veteran topped 80% snap share in 3 of 4 contests entering Sunday.

Week 18 will find him playing a Miami offense that we’re betting will start its #2 or #3 QB, following Tua Tagovailoa’s Week 16 concussion. If Skylar Thompson gets the start, Williams would bring an even higher ceiling. The Dolphins peppered their RBs with targets after Thompson entered Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. That would keep more tackle opportunities in the area of Williams, who has also seen weeks of big pass-rushing involvement this season.

Joe Thomas, LB, Bears

Thomas got his 2nd straight start Sunday since rookie LB Jack Sanborn landed on IR. He followed a just-OK 7 tackles in Week 16 with 12 in the loss at Detroit. Perhaps Thomas falls back from that high, but he’s playing a spot that has previously been quite friendly to the tackle totals of Sanborn and Roquan Smith.

Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, 49ers

Dre Greenlaw left Sunday’s game with a back injury. HC Kyle Shanahan said Monday that because of the observance of the holiday, they didn’t have “all the machines available” to determine the extent of that injury. The hope is reportedly that they can get Greenlaw back for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cardinals.

If he’s not ready for that one, though, Al-Shaair will step in for the positive LB scoring matchup, in a spot that has been friendly to Greenlaw’s tackle totals. Al-Shaair collected 7 tackles in relief duty last week and averaged 7.8 tackles per game across 13 starts last season. If your waivers run before “all the machines” are back in use, then consider stashing Al-Shaair.

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