Week 9 IDP Free Agent Focus
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Buccaneers
We didn't know until Saturday whether Pierre-Paul would even be cleared to take part in Sunday's game. Well, he gained that clearance and then spent most of his time in the Tennessee backfield.
JPP delivered 1 of Tampa Bay's 3 sacks against the Titans, along with 2 other tackles for loss. Matchups with Seattle and Arizona the next 2 weeks present upside. Really, though, a full-strength Pierre-Paul tends to be an every-week starter.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Browns
I was hoping we could sneak Vernon through Week 8's meeting with the Patriots and quietly grab him for the upside Week 9 matchup at Denver. But the jerk went and racked up a sack among 6 solo tackles (2 for loss) at New England.
So you might have to pay up more for Vernon where he's available. Vernon's worth pursuing, though. He had been quietly generating pressure: now 3+ in 6 of 7 games, including 11 total over just the past 2 weeks.
Beyond the Broncos sit an upside home date with the Bills in Week 10 and a terrific matchup with the Dolphins in Week 12. Vernon will also host the Bengals in Week 14 and then visit the Cardinals in Week 15. (If your league plays into Week 17, you'll get a bonus Bengals meeting.)
Arik Armstead, DE, 49ers
Armstead has quietly generated pressure all season amid a loaded Niners defense. According to Pro Football Focus, he averaged 3 total pressures per game heading into Sunday.
Armstead got louder with 2 sacks in the blowout win over Carolina. That gives him 3.5 over his past 3 games.
Armstead could be startable in deeper leagues each of the next 4 weeks: at Arizona, then home vs. Seattle, Arizona and Green Bay.
Gerald McCoy, DT, Panthers
McCoy had a quiet, 2-tackle day in Sunday's blowout loss at San Francisco. All 2.5 of his sacks for the year came in the Week 6 London win over Tampa Bay. But that game was just 1 among 4 straight with 4+ total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
Week 9 takes McCoy back home to face a Titans offense that has allowed 3+ sacks to 6 of 8 opponents. Beyond that sits a Packers offense that just allowed 5 sacks to Kansas City (without DT Chris Jones or DE Frank Clark) and a Falcons offense that has allowed 4+ sacks to 3 opponents.
Kyle Phillips, DE, Jets
Phillips has benefited from the shoulder injury that cost DE Henry Anderson the past 3 games and most of the contest before that. The rookie has played 50% of the snaps or more in 5 straight weeks, including 4 games of at least 61%. He has tallied 5+ tackles in 3 straight contests, including 3 for losses in Sunday's defeat at Jacksonville.
The Leonard Williams trade should guarantee Phillips similar playing time going forward, and Week 9 starts a wonderful string of matchups that includes the Dolphins (twice), Giants, Washington and Cincinnati within 6 weeks.
Tahir Whitehead, LB, Raiders
Whitehead racked up a season-high 11 tackles in Sunday’s loss to the Texans, including 8 solos. That gives him 4 straight games with at least 5 solos.
Whitehead should present a solid tackle floor going forward. And each of his next 3 opponents have provided more fantasy points per game to LBs so far than Houston has.