​4 IDP Fantasy Football Targets for Week 9

The Bengals have been a great matchup for linebackers this year, and Shaq Thompson has the talent to keep that trend going. Which other defensive players are worth scooping up?

Individual Defensive Player (IDP) has to be my favorite format in fantasy football. If you’ve felt satisfaction at a job well done with just offensive players, there’s truly nothing else like getting to field a full team – offense and defense – on the virtual gridiron and watching them grind your best friends into dust. You may not realize, but IDP have been in the fantasy game since the original fantasy league was formed back in Oakland in 1962, with two defensive back/linebacker slots and two slots for defensive linemen. IDP are an institution in fantasy football, and we aim to treat them as such in this column.

Each week this season, in honor of the four-IDP requirement in the OG fantasy league, I will identify four targets widely available on waiver wires (15% or less rostership on Yahoo!) that you should be aiming for in your IDP leagues. These recommendations are based on a balanced 3:1 big play-to-tackle scoring ratio. We’ll examine their matchups and their snap count trends while helping you figure out the best fit for your IDP rosters.

It’s the Week 9 IDP waiver wire. Here are your four targets:

A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Los Angeles Rams

at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Roster Percentage: 2%

You know you’re in the middle of bye week hell when your best little-rostered defensive line recommendation is a defensive tackle whose fantasy production has been capped at 5.5 points so far this season. That said, there’s reason to take a shot on Los Angeles Rams interior defender A'Shawn Robinson in Week 9.

Admittedly, Robinson’s ceiling is vanishingly low. He’s never been much of a pass-rusher, accruing just 90 career pressures on over 1,600 career pass-rush snaps (5.5% pressure rate). This year that tendency is far worse; Robinson has just two pressures on 111 pass-rush snaps (1.8%).

As a run defender, however, Robinson is one of the better choices in the league at his position. Per PFF, Robinson has 14 defensive stops – tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense; a similar notion to our success metrics, but for a defender – on 132 run defense snaps. His 11.1% run stop rate ranks in the top 10% of qualifying interior defensive linemen this season.

This should come into play in Week 9. Robinson’s Rams are three-point road underdogs who could see end-of-game clock-killing work from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rushing attack. You’ll note that Tampa is a top-tier team by pass rate over expected (PROE), but they also run the fastest pace of play (23.2 seconds per play) in the league, which should help to balance some of their lost rushing volume. If the game script goes extremely positive for the Bucs, Robinson becomes much more valuable in a garbage-time situation.

Our model projects Robinson for 4.8 tackles and a 16% chance for a sack, totaling 5.6 fantasy points. He’s a high-end DL2 in fantasy this week, but the volume of plays run by the Tampa Bay offense and their status as home favorites make Robinson an intriguing upside option.

Shaq Thompson, LB, Carolina Panthers

at Cincinnati Bengals
Roster Percentage: 13%

Over the last month, starting off-ball linebackers have averaged 11.1 fantasy points against the Cincinnati Bengals. Only one of those players has accrued fewer than six total tackles; that player was Deion Jones last week, making his first start since the end of 2021 due to injury while playing just a 77% team snap share with a new team. Cincinnati presents easily the best matchup for fantasy linebackers right now, having also afforded five tackles for a loss to the position in those previous four games.

Enter Shaq Thompson of the Carolina Panthers, who has spent his last month playing 100% of his team’s defensive snaps. The middle linebacker has had some intriguing tackle production this year but doesn’t offer a ton in the way of big-play upside. He also seems to have an interesting pattern of producing an average 11.9% tackle rate in games decided by 10 points or less, as compared to 8.5% in blowout game scripts. For some tangible context, that’s the difference between 7.6 average tackles in a game and 5.4.

Carolina comes into this week as underdogs by about a touchdown, but the current iteration of their offense has been feisty and able to keep them in games while the Bengals have routinely underperformed. The Cincinnati offensive line is also vulnerable, allowing the seventh-lowest yards before contact on run plays among the 26 teams playing in Week 9, so tackles for a loss could be on the cards for Thompson as well.

Our model projects Thompson for 8.5 tackles and a 32% chance for a pass defended, totaling in 9.3 fantasy points. He comes in as our LB18 in fantasy this week.

Nicholas Morrow, LB, Chicago Bears

vs. Miami Dolphins
Roster Percentage: 13%

The Chicago Bears’ trade of star linebacker Roquan Smith at the deadline was not a surprise as the rumblings of discontent had been telegraphed since the preseason. Now, however, we IDP managers are left to figure out who will pick up the most value in Smith’s absence. That’s a puzzle that may need greater workings out down the road, but – for now – middle linebacker Nicholas Morrow is the easy player to look to.

Morrow has played 99.8% of the Bears’ defensive snaps so far this year while averaging seven tackles per game. That might seem like it’s already a high enough mark, but – with Smith gone – Morrow doesn’t have to share the tackle box with an elite talent anymore. That goes a long way to getting him a bigger piece of the fantasy point pie and higher-value fantasy days.

Our model projects Morrow for 7.8 tackles, a 13% chance for a sack, and a 36% chance for a pass defended. All are included in his total of 8.8 fantasy points this week. Morrow is a high-floor LB23 this week.

Damar Hamlin, DB, Buffalo Bills

at New York Jets
Roster Percentage: 11%

The Buffalo Bills’ secondary has been ravaged by injuries this year. That's from a cavalcade of cornerbacks going down to both starting safeties being hampered – or, in Micah Hyde's case, out for the season. Despite all of this, safety Damar Hamlin has risen to the occasion in his teammates’ stead.

Since being pressed into a full-time role in Week 3, Hamlin has averaged 7.8 fantasy points per game, collecting no fewer than seven total tackles in a game since his Week 3 starting debut.

Coming into Week 9, Hyde remains on injured reserve and fellow starter Jordan Poyer has had back-to-back “DNP” designations due to an elbow injury, appearing to be closer to being ruled out than cleared for action in this contest. That would leave Hamlin as the team’s top safety, mirroring a situation that happened in Week 5 when Hamlin collected a season-high 9.5 fantasy points despite playing just a third of his snaps in the box, in the slot, or on the defensive line.

The New York Jets are Hamlin’s opponent this week, also. With the Vegas line making them nearly two-touchdown underdogs, that could lead to both the Bills resting Poyer and the Jets forcing desperation passing plays that either allow sack chances for a blitzing defensive back or prayer heaves that can be picked off.

Through eight games this year, six contests have seen a safety put up double-digit scoring against New York; Hamlin should be the guy most likely to continue that trend here.

Our model projects Hamlin for 6.2 tackles and a 38% chance for a pass defended, totaling 7.2 fantasy points. He’s our DB13 overall in this matchup, and the turnover upside of this matchup elevates his upside even further.