Only two teams sitting off to the sidelines and keeping their rosters off-limits for the final push to achieve a fantasy football playoff position. That means that managers have plenty of options to plug in to cover for those IDP who are injured or underperforming in recent days. Below, as is the case in this article on a weekly basis, are a number of potential wire pickups or free agents that can assist your efforts to keep playing for what matters, the fantasy league trophy. This article will be showing up as the playoffs progress, so do not forget to come back to keep seeking out the rising defensive help that keeps showing up as the regular season proceeds.

Bye Weeks coming up: This Week-Arizona Cardinals, Washington Commanders. Thank goodness, that is the end of the byes for this season.


Fantasy Football IDP Risers Elevator Going Up


Shaquille Leonard, Philadelphia Eagles

Leonard has joined the Eagles, to help shore up a wobbly at present linebacking corps in the City of Brotherly Love. Expect there to be a bit of an adjustment period, but taking on Dallas look for the Philly coaching staff to incorporate him in a huge game on the road in Texas.

Mykal Walker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh is another team with a depleted linebacking squad, and Walker stepped up against the Cardinals in Week 13, leading the team with 10 total tackles (TT), seven of those of the solo variety. This week’s opponent, the Patriots, is not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but there will be tackle opportunities for the starting inside LB.

J.J. Russell Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The third team struggling to field a full coterie of LBs this week in the IDP Report, Russell leapt into the opportunity presented to him, racking up seven TT (six solo) together with a sack. It seems entirely possible he could garner another start given the various injuries the linebackers are dealing with, and that should be a short-term value if you insert him in your lineup in Week 14. Keep an eye on the injury report, though, just to be safe.

David Long, Miami Dolphins

When he sees significant defensive snaps, he has consistently put up good tackle numbers this season. Jerome Baker’s week-to-week status hints that Long will continue to see an uptick in playing time (PT) for the current stretch of games, building on the eight TT (five solo) he achieved against the host Commanders in Week 13.

Jack Cochrane, Kansas City Chiefs

Cochrane’s utility is dependent on Drue Tranquill not resuming his usual role in the Chief defensive scheme. He is coming off a seven solo tackle effort after filling in for the concussed Tranquill, and as with Russell above, keep an eye on the injury reports coming out of KC.

Defensive Linemen

Will Anderson Jr., DE Houston Texans

Anderson was credited with two sacks against the visiting Bronco offense, as well as pass deflection/defense (PD). This to go along with five TT (three solo), making the rookie a developing story as the 2023 season progresses. The Texan schedule is favorable over the next three weeks in terms of fantasy points allowed to DEs. Note, however, that he appears below in the Injury Report as questionable this week due to a shoulder issue.

Andrew Van Ginkel, DE Miami Dolphins

Playing significant defensive snaps with Jaelan Phillips on IR, the fifth-year player accumulated five TT (four solo) against the Commander offense. He also tacked on an INT and two PDs, the interception being a fantasy-helpful pick six. His next two matchups, at home, are favorable for continued fantasy production.

Jonathan Hankins, DT Dallas Cowboys

Hankins collected the sole sack Dallas managed in Week 13 against the Seahawks, giving him three over the last two contests he has played. He is playing limited defensive snaps on a weekly basis, but is making the most of his time on the defense, and is worthy of consideration in DT-mandatory formats.

Defensive Backs

Jonathan Owens, S Green Bay Packers

Owens was pressed into duty as the starting safety in Green Bay due to injuries but played so well in that role that he is sticking as the starter. His ownership is low, and he should be available to add to your defensive backfield staff. 

P.J. Locke, S Denver Broncos

Locke picked up his second sack in two weeks against the host Texans and also put up eight TT (six solo). He has a road game against the Chargers on the schedule, not a tremendous matchup, but with Kareem Jackson continuing to serve his suspension, look for Locke to continue to see significant PT.

John Johnson III, S Los Angeles Rams

The veteran safety had six TT to his credit in Week 13 (one solo), but he also put two PDs on the stat sheet for the second week in a row, and also picked off a pass tossed by the Brown QB. Big play production along with tackles makes him a late-season option to add to your IDP roster.

Brandon Jones, S Miami Dolphins

Jones will have value if Jevon Holland continues to miss time with his knee issue. He played every defensive snap in Week 13, collecting five TT (four solo) and he got to the QB for a pressure (QH). As with others on the Report this week, monitor the injury status of the player Jones stepped in for.

Ryan Neal, S Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Neal has seen time at LB in the Buc’s scheme of late, making him a sneaky pickup that can provide LB production while occupying a safety or defensive back roster slot. If the move to linebacker continues, he becomes a fantasy asset again, as it restores him to a high-PT role again.

Derek Stingley, CB Houston Texans

Stingley has been a big-play asset over the past three weeks, collecting four INTs and eight PDs over that stretch of games. He only had one tackle in Week 13 to his name but was able to wrap up offensive players for 11 TT over the prior two weeks.

Ambry Thomas, CB San Francisco 49ers

Thomas has been promoted to the nickel back in the 49er defense and is providing good big play production: a forced fumble (FF), a fumble recovery (FR), an INT and five PDs over his past four contests. 15 tackles over those games (11 solo) add to his utility as a DB in fantasy circles.

Fantasy Football IDP Fallers - Escalator Going Down


None to speak of, save for those on the Injury List below.

Defensive Linemen

Brian Burns, DE Carolina Panthers

Burns has not been providing consistent sack production and had just one solo tackle in the Week 13 tilt against the Buccaneers. Inconsistent play at this point in the season can be decidedly harmful for your playoff hopes.
Vita Vea DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite significant PT over the past two weeks, the defensive tackle has produced a mere two TT (one solo), and those both came in Week 13, as he was shut out on the stat sheet in the prior week’s contest. Name recognition does not make up for extremely limited fantasy production. Move on.

Defensive Backs

Rodney Thomas, S Indianapolis Colts

Thomas was benched in favor of Nick Cross last week. He was shut out on the stat sheet, despite playing significant snaps. If Cross is replacing him, you should replace him on your roster, too.

Tavierre Thomas, CB Houston Texans

Another DB suffering a benching, Thomas has been replaced in the Houston backfield by Desmond King. IDP that sit on the bench have no value at any point in the season, but especially as playoffs are on the line.

Week 14 Matchups to Exploit

Remember, the first team listed is the one to use your IDPs against. Do not go crazy, and play an LB5 in the Jaguars/Browns contest, but certainly, you will do well if you own a top DE playing in New Jersey against either the New York team this week, or a Saint safety or Raven corner that you can plug in for your Week 14 action, for the most part.


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland

Cleveland Browns vs Jacksonville

Baltimore Ravens vs Los Angeles Rams

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers

Houston Texans @ New York Jets

Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati

Defensive Ends

New York Jets vs Houston

Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay

Tennessee Titans @ Miami

New York Giants vs Green Bay

Chicago Bears vs Detroit

Defensive Tackles 

Cleveland Browns vs Jacksonville 

Houston Texans @ New York Jets

Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay

San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle


Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans

New Orleans Saints vs Carolina

Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants

Miami Dolphins vs Tennessee

Cleveland Browns vs Jacksonville

Chicago Bears vs Detroit


Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore

Miami Dolphins vs Tennessee

New York Giants vs Green Bay

Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver

Waiver Wire Targets

This section is intended to serve as a shortened cheat sheet listing those waiver wire targets you should be considering if you need to plug a hole in your starting lineup. All these players are spotlighted above, and you can read my comments about them in the "Elevator Going Up" section of this article. This group consists of those that you may have a chance of locating on your league's waiver wire in that they are owned in significantly less than 50% of leagues. Happy claiming for your weekly matchups.


Shaquille Leonard Philadelphia Eagles

Mykal Walker Pittsburgh Steelers

J.J. Russell Tampa Bay Buccaneers

David Long, Jr. Miami Dolphins

Jack Cochrane Kansas City Chiefs

Defensive Linemen

Will Anderson, Jr. DE Houston Texans

Andrew Van Ginkel DE Miami Dolphins

Jonathan Hankins DT Dallas Cowboys

Defensive Backs

Jonathan Owens S Green Bay Packers

P.J. Locke S Denver Broncos

John Johnson III S Los Angeles Rams

Brandon Jones S Miami Dolphins

Ryan Neal S Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Derek Stingley, Jr. CB Houston Texans

Ambry Thomas CB San Francisco 49ers

NFL IDP Injury Report - Ouch (My Aching Roster)

All the injury reports below need evaluation prior to kickoff.  Teams are notoriously sketchy about injury reports, and we often do not know a player's status until just before game time. Consider the list below as a "heads up" as to what is going on early in the week, and should not be considered definitive.


Nate Landman Atlanta Falcons knee

Malik Hamm Baltimore Ravens ankle IR

Marquis Haynes Carolina Panthers hamstring 

Yatur Gross-Matos Carolina Panthers hamstring

DJ Johnson Carolina Panthers elbow

Justin Houston Carolina Panthers hamstring IR

Claudin Cherelus Carolina Panthers knee IR

Malcolm Rodriguez Detroit Lions ankle

James Houston Detroit Lions ankle IR

Neville Hewitt Houston Texans hamstring

Drue Tranquill Kansas City Chiefs concussion

Nick Bolton Kansas City Chiefs wrist IR

Justin Hollins Los Angeles Chargers chest

Jerome Baker Miami Dolphins knee

Pete Werner New Orleans Saints oblique

Quincy Williams New York Jets knee

Zach Cunningham Philadelphia Eagles hamstring

Elandon Roberts Pittsburgh Steelers groin

Jordyn Brooks Seattle Seahawks ankle

Lavonte David Tampa Bay Buccaneers groin

Devin White Tampa Bay Buccaneers foot

SirVocea Dennis Tampa Bay Buccaneers illness

K.J. Britt Tampa Bay Buccaneers back

Defensive Linemen


Carlos Watkins Arizona Cardinals biceps IR

L.J. Collier Arizona Cardinals biceps IR

LaCale London Atlanta Falcons knee IR

Will Anderson, Jr. Houston Texans shoulder

Isaiah Foskey New Orleans Saints quadriceps

Cameron Jordan New Orleans Saints ankle

Payton Turner New Orleans Saints toe IR

John Franklin-Myers New York Jets ankle

Arik Armstead San Francisco 49ers foot

James Smith-Williams Washington Commanders hamstring


David Onyemata Atlanta Falcons ankle

DeShawn Williams Carolina Panthers knee

Jay Tufele Cincinnati Bengals illness

Maurice Hurst Cleveland Browns calf

Alim McNeill Detroit Lions knee IR

Sheldon Rankins Houston Texans elbow

Folorunso Fatukasi Jacksonville Jaguars heel

Otito Ogbonnia Los Angeles Chargers knee

Christian Barmore New England Patriots shoulder

Daniel Ekuale New England Patriots biceps IR

Malcolm Roach New Orleans Saints knee IR

Fletcher Cox Philadelphia Eagles groin

Bryan Mone Seattle Seahawks knee-ACL PUP

Mike Greene Tampa Bay Buccaneers calf IR

Jeffery Simmons Tennessee Titans knee

John Ridgeway Washington Commanders shin

Defensive Backs


Jeremy Chinn Carolina Panthers quadriceps

Vonn Bell Carolina Panthers shoulder

Tycen Anderson Cincinnati Bengals knee IR

C.J. Gardner-Johnson Detroit Lions pectoral IR

Jimmie Ward Houston Texans shoulder

Eric Murray Houston Texans knee IR

Bryan Cook Kansas City Chiefs ankle

Quentin Lake Los Angeles Rams hamstring

Jevon Holland Miami Dolphins knee

Marcus Maye New Orleans Saints shoulder IR

Justin Evans Philadelphia Eagles knee IR

Jamel Dean Tampa Bay Buccaneers ankle

Darrick Forrest Washington Commanders shoulder IR


Starling Thomas V Arizona Cardinals ankle

Antonio Hamilton Arizona Cardinals groin

Jeff Okudah Atlanta Falcons ankle

A.J. Terrell Atlanta Falcons concussion

Kalif Elam Buffalo Bills ankle IR

Jaycee Horn Carolina Panthers hamstring

Cam Taylor-Britt Cincinnati Bengals ankle IR

Denzel Ward Cleveland Browns shoulder

Jaire Alexander Green Bay Packers shoulder

Eric Stokes Green Bay Packers hamstring IR

Julius Brents Indianapolis Colts quadriceps

Tre Herndon Jacksonville Jaguars concussion

Tyson Campbell Jacksonville Jaguars quadriceps 

Christian Braswell Jacksonville Jaguars hamstring IR

Deane Leonard Los Angeles Chargers ankle

Shaun Wade New England Patriots illness

Marcus Jones New England Patriots shoulder IR

Christian Gonzalez New England Patriots shoulder-labrum IR

James Pierre Pittsburgh Steelers shoulder

Darrell Luter, Jr. San Francisco 49ers hamstring

Kristian Fulton Tennessee Titans hamstring

Caleb Farley Tennessee Titans back PUP

Emmanuel Forbes Washington Commanders elbow

As ever, good luck and Godspeed in your fantasy efforts. Make sure to read all of our great articles to help you win your fantasy matchups every week and ultimately bask in championship glory. If you have any fantasy football questions, especially about IDP leagues, you can also send a message to for a personal response from the writer of this article. Naturally, the more detail you can send about your league, such as the number of teams, the platform you play in (Yahoo, ESPN, etc.), scoring, and roster system, the better the ability to provide accurate advice.