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We’ve reached Week 15 of the 2012 NFL season, and that means that in many IDP leagues the field has been whittled to four, as the playoffs are underway and fantasy championship week is just around the corner.
As such every matchup becomes crucial, and every lineup decision becomes critical. Odds are pretty good that the team you play this week is every bit as loaded as you are, so the last thing you can afford is for one of your starters to lay an egg in a hotly contested game.
So, with the knowledge that now is not the time to make mistakes it’s time for another week of IDP Studs and Duds, where I’ll point out some Individual Defensive Players who could be set to exceed expectations this week (Studs) and some that for whatever reason are riskier plays than usual (Duds).
That isn’t necessarily to say that every “Stud” is a must-start (it depends on your other options) or that every “Dud” should be glued to your bench (just that the odds of a letdown week are greater than usual).
Finally, before we get on with the show, if you have a specific IDP Start/Sit question you’d like my take on you can e-mail me at email@example.com or post the question in the “Kilroy Krystal Ball” thread in the Fantasy Sharks IDP Forum. I can’t promise I’ll get to every question, but I’ll do the best I can.
Cliff Avril – DE, Detroit Lions (at AZ): With at least one sack in four straight games Avril makes his second appearance on the “Studs” list, due in large part to the fifth-year pro facing an Arizona Cardinals team that has given up the most sacks in the NFL this year by a significant margin.
LaMarr Houston – DE, Oakland Raiders (vs. KC): The third-year pro has heated up of late, with nine tackles and two sacks over the past two games, and that hot streak should continue Sunday against a Kansas City Chiefs team that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to defensive linemen this season.
Julius Peppers – DE, Chicago Bears (vs. GB): Last week Peppers was listed on the “Duds” list, but that certainly isn’t the case this week, as the 11th-year veteran will be squaring off against a Green Bay Packers team surrendering the second-most fantasy points to defensive linemen and against whom Peppers had a sack in their first meeting this year.
Nick Barnett – OLB, Buffalo Bills (vs. SEA): Barnett had one of his better games of the season last week with 10 total tackles last week against the St. Louis Rams, and Barnett should make it two big games in a row this week against a Seattle Seahawks team giving up the second-most fantasy points to linebackers in 2012.
Brad Jones – ILB, Green Bay Packers (at CHI): Jones has stepped into the starting lineup in place of the injured D.J. Smith, and after logging 12 total tackles in last week’s win over the Detroit Lions Jones draws a Chicago Bears team allowing the most fantasy points to linebackers this season.
Phillip Wheeler – OLB, Oakland Raiders: After coming over in the offseason Wheeler has been a very pleasant surprise for the Raiders this season, racking up 97 tackles this year, and the fifth-year pro should keep piling up the stats this week against a Kansas City Chiefs team that has been a top five IDP matchup for linebackers in 2012.
Ronde Barber – FS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NO): Barber has played better than many expected in his first season at free safety for the Buccaneers, and the 16th-year veteran has a very good shot at strong fantasy production this week against a New Orleans Saints team giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to defensive backs this year.
Glover Quin – SS, Houston Texans (vs. IND): The fourth-year veteran was something of a fantasy disappointment last week in a very nice IDP matchup last week against the New England Patriots, but Quin will have a chance to redeem himself Sunday against an Indianapolis Colts team allowing the most fantasy points to defensive backs this season.
Kerry Rhodes – FS, Arizona Cardinals (vs. DET): The 2012 season has become a nightmare for the reeling Arizona Cardinals, but the sun should poke through the clouds this week for IDP owners of safety Kerry Rhodes against a Detroit Lions team surrendering the second-most fantasy points to defensive backs in 2012.
Michael Bennett – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NO): With 34 tackles, nine sacks and three forced fumbles Michael Bennett has been a very pleasant surprise this year, but Bennett will hard-pressed to keep that momentum going against the New Orleans Saints, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to defensive backs this year.
Robert Quinn – DE, St. Louis Rams (vs. MIN): The second-year pro’s next sack will put him in double digits in that category for the season, but that sack isn’t likely to come this week against a Minnesota Vikings squad giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to defensive linemen this season.
Muhammad Wilkerson – DE, New York Jets (at TEN): Wilkerson has very quietly put together a top 10 IDP season with the New York Jets, but the chips are stacked him against him this week given a matchup with the Tennessee Titans, who are the second-poorest fantasy matchup for defensive linemen in 2012.
Kevin Burnett – OLB, Miami Dolphins (vs. JAX): Burnett is on pace to eclipse 100 tackles for the second consecutive season, but this week’s matchup with a Jacksonville Jaguars team on its’ fourth running back this year is far from favorable where tackle opportunities are concerned.
Ray Lewis – ILB, Baltimore Ravens (vs. DEN): Signs seem to point to Ray Lewis making a return to the field next week, but between the long layoff, uncertainty about the health of Lewis’ injured arm, and a poor IDP matchup with the Denver Broncos this isn’t the game to be putting Lewis in lineups.
Bobby Wagner – MLB, Seattle Seahawks (at BUF): With 109 tackles Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is enjoying a stellar rookie season, but the fantasy sledding may be tough this week against a Buffalo Bills team allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to linebackers in 2012.
Roman Harper – SS, New Orleans Saints (vs. TB): The seventh-year veteran is on track to set a career high in tackles this year, but big plays have been in short supply for Harper this year and that will likely continue Sunday against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad giving up the second fewest fantasy points to defensive backs this year.
Devin McCourty – FS, New England Patriots: McCourty has played well since making the switch to free safety earlier this season, but the odds of a big fantasy day Sunday aren’t good given that the San Francisco 49ers are the fourth-worst IDP matchup for defensive backs this season.
Eric Weddle – FS, San Diego Chargers (vs. CAR): The sixth-year veteran is slumping a bit, with five or fewer tackles in each of last two weeks, and the odds of a bounce back against the Carolina Panthers aren’t good given that they allow the third-fewest fantasy points per game to defensive backs.
Looking for more IDP information? Be sure to check out all the other great IDP articles by the rest of the Fantasy Sharks’ crew, the IDP Forum, IDP Manor, and for the latest injury news follow @IDPManor on Twitter.
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