To say that 2020 has been a rough year is one whopper of an understatement. And in the grand scheme of things, the return of the NFL doesn’t change that. But in a year where any sliver of good news feels like cause to celebrate—and watching the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs hit the field at Arrowhead Stadium Thursday night felt like the beginning of a party.
A party we all desperately need.
The return of the NFL brings with it the return of fantasy football—and with it IDP leagues. And the return of IDP leagues brings with it the return of IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
For the most part, the early part of the regular season brings with it a simple philosophy—dance with who brought you. You drafted players as starters for a reason, and while matchups are a vital part of lineup success in IDP leagues, for now at least we’re using data from 2019.
To say that a lot can change with matchups from one season to the next is another massive understatement.
Of course, some IDP managers don’t have any choice but to get creative out of the gate. Folks who drafted Denver Broncos linebacker Todd Davis or Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter were left in scramble mode when the former was released and the latter landed on injured reserve.
Those folks already need some matchup plays to keep their season from spiraling out of control before we even get to October.
Fortunately, IDP Studs and Duds is here to help—for the 10th season at Fantasy Sharks, no less.
Each week during the 2020 season, I’ll point out some Individual Defensive Players who could be set to exceed expectations this week (Studs), as well as some that for whatever reason are riskier plays than normal (Duds).
This 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).
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2019 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
B.J. Goodson – ILB, Cleveland Browns (at BAL) (5)
The Browns already had a questionable cadre of linebackers before Mack Wilson got hurt. Now, with Wilson on the shelf, Veteran B.J. Goodson has been thrust into a three-down role. But as Scott Patsko reported for Cleveland.com, head coach Kevin Stefanski has been impressed by what he has seen from Goodson on the practice field.
“B.J. has been great for us in the meeting room and on the grass,” Stefanski said. “He is just a very high-energy player. You hear him before you see him. I am really excited about what B.J. brings to our defense.”
Frankly, Goodson is an average talent who has struggled to stay healthy, and it may only be a matter of time before he either loses sub-package snaps or gets hurt. But until that day comes Goodson is a good bet to lead the Browns in tackles—starting this week in a top-five IDP matchup with the Ravens in Baltimore.
WEEK 1 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Denver Broncos (vs. TEN) (1): Denver’s acquisition of Casey in the offseason was one of the more impactful under-the-radar ones in 2020. The veteran has long been a matchup-dependent IDP option, and in Week 1 he draws a Titans team that led the league in fantasy points allowed to DL in 2019.
Maxx Crosby – DE, Las Vegas Raiders (at CAR) (2): Crosby was a revelation for the Raiders in 2019, piling up 10 sacks as a rookie. From a matchup perspective, Crosby is set up well for a hot start to his second season—last year the Panthers tied for the NFL lead with 58 sacks allowed.
Melvin Ingram – DE, Los Angeles Chargers (at CIN) (4): In each of the past two seasons, Ingram has gotten off to a hot start—he tallied a sack in last year’s opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Instead of opening against one of the best O-lines in the league this season, Ingram and the Chargers open against one of the worst.
Blake Cashman – ILB, New York Jets (at BUF) (6): If you’re looking for a Week 1 spot-start at the linebacker position, consider Cashman. The youngster will open the season as an every-down player for the Jets in a top-10 fantasy matchup in front of arguably the most generous stat crew in the entire NFL.
Demario Davis – OLB, New Orleans Saints (vs. TBB) (2): There’s much we don’t know about how the new offense will look in Tampa under Tom Brady. What we do know is that Davis has been one of the more consistent fantasy LB2 in the game since joining the Saints. He’ll keep that rolling Sunday in an empty Superdome.
Nick Kwiatkoski – ILB, Las Vegas Raiders (at CAR) (1): The Panthers are going to ride Christian McCaffrey early and often in an attempt to keep games close in 2020. That’s going to mean another season of big stat lines from opposing linebackers this year—beginning with Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton this week at Bank of America Stadium.
Terrell Edmunds – S, Pittsburgh Steelers (at NYG) (3): Edmunds took a step as a player in his second season, piling up 105 total tackles and finishing in fantasy DB3 territory. He should have an opportunity to take yet another step forward Monday night in a top-three fantasy matchup with young signal-caller Daniel Jones and the Giants.
Malcolm Jenkins – S, New Orleans Saints (vs. TBB) (1): The Tampa offense probably won’t be the goldmine for opposing defensive backs that it was last season. But this game could easily become a high-scoring shootout—and that’s going to keep the defensive backs on both sides busy in Week 1.
Taylor Rapp – S, Los Angeles Rams (vs. DAL) (8): For reasons that escape me, Rapp slid farther in many IDP drafts than he should have in 2020. Those fortunate fantasy managers who landed the second-year pro will start reaping the rewards on Sunday night against a Cowboys team that is as loaded with passing-game talent as any team in the league.