It has been a very 2020 season for many fantasy managers on the offensive side of the ball—especially the ones with the first overall pick.
It appeared there was a light at the end of the tunnel for folks who drafted Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey when the 24-year-old returned to play last week for the first time since spraining his ankle in Week 1 and topped 150 scrimmage yards with two scores.
Then McCaffrey suffered a shoulder injury late in the game that will sideline him in Week 10 and quite possibly beyond.
Yeah, that about sums it up.
It’s been something of a similar story with the first IDP drafted in 2020. Darius Leonard not only got off to a bit of a slow start statistically (he ranked outside the top 20 fantasy linebackers over the first three weeks of the year) , but he suffered a groin injury in Week 4 that cost him the better part of a month.
Cue the gnashing of teeth and muttering of obscenities.
However, since Leonard returned to the field in Week 8, the 25-year-old has played more like the linebacker who won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2018. Over the last two weeks, Leonard has tallied 24 total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Inly Robert Spillane of the Pittsburgh Steelers has more fantasy points among linebackers over that span in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
Of course, not everyone has a roster of no-brainer must-starts on defense. For many IDP managers, each and every week brings tough lineup calls. And that where IDP Studs and Duds comes in.
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). I also tend to avoid obvious start recommendations—I would hope you don’t need me to tell you that Myles Garrett is a “go” in Week 10 against the Texans.
Week 10 is another four-team bye week—the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets are all off. Jaylon Smith, Keanu Neal, and Chris Jones are all on siesta, so get them out of lineups.
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2020 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Dre Greenlaw – OLB, San Francisco 49ers (at NOS) (2)
It has been a trying season for the defending NFC champions, who have been savaged by injuries on both sides of the ball. However, as David Bonilla wrote for 49ers Webzone, second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw told Matt Maiocco of the “49ers Talk” podcast that he and his teammates aren’t about to throw in the towel.
“I expect us to play hard for the rest of 2020,” Greenlaw told Matt Maiocco. “We’ve had some shortcomings, and we’ve had some tough losses that I think really woke us up. With the way the season has played out, with a lot of people being hurt, it’s a lot of stuff that we couldn’t control. I think the men that we’ve got on this team is going to fight until they can’t fight no more. I know I am.”
With Kwon Alexander now in New Orleans, Dre Greenlaw is locked into an every-down role for the Niners the rest of the way. That could mean good things this weekend against the Saints, who have been quite generous to opposing linebackers from an IDP perspective this season.
WEEK 10 IDP STUDS
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. CIN) (5): Heyward has been overshadowed by batterymate Stephon Tuitt this season, but Heyward had four tackles and half a sack last week and draws a Bengals team in Week 10 that leads the AFC in sacks allowed this year.
Emmanuel Ogbah – DE, Miami Dolphins (vs. LAC) (3): Ogbah has been the biggest fantasy surprise of 2020 on the defensive line, with seven sacks already this season. That breakout campaign should continue this week in a favorable IDP matchup with the Chargers.
Romeo Okwara – DE, Detroit Lions (vs. WAS) (8): It’s happened with zero fanfare, but Okwara has quietly worked his way into the top-12 among defensive linemen in most fantasy scoring systems. Roll him out with confidence against the statuesque Alex Smith in Week 10.
Jamie Collins – OLB, Detroit Lions (vs. WAS) (1): Collins is more often than not an overrated fantasy asset, but this week at least the IDP love is justified—no team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to linebackers this season than Washington.
Demario Davis – OLB, New Orleans Saints (vs. SFO) (6): Davis has been statistically underwhelming much of the 2020 season, but if ever there was a spot for him to blow up this is it. Injuries or no, the 49ers are still going to make a concerted effort to run the football Sunday.
Kamal Martin – ILB, Green Bay Packers (vs. JAX) (4): Spot start alert! With Krys Barnes (COVID-19) out this week, Martin should play in an every-down capacity against a Jaguars team surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points per game to linebackers this season.
Johnathan Abram – S, Las Vegas Raiders (vs. DEN): Last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Abram had his first 10-stop game since all the way back in Week 1. This week’s home tilt with the rival Raiders sets up well to keep that positive momentum going.
Minkah Fitzpatrick – S, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. CIN) (1): Fitzpatrick has been on a big-play roll—a forced fumble in Week 8 and a pick and fumble recovery last week in Dallas. No team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to defensive backs in 2020 than the Bengals.
Jabrill Peppers – S, New York Giants (vs. PHI) (4): Over his past three games, Peppers ranks second among all defensive backs in fantasy points. He has a good shot at continuing that hot streak Sunday in a top-five fantasy matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.