This is the week that’s going to make or break quite a few fantasy seasons.
It’s not just that we’re now into the final month of the fantasy regular season, which means a lot of teams are fresh out of wiggle room. Sure, if you’re 5-4 you might be able to absorb one more loss and still be OK. But for teams sitting at 4-5 or 3-6, a loss in Week 10 could essentially be game over. No playoffs in 2019.
It’s also not just that injuries continue to mount. Whether it’s along the defensive line with players like Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark, at linebacker with guys like Jayon Brown of the Tennessee Titans and Kwon Alexander of the San Francisco 49ers or on the back end with players like Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker, there’s no shortage of banged-up IDPs leaving holes in fantasy lineups in Week 10.
It’s not just that. There are also six teams on a bye in Week 10—which is rather a punch in the junk.
The Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins are all off in Week 10. So no A.J. Johnson. No Zach Cunningham. No Calais Campbell. No Jamie Collins. No Derek Barnett. No Jonathan Allen.
In one of the most critical weeks of the fantasy football campaign, the pool of available talent is as shallow as it’s going to be all season long. And that just makes every lineup decision all the more important. That much less room for mistakes.
That’s where IDP Studs and Duds comes in.
Each week during the 2019 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
Vonn Bell – S, New Orleans Saints (vs. ATL) (1)
Bell’s having arguably the best season of his career—the fourth-year pro is on pace to top 100 tackles for the first time in his career. While speaking with Amie Just of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Bell revealed that he’s been using an interesting tool to help break down opposing quarterbacks—Peyton Manning‘s “Detail” show on ESPN+.
“I think it’s huge, especially when you’ve got one of the all-time greatest quarterbacks to play this game breaking down quarterbacks,” Bell said. “It’s another tool at hand. Why not use it? It helps you understand the quarterback a little bit more as, these are his strengths and these are his weaknesses. It gives you a more direct look at one person. It takes you inside the huddle and inside the mind of that guy. It’s good information.”
Over the first eight weeks of the 2019 season, only two defensive backs tallied more fantasy points than Bell, who has 52 tackles and two forced fumbles on the season. With a prime matchup coming up at home against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, Bell’s second half will likely get off to a fast start Sunday.
IDP STUDS OF THE WEEK
Jadeveon Clowney – DE, Seattle Seahawks (at SFO) (7): There isn’t much that the 49ers haven’t done well during their 8-0 start. But for whatever reason, the Niners have been giving up quite a few fantasy points to defensive linemen in 2019.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. LAR) (6): Heyward’s having another very Heyward-like season, checking in seventh in fantasy points among defensive linemen. His excellent year will roll on Sunday in a favorable fantasy matchup with the Rams.
Chris Jones – DT, Kansas City Chiefs (at TEN) (1): Jones made his return last week against the Minnesota Vikings, notching a sack in a Chiefs win. This week the 25-year-old draws a Tennessee Titans team that leads the league in both sacks allowed and fantasy points given up to defensive linemen.
Jerome Baker – OLB, Miami Dolphins (at IND) (5): Baker hasn’t produced at the level some had hoped n 2019, but he’s had the occasional big stat line in the right matchup. This week’s tilt with the Indianapolis Colts fits the bill—especially if Jacoby Brissett sits the game out as expected.
Brandon Copeland – ILB, New York Jets (vs. NYG) (2): Copeland had nine tackles and a sack for the Jets last week, playing every defensive snap. He’s not a great player, but in a great matchup he doesn’t need to be to be IDP-relevant.
Matt Milano – OLB, Buffalo Bills (at CLE) (3): Since returning from injury, Milano’s been a top-20 fantasy linebacker—out-producing teammate Tremaine Edmunds over that span. Add in a top-five fantasy matchup, and you have the makings of a quality fantasy LB2 in Week 10.
Marcus Maye – S, New York Jets (vs. NYG) (6): Maye hasn’t done a ton in 2019, but in a week where a lot of fantasy owners will be looking for spot-starters the 26-year-old draws Danny Dimes and a Giants team that has been turning the ball over a lot of late.
Byron Murphy – CB, Arizona Cardinals (at TBB) (4): This game has all the makings of a big-time shootout—one that will keep the cornerbacks busy on both sides. Murphy’s about to “rookie corner rule” the heck out of Week 10.
Jaquiski Tartt – S, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SEA) (10): Tartt’s been an IDP non-factor in 2019, with just 31 tackles over eight games. But the season-ending pectoral injury Kwon Alexander suffered could mean a bump in tackle opps in a favorable fantasy matchup.