This is the time of the year that separates the big dogs from the puppies.
In most IDP leagues, just a couple of weeks remain in the regular season. And while a few fortunate souls are sitting at 8-3 or 9-2 and have already sewn up a playoff spot (the dirty jerks), most leagues are chock full of teams who are 6-5 or 5-6—packed in together like sardines and fighting to establish position for the postseason.
There’s very little margin for error. Lose one more game, and that’s that—the line between fringe contender and also-ran is equal parts blurry and thin. Every lineup decision is incredibly important, because every fantasy point is incredibly important.
The pressure to milk starting lineups for every possible point is immense.
And that’s where IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks 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).
Week 12 brings with it the last of the byes. The Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings will all be on siesta. Chandler Jones won’t be helping IDP owners this week. Neither will Frank Clark. Or Joey Bosa. Or Danielle Hunter.
To say the timing isn’t ideal is an understatement.
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
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (at TEN) (1)
The “Sacksonville” Jaguars sport one of the deepest, most talented defensive lines in the NFL with Calais Campbell, Ngakoue and rookie Josh Allen. And while Ngakoue’s numbers this year aren’t jaw-dropping (27 tackles, five sacks) Jags head coach Doug Marrone told James Johnson of Jaguars Wire that he thinks Ngakoue has really stepped up his game in 2019.
“When you see the production by him you have to remember that teams are doing a lot to stop him, especially in the pass rush phase,” Marrone said. “He’s had a bunch of quality rushes, but he also has a bunch of double teams that he’s fighting through or chips. I think he has improved greatly in the run game; I think he’s done a really good job there, and I think he has improved as a pass rusher and has done an excellent job.”
The Jaguars are struggling as a team, but that defensive front may be the single strongest position group on the club. All three of those stud DL are set up to feast Sunday against a Tennessee Titans team that leads the league in both sacks allowed (42) and fantasy points per game surrendered to defensive linemen in 2019.
WEEK 12 IDP STUDS
Derek Barnett – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. SEA) (9): Barnett’s been something of a disappointment statistically this season, but Sunday’s matchup with Seattle kicks off a string of good matchups that could portend a late-season surge for the young edge-rusher.
Maxx Crosby – DE, Oakland Raiders (at NYJ) (2): Crosby’s the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week after logging four sacks against the Bengals in Week 11. He’s got an excellent chance at grabbing at least one more Sunday in the Big Apple in a juicy matchup with the Jets.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CIN) (4): The Pittsburgh defense (and Heyward) have been playing at a high level of late. The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line has not played at a high level of late. Or at any time in recent memory.
Demario Davis – OLB, New Orleans Saints (vs. CAR) (2): Davis had a good game last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and from a fantasy perspective at least this week’s NFC South matchup with the Carolina Panthers is even better.
Deion Jones – ILB, Atlanta Falcons (vs. TBB) (3): Jones has been a major bummer in 2019—he was drafted as a LB1 but has performed like a LB4. If ever there was a week for a rebound though, it’s at home Sunday against the fantasy-friendly Buccaneers.
Nick Kwiatkoski – ILB, Chicago Bears (vs. NYG) (1): Chicago’s super-sub linebacker didn’t have a great Week 11, but that was in a bad fantasy matchup with the Rams. This week’s tilt with the New York Giants falls at the other end of the IDP spectrum.
Ricardo Allen – S, Atlanta Falcons (vs. TBB) (1): Allen, who had one of Kyle Allen‘s four interceptions a week ago, has been playing more of a box safety role for the Falcons since the team’s bye. He also draws a highly favorable fantasy matchup at home against the Buccaneers.
Eddie Jackson – S. Chicago Bears (vs. NYG) (5): Jackson, much like the Bears, hasn’t had the sort of big-play impact he did a year ago. But given the frequency that “Danny Dimes” is turning it over of late, that could change in Week 12.
Xavier Woods – S, Dallas Cowboys (at NEP) (2): This game is a chance for the Cowboys to send a message that they are legitimate contenders in the NFC. It should also present Woods with a prime opportunity to pile up some fantasy points.