It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, not that. Although yeah, I guess it’s that time of year too…Ho-Ho-Ho and holy-jolly happy-happy-joy-joy whatever.
(Kidding. Christmas is fun. The shopping not so much, but the rest is fine.)
No, it’s the fantasy postseason. In more leagues than not, Week 14 is the first week of the playoffs. In others, it’s the final game of the regular season. At this point some folks are just playing out the string. And a fortunate few had such a butt-kicking regular season that either they can afford a loss this week or won’t be playing in Week 14 at all complements of a first-round bye.
But for most fantasy managers, it’s a simple equation from here out.
Win and move on—or lose and see the season end.
At this point, every weekly matchup is essentially a season unto itself. Every lineup decision is that much more important. Every call can be the difference between advancing to the semifinals or the end of the line.
Every fantasy point matters more than ever. You gotta have laser-focus. The eye of the tiger.
And 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
Deion Jones – ILB, Atlanta Falcons (vs. CAR) (1)
Jones suffered through an injury-marred 2018 season, but as he told Dave Archer of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, that down year had a silver lining—it helped him to turn into one of the defense’s leaders in the year that followed.
“I never had the opportunity to lead from the sideline during the season, I’ve always been on the sideline during the offseason and eventually the season I’m playing,” Jones said. “But being out for the season was completely different. Learning ways I can help guys in the meeting room and translating my knowledge to them so they can play at their best ability, just finding those inches to grow.”
Jones got off to something of a slow start to the 2019 season, but his production has picked up of late. That upward trend should continue at home Sunday against a Panthers team allowing the most fantasy points per game to linebackers this season.
WEEK 14 IDP STUDS
Taco Charlton – DE, MIA (at NYJ) (2): Charlton’s fifth sack with the Dolphins last week now gives him more in nine games in Miami than he had in over two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets have given up 46 sacks in 2019—only two teams have allowed more.
Maxx Crosby – DE, OAK (at TEN) (1): In what’s been a very impactful rookie class for the Raiders, Crosby may be the best pick of the lot. The fourth-round edge-rusher gets a Titans team in Week 14 that has surrendered 49 sacks this year—tied for the most in the NFL.
Jabaal Sheard – DE, IND (at TBB) (6): Sheard’s been riding a streak of highly favorable pass-rush matchups—with mixed results. The veteran end had a sack last week against the Titans, and he’s a good bet for another one Sunday in Tampa.
Nigel Bradham – ILB, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG) (2): Bradham’s long been a better NFL player than IDP option. This week’s Monday night matchup against Saquon Barkley and the Giants sets up well for the two worlds to intersect.
Lavonte David – OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. IND) (3): Over the past several weeks rookie Devin White has been outproducing David. Young and old alike should clean up this week in a top-three fantasy matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
James Bradberry – CB, Carolina Panthers (at ATL) (1): Eric Reid‘s a no-brainer DB1 this week, but Bradberry could also be a sneaky-good play against a Falcons team giving up the most fantasy points to defensive backs in 2019.
Juan Thornhill – S, Kansas City Chiefs (at NEP) (2): Thornhill’s playing every defensive snap for the Chiefs now and gets a Patriots squad that has surrendered the most fantasy points per game in the AFC to defensive backs this season.
Khari Willis – S, Indianapolis Colts (at TBB) (4): There isn’t a position in IDP that the Buccaneers aren’t a good matchup for, whether it’s the defensive line, linebackers or in the secondary. Start ’em if you’ve got ’em where the Colts are concerned in Week 14.