We’re almost to the finish line, folks.
In the vast majority of IDP leagues, Week 15 brings with it the semifinals. What started as 12 teams (or 10, or 14, or 16 or whatever) will soon be down to two—the winners of this week’s matchups.
We’re down to the Fantastic Four.
Man, that was one awful movie.
For four intrepid fantasy managers, one of two things is about to happen. Either months of research, draft preparation and roster management is bout to pay off with a shot at a fantasy championship, or they are going to come oh so close only to fall just short of the finish line.
In some ways, it can be worse than not making the playoffs at all.
OK, it’s not really worse. But it’s still a punch in the junk.
At this late juncture in the season, there are no gimme wins. All the teams are good. All the matchups are tight. Every fantasy point is all the more important. And that makes every lineup decision that much more critical.
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
K.J. Wright – OLB, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR) (1)
Now in his ninth season with the team, Wright ranks third in franchise history in tackles. His 109 total stops for the year is his most since 2016 and the fifth time that he has hit triple-digits in stops. Per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Wright said that being a good tackler in the NFL starts with attitude.
“The key is, first off you’ve got to be in attack mode,’’ Wright said. “And then, I’m telling you when we started teaching that leverage shoulder tackling when Seto was here (Seto left following the 2016 season), that stuff was life-changing. Leverage shoulder, keep the guy on your inside hip. That head across body stuff is out. … Players need to stop getting your head across. That’s how you get concussions and miss tackles. It’s just being violent, leverage (your) shoulder and just being on attack mode.’’
After an injury-marred 2018 season, Wright is right back in the same spot he’s held for much of his professional career—a high-end fantasy LB3 with LB2 upside. The 30-year-old should lean toward the latter Sunday (at least) against the Panthers, who lead the league in fantasy points surrendered to linebackers.
WEEK 15 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (vs. HOU) (4): Casey’s long been both a very good NFL player and a matchup-dependent IDP option. In the latter regard, Casey gets a favorable one in Week 15. Houston’s offensive line is better—but it still isn’t good.
Jadeveon Clowney – DE, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR) (3): On one hand, Clowney’s clearly not 100 percent, which adds risk to starting him in a must-win week. On the other, the Panthers have surrendered the second-most sacks (50) and third-most fantasy points to defensive linemen.
Matt Ioannidis – DE, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI) (6): Ioannidis has quietly piled up a career-high 8.5 sacks and climbed inside the top-10 in fantasy points among defensive linemen. The good times should keep going this week in a plus matchup with the Eagles.
Jerome Baker – OLB, Miami Dolphins (vs. NYG) (3): Baker’s been something of an up-and-down IDP option, but this has the makings of an “up” week. It’s not hard to imagine the Giants banging away with Saquon Barkley against a highly suspect Dolphins run defense.
Demario Davis – OLB, New Orleans Saints (vs. IND) (2): Davis has been productive for fantasy managers of late, with 26 total tackles and two sacks over the past three weeks. This week’s matchup sets up well for Davis to amass another excellent stat line against the Colts.
Jahlani Tavai – ILB, Detroit Lions (vs. TBB) (3): With Jarrad Davis (ankle) sidelined last week, Tavai played an increased role and did well with it. Assuming Davis is out in Week 15, the rookie will draw a heavy snap count in a top-three IDP matchup with the Detroit Lions.
Taylor Rapp – S, Los Angeles Rams (at DAL) (3): The rookie second-rounder from Washington has played well since entering the starting lineup for the Rams, and there’s little reason to think that won’t continue in a big game Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Eric Rowe – CB, Miami Dolphins (vs. NYG) (6): Rowe’s got the potential to be a difference-maker in the IDP playoffs—especially in CB-required leagues. He’s been starting at strong safety for the Dolphins, has positional eligibility as a cornerback and draws a favorable matchup in Week 15.
Tavon Wilson – S, Detroit Lions (vs. TBB) (1): Both Wilson and batterymate Tracy Walker are coming off big games against the Minnesota Vikings, and both have an excellent chance of repeating the feat in the best IDP matchup for defensive backs so far this season.