We’ve hit a crossroads in the 2019 fantasy football season—a parting of ways between what we thought we knew and what we actually know.
And that means changes are coming to how we approach setting IDP lineups.
This isn’t to say that it’s time to start sitting (Start sitting? There’s an ironic statement.) Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Yes, Donald’s sitting on one sack after five games and ranks outside the top 50 defensive linemen in fantasy points. But all it takes is one huge game to get things back on track, and we are talking about the two-time defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
We thought Donald would be a force again in 2019, and it’s still too early to white-flag that idea.
However, after four games this year San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Kwon Alexander is averaging just 4.5 total tackles per game. In last week’s blowout win over the Cleveland Browns, Alexander had just two assists and half a sack despite playing every defensive snap. The notion that Alexander could repeat his statistical success from Tampa Bay in the Bay Area appears to have been misplaced.
It’s a balancing act—you don’t want to throw in the towel too early on a big-name IDP, but you also don’t want to cling to a guy who isn’t performing to the detriment of your team.
Hey—no one said this was going to be easy.
So let’s settle our nerves, climb onto the high-wire and get ready for another week of start/sit recommendations with IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
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 6 brings with it the first four-team bye week. The Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders are all off. No Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Darius Leonard or Tahir Whitehead this week.
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
Jayon Brown – ILB, Tennessee Titans (at DEN) (1)
Brown’s a new-age NFL linebacker—a player who relies more on speed and sideline-to-sideline range than size. As Jim Wyatt wrote for the team’s website, head coach Mike Vrabel is more than happy to have Brown serve as one of the team’s defensive leaders on the inside.
“The size of linebackers has really diminished over the past 10 years,” Vrabel said. “Most recently it is what is playing in college football. The more that offenses become spread out, the more that college defenses recruit athletic, quick, smaller (linebackers). We are very comfortable with where we are with Jayon Brown and his development as a linebacker.”
Brown had a sluggish first game for the Titans this year, but he’s been making up for it ever since—the third-year pro ranks just outside the top-12 in fantasy points over the past four games. Brown has a good chance to one-up that and crack the top-10 Sunday in Denver against a Broncos team that leads the NFL in fantasy points given up to linebackers this season.
WEEK 6 IDP STUDS
Jonathan Allen – DE, Washington Redskins (at MIA) (3)
Sunday’s matchup between the Redskins and Dolphins features a level of suck that is usually only seen in black holes. But lost in a terrible season in the nation’s capital is the fact that Washington’s defensive line is actually pretty good. That line should feast in Miami Sunday.
Mario Addison – DE, Carolina Panthers (vs, TBB – London) (5)
Addison’s off to a great start to the 2019 season, ranking third in the NFL with 6.5 sacks through five games. The veteran edge-rusher should be able to keep the good times rolling Sunday in London in a top-five IDP matchup with the Buccaneers.
Robert Quinn – DE, Dallas Cowboys (at NYJ) (2)
The good news for the New York Jets is that quarterback Sam Darnold will be back in class after missing most of the first quarter, so now he can take Sallie Mae to the homecoming dance. The bad news is that the Jets have allowed an NFL-high 23 sacks, so Darnold may wish he still had mono.
Jerome Baker – OLB, Miami Dolphins (vs. WAS) (4)
The Redskins were already a top-five fantasy matchup for linebackers in 2019. With new head coach Bill Callahan talking up the importance of rushing attempts over yards per carry (what year is this?), that matchup’s likely only going to get better moving forward.
Demario Davis – OLB, New Orleans Saints (at JAX) (3)
Davis has been on a nice little roll of late, ranking inside the top-15 fantasy linebackers over the last three weeks. That hot streak should keep rolling on Sunday against a Jaguars team that has made a concerted effort of late to get tailback Leonard Fournette involved.
Devin White – ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CAR—London) (2)
White didn’t play a single snap last week despite being active for the Bucs, but the release of Deone Bucannon would seem to indicate he’ll be back in action in Week 6. If that’s the case, the rookie draws a highly favorable matchup with the Panthers in London.
Jamal Adams – S, New York Jets (vs. DAL) (3)
Adams is one of those slow starters I mentioned earlier—he’s 33rd in fantasy points per game among defensive backs to this point in the season. If he can’t get going this week in a plus matchup with the Cowboys, it’s officially big red button time.
Reshad Jones – S, Miami Dolphins (vs. WAS) (4)
The Miami Dolphins are a terrible football team with a hideous defense. But Jones is the last line of defense for that hideous defense, which should mean no shortage of tackle opportunities—even against a putrid offense like Washington’s.
Byron Murphy – CB, Arizona Cardinals (vs. ATL) (1)
If you’ve read much of my IDP work over the past decade or so, you know it’s rare for me to recommend a cornerback as a weekly starter in a standard IDP league. But that’s exactly what I’m doing this week with the rookie cornerback and the pass-heavy Falcons.
Justin Reid – S, Houston Texans (at KCC) (7)
This is a stunning revelation, so you may want to brace yourself. Perhaps have a seat. Get a brown paper bag ready in case you hyperventilate from the shock. Ready? The Kansas City Chiefs tend to give up a lot of fantasy points to defensive backs.