In some respects, the middle of the season can be the most difficult time of year for lineup calls.
Despite seven weeks of evidence as to what kind of season a player is having, the temptation can be strong to keep rolling out an IDP who just hasn’t been getting it done statistically. Partly it’s the hope that a rebound is just around the corner. And partly it’s the sobering reality that fantasy owners just don’t like to admit they were wrong.
Sometimes, that stubbornness is justified. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald got off to a sluggish start to the 2019 season. But it’s Aaron freaking Donald. And of late he’s played like it—over the past two games Donald has nine tackles, three sacks and is the highest-scoring defensive lineman in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
For others, it’s not so simple. Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was drafted as a top-10 fantasy option but is barely hanging around inside low-end IDP LB2 territory. Still, while Vander Esch hasn’t been great, he hasn’t been terrible, and all it takes is a big week or two to get the second-year pro into the ballpark of where we expected him to be.
For others still, it’s time to see the writing on the wall. After two straight disappearing acts, Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid ranks outside the top 50 fantasy defensive backs. Last year’s top-10 second half isn’t going to be repeated. If other options are available on the waiver wire, it’s time to move on.
Sometimes, you just have to know when to say goodbye.
With that said, I’m here to do what I can to help—with another round of 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).
Just two teams are on bye in Week 8—the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys. At least Vander Esch gets another week for his neck injury to heal up.
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
Jarrad Davis – ILB, Detroit Lions (vs. NYG) (2)
Davis hasn’t exactly lit up the stat sheet since returning a few weeks ago from a high ankle sprain suffered in the preseason. However, Lions linebackers coach Al Golden told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he’s confident Davis will pick things up as he rounds back into shape.
“I haven’t seen anything that would indicate that he’s slower or lost any of his quickness at all,” Golden said. “I think the hardest thing is, I think for people to understand, you miss a month, and you really have an injury that prevents you from even doing change of direction drills or any of the drills associated with your profession for a month. Running in the water or doing the Alter G (anti-gravity treadmill) or riding a bike is a completely different thing.”
If ever there was a week for Davis to get his sea legs back, this is it. Sunday brings a visit from Saquon Barkley and a New York Giants team allowing the most fantasy points to every team not named the Carolina Panthers this season.
WEEK 8 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (vs. TBB) (2): Casey’s long been a matchup-dependent fantasy option. He draws an excellent one in Week 8—only the Tennessee Titans allow more fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in 2019.
Sam Hubbard – DE, Cincinnati Bengals (at LAR—London) (6): In last year’s run to the Super Bowl, the Rams offensive line was a strength. This year it’s been a problem—only five teams are giving up more fantasy points to defensive linemen this year.
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. NYJ) (3): Ngakoue’s been riding a hot streak that includes a pick-six in last week’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The streak should continue Sunday against a Jets team that has given up 26 sacks so far this season.
Kwon Alexander – ILB, San Francisco 49ers (vs. CAR) (1): Alexander hasn’t been the IDP option many had hoped this season. But this week’s matchup with the Panthers should offer ample opportunities for both Alexander and Fred Warner to have a good week.
Nathan Gerry – ILB, Philadelphia Eagles (at BUF) (4): This assumes that Nigel Bradham is out again in Week 8. If he is, Gerry should have a good chance to back up last week’s 11-stop effort in a matchup with the run-heavy Buffalo Bills.
K.J. Wright – OLB, Seattle Seahawks (at ATL) (5): The Falcons are a hot mess, but the offense has played well. With Matt Schaub potentially starting at quarterback though, the team will be forced to lean harder on Devonta Freeman and the ground game.
Minkah Fitzpatrick – S, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. MIA) (3): This is a hunch call as much as anything, but the Dolphins have been mistake-prone this season and Fitzpatrick should be all kinds of motivated to make a big play against his old team.
Devin McCourty – S, New England Patriots (vs. CLE) (7): McCourty’s presently leading the NFL in interceptions with five heading into a matchup with a quarterback in Baker Mayfield who leads the NFL in interceptions thrown with 11.
Jermaine Whitehead – S, Cleveland Browns (at NEP) (2): Before Cleveland’s bye, Whitehead had supplanted Morgan Burnett as the team’s starter at strong safety. Assuming that holds, he’ll clean up Sunday in a plus matchup at Gillette Stadium.