As hard as it is to believe, the stretch run is here in most fantasy football leagues.
As it usually does, the fantasy season has flown by at ludicrous speed. Given the number of articles I write (plus all the stuff that goes with them, whether it’s rankings and radio appearances or research and day-drinking to ease the pain of my wrong-ness), the fall is a blur to me — things get hazy around Labor Day and then it’s Christmas.
And even then, I’m surprised at how fast the season has blasted by us.
At this time of year, there are three types of fantasy owners. There are the fortunate souls who have really good teams that have already sewn up playoff spots. Screw those jerks and their Darius Leonards.
But the largest group are those for whom nothing is settled yet. From 6-3 to 3-6 and all points between, plenty of Individual Defensive Player (IDP) owners are now already in the playoffs after a fashion. Every week is a must-win. Every victory is one step closer to the playoffs. Every loss is one step closer to the liquor cabinet. Every point counts.
Sorry. It’s an annual tradition for me to bust that video out at some point.
That’s where IDP “Studs and Duds” comes in (I hope — I really do try to get these right, believe it or not).
With that out of the way, let’s get this party started.
Each week during the 2018 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 2018 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Mark Barron, ILB, Los Angeles Rams (vs. Seattle) (2)
“Barron struggled in this one as he was beaten a few times in coverage,” DaSilva wrote, “while also missing his share of tackles – a problem for seemingly every Rams defender Sunday. Cory Littleton was better, but even he was burned for a big play to Benjamin Watson after failing to keep up with him in coverage. His play on the goal line to stuff Zach Line was phenomenal, however, and saved a touchdown.”
The numbers to note for IDP owners from the New Orleans game are six and 62. Barron amassed six solos (and seven total tackles) a week ago — a season-best for solo stops. He also was on the field for 62-of-71 defensive snaps (87 percent), his highest percentage of the season in that regard. Barron had nine total tackles in Week 5 against Seattle — I expect him to better that number at the Coliseum on Sunday.
WEEK 10 IDP STUDS
Trey Flowers, DE, New England (at Tennessee) (7)
Flowers has just 2.5 sacks for the season and hasn’t notched a full sack since all the way back in Week 1. However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story about how effective Flowers has been as a pass-rusher, and this is a favorable fantasy matchup.
Jerry Hughes, DE, Buffalo (at New York Jets) (4)
Lost in the unending tragic comedy that is Buffalo’s 2018 season and its hot mess of an offense is the fact that Buffalo’s defense ranks third in the NFL. Hughes has been a big part of that, and I expect him to rack up his fifth full sack of the season Sunday.
Melvin Ingram, DE, Los Angeles Chargers (at Oakland) (1)
It hasn’t been a great season for Ingram, whose numbers have fallen off a cliff without Joey Bosa giving opponents nightmares at the other end of the line. Speaking of falling off a cliff, how about Oakland? Is that $100 million investment in Jon Gruden paying dividends yet?
Nigel Bradham, OLB, Philadelphia (vs. Dallas) (5)
Bradham hasn’t posted big numbers this season — his season-high in tackles in any one games is eight. But a Top 5 IDP matchup with Ezekiel Elliott and a Dallas offense that can’t throw the ball portends Bradham’s best statistical showing of the season.
Mason Foster, ILB, Washington (at Tampa Bay) (3)
Tampa Bay is an excellent IDP matchup despite not running the ball with any sort of consistent effectiveness. That bodes well for linebackers facing Tampa Bay, who stay on the field in passing-down sub-packages. For Washington, that’s Foster.
Darron Lee, ILB, New York Jets (vs. Buffalo) (1)
Lee’s the poster child for disappointing IDPs — he’s been out-pointed by Avery Williamson by a substantial margin. However, Lee’s still been a Top 25 linebacker for the season, and both he and Williamson should feast Sunday against Buffalo.
Damontae Kazee, S, Atlanta (at Cleveland) (5)
Kazee popped up on the injury report this week with an ankle injury, but there’s been nothing to indicate he’s in serious jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game. Assuming he plays, Kazee’s in position to have a nice game stat-wise against Cleveland.
Marcus Maye, S, New York Jets (vs. Buffalo) (1)
Maye’s had some trouble staying on the field this year, but when he has been out there, he’s been a productive IDP option. This week Maye and the Jets draw the turnover bonanza that is Buffalo. Start ’em if you’ve got ’em, folks.
D.J. Swearinger, S, Washington (at Tampa Bay) (4)
Swearinger was mic’d up for last week’s game against Atlanta, which wound up being rather awkward since he didn’t record a single tackle. Shake off that doughnut as an aberration and roll him back out there in a Top 5 fantasy matchup in the secondary.