It all comes down to this.
Weeks of draft preparation over the summer was followed by a culmination of sorts. A grand finale. Draft day. It’s the same with roster management — weeks of setting lineups and making waiver claims conclude this week with another grand finale — one that only two teams have been invited to.
It’s championship week.
If you’re fortunate enough to have made it this far, then one of two things is going to happen in Week 16. OK, three things if you’re in the semifinals of an Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league that plays its title game in Week 17. But in most leagues, this is the end of the line.
Lose, and all those months of draft prep and roster management will have been for naught. You’ll come up just short of the finish line. Think for weeks about what might have been. On the other hand, win and it’s title time. Trophies. Prize money. Glory galore.
In this biggest of weeks featuring a matchup between two evenly matched teams, every lineup decision becomes all the more crucial. Every choice could be the difference between victory and defeat. Every point counts.
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
Cole Holcomb, ILB, Washington (vs. New York Giants) (2)
When the season began, not much was expected of Holcomb in the nation’s capital. Sixteen weeks later, Holcomb is leading the Washington linebackers in tackles. Per Ben Standig of The Athletic, veteran batterymate Jon Bostic has been impressed by what he’s seen from the youngster this season.
“You’re starting to see some (growth), but there’s a ways to go. That’s what’s expected of a rookie,” Bostic said. “The game is starting to slow down for (Cole). He’s starting to call things out as fast as I am.”
Holcomb hasn’t been a fantasy worldbeater — he’s 43rd in fantasy points for the season in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. But only Carolina has surrendered more fantasy points in 2019 to the linebacker position than the Giants — setting Holcomb up for one of his better stat lines of the season in Week 16.
WEEK 16 IDP STUDS
Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati (at Miami) (4): Whether it’s Atkins, Carlos Dunlap or Sam Hubbard, it’s all hands on deck for Cincinnati pass-rushers against a Miami team that has allowed an NFL-high 54 sacks so far this season.
Justin Houston, DE, Indianapolis (vs. Carolina) (3): Houston’s been stuck on nine sacks for a while now, but the veteran edge-rusher will hit double-digits for the first time since 2014 in this highly favorable matchup with reeling Carolina.
Robert Quinn, DE, Dallas (at Philadelphia) (6): Like Houston, Quinn has been stuck just south of 10 sacks for the season. Like Houston, Quinn’s set up well to get over the hump in Sunday’s big NFC East battle in Philadelphia.
Zach Cunningham, ILB, Houston (at Tampa Bay) (3): It’s a perfect storm for Cunningham — he now leads the NFL in solos, has a great matchup on deck and could see that many more opportunities if Benardrick McKinney is sidelined in Week 16.
Todd Davis, ILB, Denver (vs. Detroit) (5): The Detroit offense wasn’t exactly tearing it up even before the injuries swept through it. But Detroit has remained a surprisingly favorable fantasy matchup for the linebacker position this season.
Shaq Thompson, OLB, Carolina (at Indianapolis) (6): The Carolina run defense is hot garbage, but there’s a silver lining for IDP owners — opponents are banging away at them on the ground, which means tackle opportunities galore for Thompson and Luke Kuechly.
Malcolm Jenkins, S, Philadelphia (vs. Dallas) (3): Jenkins has been on a nice roll of late —since Philadelphia returned from its Week 10 bye the veteran safety ranks inside the Top 10 among defensive backs. The good times keep rolling in Week 16.
Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, Tampa Bay (vs. Houston) (16): Since Week 10, Murphy-Bunting has quietly been a Top 20 fantasy defensive back. The rookie should see plenty of targets this week as he tries in vain to cover DeAndre Hopkins.
Justin Reid, S, Houston (at Tampa Bay) (1): Reid hasn’t been a great fantasy option in 2019 — he hasn’t topped six tackles since all the way back in Week 5. But Tampa Bay has been a goldmine for defensive backs most of the season. If ever he was gonna have a week, this is it.