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The wait is finally over.
After months of waiting, free agency, the 2013 NFL Draft, organized team activities, minicamps, training camps and the preseason, it has finally, mercifully arrived.
It’s football season!
The Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos got things underway Thursday night, with a win by the Broncos that featured a big game on the defensive side of the ball from Denver safety Duke Ihenacho.
I have a hunch he’ll be making an appearance in next week’s waiver wire article.
There’s a full slate of games on tap for Sunday, featuring any number of intriguing matchups. With Week 1 getting underway in earnest, it’s time for another season of
IDP Studs and Duds.
Every week during the 2013 season, I’ll point out some Individual Defensive Players who could be set to exceed expectations this week (studs) and some that for whatever reason are riskier plays than usual (duds).
That 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 that week are greater than usual).
Let’s get this party started!
, DE, Cincinnati (at Chicago): After both Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins received contract extensions this year, it appears Johnson is the odd man out in the Queen City. Johnson gets his first chance to audition for potential suitors in 2014 this week against a Chicago squad that has had its fair share of issues in pass protection in recent years.
, DE, New England (at Buffalo): Ninkovich quietly posted Top 12 numbers last year in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. There’s a better than average chance that Ninkovich will get the 2013 campaign off to an excellent start going up against a Bills team featuring a rookie quarterback (who recently had his knee scoped) making his first career NFL start.
, DE, St. Louis (vs. Arizona): In 2012, the Cardinals employed the matador technique on the offensive front, “Ole-ing!” their way to a league-leading 58 sacks allowed. Granted, that line should be better this year, but it would have to improve by a significant margin to go from gosh-awful to just lousy.
, OLB, Carolina (vs. Seattle): IDP owners in deeper leagues who need a spot-starter should look to Davis. The ninth-year veteran has held off Jon Beason for nickel duties to this point, and this week Davis draws a Top 5 IDP matchup for his position in the run-heavy Seahawks.
, ILB, Green Bay (at San Francisco): The fifth-year pro, who has returned to practice after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason, takes over as the full-time starter at weak inside linebacker for the Packers this year. That’s a good thing headed into a matchup with the 49ers, who were a Top 10 IDP matchup for linebackers in 2012.
, ILB, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): No team in the NFL allowed more fantasy points per game to linebackers last year than the Eagles. Throw in Chip Kelly’s new offense (more plays run equals more tackle opportunities), and you have a recipe for big outings from Riley and batterymate London Fletcher on Monday night.
Thomas DeCoud, FS, Atlanta (at New Orleans):
Just in case you’re new to this whole football thing, here’s a news flash. The New Orleans Saints have a tendency to keep opposing defensive backs pretty busy, which should equate to strong showings in the box score for DeCoud and strong safety William Moore.
Aaron Williams, SS, Buffalo (vs. New England):
One of the more surprising IDP subplots of the summer was Williams beating out Da’Norris Searcy for the starting strong safety job in Buffalo. The third-year pro faces a stiff test right out of the gate, as even though the Patriots offense is injury-depleted, Tom Brady is still more than capable of moving the ball through the air.
Charles Woodson, FS, Oakland (at Indianapolis):
Woodson has a long history of IDP production, but the future Hall of Famer has struggled to stay healthy of late. Well, the 16th-year veteran is healthy right now, and the Oakland defense will probably be on the field for about 57 minutes of their matchup with the Colts.
, DE, New York Giants (at Dallas): Ranking Pierre-Paul as a “dud” has nothing to do with the player and everything to do with the situation. There’s no guarantee that Pierre-Paul will play this week due to his bad back, and with it being a Sunday night game, waiting and hoping is a very risky bet. Throw in limited snaps even if he does play, and if you have any other viable options the wise course of action is to give Pierre-Paul the week off.
, DE, Atlanta (at New Orleans): Now that Osi Umenyiora is back in a full-time role, many pundits have predicted big things in 2013 from the 11th-year veteran. However, the chips are stacked against that resurgence beginning in Week 1 against a Saints team that was the stingiest fantasy matchup for defensive linemen a year ago.
, DE, Buffalo (vs. New England): The good news is, much to the joy of his IDP owners, Williams has held onto his defensive line eligibility at My Fantasy League. The bad news is, this week the Bills draw a matchup with a Patriots team that wasn’t kind to defensive linemen from an IDP standpoint last year.
, ILB, San Diego (vs. Houston): On its surface, Butler’s matchup with the run-heavy Texans would appear to set the stage for a big night tackle-wise. With that said, these sorts of juicy matchups led to Butler disappointing from a fantasy standpoint as often as not last year. Of course, now that I’ve called him out Butler will rack up 15 tackles, because he’s out to destroy me. Seriously.
, ILB, New York Jets (vs. Tampa Bay): Davis is a trendy pick as an IDP breakout candidate now that he’s taken over at weak inside linebacker for the Jets. However, Davis’ Week 1 matchup with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that gave up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to linebackers last year isn’t an especially favorable one.
, MLB, Seattle (at Carolina): Listen, if you have Wagner on your roster, you’re rolling him out there. I am in more than one league. That doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern with Wagner facing the Panthers, who were easily the poorest fantasy matchup for linebackers a season ago.
Antoine Bethea, FS, Indianapolis (vs. Oakland):
Bethea has been an IDP-relevant defensive back for years, but this isn’t the week to start him. Not only could new batterymate LaRon Landry cost him tackle opportunities, but those will be in short supply anyway thanks to a Raiders offense that is a CO5 on the Yokahama crappy offense scale.
Patrick Chung, SS, Philadelphia (at Washington):
Many IDP owners drafted Chung in 2013 with the hope that he will resurrect his career with the Eagles. That may well happen, but the chances for a big first week aren’t good given that the Redskins allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to defensive backs in 2012.
T.J. Ward, SS, Cleveland (vs. Miami):
Since lighting the league on fire as a rookie, Ward has been a relative disappointment for fantasy owners. With questions surrounding his role in defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s defense and a poor matchup with the Miami Dolphins on tap, the fourth-year pro is a shaky DB2 start in Week 1.
Don’t forget to check back here regularly at Fantasy Sharks for all your IDP needs, from Rankings and Projections to waiver wire pickups and strategy. Whatever you need, Fantasy Sharks has you covered!
Looking for more IDP information? Be sure to check out all the other great IDP articles by the rest of the Fantasy Sharks’ crew, the IDP Forum, IDP Manor, and for the latest injury news follow @IDPManor on Twitter.
Gary Davenport is the IDP Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, In addition to his work at Fantasy Sharks and at IDP Manor, Davenport’s IDP work has been featured in a number of national print publications and on both satellite and terrestrial radio.