As I sit down to write this article the first Thursday night contest of the season is underway (Thursday games should be for Thanksgiving….period), which means that the bye weeks are almost in the rearview and it’s time to gear up for the fantasy football gauntlet that is the stretch run.
No byes this week, so IDP owners have every bullet in their roster arsenals. The key now is to avoid shooting yourself in the fantasy foot with a bad lineup choice.
That said here’s a look at some players you should give serious consideration to getting into your lineups or who could outperform expectations (Studs) and some that, for whatever reason, you may want to consider leaving alone, or at least take into account that they may be a relative disappointment this week (Duds).
Jason Babin – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. ARI): After being shut out in the sack column by the Bears last Monday night Babin and the Eagles defensive front is going to come out angry and looking to take it out on John Skelton and the Redbirds Sunday.
Marcell Dareus – DT, Buffalo Bills (at DAL): The rookie has 13 total stops and 2.5 sacks over his past three games and gets a favorable matchup this week with a Dallas Cowboys team that has had its’ share of issues with pass protection.
Jabaal Sheard – DE, Cleveland Browns (vs. STL): No team in the National Football League has surrendered more sacks this year than the St. Louis Rams, which bodes well for Sheard, Ahtyba Rubin, and Co. this week.
Karlos Dansby – ILB, Miami Dolphins (vs. WAS): Dansby has been on fire of late and should continue that hot streak against a Washington Redskins squad that has allowed the third most fantasy points per game to opposing linebackers this season.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar – MLB, New Orleans Saints (at ATL): Starter Jonathan Vilma hasn’t practiced all week, so it looks like another game as the every-down MLB for Dunbar in a big divisional matchup with the Falcons.
Mason Foster – MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. HOU) The rookie MIKE should have plenty of opportunities to produce playing every down against the Texans, who allow the second most tackle opportunities per game in the league.
Terrence McGee – CB, Buffalo Bills (at DAL): The ninth-year veteran has averaged better than seven tackles a game over the past three weeks and should be plenty busy covering Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant this week.
Charlie Peprah – SS, Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN): It’s been Peprah, and not the more heralded Morgan Burnett, making plays at the back end of the Green Bay secondary the past month, and you should expect that to continue Monday night.
Charles Tillman – CB, Chicago Bears (vs. DET): Peanut! Peanut! Getya Peanut Here! You may not realize this, but cornerbacks tasked with covering Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson generally end up breathing rather heavily by the end of the day.
Calais Campbell – DE, Arizona Cardinals (at PHI): Campbell’s been a rock-solid IDP for most of the season, but he’s set to disappoint this week given the long road trip and worst fantasy matchup in the league for opposing fantasy DL.
Greg Hardy – DE, Carolina Panthers (vs. TEN): The Titans have been mediocre in many facets of the game but pass protection hasn’t been one of them, as Tennessee has allowed the fourth fewest sacks in the NFL this season.
J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans (at TB): Watt has had an excellent rookie campaign but may struggle this week against a Tampa Bay team that has surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing defensive linemen this year.
Larry Foote – ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CIN): Foote has played well in relief of the injured James Farrior, but with Farrior back at practice and Pittsburgh desperately needing a win Foote is a risky IDP proposition at best this week.
James Harrison – OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CIN): Harrison looked fantastic in his return to action last week, notching three sacks, but the grizzled vet may find the IDP sledding a lot tougher this week in a stingy fantasy matchup with the Bengals.
Paul Posluszny – MLB, Jacksonville Jaguars (at IND): After a slow start Posluszny has righted the ship quite nicely, but unfortunately for his fantasy owners he now enters the IDP black hole that is the Indianapolis Colts.
Jordan Babineaux – SS, Tennessee Titans (at CAR): Babineaux has been an IDP force since coming on for the injured Chris Hope several weeks ago, but with Hope set to return to action Sunday the gravy train may regrettably be headed for the station.
Patrick Chung – SS, New England Patriots (at NYJ): Getting injury news out of Foxboro is like trying to get a Jello shot away from Snooki, so given that the mystery malady of Chung’s has cost him two days’ practice the warm and fuzzies I do not have.
LaRon Landry – SS, Washington Redskins (at MIA): Love the player, but hate his achilles, which has unfortunately decided to flare up, making Landry a gimpy play at best and a Sunday scratch at worst.