It’s that most wonderful time of the year.
Yes, it’s the Holidays. Thanksgiving has come and gone. You probably woke up today 4-6 pounds heavier than the day before. Cash registers are ringing off the chain across America as Black Friday sales draw shoppers in droves.
Every commercial is a Christmas commercial. The cheer is as suffocating as it is inescapable. But that isn’t what I meant. It’s the stretch run. In some fantasy leagues, Week 12 marks the end of the regular season. Many more leagues have only one more game after that.
And for the many, many fringe playoff contenders that means in effect the postseason has already begun. Win and advance. Lose and it’s all over but the autopsy. That makes every lineup decision and every point critical. And that’s where IDP Studs and Duds comes in.
Each week during the 2015 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).
(Fantasy points allowed to the position in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring in 2015 listed in parentheses.
LOCK OF THE WEEK
Eric Kendricks – MLB, Minnesota Vikings (at ATL) (1): As Matt Vensel of the Twin Cities Star Tribune reported, in advance of a very favorable matchup with the Falcons, Kendricks appears to have returned to an every-down role. “Kendricks,” Vensel said, “who had missed the previous two games with an injury to his ribs, returned to the starting lineup in (last week’s) 30-13 loss to the Packers. Kendricks played 68 of the 77 defensive snaps and was second on the team with seven tackles.”
Calais Campbell – DE, Arizona Cardinals (at SF) (7): Campbell’s sack numbers are way down in 2015 (he has only 1.5), but this week sets up well given all the problems the 49ers have had in pass protection this year.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (at SEA) (1): Want to know the source of many of Seattle’s problems in 2015? No quarterback in the National Football League has been sacked more times than Russell Wilson.
Jason Pierre-Paul – DE, New York Giants (at WAS) (4): Pierre-Paul insisted to Steve Serby of The New York Post that he’s recovered from his July mishap. “My accident occurred or whatever, but it didn’t stop me,” he said. “I know a lot of things I got to get better at. It takes time. It’s only been four months, man. If it was any other guy, I don’t know … I’m a different breed.”
Nigel Bradham – ILB, Buffalo Bills (at KC) (7): Whether it’s Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West or Manny the Nacho Vendor, the Chiefs are going to try to run the ball, and that’s good IDP news for linebackers.
C.J. Mosley – ILB, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE) (4): The fact that Mosley’s ranking of ninth among linebackers in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring is considered by some a disappointment speaks to just how good Mosley was as a rookie last year.
Manti Te’o – ILB, San Diego Chargers (a JAX) (5): As Tom Krasovic of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, Te’o has shown marked improvement in 2015. “Te’o, before he got hurt in Week 5, costing him four games,” Krasovic said, “was finally getting the jump on NFL offenses. Anticipating where the ball was going, he was starting to play like he did late in his Notre Dame career. He was getting off the mark fast. He wasn’t finishing as he should, but he was getting better.”
Johnathan Cyprien – SS, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. SD) (4): Simply put, you’re starting most of your IDPs when the Bolts come to town, No team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to individual defensive players in 2015.
Bradley McDougald – SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at IND) (1): McDougald has returned to 2014 form during his recent hot streak, just in time for a very juicy matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
Donte Whitner – SS, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL) (5): As if a top-five fantasy matchup with the Ravens isn’t enough reason to start Whitner, try this one – Matt “Pick Six” Schaub is starting under center for Baltimore.