It’s been one hell of a wacky year in 2013.
If there’s been a predominant storyline this year in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, it’s been to expect the unexpected.
The top end defensive linemen, much like running backs, have been something of a dumpster fire. Youngsters like Cincinnati’s
and surprise vets like Detroit’s
have stolen the thunder among the linebackers, and good luck figuring the defensive backs out.
OK, the defensive backs are like that every year.
Every week during the 2013 season has been fraught with peril and uncertainty, but, if you’ve made it this far, you’re only a couple of wins away from the sweet taste of IDP glory.
In the playoffs, against good teams, every point is critical. One goose egg can mean the end of the season. One false step can mean certain, agonizing death.
Each 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).
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).
Now let’s win some playoff games!
Jason Babin, DE, Jacksonville (vs. Buffalo):
There’s some risk in trusting the 33-year-old Babin in a fantasy playoff game. However, Babin does have a sack in back-to-back games for the surging (no really, they are) Jaguars, who face a Buffalo Bills team this week giving up the most fantasy points to defensive linemen in
Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring
Jason Hatcher, DT, Dallas (vs. Green Bay):
Hatcher leads the Cowboys with nine sacks, but with only three solos over the past two games some IDP owners may be antsy about starting the eighth-year-veteran this week. Don’t be, not against a Green Bay offensive line allowing the second-most fantasy points to defensive linemen in 2013.
Michael Johnson, DE, Cincinnati (at Pittsburgh):
Johnson’s contract year hasn’t exactly gone according to plan, as the fifth-year pro has only three sacks in 12 games. However, Johnson’s tackle numbers have been solid this season, and the Pittsburgh offensive line isn’t exactly stout.
Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Indianapolis (vs. Houston):
Although Freeman is still a top-20 fantasy linebacker for the season, the former Canadian Football League star has been in something of an IDP slump (by his standards) for over a month. That should end this week against the Texans, who, regardless of their free fall this year, remain a very fantasy-friendly matchup for linebackers.
Stephen Tulloch, MLB, Detroit (vs. Baltimore):
Tulloch hasn’t been the top-10 performer that Levy’s been this year, but the 28-year-old, who has quietly posted 107 stops and top-25 fantasy numbers, will benefit just like Levy from this week’s matchup with the Ravens, who are the friendliest IDP matchup for linebackers in 2013.
Paul Worrilow, MLB, Atlanta (vs. Washington):
It goes without saying that Worrilow is a strong fantasy start given how he’s been gobbling up tackles. However, in a great matchup against a Redskins team allowing the third-most fantasy points to linebackers, Worrilow is an absolute, get-him-in-there IDP LB1.
James Ihedigbo, SS, Baltimore (at Detroit):
Ihedigbo was not only a surprise starter for the Ravens in 2013, but the career special-teamer has also been remarkably effective. There’s a good chance the 30-year-old makes it three big games in a row this week against the Lions, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to defensive backs this year.
Jason McCourty, CB, Tennessee (vs. Arizona):
McCourty has been a major disappointment for IDP owners this season, but the 26-year-old rebounded slightly last week with six stops against the Denver Broncos. This week’s tilt with the Cardinals presents a second-straight top-6 fantasy matchup for cornerbacks.
Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle (at New York Giants):
Like many free safeties, Thomas is somewhat big-play reliant for fantasy production. Luckily, this week the Seahawks face a New York Giants team allowing the most fantasy points to defensive backs and a quarterback with the most interceptions in the NFC.