For some IDP owners, Week 9 could mean bidding bye-bye to fantasy playoff hopes. By this point in the season, fantasy owners of 3-5 or 2-6 teams don’t have much margin for error. Eat another loss, and the season is essentially toast.
And the NFL isn’t making things any easier. Because Week 9 brings with it a six-team bye.
The Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks all have Week 9 off.
And (GASP!) no J.J. Watt.
Still, we all to have to do the best we can with the hand we’re dealt, even if the deck is short several cards. 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).
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (at NO)
This marks Casey’s second straight appearance on the “Studs” list, after the fifth-year veteran threw-up five stops and half a sack last week against the Houston Texans. Casey will get a chance to impress new head coach Mike Mularkey in a favorable IDP matchup, as the Saints have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring this year.
Cameron Jordan – DE, New Orleans Saints (vs. TEN)
With five sacks over his past three games, Jordan’s been on a nice rip of late. But Jordan told John DeShazier of the team’s website his hot streak has been a team effort. “I think that good things will come together,” Jordan said. “I think I’ve been able to rush the passer better, but at this point I’m reaping a lot of the rewards of the young guys. We have (defensive tackle) Kevin Williams, who’s been in the league for 13 years, creating that middle pressure that you want and you’re allowed to come off the edge and get a sack or two.”
Olivier Vernon – DE, Miami Dolphins (at BUF)
With Cameron Wake lost for the season to a torn Achilles tendon it now falls to Vernon to anchor a Miami pass rush that has underperformed through much of 2015. Granted, it’s entirely possible that the 25-year-old’s 11.5 sack second season back in 2013 was more fluke than breakout, but Vernon has shown the ability to get after the passer and draws a Buffalo team in Week 9 that leads the AFC in fantasy points per game allowed to defensive linemen.
Christian Jones – ILB, Chicago Bears (at SD)
Jones freely admitted to Rich Campbell of The Chicago Tribune that he’s struggled a bit calling the defensive plays since batterymate Shea McLellin got hurt. You have to be ready when somebody goes down, and it kind of caught me off guard a little bit,” Jones said. “Everybody has to get the call. Everybody has to be on the same page. If one guy doesn’t get the call, it’s on me. Just make sure I keep saying the call until everybody gets it.” Jones has gotten better, however, as this week’s Monday night matchup is a tasty one.
Nate Palmer – ILB, Green Bay Packers (at CAR)
Palmer got the hook last week against the Denver Broncos, so you may be wondering why it’s him and not rookie Jake Ryan listed here ahead of a very nice IDP matchup with the Carolina Panthers. Well, the fact is Ryan didn’t fare any better than Palmer did against Peyton Manning, and the guess here is that the veteran will get a chance at redemption Sunday against the run-heavy Panthers.
Michael Wilhoite – ILB, San Francisco 49ers (vs. ATL)
Make no mistake, the San Francisco 49ers have officially achieved dumpster fire status. And inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite isn’t going to be confused with Patrick Willis or NaVorro Bowman any time soon. However, Wilhoite is quietly having a very nice season for fantasy owners, and this week the dumpster fires host an Atlanta team that ranks first in tackle opportunities allowed and second in fantasy points per game allowed to linebackers in 2015.
Michael Griffin – FS, Tennessee Titans (at NO)
As CBS Sports reported, Griffin has been the “beneficiary” lately of the fact the Titans, well, suck. “The 30-year-old safety returned with a vengeance after missing last week’s tilt against Atlanta,” they wrote. “Griffin and the defense have gotten plenty of opportunities to pile up tackles in recent weeks, as Tennessee’s inept offense has failed to sustain long drives.” That should mean good things Sunday against the suddenly surging Saints.
Antrel Rolle – FS, Chicago Bears (at SD)
In advance of a Monday night matchup with a Chargers team allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to defensive backs, Rolle told CSN Chicago that the Bears are set to surprise. “This team is far from over and we’re going to shock the world once we come back and we get to playing ball the way we know how.” Given his long layoff from injury, Rolle’s likely sitting on more than a few waiver wires, making the vet a fine Week 9 plug-and-play option.
T.J. Ward – SS, Denver Broncos (at IND)
Ward hasn’t been an especially valuable IDP asset in the Mile High City, in no small part due to all the talent in front of him. However, the 28-year-old has had his moments, and Week 9’s matchup with the Colts sets up well. Andrew Luck has turned the ball over with regularity this year, and as a result no team in the NFL has been friendlier to defensive backs from an IDP perspective this year.