Hard as it is for me to believe, it’s been 10 years.
Back in 2009, the very first in-season article I wrote for Fantasy Football Oasis was the very first iteration of IDP Studs and Duds. To say my life’s changed a bit since then is an understatement. Writing about fantasy football and the NFL has gone from a hobby to my career—a career that I love more than words can express.
I reconnected with the love of my life. Moved back to Ohio. Picked up a wonderful stepdaughter. It’s been a wild ride.
I owe that to Fantasy Football Oasis. To deciding when Scott Fish and I started the site that I would focus in individual defensive player leagues. To this very column. To it helping get me a gig that actually paid cash money here.
And most importantly, to all of you.
So as I prepare to kick off a 10th season of IDP Studs and Duds (and eighth here at Fantasy Sharks) I want to take a moment to thank you. Thanks for reading this article and all the others I write here at Fantasy Sharks and elsewhere. Thank you for asking me questions on social media. Thanks for the pats on the back when I’m right and the kicks in the butt when I’m wrong.
I’m wrong a lot, admittedly.
Without you, Faithful IDP Reader, none of this would have happened. I’d still be in Arizona working a job I hated and sleepwalking my way through life.
I owe you all bigly for waking me up – but you still aren’t getting a slice of my check. Hard to split something that small, because science doesn’t allow it.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the reason we’re here – the beginning of another NFL season and with it another year of fantasy football.
Each week during the 2018 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).
Before we get rolling in earnest, a quick note. There’s no denying that matchups are a big part of fantasy football – especially in IDP. But don’t get cute and bench high draft picks early because you fear an unfavorable one. The reality is for a few weeks we won’t be entirely sure which matchups are good (or bad). There will be teams who will outperform (or underperform) expectations.
You drafted players to be starters for a reason. So in most cases, start them.
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2017 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP START OF THE WEEK
B.J. Goodson – ILB, New York Giants (vs. JAX) (6)
After lighting up the stat sheet to the tune of 18 total tackles in Week 1, Goodson’s 2017 season was an injury-filled mess. While speaking with Howie Kussoy of the New York Post, Goodson blamed those struggles on returning too quickly. “The biggest thing with the injury was coming back too early,” Goodson said. “It was just being too excited to be out there with my guys and pushing myself out there before I should’ve come back.”
Now, however, Goodson’s healthy and starting opposite Alec Ogletree in the Giants’ new-look 3-4 front. Ogletree’s a no-brainer start in Week 1, but IDP owners looking for a quality plug-and-play should also consider Goodson. The Jaguars are a run-heavy team that ranked inside the top-six in the NFL in both tackle opportunities allowed and fantasy points allowed to linebackers in 2017.
WEEK 1 IDP STUDS
Jonathan Allen – DE, Washington Redskins (at ARZ) (3)
Allen’s rookie season wasn’t at all what the team had hoped from the first-round pick – Allen started slow and then got hurt. However, Allen would hardly be the first young lineman who takes a while to acclimate to the NFL, and a Week 1 matchup against a Cardinals team that surrendered the most sacks in the NFC last year sets him up for a fast start.
Carlos Dunlap – DE, Cincinnati Bengals (at IND) (6)
It’s hard to find something not to like about the Week 1 matchup for Dunlap and defensive tackle Geno Atkins in Week 1. The Bengals head to Indianapolis to face a Colts team that allowed a jaw-dropping 56 sacks in 2017, and while rookie guard Quenton Nelson should help fortify the Colts’ woeful O-line he can’t play all five spots – and the Colts tackles are a mess.
Trey Flowers – DE, New England Patriots (vs. HOU) (1)
Flowers missed all of the preseason with an undisclosed injury, but he told Isaiah Houde of Patriots Wire that he’s going to be out there when the Patriots host the Texans in a juicy pass-rush matchup Sunday. “Yeah, man. That’s the plan,” he said. “I play football, and it’s time for football to be played, so I expect to be out there.”
Matt Milano – OLB, Buffalo Bills (at BAL) (1)
Rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds may be getting most of the hype, but Milano could be set up for a big game all his own in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. No team allowed more fantasy points per game to linebackers last year than the Ravens, and it’s not a stretch to imagine the Ravens bang away on the ground in the second half of this game with a lead.
Fred Warner – ILB, San Francisco 49ers (at MIN) (10)
The Minnesota Vikings weren’t just 10th in fantasy points per game allowed to the linebacker position in 2017. They also led the National Football League in tackle opportunities allowed. Warner will start in place of the suspended Reuben Foster in Week 1, and with veteran WILL linebacker Malcolm Smith nicked up he could be in for a whopper of a debut.
Vince Williams – ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE) (4)
There are reasons for concern with Williams in 2018 – most specifically the “dollar” defensive alignment the Steelers have been experimenting with in which safeties occupy both of the nickel linebacker spots. But in most IDP leagues, Williams was selected as a LB2 – if you aren’t going to roll a second linebacker out in a top-five matchup, then, when will you?
Terrell Edmunds – S, PIT (at CLE) (4):
In news that was something of a bombshell, it was announced Thursday that Edmunds, and not veteran Morgan Burnett, will start for the Steelers Sunday in a top-five fantasy matchup with the Browns. It’s not a play for the faint of heart, but the upside’s there for a solid NFL debut.
Kurt Coleman – S, New Orleans Saints (vs. TBB) (2)
Per the team’s website, Coleman thinks the New Orleans defense could be set for a great season in 2018. “Yes, we are talented,” Coleman said, “but do you know what? There’s more to the game than just talent. And when you put all the pieces together that’s when you have a great individual person. That’s when you have a great defense and a great team.”
Kenny Vaccaro – S, Tennessee Titans (at MIA) (1)
It was a wild offseason for Vaccaro, who languished on the open market for months before the Titans lost Johnathan Cyprien to a season-ending injury. Now Vaccaro’s not only back in the league but preparing to start for the Titans against a Dolphins team that gave up the most fantasy points per game to defensive backs a year ago.