The end is nigh.
No, silly – not the end of the world. You may be able to find plenty of folks who think that’s coming too (especially lately), but I’m guessing we’ll all get to celebrate at least a few more Christmases.
I mean the end of the fantasy football regular season. In most leagues the season is either 13 or 14 weeks long, leaving a month or less of jockeying for position before the tournament to determine a champion begins.
And that means unless you’re one of the lucky eggs at 9-1 or 8-2 who have already clinched (or one of those sad sacks at 2-8 just looking to play spoiler) that every week’s games are mini-playoffs in and of themselves.
Win, and you’re one step closer to continuing on. Lose, and it’s all over but the crying.
Given that, it’s absolutely vital to milk every point possible from starting lineups. To assemble a roster that won’t leave anything on the bench. To give it everything we’ve got.
And that, good reader, is where “IDP Studs and Duds” comes in.
Each week during the 2016 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).
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2015 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP START OF THE WEEK
Avery Williamson, LB, Tennessee (at Indianapolis) (1): Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau lauded Williamson’s growth as a player while speaking to the team’s website. “His growth rate stands out to me, LeBeau said. “He has started all three of his years, and you can go back and watch his games and he just keeps growing and growing. I think the sky is the limit for him. He is a hard-working, hard-training guy, and that stands out about him to me, how hard he works and the way he is improving consistently.
A week ago I advised fantasy owners to sit Williamson ahead of a matchup with a Green Bay team that’s dead last in fantasy points allowed to linebackers. Williamson had two solos in that game. He should do quite a bit better Sunday against Indianapolis, who is at the opposite end of the fantasy matchup spectrum.
WEEK 11 IDP STUDS
Andre Branch, DE, Miami (at Los Angeles) (4): With Mario Williams nursing a sore ankle it’s very possible Branch will see a bump in snaps Sunday against Los Angeles, who will be starting a rookie quarterback for the first time in Jared Goff. In related news, rookie quarterbacks tend to get sacked a lot – especially playing behind a lousy line.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo (at Cincinnati): Sure, it’s hard to trust a guy who has played in all of one game this season. But early indications are Dareus will be a go against Cincinnati, and if he is his stat line from that one game (4 solos, sack) isn’t an unreasonable expectation given how tasty the matchup is.
Danielle Hunter, DE, Minnesota (vs. Arizona) (1): Hunter’s always going to carry a measure of risk as a fantasy option given that he only plays on about half of Minnesota’s defensive snaps. However, he’s also a Top 5 defensive lineman for the season and draws a highly favorable Week 11 matchup with a shaky Arizona offensive line.
Sean Lee, OLB, Dallas (vs. Baltimore) (2): Per ESPN’s Todd Archer, one Dallas coach credits preparation (and not instincts) for Lee’s big season in 2016. “No, it’s not guessing,” Cowboys linebackers coach and passing game coordinator Matt Eberflus said. “Not even close to guessing. It’s reading his keys.”
C.J. Mosley, ILB, Baltimore (at Dallas) (8): For much of 2016 Mosley has taken a back seat statistically to Zachary Orr. Both young linebackers should do well in Week 11. In addition to being a Top 10 fantasy matchup this year, Dallas is allowing more tackle opportunities per game than any team in the AFC.
Tahir Whitehead, ILB, Detroit (vs. Jacksonville) (3): It’s gone all but unnoticed, but Whitehead’s had a very solid season holding together an injury-ravaged Detroit linebacker corps. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue Sunday against a Jacksonville team that’s second in the AFC in fantasy points per game allowed to linebackers this season.
Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City (vs. Tampa Bay) (4): Alex Hoegler of Yahoo Sports singled out Peters’ matchup with Mike Evans Sunday as one of Week 11’s best. “I’m excited to see Peters man up on Mike Evans,” he said. “While this matchup relies more so on pass rush versus pass protection to give Jameis (Winston) time to throw the football. But Peters had played phenomenal football this season. Up there with the likes of Landon Collins in New York.”
Andrew Sendejo, S, Minnesota (vs. Arizona) (1): Sendejo’s been quiet since returning to the lineup, but fear not – Arizona has surrendered the most fantasy points per game to defensive backs in 2016, and only two teams (New Orleans and Dallas) are allowing more tackle opportunities per game.
Donte Whitner, S, Washington (vs. Green Bay): There’s no denying that the Green Bay offense is struggling. Or that the run game is non-existent. But there’s also no denying that with Aaron Rodgers forced to throw short pass after short pass after short pass the guys at the back end of the opposing defense are going to be busy.