Week 12 is one of the most important weeks of the 2016 fantasy campaign – and a week unlike any other this season.
With the fantasy regular season winding down, this is a do-or-die week for many teams. Lose, and any hopes of bringing home a championship are finished before the playoffs even start. Win, and it’s live to fight another day.
OK, maybe a little.
Even if you aren’t fighting for your postseason life, lots of fantasy owners are jockeying for playoff seeds. Maybe fighting for a Week 14 bye. Sure, it might not seem like that big a deal – unless you’re one of the unfortunate folks who has watched a good team drop a game late, lay an egg in Week 14 and see a season go down the tubes in a hurry.
Of course, this week is also special. Thanksgiving brought with it an NFL tripleheader. IDP stalwarts like Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee and Indianapolis Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson have already played. Many squads are either sitting pretty heading into the weekend thanks to Lee’s 14 total stops against the Washington Redskins – or sitting in a hole thanks to Jackson’s clunker.
Turkey Day also throws a monkey wrench into the schedule of this intrepid writer. Leaves me with a choice. I can treat it like any other day, work 12+ hours (six days a week every week — at least) and blow off the family – or drop the ball on an assignment and let down the readers who make my job both possible and fun (well, when they aren’t threatening to disembowel me, that is).
I, as I usually do in life when faced with two options, chose a third.
I celebrated the holiday just like everyone else (I hope yours was a good one), ate entirely too much, fired up the midnight oil in my writing lamp (still have my eyebrows and everything) and settled in for an admittedly abbreviated version of IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
Cut me some slack — my turkey buzz is kicking 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
Vontaze Burfict – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (at BAL) (3)
Burfict has developed a reputation as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players, and he has a history with the Ravens. But head coach John Harbaugh wouldn’t bite when asked by ESPN’s Jamison Hensley if Burfict goes too far after the whistle. “I’m not probably going to comment on other guys’ players and stuff like that,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a good player. He’s a guy you definitely have to be aware of when you play against him.”
Dirty or no, Burfict’s been on an absolute tear the past few weeks, with at least nine solos in each of his last three games. Given that number and the fact the Ravens are second in fantasy points per game allowed to linebackers this season, there isn’t a player at the position I’d start in front of Burfict in Week 12.
WEEK 12 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (at CHI) (6): Casey doesn’t have a sack since Week 6, but the woeful Bears have a tendency to be an elixir for cold snaps. God Bless ‘Em.
Adrian Clayborn – DE, Atlanta Falcons (vs. AZ) (1): Don’t think about the goose-egg he posted in his last game. Think about the two big outings that came before it given this juicy matchup.
Preston Brown – ILB, Buffalo Bills (vs. JAX) (5): A top-five fantasy matchup plus the most generous stat crew in the NFL? Brown can do a lot for you this week.
David Harris – ILB, New York Jets (vs. NE) (2): Harris has looked every bit of 32 years old this year, but the Patriots might just be a Fountain of Youth in Week 12.
Dont’a Hightower – ILB, New England Patriots (at NYJ) (6): This is a favorable matchup – too bad Hightower’s the only Patriots linebacker we can come close to trusting right now.
Corey Graham – S, Buffalo Bills (vs. JAX) (3): I have a feeling Graham finally throws up the sort of stat line we expected this season in this one. Better late than never I guess.
T.J. McDonald – S, Los Angeles Rams (at NO) (2): Playing against the Saints is a little post-Thanksgiving gravy for the Rams’ defensive backs stat-wise.
Keanu Neal – S, Atlanta Falcons (vs. AZ) (2): It’s all or nothing with the Redbirds this year for IDPs – and that’s good news for both the front and back ends. The LB? We’ll get to that.