We’ve just about reached the end of the line. Although it feels like the 2017 NFL season only just began, Week 13 marks the end of the regular season in a large percentage of IDP leagues.
The playoffs are just around the corner.
Of course, for a great many fantasy owners those postseason aspirations are far from a sure bet. Week 13 brings with it a mandate that’s both simple and harsh in its reality.
Win – or else.
Notch a victory, and it’s on the playoffs next week. Or, for those fortunate souls who have already secured a berth in the postseason tournament, a victory this week could mean a first-round bye and a shorter road to championship glory.
And that means that every lineup decision – and every fantasy point – carries additional importance.
Now I’m freaking out a little bit.
Deep breaths, Gary. Deep breaths.
OK. I’m better now.
Let’s do this!
Each week during the 2017 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 2017 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Tahir Whitehead – OLB, Detroit Lions (at BAL) (1)
According to Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, poor tackling could be the Lions’ downfall in 2017. “Sometimes, it’s that simple,” Gagnon wrote. “Veteran linebacker Tahir Whitehead misses too many tackles, rookie first-round pick Jarrad Davis misses too many tackles and safety Tavon Wilson missed too many tackles before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. They all miss too many damn tackles, and it’s been getting worse. That explains why the run defense has struggled mightily, surrendering a league-high 559 yards (5.4 yards per attempt) along with six rushing touchdowns in the last three weeks alone.”
Whitehead may have missed a few tackles along the way, but he’s been making them in bunches of late – the 27-year-old has averaged 10 total tackles a game over the last three weeks and ranks sixth in fantasy points among linebackers over that span. Whitehead shouldn’t be hurting for chances to make stops this week in Baltimore against the Ravens, who have allowed the most fantasy points to the position this season.
WEEK 13 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (vs. HOU) (1)
If you’ve watched Tom Savage play, well, at all this season, then that should be all the explanation you need for why Casey’s a solid IDP play in Week 13. The Texans have given up 34 sacks this season, and no team has surrendered more fantasy points per game to defensive linemen.
Bennie Logan – DT, Kansas City Chiefs (at NYJ) (3)
Looking for a sneaky-good play in DT-required IDP leagues? Logan isn’t much of a threat to get a sack Sunday against the New York Jets, but he’s a relatively steady tackle producer and draws a very nice matchup Sunday in the Big Apple.
Cameron Wake – DE, Miami Dolphins (vs. DEN) (5)
Wake had hit something of a dry spell after a great start before heating up again, with back-to-back three solos with a sack efforts over the last two weeks. Wake’s always been streaky, and Sunday’s matchup sets up well for Wake to stay woke. See what I did there?
Jon Bostic – ILB, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX) (3)
There hasn’t been much good news in Indianapolis in 2017, but Bostic can at least take pride in resurrecting his NFL career with the Colts this season. Week 13 should bring another fat stat line against the run-heavy Jaguars, especially with Leonard Fournette looking healthy.
Myles Jack – OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND) (2)
Jack got off to a great start, but the second-year pro’s numbers have gone off a cliff of late. However, if Telvin Smith isn’t able to clear the concussion protocol this week it sets up would could be a big game for both Jack and veteran Paul Posluszny.
Denzel Perryman – ILB, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. CLE) (4)
Perryman’s skinny stat line against the Dallas Cowboys probably left a lot of IDP owners with a bad taste in their mouths. Rinse with some tequila (freshness!) and get Perryman back in there – the Browns have been a top linebacker matchup all season long.
Micah Hyde – S, Buffalo Bills (vs. New England Patriots) (5)
Yes, Hyde laid a big fat egg last week. But it wasn’t a result of a lack of playing time, so it’s short memory time with the 26-year-old. The Pats are fifth in fantasy points allowed to defensive backs overall, but first in the league in fantasy points given up to safeties.
John Johnson – S, Los Angeles Rams (at ARZ) (1)
If you’re hurting for a starter in the secondary and aren’t averse to a little risk, consider Johnson, who you’ve likely never heard of. The rookie from Boston College played 100 percent of the defensive snaps last week and gets the fantasy matchup for defensive backs Sunday in Arizona.
T.J. McDonald – S, Miami Dolphins (vs. DEN) (6)
McDonald’s been an up-and-down fantasy option since joining the Miami lineup, with one big game, one so-so-game and one bad one. This week’s hone tilt with the Broncos looks like the first one on paper – the Broncos have been kind to defensive backs in 2017.