It seems like only yesterday we were firing up the grills for Labor Day and settling in to set our IDP lineups for the first weekend of the 2016 NFL season. And yet here we are – the weather’s turning cold, Christmas music rings through packed stores and we’ve reached the end of the line in most fantasy regular seasons.
For some fantasy owners though, the playoffs are already here. Those teams are already facing elimination – win in Week 13 and it’s on to the postseason. Lose and the season’s over — no more lineups, no more waivers…just a lump of coal in their fantasy Christmas stocking in 2016.
Amid that playoff atmosphere, the pressure ratchets up several notches. Every lineup decision becomes critical. A couple of solo tackles here or a sack there can mean the difference between a spot in the postseason tournament and that Christmas music boring into your skull as you use your extra free time to walk those stores in search of a Furby or whatever.
And it really does – it Ho-Ho-Hos its way right into your cerebrum.
In an effort to spare you a Holly Jolly Lobotomy, let’s see if we can’t earn a playoff spot with the Week 13 edition of IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
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).
Week 13 brings with it the last bye week, with two teams on siesta – the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans. It’s a rotten week to be without Jamie Collins and Avery Williamson, but them’s the breaks.
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
Darron Lee – ILB, New York Jets (vs. IND)
As Rich Cimini of ESPN wrote, it was Lee, and not veteran David Harris, who was the Jets’ dime linebacker last week against the New England Patriots. Lee feels like he acquitted himself pretty well. “I thought I did a pretty good job,” Lee said. “Made sure everybody was lined up correctly and had their matchups. Everybody was on the same page. That’s all it comes down to. When you want to play fast, just make sure everybody is on the same page — and we were.”
Lee also acquitted himself pretty well on the stat sheet, logging a season (and career) high 11 total tackles in the loss. This changing of the guard at linebacker for the Jets is a situation astute IDP owners will take advantage of – beginning this week against a Colts team that has allowed the most fantasy points per game to linebackers in 2016.
WEEK 13 IDP STUDS
Frank Clark – DE, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CAR) (6): Yes, the predicted return of Michael Bennett clouds Clark’s future IDP prospects a bit. But given his long layoff Bennett’s all but surely going to be on a snap count this week in a favorable fantasy matchup – the sort of matchup Clark has regularly taken advantage of this season.
Trey Flowers – DE, New England Patriots (vs. LA) (3): While speaking to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, batterymate Rob Ninkovich lauded Flowers’ progress in his second NFL season. “I love it,” Ninkovich said. “This year, he came in all business and has really taken advantage of all of his opportunities. I’m happy he’s been able to do that.”
Brandon Graham – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (at CIN) (5): This is a start ‘em if you’ve got ‘em week for the Eagles front four. The Bengals offensive line has been a glaring weakness all season long, ranking near the top of the National Football League in both sacks allowed and fantasy points per game surrendered to defensive linemen.
Kiko Alonso – ILB, Miami Dolphins (at BAL) (3): It’s happened relatively quietly, but Alonso is having one of the better IDP seasons of his career in 2016, ranking eighth at the position in fantasy points through 12 weeks. That top-10 production will continue this week in Baltimore against a Ravens team that’s been kind to linebackers this season.
Mark Barron – OLB, Los Angeles Rams (at NE) (2): The Patriots have been a feast-or-famine fantasy matchup in 2016. Sandwiched in between the slim pickings for defensive linemen and defensive backs has been a big old slab of IDP beef for opposing linebackers. Barron should chow down on that beef this Sunday in Beantown.
Tahir Whitehead – ILB, Detroit Lions (at NO) (17): At first glance, this might appear only a middle of the road fantasy matchup for Whitehead. But the Saints have allowed more tackle opportunities per game than any team in the NFL this year. That bodes well for Whitehead, who leads the surprising Lions in stops by a significant margin.
T.J. Ward – S, Denver Broncos (at JAX) (3): Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall talked up Ward’s play this year while speaking to CBS Denver. “He’s been lights out,” Marshall said. “T.J., he’s killing it. He’s having an All-Pro season. I told him the other day, ‘I’m proud of you, man.’ He’s out here balling out. T.J.’s focused, he’s hungry, he’s driven, he’s making all kinds of plays, on the pass, on the run, he’s everywhere.
Donte Whitner – S, Washington Redskins (at AZ) (1): Sometimes success in IDP means having a short memory. Such is the case with Whitner’s Turkey Day turkey – he was on the field for nearly every defensive back and this week faces an Arizona Cardinals team that’s been the best matchup for IDPs in the secondary in 2016.
Tavon Wilson – S, Detroit Lions (at NO) (2): Wilson’s been the big beneficiary of the Lions increased use of three safety sets as a sort of “hybrid” safety/linebacker. That bodes well with Wilson headed to the Big Easy Sunday. As they usually are, the Saints have been a friend to IDP defensive backs in 2016. A good friend indeed.