If you’re reading this, then odds are you’re still alive in the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) playoffs — one of just four teams that is in most leagues.
Of course, it’s still premature to go doing a happy dance just yet. In some respects, getting this far is the easy part. Now comes a two-week gauntlet against the best teams in your league. There’s zero margin for error.
Win and play on. Lose, and the season’s over.
Every lineup decision is critical. Every fantasy point can be the difference between glory and disappointment.
With that in mind, I’m not going to prattle on forever or make a handful of bad jokes. No videos of terrible songs.
OK … one video of a terrible song — and with it a little advice that I offer weekly this time of year.
I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about after a decade(ish) of doing this for a living. Research and film study is my job. I do it quite a lot, and the recommendations I make are (hopefully) based on that knowledge and experience.
But it’s your team, intrepid reader. If one of these calls doesn’t pan out, I’ll still be back next week. And next year. Being wrong is part of this gig.
So if one of these calls strikes a wrong chord with you, ignore the hell out of it. If one makes sense to you, follow it. Just know that the decision (and the consequences of that decision) is yours and yours alone.
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).
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2018 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Anthony Walker, ILB, Indianapolis (vs. Dallas) (9)
Walker serves as the defensive play-caller for Indianapolis, and breakout rookie Darius Leonard told Joel Erickson of the Indy Star that Walker’s preparation and knowledge of the game has played a big role in Leonard’s fantastic season.
“When I first got here, I thought he was maybe year four, year five,” Leonard said. “I come to find out it’s only his second year. Eighty percent of the reason I am who I am in this defense is because of Walk(er). When he sends his notes, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t see. The next time I watch film, I can pick up on it very quickly and just go from there.”
It’s gotten lost a bit in the year that Leonard’s had, but Walker’s hardly been a bum — he’ll all but certainly surpass 100 tackles (for the season) Sunday against Dallas and is averaging 10 tackles a game over his last three. Leonard’s going to feast Sunday in one the week’s most sneaky-good games, but Walker will probably snap himself off a drumstick or two, too.
WEEK 15 IDP STUDS
Denico Autry, DT, Indianapolis (vs. Dallas) (3): To say that Autry’s hot right now is an understatement – he has five sacks and two forced fumbles over his last two games. Dallas leads the NFL with 48 sacks allowed in 13 games. You do the math.
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati (vs. Oakland) (1): Dunlap had been in a funk, but he snapped out of it last week with four solos and a sack against the Los Angeles Chargers. A home matchup with Oakland offers a good shot at a second straight solid effort.
Leonard Williams, DE, New York Jets (vs. Houston) (2): Williams has had an atrocious season, but if ever there was a week for him to make a dent it’s a matchup with Houston, who is inside the Top 3 in both sacks and fantasy points allowed to defensive linemen.
Jarrad Davis, ILB, Detroit (at Buffalo) (1): Davis had a good game in a bad matchup last week against Arizona, but in Week 15 he gets a Buffalo team that has consistently allowed big stat lines to the linebacker position.
Mason Foster, ILB, Washington (at Jacksonville) (2): Foster is in a position to rack up tackles against Jacksonvillethis week, but do yourself a favor and don’t watch this game. Josh Johnson againstCody Kessler is going to be three hours of full-color excrement.
Elijah Lee, OLB, San Francisco (vs. SEA) (3): If you’re looking for a waiver wire starter at linebacker, then you’re probably in trouble. But Lee played 100 percent of San Francisco’s defensive snaps in Week 14 and gets a Top 5 IDP matchup at home on Sunday.
Devin McCourty, S, New England (at Pittsburgh) (1): McCourty’s long been a guy capable of blowing up when the matchup’s right. This weeks tilt with Pittsburgh is just such a matchup, although he’s always going to be something of a risky play.
TJ McDonald, S, Miami (at Minnesota): McDonald’s been the better of the box safeties in Miami this year by a pretty sizable margin, and Minnesota has been a Top 5 matchup for defensive backs much of this season.
Eric Weddle, S, Baltimore (vs. Tampa Bay) (2): It sounds like Tony Jefferson will be back in Week 15, but this recommendation has less to do with his absence than it does with a Tampa Bay offense than has no problem challenging teams down the field.