In the vast majority of IDP leagues, the 2020 season is over. A champion has been crowned. The book has been closed. Confetti has fallen and the post-game interviews are complete.
But in a few leagues, the championship game isn’t played until Week 17. The plus part of a Week 17 championship game is an extra week of fantasy football fun. The downside is that teams who are entrenched in certain playoff seeds often rest prominent players.
Now, in 2020 that’s not a huge problem, largely because five of the six wild cards, two divisions and the No. 1 seed in the NFC all remain up in the air. But the Kansas City Chiefs (Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu) have locked up the top seed in the AFC, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Minkah Fitzpatrick) have indicated that some starters could sit out the finale against the Cleveland Browns—so trusting IDPs on those teams could be a dicey proposition.
With all that said, if IDP managers have one more contest on the slate, then IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks rides with them.
Let’s do this!
My best to you and yours in the New Year. Here’s hoping that 2021 is light-years better than 2020 was.
Each week during the 2020 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). I also tend to avoid obvious start recommendations—I would hope you don’t need me to tell you that Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald should be in lineups Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2020 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Chase Young – DE, Washington Football Team (at PHI) (1)
It’s been quite the last week or so for the second overall pick in the 2020 draft—Young was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie and was elevated to team captain by Washington head coach Ron Rivera. As Ryan Homler reported for NBC Sports Washington, Rivera said that Young has absolutely earned the second honor.
“Because of the way he brings this energy to us as a football team, the way he handles who he is, there is an infectiousness to it and his teammates feed off of it,” Rivera said. “That’s the thing that has been impressive to me. “When those guys make plays, he’s genuinely happy for those guys, you know what I’m saying? Because of that, his teammates see how selfless he is. Then he goes out and plays the way he does, especially the last probably third of the season. He started like gangbusters, got slow for a while because he had to figure it out, now he’s figuring it out and this last third of the season has been what we needed.”
Young has been on an absolute tear of late—since the fantasy playoffs began in Week 13, he’s the highest-scoring defensive lineman in fantasy football. Now Young gets a dream matchup to close out the season against a Philadelphia Eagles team that has allowed a staggering 62 sacks this year.
WEEK 17 IDP STUDS
Brandon Graham – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS) (5): Graham’s sack last week against Dallas was his first since all the way back in Week 8, but he has a good shot at finishing the season strong in a favorable fantasy matchup with Washington.
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Baltimore Ravens (at CIN) (3): Ngakoue hasn’t been especially productive since joining the Ravens, managing just three sacks in nine games. But no team in the AFC has allowed more sacks this year than the Bengals.
Alex Okafor – DE, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. LAC) (4): If Chris ones and Frank Clark play limited snaps this week, it should mean even more snaps for Okafor in a matchup with a Chargers team allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to defensive linemen in 2020.
Bryce Hager – ILB, New York Jets (at NEP) (3): In the past couple of weeks, Hager has gone from the practice squad to full-time starter and the team’s leading tackler last week against the Browns. The regular-season finale brings another excellent IDP matchup.
Alex Singleton – OLB, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS) (1): Over the second half of the 2020 season, Singleton has ranked seventh among linebackers in fantasy points per game. This week’s top matchup for the position with Washington should lead to a strong finish.
Shaq Thompson – OLB, Carolina Panthers (vs. NOS): Thompson hasn’t quite met IDP expectations in 2020. But a top-five fantasy matchup for the linebacker position this week with the Saints offers an opportunity to go out on the right foot.
Johnathan Abram – S, Las Vegas Raiders (at DEN) (1): Abram’s NFL career has been a rollercoaster so far. But a Week 17 tilt with a Broncos team allowing the most fantasy points to defensive backs this year should allow the season to end on a good note.
Chuck Clark – S, Baltimore Ravens (at CIN) (3): Clark is a capable veteran safety who has shown the potential to be a solid IDP DB2 when the matchup is right—such as Baltimore’s trip to Cincinnati Sunday to face a Bengals team surrendering the most fantasy points in the AFC to defensive backs.
Jordan Fuller – S, Los Angeles Rams (vs. ARZ) (4): Fuller broke quite a few IDP hearts this year by bumping Taylor Rapp from the starting lineup in LA. But a plus Week 17 matchup with the Cardinals is a good way for Fuller and John Johnson to wrap up the 2020 campaign.