In many respects, it’s the early part of the season that can be the hardest to predict from an IDP perspective. You’re left to base lineup calls either off of information from last year that could be woefully out of date or info from one week’s action that could have been an aberration.
Well, except for Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. He’s just a freaking animal. Blew up last year. Blew up last week. Will blow up this week. The man just blows up.
That made for something of a mixed bag with my Week 1 recommendations. Sure, linebackers Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers and Derrick Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs and safeties Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals and William Moore of the Atlanta Falcons made me look good. Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap and New York Jets strong safety Calvin Pryor, on the other hand, did not.
Oh, well-–them’s the breaks. And as I dust myself off from those setbacks and get back after it, it’s time for another edition Of IDP Studs and Duds at Fantasy Sharks.
Each week during the 2015 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).
So let’s get after it!
Ezekiel Ansah – DE, Detroit Lions (vs. MIN): Ansah fared pretty well in last week’s loss to the San Diego Chargers, amassing his first sack of the season to go with two tackles. Look for the third-year pro to build on those numbers this week when the Lions welcome in the Minnesota Vikings, who allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in 2014.
Chris Clemons – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. MIA): A rare bright spot for the Jaguars last week in their loss to the Carolina Panthers, Clemons (like Ansah) added a sack to a pair of tackles in his 2015 debut. There’s no reason to think Clemons can’t build on that Sunday when the Jaguars welcome in the Miami Dolphins, who were a top-5 IDP matchup for defensive lineman a season ago.
Cameron Heyward – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers: Heyward was relatively quiet in Pittsburgh’s opening night loss to the New England Patriots, managing only a solo and three assists. Look for the recently re-upped Heyward to get after it this week when the Steelers welcome in the San Francisco 49ers, who were kind to opposing defensive linemen from an IDP standpoint last season.
Brian Cushing – ILB, Houston Texans (at CAR): After piling up 10 tackles in last week’s loss to Kansas City, Houston defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel praised how Cushing was moving around while speaking with Deepi Sidhu of the team’s website. “He’s moving very well,” Crennel said. “I think that he is enjoying the fact that he can move the way he used to move. I think that gives him a lot of confidence in what he can do and how he plays the game.”
Koa Misi – OLB, Miami Dolphins (at JAX): After more than a bit of speculation as to where Misi would line up for the Dolphins, the veteran moved back to the strong side. However, Misi also played in subpackages and paced the Dolphins in tackles. Both are good signs heading into a favorable IDP matchup with a Jacksonville Jaguars team that’s been kind to linebackers of late.
Perry Riley – ILB, Washington Redskins (vs. STL): Riley played every down in last week’s loss to the Dolphins but wound up with very little to show for it on the stat sheet. Look for that to change this week against the St. Louis Rams. No team in the National Football League allowed more fantasy points per game to linebackers last year.
Barry Church – SS, Dallas Cowboys (at PHI): Church pledged to Todd Archer of ESPN that the Cowboys are going to fix their leaky run defense. “When you go out there and give up that amount of rushing yards, that’s just not acceptable with our style of defense,” safety Barry Church said. “We’ll get it done. We’ll get it fixed.” Yeah – good luck doing that against former teammate DeMarco Murray and the high octane Philadelphia Eagles.
Bradley McDougald – SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NO): Granted, McDougald may not be a worldbeater talent by any stretch of the imagination, but so far he’s managed to hold onto the starting job at strong safety for the hapless Buccaneers. And when you’re a starting defensive back getting ready to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, that usually means opportunities galore for IDP production.
William Moore – SS, Atlanta Falcons (at NYG): Moore’s a bit lighter in the wallet after drawing a fine for decking wide receiver Jordan Matthews in last week’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but the sixth-year veteran should have a chance for heavy-duty IDP production again this week against the New York Giants, who allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to defensive backs a season ago.