We’re in the in-between in IDP leagues.
Two weeks into the 2020 season, we’ve seen some pretty wild swings in terms of matchup data. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys gave up the fewest fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. This year, that number has jumped all the way to sixth. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from the second-best matchup for linebackers in 2019 to the second-worst in 2020.
The thing is, while a lot can change from year to year in the NFL, it’s still early—too early to say definitively that these wild swings will hold in the long-term.
That said, there are also trends that have carried over from a year ago. The Philadelphia Eagles have continued to be a top-10 matchup for defensive linemen. Ditto for the New York Giants at linebacker, although the Saquon Barkley injury clouds matters. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for defensive backs.
Those constants among matchups are good (or bad) targets, but until we get a little more matchup data, teams experiencing big swings make for riskier IDP plays.
With that in mind, let’s get rolling with another edition of IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
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).
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2019 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Kwon Alexander – OLB, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG) (3)
Alexander’s first season with the 49ers ended was hampered by a torn pectoral muscle. But as Kyle Posey wrote for Niner Noise, when he was healthy last year Alexander was a very important part of one of the NFL’s best defenses.
“Alexander’s aggressiveness against the run was a key piece in seeing the team get stops on early downs,” he said. “On passing downs, Alexander’s awareness, athleticism, and range made him one of the best coverage linebackers during the first half of the season. What Kwon did on the field was great, but his energy and enthusiasm off the field were greater. Specifically, the effect he had on his running mate. Fred Warner transformed into a confident leader, and that doesn’t happen without Alexander. You could see the two shared a bond and how Alexander brought a side of Warner out that previously didn’t exist.”
Alexander appears to have fully recovered from last year’s injury, racking up 15 total tackles over the first two weeks of the season. Saquon Barkley‘s ACL tear muddies this matchup somewhat, but regardless of who’s at tailback, the Giants are going to try to run the ball in what could be an ugly game.
WEEK 3 IDP STUDS
Brandon Graham – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. CIN) (4)
Graham notched his first sack of the 2020 campaign last week against the Los Angeles Rams. No team is allowing more fantasy points to defensive linemen through two games this season than the Bengals.
Sam Hubbard – DE, Cincinnati Bengals (at PHI) (8)
Hubbard is still searching for his first sack of 2020—a sack he’s going to get Sunday in Philadelphia. The Eagles allowed eight sacks in the season opener and are an even better fantasy matchup this year than in 2019—third in fantasy points allowed to DL.
Melvin Ingram – DE, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. CAR) (2)
Ingram has started slow this season—just two tackles and a pass defensed over his first two games. A home matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 should offer him an opportunity to get things going.
Jon Bostic – ILB, Washington Football Team (at CLE) (11)
Bostic has played well for Washington so far this season, and if Week 2 was any indication, Kevin Stefanski’s offense in Cleveland is going to feature a ton of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the ground.
Jordan Hicks – ILB, Arizona Cardinals (vs. DET) (8)
Hicks has started off a tad slowly relative to last year, although he did hit 10 total tackles last week against the WFT. He’ll top that mark again in s surprisingly favorable matchup with the woeful Lions in the desert.
Jahlani Tavai – ILB, Detroit Lions (at ARZ) (7)
Tavai’s a spot-start special in Week 3—he played over 80 percent of Detroit’s defensive snaps last week against the Pack, and the Cardinals have been a top-10 matchup for linebackers dating back to last season.
Jordan Fuller – S, Los Angeles Rams (at BUF) (15)
Fuller has surprisingly been the full-time starter at strong safety for the Rams this year. This week he gets a Buffalo Bills team that has surrendered the most fantasy points per game to defensive backs in 2020.
Eddie Jackson – S, Chicago Bears (at ATL)(2)
It’s been a relatively quiet start to the season for Jackson. But a top-five fantasy matchup (both this year and last) with the Atlanta Falcons should offer the fourth-year pro a good opportunity for his best stat line of the season.
Justin Simmons – S, Denver Broncos (vs. TBB) (1)
The Buccaneers brought in Tom Brady to cut down on the mistakes on the back end. But the Golden Boy has thrown a pick in both games this season, and the Buccaneers remain a top-five fantasy matchup on the back end.