Some weeks you’re the windshield. Others, you’re the bug.
Unfortunately, where this article is concerned last week it was the latter. Granted, the week wasn’t a total loss (Brian Cushing of the Houston Texans piled up an OK seven stops with a pass defensed against the Carolina Panthers, and Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills notched his first sack of 2015 in a loss to the New England Patriots), but there were a lot more misses than hits.
Of course, it was also the first week in NFL history that the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins all won in the same week. Sometimes things just go sideways.
With that in mind, we’ve scraped off the goo, dusted off the defeat, scrubbed off the stink and are back at it with another edition of IDP Studs and Duds here 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).
Redemption, here we come!
Everson Griffen – DE, Minnesota Vikings (vs. SD): Griffen hasn’t exactly been lights-out to this point in the 2015 season, but he hasn’t been dog food, either. This week sets up nicely for the 27-year-old to post his best showing to date, as the Vikings play host to a San Diego Chargers team that has given up the most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in 2015.
Charles Johnson – DE, Carolina Panthers (vs. NO): After a solid start to the season, Johnson pulled a vanishing act against the Houston Texans in Week 2, managing only two assists. However, this week’s matchup with the Saints bodes well, whether Johnson faces a beat-up Drew Brees or a healthy (giggle) Luke McCown of the fighting McCowns.
Olivier Vernon – DE, Miami Dolphins (vs. BUF):
Head coach Joe Philbin told Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald a number of factors have contributed to Miami’s early-season sack drought. “It’s a variety of things. Certainly, we want to win more of our one-on-one matchups.” Hopefully, a tilt with a Bills team allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen this year will help.
Brian Cushing – ILB, Houston Texans (vs. TB): Sometimes in IDP, you have to not only follow the matchup but also ride the hot hand. Heading into a game against a Buccaneers squad surrendering the third most fantasy points to linebackers with 17 tackles in two games this season, Cushing checks off both boxes and looks to be fully recovered from an injury-marred 2014 campaign.
Justin Durant – OLB, Atlanta Falcons (at DAL): Through two games only the San Francisco 49ers have given up more fantasy points in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring to linebackers than the Dallas Cowboys. With both quarterback Tony Romo (collarbone) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot) out indefinitely for the Cowboys, Dallas will ride the ground game—meaning tackle opportunities galore for Durant in Week 3.
Malcolm Smith – OLB, Oakland Raiders (at CLE): Smith may have taken a back seat to Curtis Lofton’s IDP explosion last week in Oakland’s upset of the Baltimore Ravens, but the former Super Bowl MVP’s 12 total stops didn’t exactly suck. Add in a top-five IDP matchup with the Browns this week, and there’s no reason not to keep Smith in starting lineups.
James Ihedigbo – SS, Detroit Lions (vs. DEN): Sitting at 0-2 and heading into a brutal three-game stretch (DEN, at GB, AZ) the Detroit Lions are in real trouble. However, Ihedigbo’s fantasy owners should be sitting pretty heading into a highly favorable IDP matchup Sunday night with Peyton Manning and the undefeated Denver Broncos.
Da’Norris Searcy – SS, Tennessee Titans (vs. IND): After beating the drum all summer for Searcy as a great IDP value in the secondary, all I’ve done through two whisper-quiet games by the fifth-year veteran is beat my head against the wall. However, if ever there was a matchup to get Searcy untracked it’s Sunday against a reeling Indianapolis Colts team allowing the most fantasy points to defensive backs in 2015.
Earl Thomas – FS, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CHI): Granted, the headlines this week have been dominated by the return of strong safety Kam Chancellor to the Seahawks, but look for Thomas to notch a takeaway Sunday afternoon against a bumbling Bears team led by Jimmy Clausen. Oh—and the game is in Seattle. This one’s gonna get ugly quick, folks.