Not even one month into the season, the IDP landscape has already been turned on its head.
Injuries have torn through both the defensive line and linebacker positions with a vengeance. The No. 1 defensive lineman entering the season Joey Bosa hasn’t seen the field yet and likely won’t until after the Los Angeles Chargers return from their bye. Everson Griffen of the Vikings is gone for no one knows how long after a bizarre incident in a Twin Cities hotel lobby. The top of the linebacker rankings looks like a MASH ward.
No, not that kind of MASH ward.
The defensive backs aren’t any better off. Keanu Neal of the Atlanta Falcons is out for the season. Both Reshad Jones of the Dolphins and Jaquski Tartt of the 49ers missed Week 3 and are uncertain for the upcoming weekend.
The motto for the 2018 IDP campaign may well be ,’if you aren’t deep, you’re dead.”
Given all the injuries added to the usual pile of players who aren’t performing to expectations (Looking at you, Deone Bucannon. And you, Yannick Ngakoue.) the depth of IDP rosters is being sorely tested. So is the mettle of team owners setting their lineups. Even early in the season, lineup calls are becoming that much more important, if only because all the sure things are FREAKING HURT GAH!!!!!!
I’m OK. Really.
I’m just a little anxious, because I know that you, intrepid reader, depend on me to guide you in making those more-important-than-ever lineup calls. That your fate, in a way, is in my hands.
Then I look at my record in leagues this year and burst into heaving sobs.
We’re so doomed.
Might as well get this over with.
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).
Also, it’s the first of the bye weeks. The Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins are off—no Luke Kuechly in Week 4.
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2018 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring32.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Josh Bynes – ILB, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA) (1)
Per Darren Urban of the team’s website, Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks was clear—draft slot isn’t a guarantee of snaps for his linebacker. “We’re trying to find the right mix of guys who are going to be in there,” he said. “I said it Day One, there’s no entitlement. Regardless of whether you were drafted or what(ever your) status, we’re going to try to put the best guys out there who are going to help us win games, and that goes back to our performance and how we practice, the things that we can go out there and execute from a game-planning standpoint.”
Wilks ain’t just blowing smoke—through three games Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon have been relegated to spectator status, while Bynes has been elevated into the only every-down linebacker spot. Is that a wise move? Don’t know. Don’t care. All I care about is a Week 4 matchup with a Seahawks team that just handed Chris Carson the ball 32 times against the Dallas Cowboys.
WEEK 4 IDP STUDS
Jerry Hughes – DE, Buffalo Bills (at GBP) (3): Hughes has been hot of late, with a sack in each of his last two games and seven stops over that span. The Packers are struggling to protect a one-legged Aaron Rodgers, and as it turns out with just the one leg he don’t run so good.
Cameron Jordan – DE, New Orleans Saints (at NYG) (1): There are good matchups. Then there are great matchups. Then there are dream matchups. Then there’s the New York Giants, who just allowed a three-sack explosion to JJ Watt of the Houston Texans in Week 3.
Yannick Ngakoue – DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. NYJ) (2): As I mentioned earlier, Ngakoue’s off to a miserable start, with just three tackles and no sacks. If ever there was a matchup for him to get off the mat, it’s rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and the New York Jets.
Leighton Vander Esch – ILB, Dallas Cowboys (vs. DET) (4): I don’t mean to alarm you, but Sean Lee is hurt. Again. I know, it’s a stunner. Vander Esch will play as a three-down linebacker while Lee’s on the shelf, beginning with a Lions team that may have just discovered a run game.
Tahir Whitehead – OLB, Oakland Raiders (vs. CLE) (2): The Browns have been very kind to linebackers so far this season, and now that the team has switched quarterbacks the Browns might even start doing crazy things like sustaining drives.
Vince Williams – ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. BAL) (5): Williams has been a huge letdown the last two weeks, with just eight total tackles over his last two games. However, those bad stat lines were in bad matchups—Sunday night’s against the hated Ravens most assuredly is not.
Landon Collins – S, New York Giants (vs. NOS) (1): Fantasy owners who burned an early pick on Collins were no doubt looking for a lot more than 17 tackles over three games. Take a chill pill amigo—this matchup reeks of a “get right” game.
Justin Evans – S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CHI) (2): Evans has come out of the gate in his second season hot—he’s sixth among defensive backs in fantasy points through three games. The good times keep gooding Sunday in a plus matchup with DA BEARS!
Kenny Vaccaro – S, Tennessee Titans (vs. PHI) (3): Vaccaro’s been…OK over the first three weeks, with 15 tackles, a sack and a pick through three weeks. His best numbers of the year should come Sunday at home against the Eagles, who have been good to defensive backs this season.