It’s still early in the 2015 season. Much too early to gloat about the things we’ve gotten right. Or to panic about the things we haven’t. But three weeks into the NFL campaign, certain things are beginning to become apparent.
It’s apparent that a Miami Dolphins defensive line we thought we would be among the NFL’s best in 2015, well, isn’t. In fact. Not only are the Dolphins 31st in the National Football League in run defense through three weeks, but over that span they have sacked opposing quarterbacks all of once.
It’s also apparent that Tennessee Titans strong safety Da’Norris Searcy, who I beat the drum for all summer long as a big-time value play at the secondary, is more waiver wire fodder than every-week starter. Despite a favorable matchup with the Indianapolis Colts a week ago, Searcy once again put up less than favorable numbers. Searcy’s Week 4 bye numbers will be only marginally worse than the stats he’s posted when he was on the field so far in 2015.
With that said though, the year is still young. Plenty of time to turn things around. And so it’s with both renewed dedication and optimism that we turn our sights toward another week of IDP Start/Sit recommendations with IDP Studs and Duds.
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).
Week 4 also brings with it the first of the byes, with the Titans and New England Patriots taking a break. New England linebacker Jamie Collins we’ll miss. Searcy?
Vic Beasley – DE, Atlanta Falcons (vs. HOU)
It’s a relative rarity for rookie defensive linemen to make a big IDP impact. But of late, Beasley has been the exception to that rule, tallying seven total tackles and a pair of sacks over the past two weeks. Week 4 sets up well for the youngster to keep his hot streak going, as the Falcons host a Houston Texans team allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in 2015.
Michael Johnson – DE, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. KC)
Sure, with all of five total tackles and no sacks in 2015 after a disastrous single season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rolling Johnson out there against the Kansas City Chiefs might seem unwise. However, IDP owners feeling a bye-week pinch in Week 4 might want to reconsider given that the Chiefs have surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to defensive linemen this year.
Demarcus Lawrence – DE, Dallas Cowboys (at NO)
Much like Michael Johnson, Lawrence is off to a slow start in 2015, with just eight tackles and no sacks over the season’s first three games. And just like Johnson, Week 4 appears a good time for a rebound. The right side of the New Orleans offensive line has been a turnstile this year, including allowing a three-sack performance from Jacquies Smith of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in Week 2.
Nate Palmer – ILB, Green Bay Packers (at SF)
Despite a three-down role at inside linebacker for the Packers, Palmer’s statistical production through three games (14 tackles) has been much more “yawn” than “yay!” If ever there was a week for Palmer to ramp things up for IDP owners this would appear to be it. Among NFL teams, only the Cleveland Browns have given up more fantasy points to linebackers in 2015 than the 49ers.
Vincent Rey – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. KC)
The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t just been kind to opposing defensive linemen in 2015. It extends to the linebackers as well—to the tune of the third-most fantasy points surrendered to the position in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring this season. That portends well for Rey, who has averaged seven tackles a game for the Bengals so far this year.
Manti Te’o – ILB, San Diego Chargers (vs. CLE)
Heading into a matchup with a Cleveland team allowing the most fantasy points to linebackers, Te’o told Tom Krasovic of The San Diego Union-Tribune that he’s getting the hang of his every-down role. “The majority of the game is mental,” Te’o said. “So we’re going to do as much as we can to win the game before the ball is snapped. Yeah, I understand why we are doing some things. I think it allows the defense to do more when we all understand why we do certain things.”
Barry Church – SS, Dallas Cowboys (at NO)
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees told Mike Triplett of ESPN that he likes his chances of playing Sunday night. “Each day I’m able to do more and more; each day I feel stronger,” Brees said. “Each day there’s more range of motion, more strength, and so that’s the key.” If Brees is indeed good to go for the reeling Saints, it puts a lot of the shine back on this IDP matchup for Church.
Donte Whitner – SS, Cleveland Browns (at SD)
Whitner has seven missed tackles so far this year (most among safeties), but defensive coordinator Jim O’ Neill defended Whitner while speaking with Jeff Schudel of The News-Herald. “He missed a couple tackles,” O’Neil said. “I wouldn’t say he’s getting old fast. He’s still one of our best players on defense. He’s our leader on defense. We’re going to roll with Donte Whitner.” We’ll roll with Whitner this week as well in a favorable IDP matchup in San Diego.
Charles Woodson – SS, Oakland Raiders (at CHI)
With his interception of Josh McCown last week, the ageless Woodson now has a pick in 37 straight seasons. OK, so it’s only 18 seasons. And by “only” I mean holy moly, Charles Woodson has intercepted at least one pass in 18 consecutive seasons. If that sounds like a lot it’s because it really is, and this week Woodson and the resurgent Raiders battle Jimmy Clausen and the dumpster fire that is the Chicago Bears.