Things are beginning to get complicated.
Four weeks into the 2017 fantasy football campaign, some IDP owners are facing some tough decisions. If your team is sitting at 1-3 or 0-4 and your roster has some defensive stars that have underperformed so far this year, the choices as you set your weekly lineup can be hard ones.
If you leave Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson in the starting lineup and he throws up the three solos the 34-year-old has averaged the past three games, that could be it – the loss that all but ends any realistic chances you had at making the fantasy playoffs.
Of course, if you finally cave in and bench Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (who has all of zero sacks through four games) and he blows up ala Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings (who got his first two sacks of the 2017 season in Week 4) that could just as easily be it too – a desperately needed win left on the bench.
There’s nothing in fantasy football more infuriating.
Articles like this one are meant to aid you in making those tough calls – to provide you with the info you need to make an educated decision. They are not, however, intended to make up your mind for you. I’d like to think I’ve shown some aptitude at making recommendations and that I work hard at identifying good/poor matchups. But here’s the thing…
I’m wrong – a lot.
The only one who has to live with the lineup calls you make is you. If you truly believe that a player I have listed as a “Dud” is set for a big week, then start him. It’s much easier to live with that than to stomach the idea of letting someone talk you out of the call that could have saved your season.
Or, it could be that you’re 4-0 at laughing at all this. In which case….
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the Week 5 edition of IDP Studs and Duds at Fantasy Sharks.
Each week during the 2017 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 2017 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP START OF THE WEEK
J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans (vs. KCC) (2)
Watt told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that he isn’t worried about the fact he hasn’t notched a sack yet. “Especially the older I get in my career, I don’t care about the stats, to be honest with you,” Watt said. “All I want to do is win football games. But they will come. Like you said, the hits are there. They’re coming. But if teams are going to throw the whole house and the kitchen sink at me, we have some incredible players who are going to make great plays.”
It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the point where I feel it necessary to actually say “start J.J. Watt,” but here we are – in the midst of the longest sack drought of Watt’s career. It’s also a drought that’s going to end Sunday night against the undefeated Chiefs. Watt’s pressure numbers have been there, the Chiefs are allowing an average of four sacks a game, and only the Texans are giving up more fantasy points to defensive linemen.
WEEK 5 IDP STUDS
Ezekiel Ansah – DE, Detroit Lions (vs. CAR) (4)
Ansah told Will Burchfield of CBS Detroit that he’s feeling pressure to step his game after another slow(ish) start. “I just gotta take it personally,” Ansah said, “and help my D-line and my team do what we do best.” All three of Ansah’s sack came in one game, but he has a good shot at notching No. 4 this weekend in Motown.
DeForest Buckner – DT, San Francisco 49ers (at IND) (6)
Buckner has pressured the quarterback more than any interior lineman in the NFL over the first month of the season, and the second-year pro notched his first sack of 2017 last week against the Cardinals. He’ll get another Sunday against an Indianapolis line whose interior is comprised entirely of papier mache and marshmallow crème.
Brandon Graham – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. PHI) (3)
Combine an offensive line that’s truly offensive (17 sacks allowed – most in the NFL) with a quarterback who couldn’t scramble if he was being chased by a zombie horde, and you have the recipe for a big game from Graham and the Eagles other pass-rushers. Start ‘em if you got ‘em folks – matchups don’t get much better than this.
Ray-Ray Armstrong – ILB, San Francisco 49ers (at IND) (8)
Armstrong is coming off a huge game – a 10-tackle, one sack, one interception effort against the Cardinals borne in part from the fact that no team in the NFL has seen more tackle opportunities over the first month of the season. That was in a bad fantasy matchup for linebackers – imagine what he could do with a good one.
Eric Kendricks – ILB, Minnesota Vikings (at CHI) (3)
Kendricks had been off to a slow start to the season (averaging six stops a game), although a sack last week against the Lions helped salvage a good statistical outing. The third-year pro is set to have his best game of the year Monday night against the Chicago Bears, who will likely lean heavily on the run with Mitchell Trubisky making his first career start.
Joe Schobert – ILB, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ) (15)
The Browns are a black hole of suck from which no hope can escape, but there have been a few bright spots. One of those has been Schobert. And while the Jets have only been a so-so fantasy matchup for linebackers overall, the team has allowed a handful of big stat lines to inside linebackers – especially over the last couple of weeks.
Rodney McLeod – S, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. AZ) (1)
McLeod returned to the Eagles lineup last week after missing a game, and he should be back in IDP lineups in Week 5. 2017 is setting up to be a carbon copy of the year before where the Arizona Cardinals are concerned. The team’s a lousy matchup for linebackers, but both defensive linemen and defensive backs have been cleaning up.