Hard though it may be to believe, we’re almost halfway through the 2016 fantasy football regular season.
For some IDP owners, it’s been an awesome ride. Maybe you’ve benefitted from Buffalo Bills linebacker Zach Brown averaging 12 tackles a game. Or from Leonard Williams’ ascendance at defensive end for the New York Jets. Perhaps you were able to scoop Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson off the waiver wire and reap the rewards of his strong start.
You’re sitting at 5-0 or 4-1 and loving life.
There’s a flip side to that coin, however. Maybe you’re wondering when Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack is going to “wake up.” Or you’ve watched Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (my top options at those positions entering the season) land on injured reserve. You wasted a high pick on safeties Corey Graham of the Buffalo Bills and Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals and have spit to show for it.
You’re 0-5 or 1-4 and started drinking at noon.
That’s bad for you, you know.
However, whether you’re riding high, feeling low or sitting somewhere in between, every IDP owner has one thing in common – we’ve all got games to win this week.
And that’s means it’s time to dust ourselves off and get lineups set – with the assistance of another edition of IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
Each week during the 2016 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 2015 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP START OF THE WEEK
Deone Bucannon – ILB, Arizona Cardinals (vs. NYJ) (2)
Heading into Week 5, Bucannon’s fantasy owners weren’t at all happy with his fantasy production to date this season – over the first four weeks he ranked outside the top 75 fantasy linebackers. The converted safety got it in gear last week against the San Francisco 49ers, however, piling up 14 total tackles (including 10 solos). That ranked in the top 10 at the position on the week, and no doubt had his fantasy owners breathing a sigh of relief.
The good times should keep on rolling this Sunday at home against the New York Jets. Gang Green has been a great IDP matchup in general (no team in the NFL has allowed for fantasy points to IDPs this season), and only the Jacksonville Jaguars have surrendered more fantasy points per game to linebackers in 2016.
WEEK 6 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (vs. CLE) (4): After a very quiet start to the 2016 season, Casey finally got it going with a pair of sacks against the Miami Dolphins. The good times should keep rolling this week in an even better IDP matchup with the hapless Cleveland Browns.
DeMarcus Lawrence – DE, Dallas Cowboys (at GB) (2): Lawrence was quiet in his season debut against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, playing less than 20 snaps. Look for that number to increase substantially against a Packers team allowing the most fantasy points in the NFC to defensive linemen this year.
Rob Ninkovich – DE, New England Patriots (vs. CIN) (5): Just like DeMarcus Lawrence, Ninkovich was quiet in limited playing time in his first game action of the season last week. And just like Lawrence, Ninkovich should see a bump in PT this Sunday against a Bengals team struggling to protect Andy Dalton in 2016.
Vontaze Burfict – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (at NE) (3): As last week’s nine-solo effort showed, it didn’t take Burfict long to get back up to speed for the Bengals. That’s good for Cincinnati and for IDP owners – at 2-3 the Bengals need all hands on deck when they travel to Gillette Stadium to face the Patriots.
Benardrick McKinney – ILB, Houston Texans (vs. IND) (2): McKinney’s been a pleasant surprise this season, ranking inside the top 10 in fantasy points among linebackers. Brian Cushing’s return may eat into those numbers a bit, but there should be plenty to go around in a very favorable IDP matchup Sunday night.
Danny Trevathan – ILB, Chicago Bears (vs. JAX) (1): As Bryan Perez of USA Today wrote, Trevathan played well in his return to action a week ago. “Pro Football Focus graded Trevathan as the best player on Chicago’s defense against Indianapolis,” Perez said, “which was evident on the field through his physical and penetrating style of play.”
Vonn Bell – S, New Orleans Saints (vs. CAR) (6): Heading into a nice home matchup with the reeling Panthers, Bell told the New Orleans Times-Picayune he’s enjoying his new role as a starter. “We’re going to keep on fighting,” Bell said. “Keep on swinging, keep my head up, keep praying every day and everything will come together.”
D.J. Swearinger – S, Arizona Cardinals (vs. NYJ) (3): Swearinger fared well in his first game as a full-time starter last week, putting up eight total stops and a sack against the 49ers. A top-three fantasy matchup with the reeling Jets sets up well for the Week 6 waiver darling to post a second straight solid statistical effort.
Eric Weddle – S, Baltimore Ravens (at NYG) (5): Weddle’s been frustrating for IDP owners this season, Battling injuries and following up big games with statistical stinkers. There’s no reason to fear the beard in Week 6, however – the Giants have been a consistently good matchup for defensive backs dating back to the 2015 season.