We’re in the thick of it now.
With Week 9 of the 2020 NFL season already underway, the IDP stretch run is just around the corner. And while there are some fantasy teams who are 6-2 or 7-1 and sitting pretty thanks to big seasons from the likes of Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White, there are also no shortage of teams whose postseason aspirations are anything but a sure bet.
Maybe you spent an early pick on a player who went down with an injury like Washington safety Landon Collins and your team is sitting at 3-5. Or you drafted a guy who just hasn’t lived up to expectations like New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan and are hovering around the .500 mark.
Whatever the reason, you’re in a tough spot. Lose another game or two, and it will be playing out the string time. There’s precious little margin for error. Every IDP lineup decision is critical.
There’s no easy way out.
Oh yeah. 80s montages. Can’t beat ’em.
Luckily, IDP Studs and Duds is here to help.
Each week during the 2020 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 9 is another four-team bye week—the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, and Philadelphia Eagles won’t be playing. That means no Myles Garrett. Or Aaron Donald. Or Brandon Graham—a big hit to the defensive line depth.
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2020 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP STUD OF THE WEEK
Bobby Okereke – ILB, Indianapolis Colts (vs. BAL) (3)
In his second NFL season, Okereke has blossomed into a full-time starter opposite Darius Leonard in Indianapolis. As Jim Ayello reported for the Indy Star, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus isn’t surprised that Okereke has progressed so quickly in the pros.
“Bobby’s skillset, we saw that coming out of Stanford,” Eberflus said. “His ability to cover ground, his ability to match receivers tight and being able to glove a football when he is in tight coverage, that’s what he brings to the table and that’s his natural skillset. We try to enhance that with him just by coaching him within the framework of the defense, and really letting him do his thing. Guys don’t fall far from their college tape. What they do in college, you can enhance that and they’re going to do that in the pro game too.”
With Darius Leonard back, Okereke’s playing time dropped a tad in last week’s win over the Detroit Lions, but he still managed seven stops in a so-so IDP matchup. In a top-five fantasy matchup with the run-heavy Ravens in Week 9, Okereke should shine.
WEEK 9 IDP STUDS
Justin Houston – DE, Indianapolis Colts (vs. BAL) (6): Houston started the season strong, but he has slowed down considerably of late. From a matchup perspective, this week’s big AFC tilt with the Raiders sets up well for him to warm back up.
Melvin Ingram – DE, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. LVR) (3): Ingram has had a mostly quiet season, in part due to injuries. But a top-five fantasy matchup for defensive linemen with the rival Raiders provides the veteran edge-rusher with a prime “get right” spot.
Stephon Tuitt – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DAL) (2): Tuitt is in the middle of a career season in 2020, with six sacks in seven games. That hot streak should continue against a Cowboys team rolling out a patchwork offensive line and a fourth-string quarterback.
Tyrell Adams – ILB, Houston Texans (at JAX) (4): Adams has been productive since entering the starting lineup, averaging over 10 stops a week. That robust production should continue Sunday in a top-five matchup for linebackers with the Jaguars.
Nick Kwiatkoski – ILB, Las Vegas Raiders (at LAC) (7): Kwiatkoski’s production hasn’t been great this season, but he’s playing in an every-down role and draws a Week 9 matchup with a Chargers team that ranks well inside the top 10 in fantasy points surrendered to linebackers in 2020.
Vince Williams – ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DAL) (5): The arrival of Avery Williamson could cloud the picture at inside linebacker in Pittsburgh. But this week at least, Williams should be fine against a Cowboys team that is certain to lean heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and the run game.
Minkah Fitzpatrick – S, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DAL) (3): Let’s see—we have a sieve of an offensive line and a fourth-string quarterback. Maybe it will be a sack. Maybe it will be an interception. But whatever it is—Fitzpatrick will make a big play Sunday in Dallas.
Marcus Maye – S, New York Jets (vs. NEP) (5): Maye has been a top-10 fantasy defensive back most of the season. There’s little reason to believe that won’t continue to be the case when the Jets and reeling Patriots meet on Monday night.
Keanu Neal – S, Atlanta Falcons (vs. DEN) (1): Neal has picked up his production of late, averaging nine total tackles and half a sack over the past two games. That should continue Sunday in fantasy football’s best matchup for defensive backs in 2020.