Thursday - Jan 21, 2021



It’s “No Shave November.”

Over the past few years the tradition of “No Shave November” has started, wherein men forego shaving for a month in an effort to raise awareness about prostate health.

At least, that’s why they say it was started. As a member of the gender, I’m more inclined to believe that’s a somewhat nasty excuse to not shave for a month because shaving is a giant pain in the backside and most guys hate doing it every danged day.

OK, so some hate it more than others.

In fantasy football, on the other hand, it’s “No Lose November.” If your IDP squad is sitting at 4-4 or 3-5, the edict is simple – if you want to make the playoffs, you can’t afford to absorb any more defeats.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Those teams are .500 or worse for a reason. Maybe injuries have ravaged the squad. Maybe some players haven’t performed up to expectations. (looking at you, Leonard Williams. And you, Benardrick McKinney. And even you, Landon Collins.) Or maybe you’ve just had the rotten luck of running into the league’s high scorer that week with alarming regularity.

It happens.

Whatever the reason, things don’t get any easier in Week 9, because on top of all the other problems IDP owners clinging to playoff hopes face there are six teams on a bye. The Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are all sitting the week out.

No Joey Bosa. Or Ryan Shazier. Or Harrison Smith.

In Week 8 and Week 9 I’ll be changing things up just a tad with the IDP Studs and Duds. In addition to my usual spiel, one of the “Studs” at each position will be a guy who’s a bit more under-the-radar. Do I think these players will rampage to a top-10 fantasy finish? Probably not.

But I do think you’ll be able to start these players without wanting to crawl inside your oven on Sunday night.

Besides, that won’t work with an electric oven anyway.

On to the spiel!

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.



Nick Vigil – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (at JAX) (5)

Alberto Muerte of SB Nation thinks that Vigil and Vontaze Burfict could anchor the Bengals LB corps for years to come. “Vigil is far from a finished product. He’s still learning his trade, but he’s got all the tools,” Muerte said. “As we saw in preseason, Vigil can be a monster, a complete linebacker that can cover running backs and tight ends in space and also be physical in the running game and able to rush the passer. He is a perfect fit for the Bengals nickel formations and a great fit alongside The Enforcer.”

Vigil’s been quietly solid for both the Bengals and IDP owners – He ranks inside the Top 30 in both total fantasy points among linebackers and fantasy points per game. Both of those linebackers should be in for big days against Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville Jaguars – in addition to being a top-five fantasy matchup the Jaguars are running the ball a staggering 34 times per game.



(UTR) Henry Anderson – DE, Indianapolis Colts (at HOU) (1)

Anderson looks as healthy as he’s been since his rookie season, he’s coming off a five-tackle effort with a sack and blocked field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals and he draws a great matchup this week with Deshaun Watson and the Texans.

DeForest Buckner – DT, San Francisco 49ers (vs. ARZ) (5)

Among NFL defensive tackles, only Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals has more QB pressures this year than Buckner, who will get his in a NFC West showdown (HA!) with the Drew Stanton-led Arizona Cardinals Sunday. This game is going to be SO bad.

Aaron Donald – DE, Los Angeles Rams (at NYG) (7)

Donald had a sack in each of his last two games before the Rams had their bye. He’ll get another one Sunday at Met Life Stadium against the rotting corpse of what used to be the New York Giants – who are well and truly, in the immortal words of Charles Barkley, turrible.

Brandon Graham – DE, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DEN) (4)

This matchup was great before the Broncos made the switch to Brock Osweiler under center. Now it’s even better. Vinny Curry is another sneaky-good start on the defensive line if you’re in a bind up front this week.

Mychal Kendricks – ILB, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DEN) (12)

Kendricks is back to an every-down role with Jordan Hicks on injured reserve, and this week the Eagles face a Denver team giving up the most tackle opportunities per game in the National Football League this season.

Brandon Marshall – ILB, Denver Broncos (at PHI) (6)

Marshall’s coming off one of his better statistical outings of the year (seven solos against the Chiefs) and odds are he and the Denver defense will see a ton of tackle opportunities Sunday as they’re getting cheesed in Philly.

(UTR) Patrick Onwuasor – ILB, Baltimore Ravens (at TEN) (4)

Onwuasor was relatively quiet last week against Miami and doesn’t play a full snap count. But in a strong matchup with the run-heavy Titans the second-year pro could be a decent plug-and-play IDP option.

Wesley Woodyard – ILB, Tennessee Titans (vs. BAL) (3)

Woodyard’s been a top-12 fantasy producer as an every-down linebacker for the Titans this year. Coming off the bye the good time will keep rolling Sunday in a top-three fantasy matchup with the Ravens.

Morgan Burnett – S, Green Bay Packers (vs. DET) (3)

Given that Burnett missed two games before the bye week with a pulled hamstring waiting until Monday night to see if he plays is something of a risky bet. However, most of the signs point to him returning to his role as the defensive play-caller in a plus matchup.

(UTR) Vernon Hargreaves – CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NOS) (21)

At first glance that fantasy ranking vs. defensive backs might not seem like one that would inspire much confidence in the young corner heading into Sunday’s game at the Superdome. But that ranking is for safeties and cornerbacks combined – if you separate the two the Saints are well inside the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to the latter.

Malcolm Jenkins – S, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DEN) (1)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I rather like the Eagles’ matchup this week from an IDP perspective. I really like it. I really, really like it. While I was typing this Brock Osweiler was sacked three times and picked off twice.

Jaquiski Tartt – S, San Francisco 49ers (vs. ARZ) (2)

This recommendation makes me a tad nervous, in that with Drew Stanton at the helm the Cardinals offense will all but surely be awful. But they lead the NFC in fantasy points allowed to defensive backs, and Tartt has logged fewer than six total tackles in a game just once this season.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.