This season’s IDP preview is a streamlined view of the many different factors that go into the players on these lists. Each of the categories will consider the impact of the player, the matchup, the stadium, and even factors such as weather, injuries, or whatever else we think could impact a player positively or negatively.

 

Noteworthy IDPs Ruled Out This Week

  • Ryan Shazier (ILB, Pit) – ruled OUT (Knee)
  • Bashaud Breeland (CB, Was) – ruled OUT (Ankle)
  • Brandon Flowers (CB, SD) – ruled OUT (Concussion)
  • Sua Cravens (S/LB, Was) – ruled OUT (Concussion)
  • DaNorris Searcy (S, Ten) – ruled OUT (Ankle)
  • Shariff Floyd (DT, Min) – ruled OUT (Knee)
  • Senquez Golson (CB, Pit) – ruled OUT (Ankle)
  • Robert Golden (S, Pit) – ruled OUT (Hamstring)
  • DeVondre Campbell (LB, Atl) – ruled OUT (Ankle)
  • Deion Jones (LB, Atl) – ruled OUT (Ankle)
  • DeMarcus Ware (OLB, Den) – ruled OUT (Forearm)
  • Sam Shields (CB, GB) – ruled OUT (Concussion)
  • Ezekiel Ansah (DE, Det) – ruled OUT (Ankle)
  • DeAndre Levy (OLB, Det) – ruled OUT (Quad)
  • Xavien Howard (CB, Mia) – ruled OUT (Knee)
  • James Bradberry (CB, Car) – ruled OUT (Toe)
  • Koa Misi (OLB, Mia) – ruled OUT (Neck)
  • Jahleel Addae (SS, SD) – ruled OUT (Clavicle)

 

Noteworthy IDPs Listed as Doubtful This Week

  • Darrelle Revis (CB, NYJ) – listed as Doubtful (Hamstring)

 

Teams on Bye

  • Jacksonville
  • Kansas City
  • New Orleans
  • Seattle

 

Set em and Forget em

These players should be in your lineup regardless of matchup, stadium, etc. If you have one of these players, dont be fooled into benching them because of a tough matchup or some other bit of analysis you may have read this week. These players are talented enough to bust out each week, regardless of opponent or situation.
If a player is missing from this list on a given week, well tell you why.

Defensive Ends

Khalil Mack (Oak) vs. SD

Calais Campbell (Ari) – already played

Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ) @ Pit

Carlos Dunlap (Cin) @ Dal

Cameron Jordan (NO) – bye week

Jerry Hughes (Buf) @ LA

Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG) @ GB

Everson Griffen (Min) vs. Hou

 

Defensive Tackles

(for DT-required leagues especially, but most of these are safe plays in the DL slot as well)

Aaron Donald (LA) vs. Buf

Linval Joseph (Min) vs. Hou

Ndamukong Suh (Mia) vs. Ten

Geno Atkins (Cin) @ Dal

Leonard Williams (NYJ) @ Pit

Fletcher Cox (Phi) @ Det

 

Linebackers

Luke Kuechly (Car) vs. TB

Alec Ogletree (LA) vs. Buf

Zach Brown (Buf) @ LA

Derrick Johnson (KC) – bye week

Bobby Wagner (Sea) – bye week

Sean Lee (Dal) vs. Cin

Jerrell Freeman (Chi) @ Ind

Craig Robertson (NO) – bye week

Paul Posluszny (Jac) – bye week

Eric Kendricks (Min) vs. Hou

C.J. Mosley (Bal) vs. Was

 

Safeties

Reshad Jones (Mia) vs. Ten

Landon Collins (NYG) @ GB

Reggie Nelson (Oak) vs. SD

Harrison Smith (Min) vs. Hou

Barry Church (Dal) vs. Cin

Johnathan Cyprien (Jac) – bye week

Tony Jefferson (Ari) – already played

Chris Conte (TB) @ Car

Antoine Bethea (SF) – already played

 

Cornerbacks

(for CB-required leagues especially, but most of these are safe plays in the DB slot as well)

Trumaine Johnson (LA) vs. Buf

Marcus Peters (KC) – already played

Josh Norman (Was) @ Bal

 

Solid Plays

These players are 2s/3s but should put up good numbers this week based on their talent, plus a favorable matchup or other factors that give them a little extra boost this week.

Defensive Ends

Cameron Heyward (Pit) vs. NYJ – Here are Heyward’s solo tackles from each week so far: 1, 2, 4, 6. It’s almost an old high school cheer (“2, 4, 6, 8…”), and if you started him last week, you likely cheered as well, because he had 3 sacks to go with those 6 tackles. A lot of factors went into those numbers, mainly that the Chiefs ran a lot early (tackles) and then got behind and had to throw a lot (sacks). The game script has a chance of being similar this week vs. the Jets. That, combined with Heyward’s health sets him up nicely this week. Heyward suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason, but has been slowly getting back to full strength. Yeah, I think he’s at full strength now.

Derek Wolfe (Den) vs. Atl – Wolfe has been playing out of his mind lately. He’s been playing some of the best football of his career and although sometimes playing great “real” football doesn’t always translate to playing great “fantasy” football, in Wolfe’s case it does. Over the last three games, Wolfe has 14 tackles (12 solo), 4 sacks, and 3 PD. Although Atlanta’s offensive line is playing well, they have given up 7 sacks on the season to DLs, including back-to-back games of 2 sacks each. And they’re heading into Wolfe’s house, playing the best defensive front in football. There’s a bad “wolfe” and “eat” pun in there somewhere, but I’ll resist it and just say that he’s at the top of his game, and should be staring both Devonta Freeman and Matt Ryan in the face early and often.

 

Defensive Tackles

(for DT-required leagues)

Tyrone Crawford (Dal) vs. Cin – Crawford should still be listed as a DT on most sites, but the Cowboys have been using him at DE a bunch this season on their depleted D-Line. He has 10 tackles (8 solo) on the season and 2 sacks so far. He’ll actually get a little help this week as DeMarcus Lawrence should be back. Teams will have to pay attention to Lawrence, making Crawford’s job a little easier. The Bengals have been a top-10 option for opposing DLs, giving up almost 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks per game.

 

Linebackers

Kiko Alonso (Mia) vs. Ten – Alonso was a no-doubt starter n Buffalo, then a disappointment in Philadelphia. He started off slowly in Miami this preseason, but he’s been a solid option from the beginning of the season. With between 8 and 11 tackles in each game, Alonso is back in the LB1 conversation. This week he’ll get some extra love from us because Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi (out) are banged up. Plus, he’s playing one of the most run-heavy offenses in the game.

Tahir Whitehead (Det) vs. Phi – With DeAndre Levy out, Whitehead is a strong play as the only every-down LB on a defense that is staying on the field a ton. Levy will miss another game, meaning Whitehead will get plenty of opportunity to chase down the three-headed backfield of Philadelphia. He has at least 8 tackles in three of his four games this season, so we love his high floor this week.

Cory James (Oak) vs. SD – In six quarters as the starting MLB, James has 21 tackles (18 solo). [Cue Homer Simpson drooling sound] James has been impressive as the rookie starter and looks like the real deal. He’s been fast and decisive, which is what we love to see from rookies. The Raiders recently signed veteran Perry Riley, but we view that as insurance for Malcolm Smith, who is dealing with a groin injury. James also has a juicy matchup this week, as the Chargers are a top-10 team for opposing LB fantasy production.

 

Safeties

Keanu Neal (Atl) @ Den – If you’re a Neal owner, the beat-up LB corps he plays with has created a ton of opportunity for him this week. Not only is Sean Weatherspoon on Injured Reserve, but rookies Deion Jones and DeVondre Campbell are also out this week. Neal was already off to a good season since returning from injury, but he can bet that Denver will attack the weakness at linebacker by leaning on C.J. Anderson. That leaves Neal as one of the only options to chase Anderson around all day. We think Neal is up to the task, as his combination of speed and power plays well against running backs.

Karl Joseph (Oak) vs. SD – After being benched early in the season, Joseph finally started the last two games. Since then he’s taken almost every snap and has 18 tackles (11 solo) and a PD. This week he’ll see a lot of new Chargers offensive toy Hunter Henry as well as Melvin Gordon. Antonio Gates might also be back in the lineup, so Joseph should be busy and productive.

 

Cornerbacks

(for CB-required leagues)

Vernon Hargreaves (TB) @ Car – Tampa Bay thrust the rookie into a starting job as they benched Alterraun Verner. Hargreaves responded, putting up at least 5 solos in the last three games. This week, he faces a Panthers offense that has been a top-10 option for DB fantasy production. He may also see Derek Anderson at QB, increasing the big play chances for the rookie. Hargreaves was a big play machine in college, so as Hargreaves gets more comfortable, he should start being aggressive. Going up against a backup QB might be that time.

 

Sneaky Plays

These players are 4s/5s who normally just live on the bench or on the waiver wire, but this week is especially good for taking a shot on them.

Defensive Ends

Jason Jones (Mia) vs. Ten – Jones has been a steadying force on the Dolphins D-line. He’s logging a consistent 60% snap share, and has produced steadily in his role opposite Mario Williams. While Cameron Wake is a designated pass-rushing specialist, he’s been used only in certain rush situations, not every third-and-long. With Wake playing around 20-40% of the time, Jones is getting plenty of room to do his thing. His “thing” has added up to 14 tackles (6 solo), 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. This week he gets Tennessee’s run-first offense, and a struggling QB.

Kerry Hyder (Det) vs. Phi – With Ezekiel Ansah sidelined for at least another week, Hyder should continue starting in Ansah’s place. Although he’s not the complete player Ansah is, Hyder is pulling his weight on the big play end. He has 5 sacks so far (at least 1 in each game), and 2 PD. He’s pulling down 1-2 tackles a week, so he’s either a strong start in big play leagues or a Hail Mary in standard leagues this week. But he’s more of an Aaron Rodgers-style Hail Mary.

 

Defensive Tackles

(for DT-required leagues)

Danny Shelton (Cle) vs. NE – Don’t worry if Shelton starts this week off slow. He’s facing the quick-pass scheme of New England, and Tom Brady is likely to throw early and often. But unless this game is played in Bizarro World, the Patriots should build an early lead, and then lean heavily on the run game in the second half. That’s when Shelton will eat. He’s been a steady tackler in the middle so far, with at least 3 tackles in every game. We like him as a solid DT2 this week, with a good chance to put up DT1 numbers.

 

Linebackers

Vince Williams (Pit) vs. NYJ – Williams blew up last week starting for the injured Ryan Shazier. He led the team with 15 tackles, and added a sack for good measure. That #1 LB production can’t be counted on, but Williams also had 4 solos filling in for Shazier late in Week Three. With Shazier out this week, Williams should be a solid fill-in. If you have Shazier, or lost NaVorro Bowman, Williams is a sneaky play to cover that production for you. The Jets are just outside the top-10 for opposing LB production, so Williams has a good matchup to boot.

Avery Williamson (Ten) @ Mia – Tennessee’s defense is playing better than most realize, and Williamson is a big part of that. He’s playing every snap, and has at least 6 tackles in every game. He’s seemed to turn it on lately, though. In the last two weeks, Williams has hit double-digit FP in each game, with 21 tackles, an INT, and 2 PD. We love A&W as an LB2 this week, who could end up an LB1.

Jake Ryan (GB) vs. NYG – While it’s difficult to trust the Green Bay LB corps, not all are lucky enough to fire up their Luke Kuechly/Jerrell Freeman/Paul Posluszny combo each week. And if you’re one of those lucky ones, “Poz” is on a bye, so welcome to the Green Bay LB Dilemma Party. Ryan has been playing well and has worked his way up to an 82% snap share, posting weeks of 7.5, 5.5, and 7.5 FPG. Folks, it’s still too early to call, but we may have a winner emerging from this mess between Ryan, Blake Martinez, and Nick Perry. Ryan gets a nice boost this week, as the Giants create a ton of tackle opportunity for opposing defenses. If you need an LB2, and are up for the risk of getting ahead of the game, fire up Ryan this week.

 

Safeties

Rashad Johnson (Ten) @ Mia – Johnson was a solid fantasy option with Arizona the last two seasons, posting 6.8 and 5.0 FPG there. His tenure in Tennessee started slowly, but over the last two games, we’ve seen more of the Rashad we saw in Arizona: 13 tackles and a PD. As he gets more comfortable on his new team, IDP owners are benefitting. This week he’ll face a Miami team finally at home and desperate to get their offense going. That plays right into Johnson’s hands, so we like him as a solid DB2 this week.

Mike Adams (Ind) vs. Chi – Adams is off to another solid start this season, with at least 5 tackles in three of his four games, and 7 FP in two of those four games. This week is especially positive for him, as the Bears are giving up 30 FPG to DBs. A lot of that comes in the form of the John Fox offensive mindset of run-heavy offense. The Bears should continue to ride Jordan Howard, and Adams should be ready.

 

Cornerbacks

(for CB-required leagues)

Lamarcus Joyner (LA) vs. Buf – With the cornerback position a mess behind Trumaine Johnson, Joyner has had to step up and play a greater role. While at first, Joyner wasn’t “starting,” he’s now getting tons of snaps in the slot and he’s also moving around. Joyner’s 60 snaps last week were second only to Johnson’s. He’s had a solid fantasy season so far, with at least 6.5 FP in three of four games. He also has a great matchup. While Buffalo may not seem like a great matchup by the numbers, a closer look reveals that ever since new OC Anthony Lynn took over, the Bills have given up the third-most FPG to DBs.

 

Shaky Plays

These players are normally a solid option, but this week is especially bad for them.

Defensive Ends

Robert Quinn (LA) vs. Buf – Quinn was on his way back to “Set ‘em and Forget ‘em” status after back-to-back dominant games, but then posted a doughnut in Week Four. Quinn hurt his shoulder and it severely affected his mobility and effectiveness. He didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, so if he does end up active, we just can’t trust him this week. Get better soon, RQ.

Chris Long (NE) @ Cle – There was some hope that Long was going to be productive in Rob Ninkovich’s absence. He had a strong Week One, with 3 tackles and a sack. His Week Two production came mostly from 3 PD and a fumble recovery, and then he fell back to Earth the last two weeks. Now that Ninkovich is back, Long’s playing time is likely to suffer, making his already low floor/ceiling just too low to recommend firing him up this week.

 

Defensive Tackles

(for DT-required leagues)

Damon Harrison (NYG) @ GB – You’re likely still using Harrison this week. He has a solid floor and a solid matchup. So why is he on here? He had a minute there where he looked like a legitimate DT1+/DL2, due to a hot start. His Week Three double-digit tackle performance had us all fired up, but he’s settling in, with 2-3 solos a week as his norm. Great for a DT2, but those of you who might have moved him into your DL slot might be disappointed.

 

Linebackers

Denzel Perryman (SD) @ Oak – Perryman is battling a shoulder issue, and is also battling rookie Jatavis Brown for playing time. There was (and still may be) a chance that Perryman would take over the every-down role with Manti Teo out for the year, but this shoulder issue combined with the play of Brown has put Perryman on shaky ground in terms of fantasy production. Terrible time for him to get hurt, for his opportunity and for IDP owners.

Mason Foster (Was) vs. Cle – Foster played 63% of the defensive snaps in Week Four. That may seem like a solid number at first glance, but with Sua Cravens going down with a concussion, Foster’s snaps were actually higher than they should have been. Perhaps more importantly – regardless of the availability of Cravens this week – is Foster’s poor play. After a strong start of 24 tackles in his first two weeks, Foster’s play and playing time have dipped, producing back-to-back weeks of 5 tackles per game. If you are hoping for the LB1/LB2 production from early in the season, you might not get it until something changes. In addition (or subtraction, as it were), he’s facing a Ravens team relying on the passing game more than usual with issues in the backfield. More passing downs = less Foster. He’s an LB3 this week.

Jonathan Casillas (NYG) @ GB – Casillas has been a favorite “sneaky play” for us, but this week he’s more on the shaky side of the needle. He’s playing mostly on early downs, but also seeing time in nickel packages, which has allowed Casillas to put up LB2 numbers. This week he travels to Green Bay and that creates two problems (that are likely related). For one, the Packers are dead last in FPG allowed to opposing LBs, giving up just 11 tackles to LBs per game. Add to that, Lambeau Field is a bottom-5 stadium for Total Tackle Value so far. Shaky. If you need an LB3, fire him up. But if you’ve been enjoying his sneaky production, this might be a week to look away.

 

Safeties

Calvin Pryor (NYJ) @ Pit – Pryor’s snaps have been inching in the wrong direction. Part of that is due to a brief sideline visit for an injury, but part of it could be his poor play in the secondary. While Pryor is a hard hitter, offenses are putting him in situations where he has to play man-coverage and he’s getting burned badly. Other than last week’s 7 tackle performance, he’s had a total of 6 FP over the first three games. Pryor might snap back into his 2015 form soon, but his lowered production, poor on-field play, and decreased snaps make him a shaky play this week.

                            

Cornerbacks

(for CB-required leagues)

David Amerson (Oak) vs. SD – Amerson is still a solid play, but his new tackle competition has him outside the CB1 range for us until we see more. After posting 12 tackles in the first two games, he has 7 over his last two. Specifically, he’s hurting in the solo category – 11 in the first two games, 5 in the last two. The new tackle competition is a rookie duo who finally saw the field in Week Three. LB Cory James has taken over for an ineffective Ben Heeney, and SS Karl Joseph has been piling up tackles since he earned the starting role in Week Three. Amerson simply has more talent around him to split up the tackles. Start him in you need him, just be prepared for fewer solo tackles.

Bene Benwikere (FA) – After last week’s torching of the Carolina secondary, Benwikere was cut. Make sure you get him out of your lineup.