IDP Start/Sit - Widcard Weekend
Fantasy football no longer ends with the regular season, and there is a variety of formats for player selection you can play during the playoffs, but all essentially boil down to which team can score the most points. With that in mind I’m going to use this article to focus on starts and sits for each weekend, and I won’t be worrying about one-and-done players.
With only eight teams playing this weekend the choices are a lot more limited and sometimes there are glaring pick me options at a position. That’s certainly the case with defensive ends on Wildcard Weekend, with Carlos Dunlap, Calais Campbell and Ziggy Ansah all suiting up. Dunlap (6th) and Campbell (9th) both ended the regular season as DE1s, while Ansah just missed out in 13th.
Of the trio Ansah has the lowest floor when comparing tackle totals, but does have the second best matchup of the weekend against the Cowboys (allow 17.1 points per game on average to defensive ends. The Colts (17.5) are the best matchup, which bodes well for Dunlap, the top scoring end playing this weekend. Campbell, who missed two games in the regular season and otherwise would have likely out-scored Dunlap, gets a middle of the road matchup against the Panthers (15.3). I’d agree with the PFF IDP Projections and rank them Dunlap, Campbell, Ansah.
With three clear standouts to pick from, it is a case of everyone else being a sit this week, but I should add that the Cardinals (11.4) were the toughest matchup of all 32 teams in the regular season which hurts the value of Panthers top pass rusher, Charles Johnson. Johnson posted four games with zero fantasy points this season, so he is certainly someone I’d want to avoid in a tough matchup.
Starts – Carlos Dunlap, Calais Campbell, Ziggy Ansah
Sits – Everyone else
A bevy of decent fantasy linebackers take to the field this week including four LB1s; DeAndre Levy (1st), Luke Kuechly (3rd), C.J. Mosely (6th) and D’Qwell Jackson (7th), and a handful of LB2s and LB3s. Levy’s matchup with the Cowboys (33.4) only ranks fifth of the eight teams playing, but considering he only failed to score double-digit points on one occasion in 2014 and averaged 16.2 points per game, he’s a hard player to leave on the sidelines.
The PFF IDP Projections have C.J. Mosely as the top pick this week, with the Steelers (36.1) being a better matchup than Levy’s. With both the Ravens and Steelers being in the AFC North they play each other twice a year, so we already have two data points for Mosely against Pittsburgh; 12.0 and 10.5 points. Although it’s close, I would still start Levy over Mosely.
Just as with defensive ends, the Cardinals (29.1) are the toughest matchup of all 32 teams for linebackers too, so Luke Kuechly is a recommended sit this week. The projections rank him 9th among his peers because of that, with the likes of Daryl Smith (14th), Lawrence Timmons (17th) and Rolando McClain (26th) all above him. Including the three aforementioned LB1s that’s six players you should be starting above Kuechly. The poor matchup also doesn’t bode well for Thomas Davis (32nd).
On the flipside of that game, the Panthers (39.1) were the second best matchup in the league, which bodes well for Larry Foote (38th), although that only sees him reach as high as 13th in the projections this week. You’d be better served looking to the Bengals linebackers against a Colts (37.5) defense that was the 5th easiest to score points on in the league. Their duo of Emmanuel Lamur and Vincent Rey have flashed more fantasy potential than Foote and are preferred.
Starts – DeAndre Levy, C.J. Mosely
Sits – Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Larry Foote
There’s only one DB1 playing this weekend, James Ihedigbo (10th ranked fantasy safety), and it’s against the best matchup of the eight teams playing (Cowboys – 24.1), so he’s and easy instant name on the team sheet this week. Ihedigbo was arguably the No.1 fantasy safety this year considering he missed the first three games, posting double-digit scores in 11-of-13 appearances and can be expected to pump out another good score on Sunday.
Despite just one elite fantasy defensive back playing there other intriguing options in the likes of Barry Church (14th), Reggie Nelson (13th) and Glover Quin (15th). Church, last year’s top safety, had a hot streak of games late in the season to salvage something for his owners, but was somewhat inconsistent and against a Lions (20.3) defense ranked fifth of the eight teams playing, is slightly risky. Nelson and Quin are safer bets thanks to their superior matchups against the Colts (21.9) and Cowboys respectively.
Quin, playing alongside Ihedigbo is of particular interest, and it’s worth noting that they both scored double-digit points in four games together this season, and a further three times they both scored 8.5 points or more. On that basis you could start both Lions safeties this week. The Bengals and Colts faced off earlier this year and Nelson recorded 9.5 points back in that Week 7 clash, a total our site projections think he will surpass as he’s ranked as the No.1 safety this week.
The Ravens (16.8), Bengals (17.9) and Steelers (19) all finished the season ranked in the bottom six for toughest matchups for safeties, so a despite decent by Mike Adams (8th) he should be avoided this week. The same goes for Troy Polamalu and LaRon Landry, although I’d like to think that if you’re reading this you know that already.
Starts – James Ihedigbo, Glover Quin, Reggie Nelson
Sits – Mike Adams, Troy Polamalu, LaRon Landry
Ross Miles is a Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @RossMilesNFL
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