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IDP Nation

Breeze’s Week 4 IDP Breakdown

by Eric Breeze
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Below is your weekly breakdown of news, notes and injuries from the previous week to help with tough lineup decisions on the defensive side of the ball.


Week 4 Bye Weeks: Green Bay, Philadelphia


The three-headed ILB monster of Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas continues but it looks like Ryan is starting to take over as the lead dog. This early bye week works perfectly for Morgan Burnett who is still nursing a hamstring injury. The LB rotation in Philly is much more lopsided than the one in Green Bay as Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks once again led by overwhelming margin in snap counts yet Stephen Tulloch continues to siphon a few series at middle linebacker. Hicks had another poor showing in the box score but played decently well so the savvy move is to try to acquire him at his reduced price heading into a bye after back-to-back disappointing weeks.


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Miami @ Cincinnati

Studs:   Ndamukong Suh, Reshad Jones. Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins (In DT-required), Adam Jones (In CB-required)

Starts: Cameron Wake (Boom/Bust DL2), Mario Williams (Boom/Bust DL3/4), Kiko Alonso (LB2), Neville Hewitt (LB4 if Jenkins/Misi inactive), Isa Abdul-Quddus (DB4/5), Vontaze Burfict (LB4), Vincent Rey (LB4/5), Shawn Williams (DB2/3)


The Miami Dolphins did the unthinkable last week; they were on the field for 80+ snaps against the Cody Kessler-led Cleveland Browns and are on a roughly 1,300 snap yearly pace which is not good for their team’s success but is a glowing attractive number for IDP purposes. With all that in mind, Kiko Alonso will still gobble up tackles however what we are seeing now is more than likely his absolute ceiling given he relies on opportunity rather than making impactful plays in the run game. Jelani Jenkins finally worked himself back to a full time role last week, a role that lasted barely over a half since now he has injured his groin. I’ve always been a huge fan of Jenkins’ talent but at some point reliability is the most important attribute and he does not have any. I wouldn’t drop him in deep leagues but he’s purely a bench stash flier going forward. The Miami LB injuries didn’t stop there as Koa Misi also left the game with a neck injury and did not return. If both Jenkins and Misi are inactive for Week 4 then Neville Hewitt, who filled in nicely last week, makes a solid start as he would be an every-down LB. The two most easily impressive Dolphins’ defenders last week were Reshad Jones and Cameron Wake. While Jones has always been a no-brainer start, last week was a reinsurance policy of just how valuable he is in the IDP world as an absolute force against the run which supplies a very appealing tackle floor at a position that usually lacks one. The Miami SS also deserves a boost in leagues that reward TFL as he is almost always making his run stops at or behind the LOS. Wake on the other hand continues to be a situational pass rusher so his snaps are relatively low (36 of possible 82) however he has just been too impressive to ignore. He was simply unblockable last week and could have had monster 3-4 sack game if not for some obvious holds by the CLE right tackle. Wake won’t have much of a floor on a weekly basis but very few DL do so his big play upside is worth start consideration alone.


This week is the long awaited return of bad boy big hitter Vontaze Burfict who used to be a top IDP linebacker just a short while ago but is he this week? My simple answer is that I don’t know. There is no true way to predict how many snaps Burfict will get in his first week back because veterans Vincent Rey and Karlos Dansby have filled in admirably the first three weeks. The Dolphins also run a 3-WR offense on almost every play (which means CIN will be in nickel defense) so there are three linebackers (four if you count Rey Maualuga) fighting for only two servings of snaps. Add this all up and the entire CIN LB corps are best left on the bench till the dust settles. SS Shawn Williams tweaked his knee last week but if he is active continue to start him with confidence. The young safety has been very productive in run support and will have even a higher IDP ceiling if he could catch easy interceptions like the one he dropped last week.


Detroit @ Chicago

Studs: Jerrell Freeman

Starts: Devin Taylor (DL3/4), Tahir Whitehead (LB3), Rafael Bush (DB3 if Tavon Wilson is inactive), Akiem Hicks (DL3/4), Harold Jones-Quartey (DB3 if active), Jacoby Glenn (CB1)


As a Bears fan I like to keep their recap short to limit the sadness. If Harold Jones-Quartey clears concussion protocol he is the next best bet for tackles after ILB Jerrell Freeman. Jacoby Glenn makes for a nice CB streamer as he continues to fill in as the No. 2 CB and will get a lot of opportunities to fill the stat sheet vs the Lions pass happy attack. One of my favorite bargain IDP linebackers coming into this season was Tahir Whitehead and while he achieved double-digit tackles his first two weeks he laid an egg Week 3 with only three total tackles.  Looking deeper there were many factors contributing to his poor effort and first one was Tahir himself. He is an undersized MIKE that uses his speed and ability to “get skinny” to cut through potential blocks to get to the ball carrier but got physically dominated last week for the most part. He did make a few quick reads to meet Eddie Lacy at the LOS, however Whitehead was simply overpowered by the running back who looks about 80 pounds heavier on film. Whitehead had two missed tackles on Lacy and when he was helping to make plays the Green Bay Packer home scoring crew was not doing him any favors. He was worthy of 2-3 more possible assisted tackles but was not awarded on the stat sheet and since tackles are not an official NFL statistic, sometimes this is just the way it goes. The Lions’ play-caller also had two solo tackles called back due to penalties so at the end of the day if things had fallen a little differently he could have had anywhere from seven-nine total tackles. Whitehead’s stat sheet also suffered because unlike the first two weeks, he was aligned at the LOS quite often in passing situations and attempted to supply interior pressure on the center rather than drop in coverage like he usually does. This change in scheme was likely made in an attempt to get more pressure on Aaron Rodgers with Ezekiel Ansah out but Whitehead was totally ineffective doing so. These all sound like a lot of excuses but I am done making them for Whitehead; He had a very poor game, it’s as simple as that but nevertheless, a lot of things had to go against him to have such a rough IDP outing. The Lions’ linebacking corps has so many injuries that even if he does not improve his performance there are brighter days soon ahead for him in fantasy football simply due to opportunity (think Paul Worrilow in 2013-2014). I still think Whitehead can be a borderline top 25 IDP linebacker for the rest of 2016 but given how poorly he has looked in nearly all facets of the game these past two weeks, I have very little confidence that he is a long term answer for the Lions or your dynasty/keeper leagues.


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Indianapolis @ Jacksonville

Studs: Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, Jonathon Cyprien, Jalen Ramsey (CB required)

Starts: Malik Jackson (DT1/DL3), D’Qwell Jackson (LB3/4), Sio Moore (LB3/4), Clayton Geathers (DB4)


The starting safety spot opposite of Mike Adams is currently a platoon of Clayton Geathers and T.J. Green, however Geathers has been the more impressive player on the field. If the young safety can continue his success he could be a great IDP DB down the stretch. While I wouldn’t advise starting him this week, Henry Anderson returned to the Colts’ defensive line and looked explosive on limited snaps so if he is sitting on waivers you should change that. I was big on Malik Jackson heading into the year, however getting 58% of the snaps the first two weeks left me confused and disappointed. Now Jackson is coming off back-to-back impressive showings and saw his snap count rise over 70% so he becomes starter-worthy against a team that has struggled early keeping Andrew Luck upright. Many people, myself included, thought Myles Jack was going to take Paul Posluszny’s job this year, however Poz has made it clear that is not happening. He looks the best he has this past decade so all the chatter this offseason must have lit a fire under him and he has responded. Yannick Ngakoue continues to out-snap Dante Fowler however consider both boom/bust DL reliant solely on sacks.


Carolina @ Atlanta

Studs: Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal,

Starts: Kawann Short (low DT1/DL4), Charles Johnson (boom/bust DL3), Sean Weatherspoon (LB3 if De’Vondre Campbell inactive), Robert Alford (CB1)


The Panthers continue to be a very top-heavy but shallow team for IDP starters. Shaq Thompson is slowly increasing his playing time but still not enough to warrant an IDP start except as a dart throw in leagues that reward a hefty amount of points for big plays. Super Bowl 50 star Kony Ealy has been an absolute ghost in the pass rush so if you must choose a Carolina DE, pick the old vet Charles Johnson since at least he is getting close to the quarterback. The combo of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis simply cover too much ground in coverage to make any of the secondary a confident start as well.
Deion Jones had his breakout party last weekend on MNF and showed the entire world just how fast he is. His 90-yard TD interception return was more about “right place, right time” but what was so impressive is that he didn’t get caught from behind by Saints’ speedster Brandin Cooks, who is one of the fastest players in the entire league. Jones continues to make typical rookie mistakes but his speed changes the entire defense so he will continue to get a full plate of snaps regardless of whether his mid-game struggles. Weatherspoon looks like he has cinder blocks for feet when compared to Jones but he can still be serviceable simply due to opportunity. Week 3 was also the return of 1st round pick Keanu Neal and while he may have disappointed in the stat sheet (three solo/one assist), he showed everything we wanted to see for IDP purposes.  They eased him back in from his knee injury (only 65% of snaps last week) yet was always around the box and displayed how successful he can be as the enforcing in-the-box SS he displayed in the preseason before the injury. Neal has elite DB1 tackle potential and is already a top five DB in all formats going forward.


Oakland @ Baltimore

Studs: Khalil Mack, C.J. Mosley

Starts: Timmy Jernigan (DL3), Zach Orr (LB2), Eric Weddle (DB2), Malcom Smith (LB3/4), Cory James (LB4/5), Karl Joseph (DB2), Reggie Nelson (DB2/3)


Looking at the score from last week, it appears that the switches made fixed the Raiders’ defense, however I think it has a lot to do with the Titans’ offense just being poor. While I don’t think the defense is as good as their box score, I do think it’s a step in the right direction and newly appointed starters Cory James and Karl Joseph will continue to be near every-down players. James had a solid but unspectacular game, however I was impressed with Joseph given how lackluster his preseason performance was. The 1st round rookie was very solid in run support and that bodes well given his role is in-the-box SS against run formations. I still like Keanu Neal better but Joseph’s first start was very encouraging. I’m keeping Khalil Mack in the “stud” category one more time, however he needs to earn it this week against the Ravens, especially because he does not have an excuse of going against a top-tier offensive tackle. This week I moved Eric Weddle down from stud status which is in no part his fault. He has been a superb addition to the Baltimore secondary, however tackle opportunities just haven’t been there to make him a DB1 and that likely won’t happen with talented ILBs C.J. Mosley and Zach Orr gobbling up all the stats in front of him.


Tennessee @ Houston

Studs: N/A

Starts: Jurrell Casey (DL2), Avery Williamson (LB2), Jason McCourty (CB2), Vince Wilfork (low DT1 in tackle heavy), Jadeveon Clowney (DL2 if DE eligible) Benardrick McKinney (LB2/3), Kareem Jackson (Low CB1/DB4)


The Patriots embarrassed the Texans last Thursday night and it was easy to see New England had a plan that worked to perfection; don’t let J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney beat them. Both explosive pass rushers were consistently double (and even sometimes triple) teamed by the Patriots’ offensive line and tight ends. When Clowney was put in a 1v1 situation he usually won by disrupting run plays in the backfield or putting pressure on rookie QB Jacoby Brissett, however those opportunities were few and far between. Watt was not much of a factor at all in this game and his pending return to the I.R. reported last night explains his performance. The fact that Watt/Clowney demanded so much attention means that other Texans should have been able to take advantage, but nobody stepped up. Contrary to the box score, Benardrick McKinney had a dreadful game on the field. He was left unblocked almost every play yet still let LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots run down their throats for 185 rushing yards. The second-year inside linebacker totally lacks any instincts to shoot open gaps to make any plays behind the line of scrimmage and instead waits for the ball carrier to come to him. Max Bullough as well as outside linebackers John Simon and Whitney Mercilus also were allergic to making any impact even with very little attention from the Patriots’ blocking schemes which proved to be the Texans’ demise. While watching Benardrick McKinney play may make your eyes bleed, he should still rack up tackles simply due to opportunity but he is a prime sell-high candidate in dynasty/keeper formats. McKinney’s only positive on-field attributes are his blitzing skills which gives him another boost in leagues that reward heavily for sacking the quarterback. As for Jadeveon Clowney, I’m officially concerned about his IDP production in the short term. He should still be in your starting lineup simply due to his immense skill but I feel a lot less confident about it than I did last week. The Patriots just wrote a book called “How to destroy the Texans” and I imagine every other Houston opponent is reading it right now. If someone else doesn’t step up in a big way soon, Clowney will be looking at consistent double/triple teams and it’s quite difficult to tackle the player with the ball when you can’t even get close enough to touch them.


Jurrell Casey gets a prime matchup that Jabaal Sheard exploited last week as All-Pro LT Dwayne Brown continues to watch from the sideline. While they are very different players, I’m expecting the big man to have a big game. Avery Williamson had a lucky interception of a deflection last week but his tackle floor still makes him a very appealing weekly play and this week he will get 25-30 opportunities to tackle Lamar Miller.


Buffalo @ New England

Studs: Jamie Collins, Jerry Hughes (If DL eligible)

Starts: Jabaal Sheard (DL2), Chris Long (DL2/3), Patrick Chung (DB4), Kyle Williams (DL2/3), Preston Brown (LB2) Zach Brown (LB2), Corey Graham (DB3/4)


Not much has changed in the last week with the Patriots’ defense. Jamie Collins once again showed he is one of the most explosive players in the entire league, while both Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long continue to put constant pressure on opposing QBs. Long did not have a sack last week but he had at least four QB hurries so hopefully this week he can turn one of those into a play that helps your IDP team. Jonathan Freeny had a very solid four solo/three assist game last week but even with Hightower inactive he only played 58% of snaps so do not expect a repeat. Zach Brown continues to play the best football of his life which is rewarding IDP owners once again with a huge 10 solo/two assist Week 3.  He has been flat-out dominant in the run game which bodes well for his IDP forecast for the rest of the 2016 season. What is even more impressive is that he only played 50 of the possible 83 snaps because the Bills were up 30-7, forcing the Cardinals into 3-4 WR sets that were countered with DB-heavy sub-packages. Zach has been a stalwart in the run game but still has been more than adequate in coverage so expect him to be an every-down LB going forward. Last week’s matchup was simply the perfect storm of factors to keep him off the field yet he still refused to be kept out of the box score. There is a good chance that Zach is going to help you bring home the bacon in fantasy football leagues this season and although Reggie Ragland will be back next year, Zach will be a FA so he has appeal in dynasty/keeper leagues as well if he continues this All-Pro quality play. The phenomenal play of Zach Brown has put a damper on the IDP production of Preston Brown but he still has a very bright IDP outlook for this season. Preston is clearly the leader of the defense (as he played every snap last week against Cardinals’ WR-heavy sets) and is going to continue to provide a great IDP floor with a decent amount of upside. If Preston can be acquired at any discount because Zach is currently outshining him it would be wise to try and make a deal as both LBs will be solid LB2s for the rest of the season. Kyle Williams continues to dominate in the trenches, however no team in the entire NFL schemes better against their opponent’s top defensive lineman as the Patriots. Williams is still starter-worthy but keep in mind there is a good chance he gets double-teamed quite often in Week 4 so check your expectations at the door.


Seattle @ New York (Jets)

Studs: Michael Bennett, Leonard Williams, Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson

Starts: Frank Clark (Boom/Bust DL3), Bobby Wagner (LB2), K.J. Wright (LB2/3), David Harris (LB4), Darron Lee (LB4 if Henderson is inactive)


It’s time, I’m ready to accept the fact that Bobby Wagner is no longer an automatic top 10 weekly start in IDP anymore even if it is no fault of his own. The ultra-talented middle linebacker simply does not get enough opportunities to make tackles in the run game due to the immense talent around him. Wagner and K.J. Wright are both still fabulous football players but they are more role players on your IDP squad rather than guys that will carry you to a championship. The Jets’ offense consists of almost entirely 3-WR sets so Frank Clark should be on the field a ton, however as always he will be reliant on getting to the QB of a team that has only given up two sacks in the first three weeks combined. The reward is obvious for Clark but so is the risk. The Jets’ defensive line will be going against the Seahawks’ bottom of the barrel offensive line “protecting” an injured Russell Wilson that has lost most of his mobility; start the big three with confidence. As for linebackers David Harris and Darron Lee, my only concern is if New York shuts down the Seahawks’ offense so much that there will be no ball carriers to tackle.


Cleveland @ Washington

Studs: N/A

Starts: Danny Shelton (in DT-required), Chris Kirksey (LB2/3), Demario Davis (LB3/4), Jordan Poyer (DB3/4 if Ibraheim Campbell is out), Will Compton (LB2/3), David Bruton (DB3)


Danny Shelton does not supply much of a pass rush but in DT-required leagues, especially tackle heavy ones, the second=year nose tackle makes a great start because he is a complete force in the run game. I’ve always been a bit down on Chris Kirskey since I thought he was over-drafted by the Browns and is not physical enough to be an NFL linebacker but it looks like the switch has turned on this season. He still is a bit undersized in a 3-4 scheme but he’s shooting gaps vs the run, is an impressive tackler and is by far the CLE ILB to own now and going forward. With Ibraheim Campbell out with injury, many were expecting Derrick Kindred to take over his in-the-box SS job, however it was actually Jordan Poyer than played closer to the line while Kindred manned the deep safety spot. This is the second straight week that the Browns’ safeties have been interchangeable or playing mostly two safety deep formations so ideally it is just a situation to stay away from but if forced to choose one for Week 4 I’m going with Poyer. There is really no way to sugar-coat this so I will just say it; Will Compton was awful last week. Compton was as bad on the field as he was in the box score (one solo/one assist), however we should have a short memory because he still is the captain of the Washington defense, he never leaves the field and every player deserves a little patience after a bad game. The Redskins ILB was very stout the first two weeks so I’m still starting Compton where I have him even with a poor matchup with the Browns. Elite IDP CB Bashaud Breeland was injured and it does not look like there is a clear replacement for his ideal CB IDP spot opposite of Josh Norman. Greg Toler looks like the best bet but he split snaps with Quinton Dunbar last week after Breeland’s injury. Rookie Su’a Cravens put the game on ice with a game-clinching interception last week and continues to make the most of his opportunities. The problem is he hasn’t had enough opportunities to warrant an IDP start but that may change by the end of the season as he is slowly approaching the 50% mark. If you have room to stash him for later in the season, Cravens might be the league-winning rookie we thought Myles Jack was going to be.


Denver @ Tampa Bay

Studs: Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Brandon Marshall, Von Miller (In big play leagues)

Starts: Gerald McCoy (DT1/DL3), Clinton McDonald (DT2/DL5), Chris Conte (DB2/3), Derek Wolfe (DL3), Todd Davis (LB4 if Justin Simmons is inactive, LB5 if active), TJ Ward (DB2/3)


Lavonte David silenced any doubters talking about his Week 3 bagel by dropping a seven solo/one assist/TFL/sack/FF performance last week. David’s sack came in coverage when he had Todd Gurley man-to-man but when the RB stayed in to block, the explosive linebacker shot out of cannon to take down the QB. Without Robert Ayers and Jacquies Smith, the Buccaneers front four is struggling to create pressure so I expect more blitzes by both David and Kwon Alexander which only adds to their already must-start appeal. Nothing to report on Denver on the defensive side of things. The Broncos continue to play like expected. Biggest note is I still have Brandon Marshall as a must-start and even though he has disappointed so far, he still has one of the safest floors in IDP and that big week is coming soon, I’m just not sure when.


Los Angeles @ Arizona

Studs: Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, Tony Jefferson

Starts: Mark Barron (LB3), TJ McDonald (DB3/4), Lamarcus Joyner (low CB1/DB3), Trumaine Johnson (low CB1/DB3), Calais Campbell (DL2), Deone Bucannon (LB3/4), Kevin Minter (LB3/4), Tyrann Mathieu (DB2/3)


Just when I thought I had the Rams’ defense figured out for IDP they decided to change everything and throw a huge curveball regarding the IDP outlook of their secondary. Against the Bucs last week they had two major formations, one against 2-WR sets (which I will call base) and one vs 3+ WR sets (which I will call nickel). In base formation, they would actually bring in an extra safety, Cody Davis, to play deep with T.J McDonald and move Maurice Alexander up into the box to play linebacker next to Alec Ogletree and opposite Mark Barron. The nickel formation subbed Lamarcus Joyner into the game for Davis to play slot CB while Alexander moved back to play deep free safety. Simply put, if this continues it puts a dent in almost all of the Rams’ DBs. Alexander and McDonald are both getting snaps in the box and near the action but also a large portion in deep centerfield that will provide very little tackle opportunity. While Lamarcus Joyner still had a very nice IDP week, he would go from a 95% snap slot corner, almost a light version of last year’s Tyrann Mathieu, to a slot corner that will lose valuable snaps (up to approximately 50% depending on opponent) against run-heavy formations. The Cardinals are a WR-heavy team so it’s reasonable to expect good numbers from Joyner and reasonable stats from McDonald since he looks to play a decent amount in the box in nickel, however there is still much more risk here than I thought existed just one week ago. This entire situation is extremely confusing and if you can, it’s not a bad idea to try to avoid it until we gather more data about it. It’s fitting these two teams play each other this week because the Cardinals also have a very fluid IDP secondary that is constantly changing. After another week to get back into the swing of things, Tyrann Mathieu is starting to look closer to his old self and the Cardinals are allowing him to do so. Unlike last week when he played primarily a deep centerfield free safety role, this week The Honey Badger and Tony Jefferson played nearly identical roles as do-it-all playmakers that Arizona can use in all situations. It looked as if the intention was to have both be as versatile as possible to keep the offense on their heels. Both Mathieu and Jefferson were constantly rotating coverages, changing positions when wide receivers used pre-snap motion, sprinting from deep to in the box pre-snap and much more. In short, if this continues, both versatile playmakers are going to be extremely useful IDP DBs. The only real issue is that it will come at the expense of Tyvon Branch as I thought was a real possibility. Branch was only on the field 60% of the time vs the WR-starved Buffalo Bills and this week against the Rams should not be much different.


New Orleans @ San Diego

Studs: N/A

Starts: Cameron Jordan (DL2), Nick Fairley (DT2/DL5), Craig Robertson (LB2 if Dannell Ellerbe is inactive), James Laurinaitis (LB4), Kenny Vaccarro (DB2 if active), Corey Liuget (DL3), Jatavis Brown (LB2/3 if active), Denzel Perryman (LB2/3)


There is not much to say about the Saints’ defense other than they are one of the worst units in the league and even though it’s not pretty, they do have some useful IDP options simply because someone has to get the tackles when opponents are constantly marching down the field on them. The Chargers’ linebacking corps coming into this week and through the first 15 plays was crystal clear; Manti Te’o was every down, Denzel Perryman was run situations and Jatavis Brown was pass situations. Well that has all changed now that Te’o tore his Achilles tendon in the 1st quarter of last week’s game.  To be frank, this injury has resurrected Perryman’s value and bailed out owners that invested too heavily in the sub-par backer. After the injury, both Perryman and Brown became every down backers and they couldn’t have looked more different. Jatavis Brown was phenomenal in every way. He was an absolute force in the trenches shedding blocks, stellar in coverage and explosive in pass rush. Perryman on the other hand is allergic to shedding blocks, missed numerous tackles by lunging at ball carriers rather than using any type of form and for the most part had no impact on the game. It was truly eye-opening watching them play side by side for the first time. My best advice is to use last week’s snaps counts to your advantage to sell high on Perryman and buy low on Brown since it looks like Perryman (97% snaps) took over every-down duties while Brown (44%) stuck to sub-packages, however this was not the case. Both LBs never left the field after the Te’o injury but Brown got nicked at the end of the 3rd quarter and never returned. There has been very little information on Brown’s injury so hopefully it is minor and he was kept out for precautionary reasons since the Chargers cannot afford to lose another ILB long term. Both ILBs should eat tackles for the rest of the 2016 season, however the one that has the higher ceiling and better future outlook is clearly Jatavis Brown, go get him!


Dallas @ San Francisco

Studs: Sean Lee, Barry Church, Navorro Bowman

Starts: DeForest Buckner (DL3), Gerald Hodges (LB3), Antoine Bethea (DB2), Eric Reid (DB2)


Even with a poor performance last week, Sean Lee is simply too good of a player with too good of an opportunity to sit when healthy. Don’t get cute, plug him in and watch him rack up stats. Dallas is a great matchup for the Niners IDPs since there should be plenty of opportunities to tackle Ezekiel Elliott. San Francisco is using Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid as interchangeable pieces, however both are getting significant snaps close to the LOS. While both may not have huge games the same week, both are worth starting at the DB position.


Kansas City @ Pittsburgh

Studs: Derrick Johnson, Marcus Peters (In CB required)

Starts: Eric Berry (DB4), Ron Parker (DB4), Cam Heyward (DL3), Stephon Tuitt (DL3), Lawrence Timmons (LB4 if Shazier active, LB2 if Shazier inactive), Ryan Shazier (LB2 if active), Robert Golden (DB2/3 if active), Sean Davis (DB2/3 if Golden inactive, DB4/5 if Golden active)

The most talked about player matchup this week will be turnover machine Marcus Peters shadowing elite wide receiver Antonio Brown. Peters usually only thrives in IDP due to interceptions however he should also have plenty of opportunities for tackles since it is not like the Steelers will shy away from targeting Brown. Safeties Eric Berry and Ron Parker continue to be interchangeable and integral parts of the Chiefs’ defense, however they both severely lack the tackle upside in the IDP world. They are fine starts in deep leagues simply because they will never leave the field, however you are gambling on a big play in order for them to warrant a start in shallower leagues.


The Steelers’ back seven and the Bears’ front seven are in a tight competition for most hobbled defensive unit in the entire league. Just last week alone, Pittsburgh lost Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons and Robert Golden for the majority of their game against the Eagles. Sean Davis would be a nice start this week if Golden was inactive but Davis just so happens to be hurt as well. Of the four, Timmons was the only player to practice on Wednesday while the other three are “very questionable” to play in Week 4. Given the Steelers’ play under the lights on Sunday night, Thursday is a huge day for practice participation to determine your plan for your IDP team this weekend. If Shazier, Golden or Davis do not practice, it’s best assumed they will not play. Lawrence Timmons would receive a significant boost in IDP appeal if Ryan Shazier is inactive since Timmons subs out of the game during obvious pass situations when the Steelers defense is running at full health.


New York (Giants) @ Minnesota

Studs: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith

Starts: Johnathan Hankins (DT1/DL4), Johnathan Casillas (LB4), Keenan Robinson (LB4/5) Linval Joseph (DT1/2), Eric Kendricks (LB3), Anthony Barr (LB4/5), Andrew Sendejo (DB2/3)


Week 4’s Monday night finale is that of super stardom for IDP owners, especially on the defensive lines. Vikings fans are going to have nightmares this week about premier DE combo of Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon going against a patchwork offensive line “protecting” one of the most brittle quarterbacks of the last decade. While I think JPP is the better player, Vernon lines up on the right side which means he will have go against newly appointed starter T.J. Clemmings who has struggled badly in his short career. The Vikings are not far behind in the IDP DL department with mega-studs Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. The only reason to sit Hunter in IDP this year was because of his low usage due to only being a sub-package player, however that won’t be an issue this week. The Giants run 3-WR sets every play, add that to the fact that New York has no threat of a run game and Hunter is a clear must-start this week. This game is going to be a fun one, except for the offensive tackles and the guys they are supposed to be keeping upright.