Fantasy Football: Week 15 IDP Potential Surprises

Fantasy Football Expert Walton Spurlin pinpoints some defensive players who could exceed expectations as well as a few players who could underperform in Week 15.

Philadelphia Eagles DE Derek Barnett
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

If you are still perusing this article, then it is very likely that your team is still alive and kicking in the IDP fantasy playoffs. Congratulations. If you have been eliminated from the playoffs and are still stopping by to read this piece, then I offer a hearty thanks! 

Either way, it’s time to get down to business and take a look at the Week 15 IDP players that could either surprise or disappoint their IDP owners.

Players that could surprise

Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia @ Washington

This is a fine matchup for Graham to break out of the mini-slump he has been in. After a hot streak that saw him notch 7.5 sacks in a seven game stretch, he has now gone two weeks without bringing the quarterback down. On the season, he is still a top-20 defensive linemen in balanced scoring formats but has been credited with just a single quarterback hit in the past two games.  

A trip to Washington is just the thing to get him back on track. The Redskins’ offense has allowed nine sacks in the past two games and 44 on the season. Defensive linemen have accounted for 25 of those sacks through 13 games and Graham will have a big Week 15 as Philadelphia battles for a playoff spot.

Jason Pierre- Paul, DE, Tampa Bay @ Detroit

After a very down Week 14 that saw him post just a single tackle, Pierre-Paul has a bounce back matchup at Detroit this week. After missing time early in the season due to a neck injury, he has played at least 76% of the snaps in six straight games and has put up two sacks in his past three outings. 

The Lions’ offense has been struggling to protect the quarterback to the tune of 13 sacks allowed in the last three weeks. In their loss to the Vikings last week they gave up five sacks to defensive linemen including three to defensive end Danielle Hunter. Despite the fact he has been dealing with a bit of a knee issue look for a very nice Week 15 performance from Pierre-Paul.

Jayon Brown, LB, Tennessee vs. Houston

In a huge AFC South showdown this week Brown has an excellent opportunity to put up big numbers. In the last four games, the Texans’ offense has been among the most generous in allowing production to the linebacker position. In that time, they are allowing an average of just 23.5 total tackles per game to the position, but have been a big play gold mine. 

They have allowed 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception as well as a fumble recovery to opposing linebackers over that span. 

Brown was huge in Week 14 with seven total tackles, while also returning a fumble recovery 46-yards for a touchdown. He is a must start this week.

Drue Tranquill, LB, LA Chargers vs. Minnesota

There were thoughts that once safety Adrian Phillips (forearm) was activated from IR that he would take on a hybrid linebacker role in the Chargers’ defense. That has not been the case as Tranquill has played 74% and 83% of the snaps in the last two games respectively. He has been producing solid tackle numbers having posted 15 total and three for a loss in that time. 

This week he faces a Vikings’ offense that just saw rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai of Detroit put up 11 total tackles against them. Start him with confidence this week.

Quandre Diggs, S, Seattle @ Carolina

Since being acquired from Detroit and shaking off a nagging hamstring issue, Diggs has been the big play safety that the Seahawks’ defense has been lacking. Last week, he had two interceptions, returning one 55-yards for a touchdown. He has proven to be a more than willing tackler but is now a big play producing machine. 

Since Week 10, the first week he played for Seattle, he has put up three interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a defensive score. This week he faces a struggling Panthers’ offense that has allowed an average of two big plays per game to opposing defensive. backs in the past five weeks.

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Players that could disappoint

Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta @ San Francisco

Always a streaky IDP option, the veteran defensive end has been streaking in a positive direction lately. Last week, in a very positive matchup against Carolina he took care of business. He finished the game with four solo tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, as well as a tackle for a loss. 

He was the top scoring defensive linemen in most balanced scoring formats in Week 14. 

Unfortunately, the matchup this week is a much tougher one against the 49ers’ offense. In their past three games they have allowed just 1.5 sacks to opposing defensive linemen. There are likely better and more consistent options this week.

Taco Charlton, DE, Miami @ NY Giants

Let’s make this the short and sweet special of the week. There are some red flags for Charlton after he was declared inactive last week despite being healthy. The reasons given were that it was because of the game plan and they wanted to use other players. That seems a bit odd as he is leading the team in sacks since being brought on board prior to Week 3. This feels like a hands-off situation at this critical point in the season, even if he is active for Week 15.

Anthony Hitchens, LB, Kansas City vs. Denver

The veteran linebacker has fallen into the fantasy afterthought bin over the last six weeks. Since Week 8 he has posted a total of just 30 tackles and has failed to produce a single big play. To add insult to injury, he has one double-digit tackles game this season and eight of the tackles were of the assisted variety. 

For those ‘glass half full’ folks there could be a reason for a bit of hope this week. The Week 7 meeting between these teams was one of Hitchens best of the season. He finished with six total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. That being said, there is little chance that lightning strikes twice and he can safely be benched.

Thomas Davis, LB, LA Chargers vs. Minnesota

The Chargers’ defense continues to lower the playing time for Davis. He was on the field for just 47% of the snaps last week after playing 61% in Week 13. It could be a health issue as he had been averaging 89% of the snaps until two weeks ago. Whatever the reason, he has been replaced by the aforementioned rookie, Drue Tranquill, as the three-down LB on Los Angeles that IDP owners can trust. 

In the past two games Davis has put up just 12 total tackles while playing those limited snaps. It’s too risky to try and roll with a player that may not see the field for more than half of the defensive snaps.

Earl Thomas, S, Baltimore vs. NY Jets

While he has always been a better NFL player than IDP producer, the veteran safety has been on a bit of a roll lately for fantasy purposes. He took full advantage of a great matchup last week finishing with seven total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble against Buffalo. In his past two games, he has put up 11 total tackles along with 1.5 sacks. 

To put the sack totals into a bit of perspective, let’s consider that in his nine seasons in Seattle he had none. It feels like the past two weeks have been more of an outlier situation than the norm for Thomas. Rolling the dice and hoping that he will continue to buck the trend and have another productive fantasy week is a bridge too far at this crucial point in the season.