It’s hard to believe that the season kicked off a full 4 months ago, but here we are: Championship Week. I’ll be back with some rankings next week for you crazy kids with 17-week schedules, but for the majority of the free world this is it. I’m sad to say that I did not reach the finals in any of my five leagues. As much as I love IDPs, unfortunately there is an offensive side of the ball as well, and I did a miserable job drafting and setting my offensive lineups this year.
But enough of about me, you’re here for some IDP cheer just in time for the holidays. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When making turkey chili, always cook for one hour less than directed. Wait, wrong piece of advice. Let’s try again: In the fantasy playoffs, don’t get cute, start your studs. Joe Mays and someone called Dekoda Watson each put up huge days last week, but you’re not starting them over the guys that got you here.
With that in mind, here are my top players at each position for Championship Week:
Defensive Line – Cameron Wake
Wake is the first of a couple of familiar players in this space, and he has certainly warranted the discussion he has garnered. He started the season with 2.5 sacks against Cleveland, and then essentially went off the grid for two months. Over the past seven games he has put up inconsistent numbers, but he’s really been a constant terror to opposing QBs. He only brought down Tom Brady once last week, but easily could have had 4 sacks if Brady didn’t get scared and throw it away.
Wake gets to face a Buffalo team that he barely played against in Week 7, but the Bills have been among the friendliest to opposing DLs this year. Linemen of relatively limited pedigrees have had a ton of success against Buffalo this year, most recently Johnathan Massaquoi, Gerald McCoy, and Andre Branch. A trio of pass-rushers like Wake, Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan should put up huge numbers against the Bills on Sunday, with Wake likely leading the way.
Linebacker – Vontaze Burfict
Another guy I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about, but if you’re lucky enough to have him on your team, then you’d probably like to hear about him some more. For the season he’s just above Paul Posluszny as the #1 overall IDP, and the only guy I’d consider ranking over him at this point is Lavonte David. Before the season, many were shocked that Marvin Lewis and staff stuck with Rey Maualuga in the middle, instead of moving Burfict there after a promising rookie year. The decision is still curious, but it hasn’t mattered to IDP owners, as he’s put up incredible numbers from the weak side anyway.
This week, Burfict will be tracking down either Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, or Matt Asiata. It shouldn’t really matter one way or the other, as Burfict has brought down everyone this year. I’m particularly excited to see Burfict matched up against Cordarrelle Patterson in space, as the latter has been used more and more in recent weeks. Regardless of what style of offense Minnesota runs this week, start Burfict confidently, and enjoy one more week of 2013’s top IDP.
Defensive Back – Barry Church
One of the only top defensive players I have not talked about yet this year is Church. I don’t know if it’s because I rarely trust a DB to produce consistently, I don’t trust that Church is for real, or if there are a million other storylines regarding the Cowboys this year, so he kind of falls into the background. Either way, a guy whose previous career high in tackles was 28, has amassed 120 with two games to go. Re-read that. How is Church not a bigger deal?
One reason might be the lack of the big play. On a Dallas defense that apparently prides itself on turnovers, which is a fancy way of saying that they gamble way too much to mask their overall skill level, Church has only 1 interception and no sacks. Instead, his value comes from making the tackles that the rest of his team misses. And that’s fine by me.
Church gets a pretty perfect situation this week against Washington. Not only will he inevitably bring down Alfred Morris a few times after he slashes into the secondary, but the Skins are also trying to show off Kirk Cousins. That means a lot of throws, which will lead to more tackles, but also chances at those elusive interceptions. I have a feeling that Church pulls one in on Sunday, making his already happy owners even happier.
Week 16 IDP Rankings: