John Norton "The Guru" and Gary Davenport "The Godfather of IDP" are two of the most experienced and knowledgeable IDP analysts in the fantasy football industry. Every week during the 2022 season here at Footballguys, The Guru and the Godfather will come together to answer five of that week's most pressing questions.
With the first week of the season finally underway, the Guru and the Godfather have gathered to look at some players set to exceed expectations, some others who will fail to meet them, some sleeper plays, and even a bit of advice for IDP managers as they enter the fray once again.
Guru: With starting defenses being kept out of sight through the pre-season by many teams, there could be a ton of guys that fit here. Marcus Davenport is my pick for the defensive line. Injuries have led to inconsistency throughout his career, but Davenport puts up excellent numbers when healthy. He’s healthy entering Week 1 and has a juicy matchup with a re-building Falcon’s team that should be throwing early and often.
As linebacker, I couldn’t narrow it down to fewer than two guys. Tae Crowder is not a great player, nor do I believe he is that long-term answer as the lead guy for the Giants, but he’s the lead guy for Week 1, and we simply can’t overlook the matchup with a healthy Derrick Henry.
The other linebacker I like is Cleveland’s Anthony Walker. Yes, I, too, have heard all the banter about him possibly losing snaps to Jacob Phillips. I just don’t believe it. I’ve seen nothing with my own eyes that makes me think Phillips is an NFL starter, especially when I know the team has a steady veteran option that has already proven to be a quality starter.
I was not very high on Justin Reid early on. He was injury-prone and marginally valuable while with the Texans, and the Chiefs drafted Brian Cook, who I see as a future starter. Cook isn’t starting yet, Reid is healthy and has been strong throughout the summer, and Arizona is a positive matchup.
Godfather: As the esteemed Mr. Norton pointed out, given how little we know about so many NFL defenses, there's a whole lot of maybe entering Week 1—and no shortage of candidates who could exceed expectations in Week 1.
On the defensive line, Myles Garrett of the Browns is one of those big names expected to shine in Week 1, but his batterymate could have a big debut, too. Jadeveon Clowney quietly had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, logging nine sacks for the first time since 2018. Facing a Panthers team that allowed the most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen a year ago, he's a sneaky-good bet for a sack.
Norton is also spot-on about Crowder, who is an abysmal NFL player but could finish as an LB1 this season if he holds onto a starting job all season. T.J. Edwards of the Eagles is a better NFL player, but he's in a similar situation—his role in Philly this year matters more than his talent. With a Week 1 matchup on tap against a Lions team that paced the league in fantasy points given up to linebackers, a top-10 2022 debut is a real possibility.
In the secondary, Norton's on the money (again) with Reid—the Chiefs/Cardinals matchup has the highest over/under total of any game in Week 1. Xavier Woods of the Panthers is another defensive back who could surprise in Week 1. As I mentioned last week, Woods (and not Jeremy Chinn) saw most of the box snaps with the first team in the preseason. If that carries over into the regular season, Woods may well back up last season's career numbers with the Vikings.
2. Of course. Just because Donald and Smith are supposed to go nuts every week doesn't mean they will. What big IDP names (one at each position) will disappoint in Week 1?
Guru: This won’t be a popular answer, but I’m going with one of your headline guys. Aaron Donald is a beast, but the Bills don’t run the ball well. The only quarterback sacked less than Allen in 2021 was Tom Brady. Donald won’t be a bust, but I don’t see him as a top-10 defensive lineman this week.
Micah Parsons is not someone you might expect to see on this list either. This is not an indictment of Parsons’ ability but rather the uncertainty of his role versus the gaudy expectations. If he were going to be the team’s full-time middle linebacker, Parsons might be an elite-tier LB1. Instead, he is an outside backer moving around a lot. His tackle numbers could be held in check by the role, and Brady was the least-sacked starting quarterback in the league a year ago.
Every year, there seems to be someone we expect to do well, but Week 1 reveals that their role is either drastically different than expected or they have no role at all. Jonathan Abram could be that guy this year. Most believe he will be the Raiders starting strong safety. As someone who shares Abram across a few leagues, I hope that will be the case, but signs could be pointing to a different story. The Raiders did not play starters during the preseason, but Abram took part in all three games while Duron Harmon did not play. There have also been some pieces written explaining why Abram is not a great fit in the Raiders’ new scheme. I’m not cutting him, but he won’t be in my Week 1 lineup.
Godfather: I couldn't agree more with the Donald and especially the Parsons calls. Five will get you 10 that next Monday, I will be asked, "should I drop Parsons for whoever?" The answer 99 times in 100 is no.
On the defensive line, I'm apprehensive about Chandler Jones in his Raiders debut against the Chargers. Los Angeles only allowed 31 sacks all season long in 2021, and while Jones piled up five sacks in Week 1 last year, he proceeded to post a goose-egg three times over the next four games. There will be quite a few IDP managers with the yips where Jones is concerned a few days from now.
Where the linebackers are concerned, Eric Kendricks of the Minnesota Vikings is coming off the best statistical season of his career after setting personal highs in total tackles (143) and solos (81) in 2021. But prior to last year, Kendricks had never logged even 120 total tackles in a season, he's playing in a new scheme with a new batterymate in Jordan Hicks and this week the Vikes host a Packers team that was a bottom-five matchup for linebackers a season ago. Kendricks is a middling LB2 at best in Week 1.
Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons has long been a favorite of mine—he has posted top-20 numbers each of the past three years, and top-10 numbers twice. He is usually available for a reasonable price in drafts. But it won't be surprising if his Week 1 numbers are less than impressive. The Seahawks ranked at the bottom of the league in fantasy points surrendered to defensive backs last year, and it's not like that offense is going to be better in 2022.
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