John "The Guru" Norton and Gary "The Godfather of IDP" Davenport 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.
Week 17 means one thing in most IDP leagues—Championship Week. As we prepare for the most important and pressure-packed week of the fantasy schedule, the Guru and the Godfather have come together to talk about title game strategy and the players who will decide who brings home the hardware in Week 17.
1. Do you approach Championship Week any differently than another playoff game? If so, how? What's the single best piece of advice you would offer fantasy managers vying for a championship this week?
Guru: I approach all playoff matchups like a one-game season, including the championship round. If I feel I am a favorite in the matchup, I tend to play it safe and make sure I start players with high floors that offer less/no risk of being a bust. If I see myself as an underdog, I will take more chances and gamble on high-upside players and/or matchup-based targets.
My best general advice for the championship round is to be diligent. In this round, no team is too good to lose, and no team is too overmatched to win. No matter how good your team is, don’t get lazy or complacent. Make an honest assessment of your situation (underdog/favorite/evenly matched), study your matchups, and make sure there is no one on waivers that can improve your chances of winning. This is a good tool for checking your IDP matchups.
Godfather: Norton is spot-on about this being a one-week season. But it's also a one-week season unlike any other. Win, and you are champion. Lose, and there will be months of second-guessing and wondering what decision might have swung the game in the other direction.
It can be quite maddening.
There's a balance that must be struck. This week, more than any other, you can't afford a dud performance—so analyzing matchup data becomes more important than ever. But you can't become so wrapped up in matchups analysis that you move too far away from the players who got you this far, to begin with.
Carolina Panthers edge-rusher Brian Burns is the living embodiment of the balancing act this season. This week, Burns faces a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that ranks dead last in the league in sacks allowed and fantasy points allowed to "True Position" defensive ends. But Burns is also a top-five fantasy option who posted five tackles, a sack, and a DE10 finish against the Buccaneers earlier this season.
Long story short, the farther down my rankings I get, the more likely I am to make a switch based on matchups. If I fashion myself an underdog and need to shoot for maximum upside, that cutoff to get froggy slides up farther still. But every IDP manager has to decide how much risk they can live with. Because the only person who has to deal with the consequences of the decisions you make in Week 17 is you. Don't let yourself be talked into/out of starting your guys. Not by me. Not by Norton. Not by anyone.
We may be knowledgeable. May even be experts. But we are most assuredly not infallible.
2. Whether it's injuries, players resting, or youngsters seeing an increased role, are there any situations that IDP managers should pay particular interest to in Week 17?
Guru: The Steelers' inside linebacker situation is something to look at. Robert Spillane has taken over the lead role in the last two games, putting up good numbers in both games. Meanwhile, Myles Jack and Devin Bush are both getting scraps in terms of playing time.
Anyone that’s not comfortable with their defensive end options needs to take a look at Carl Granderson in New Orleans. He appeared to take over the starting job opposite Cameron Jordan last week, logging 71% of the snaps. Granderson is a high-floor player that makes a lot of tackles for a defensive end. He is not exactly a sack master, but he can get after the quarterback too.
If you need a defensive end with more big play upside. Check out the Colts Dayo Odeyingbo. He is now the third man in the rotation and has three and a half sacks in the last two games. With Yannick Ngakoue at the end of his contract, Odeyingbo is likely to take over as a starter next year.
The Falcons’ linebacker situation is particularly interesting and maybe a little confusing at the moment. Rookie Troy Andersen move ahead of Mykal Walker into the starting role two weeks ago. That part was not unexpected. The confusing part is that Andersen has been rather quiet in the box scores since taking over the job. The Cardinals have been a much better matchup for linebackers since the return of James Conner from injury. Maybe this is the week Andersen breaks out.
Godfather: There has been plenty of clamoring in fantasy circles this week about Week 17 and resting players and unfairness and yada yada yada. The truth is that if the Tennessee Titans could have won a game in the last month, we wouldn't have had to endure said conversation. And in any event, there aren't many postseason ripples I expect to have a real effect on IDP leagues this week. I don't expect to see Derwin James or Joey Bosa of the Chargers play in Week 17, but that has as much to do with injury as rest.
Still, there are some situations at linebacker that could swing some matchups in Week 17. Undrafted rookie Luke Masterson is the last man standing for the reeling Raiders and a high-floor LB3 against the 49ers. Last week marked the second straight game that Robert Spillane played 100 percent of the snaps ahead of a primetime meeting with the rival Ravens.
There are also a couple of situations I'm not interested in messing with if possible. In Washington, David Mayo turned an 88 percent snap share into nine tackles last week, but he's a deep-league dart-throw at best, even in a favorable matchup with the Browns. On the flip side of that matchup. I wouldn't trust any of the Cleveland linebackers with a 39.5-foot pole. Last week. Reggie Ragland led the team in tackles, and less than a month ago, he was on the Raiders practice squad. Trying to hit on a Cleveland linebacker this season is harder than nailing a triple-20 on a dartboard—attached to a truck wheel doing 60.
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