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 one week of the regular season in the books, the Guru and the Godfather have gathered to look back at who showed out and fell flat, what that could mean in IDP leagues moving forward and what fantasy managers can expect on the defensive side of the ball in Week 2.
1. Which IDPs were the most pleasant surprises in Week 1? Can these surprise stars keep it up?
Guru: There are big surprises, and then there are pleasant surprises. The biggest surprise to me among linemen was Jerry Hughes recording two sacks, and no, I don’t think he will continue to be highly productive. T most pleasant surprise was Kwity Paye going 6-1-2. I was not impressed with Paye as a rookie and had no grand expectations for him going into week one. He was as impressive to the eye as he was in the box score. It’s only one game, but Paye doesn’t look like the same overmatched player he was last year.
Leighton Vander Esch didn’t flood the stat sheet, but he did manage a solid, team-leading 6-3. Most importantly, he played 85% of the snaps and, from what I could tell, was on the field in every sub-package except the dime. He moved well and looked a lot like the Vander Esch that recorded 111 solo stops as a rookie a few years ago. I see no reason to think he would be less than a solid LB3 going forward.
Going into last week's games, I had serious concerns about Jonathan Abram. Considering I have a lot of shares across my leagues, it was very pleasant to see him not only play full time but light up the tackles columns. He’s not going to go 9-2 every time out but should be a solid play every week for us.
Godfather: Up front, I have to echo the Paye love. He was a trendy breakout pick in many IDP circles entering his second season, and if Week 1 was any indication, they may have been on to something. Paye was dominant against the Texans, racking up six solos, an assist, and two sacks. The former Michigan standout isn't going to do that every week, but given his talent and the players around him in Indy (Deforest Buckner inside, Yannick Ngakoue on the edge), Paye has worked his way into the DL2 conversation.
Another young player who garnered some preseason buzz was New Orleans Saints linebacker Pete Werner. Like Paye, he blew up, tallying a dozen total tackles with a forced fumble against the Atlanta Falcons. Werner played just over 80 percent of the snaps against the Falcons, but Atlanta also had more rushing attempts (38) than passes (33) in Week 1. Werner should absolutely be rostered, but it's fair to wonder if his snap share night decrease against more pass-heavy teams like this week's opponent (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
As is so often the case, the defensive backfield was littered with surprises, including the team-leading 11 tackles with an interception turned in by San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga. Hufanga was a player I actually mentioned more than once over the summer as a potential IDP sleeper, but even I would be reluctant to roll him out again in Week 2 if I can help it. The Seattle Seahawks were one of the worst matchups in the league last year for defensive backs, and Geno Smith isn't the quarterback who will reverse that trend.
2. Conversely, which IDPs were the most disappointing surprises of Week 1? Is it a one-time thing or should IDP managers be concerned in the long-term?
Guru: I was rather disappointed with Jordan Poyer. He recorded a pair of tackles on the first series, then vanished until the second half when he collected a batted pass. The interception saved the day from being a bust but he fell well short of my expectations. Fortunately, I think this was more of a game flow situation than something to be concerned about going forward.
Denver ILB Jonas Griffith was a major disappointment. He recorded just three tackles but even worse, was on the field less than 60% of the time while Alex Singleton played 96%. I’m a little concerned that this could be a long-term issue, but I’m cautiously optimistic that the limited playing time is related to the elbow injury he suffered early in the preseason.
I had, and still have, pretty high expectations for Robert Quinn. He did next to nothing against San Francisco in the rain, but I’m not overly concerned here. The track was slow, the passing gamer was affected by the weather, and the running game went the other way most of the time.
Godfather: The keyword with disappointing defensive linemen one week into the season is patience. In reality, even the absolute best, uber-stud Myles Garretts of the world throw up clunkers from time to time. It just goes with the territory. Don't freak out just because guys like Chandler Jones of the Raiders, Robert Quinn of the Bears, and Marcus Davenport of the Saints were no-shows in Week 1. In fact, given bad matchups with the Packers and Buccaneers, Quinn and Davenport could be set for a second straight sluggish stat line in Week 2.
There were quite a few linebackers who underperformed in Week 1, but there are only a couple I'm concerned about. Seeing Eric Kendricks of the Minnesota Vikings manage just one solo stop while Jordan Hicks exploded against the Packers is at least a little concerning, but I'm not pushing the panic button just yet. That may have been more fluke than scheme, although I already had concerns about Kendricks—prior to last year's 143 tackles, he had never logged even 120 in a season. If you want to freak out about someone, freak out about Isaiah Simmons of the Arizona Cardinals. Simmons may be calling the defensive plays in Arizona. But he's also playing a ton in the slot and had a Week 1 tackle rate less than five percent. That is ungood.
In the secondary, Jordan Poyer of the Buffalo Bills and Jeremy Chinn of the Panthers were drafted as elite fantasy performers in 2022. Both failed to meet expectations in Week 1. And both played more deep safety than most expected. It's not yet time to panic about either of them, but monitoring their usage moving forward isn't a bad idea.
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