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.
With two weeks of the regular season in the rearview mirror, the Guru and the Godfather have gathered to look back at who has impressed, who has failed to meet expectations, what that could mean in IDP leagues moving forward, and what fantasy managers can expect on the defensive side of the ball in Week 3.
1. Two weeks in, Gregory Rousseau of the Bills, Mykal Walker of the Falcons, and Jonathan Owens of the Texans are all top-10 IDP options? Can they keep it up, or should IDP managers be looking to sell high?
Guru: I think Rousseau has the potential to stay in the top 10 for the rest of the season. He's a beast and a great fit for the Bills' aggressive one-gap scheme. It doesn't hurt that the rest of the defense is getting it done also. The only concern I have is the scale of the rotation catching up with him. Buffalo likes to use a lot of guys.
Walker is a guy I've been high on since early in the summer. He hasn't been putting up great tackle numbers but has been showing off in the big play columns with a pick, a forced fumble, and a sack already. I doubt the splash play numbers are sustainable, but I see him picking it up in the tackle columns. The Top 10 will be tough with all the competition, but I see Walker as a guy we can feel good about starting every week.
I'm going to say yes about Owens, but I do it without conviction. I like what I have seen so far, and the Texans' defense might be on the field a lot, but I need more than two good games before I can have full faith in a fifth-year player that no one had ever heard of until now. If someone wants him bad enough, I could make a deal.
Godfather: Were I a small and petty man, I'd use this opportunity to victory-lap after spending so much of the summer talking up Rousseau. But two weeks in is a little early to celebrate. With that said, I do think that Rousseau's early-season success is mostly sustainable—he hasn't received as big a boost in snaps as I expected, but Buffalo's defensive line is loaded, the team is in positive pass-rushing game scripts a lot, and Rousseau's per-snap productivity is excellent. He's the real deal.
Where Walker is concerned, I'm a little less certain, in part, because we don't know what the potential return of Deion Jones could mean for the linebacker rotation in Atlanta. But right now, Walker is leading all linebackers in Atlanta in snaps, he's making the defensive play-calls, and he's tied for the team lead among linebackers in stops. Given how much the Atlanta defense is on the field, so long as he has his current role, he should at least be a decent LB2.
Owens is this year's living embodiment of the unpredictability of defensive backs. Before the season, the fourth-year veteran was best known for being the fiancée of superstar gymnast Simone Biles. Now, two weeks into the season, he's leading the entire NFL with a whopping 25 total tackles. Can Owens maintain that level of production? No. It's entirely possible that a month from now he'll be irrelevant again. But so long as he's logging double-digit tackles on a weekly basis, he belongs on IDP rosters.
2. On the flip side, players like Trey Hendrickson of the Bengals, Foye Oluokun of the Jaguars, and Jessie Bates of the Bengals haven't come close to meeting expectations. Is it too soon to worry? Should ID managers be panicking? Or are there some "buy low" opportunities among the underperformers?
Guru: My issue with Hendrickson is his low tackle totals. In five seasons, he's never put up more than 22 solo stops or 34 combined. I try to avoid guys that are completely dependent on big plays. I think the Bengals will bounce back, and Hendrickson will end up with double-digit sacks. But I don't see him improving much in the tackle department.
No one should have gone into the season expecting Oluokun to match last year's numbers. If your expectations for him were set too high, he will continue to be a disappointment. That said, if the team that has him in your league had unrealistic expectations and is unhappy, trade for him. Oluokun had a solid Week 1 at 6-4 with a fumble recovery, and the Colts were a horrible matchup in Week 2. I think he'll be a good LB2 the rest of the way.
Unless you are playing in a dynasty format, stick a fork in Jessie Bates cause he's done. His numbers have been trending down since last year, and he is probably a lame duck with Dax Hill looking over his shoulder. There is nothing wrong with his game, and he will be highly productive if he ends up in the right situation next year. This defense is simply not the one that made him an IDP stud in the past.
Godfather: Defensive linemen can be streaky by nature, so I try not to freak out about a down game or two. Cameron Jordan of the Saints also has a long track record of accruing 50 tackles and/or 12 sacks in a season, so I'm not overly concerned about his slow start. However, Trey Hendrickson of the Bengals and Chandler Jones of the Raiders were already heavily reliant on sacks for fantasy production—if those numbers drop, a free-fall could ensue. Both have a chance to break out of their slumps in plus pass-rushing matchups this week. If they don't, worrying time will officially be here.
It's a similar story at linebacker. Age could be catching up to Demario Davis of the Saints. DeVondre Campbell's big 2021 with the Packers may have been a fluke. But Davis' resume and the fact Campbell played Chicago's non-existent offense (41 Week 2 snaps) are mitigating factors. If there's a linebacker I'm genuinely concerned about, it's Oluokun. Regression from last year's 100-plus solos and 90-plus assists was all but certain. But with Devin Lloyd looking like the real deal and the whole Jaguars team playing better than most expected, that regression may be more than we expected.
On some level, patience is advisable with both Bengals safeties—Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates are proven fantasy options, and part of their funk is no doubt born of bad matchups and Bates' extended holdout. Still, the shallower the IDP league the shorter my leash is with underperforming defensive backs. There's little point waiting on players to come around when viable alternatives are available on the waiver wire.
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