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 the midway point of the 2022 fantasy football regular season upon us, the Guru and the Godfather have come together again to discuss some of this season's surprise standouts, some players potentially set to rebound from a sluggish start and players who are set for big things (or big-time disappointment) in Week 7.
1. The past couple of weeks have seen a number of surprise IDP stars emerge, from Denver Broncos edge-rusher Baron Browning to teammate Alex Singleton at linebacker and Detroit Lions safety DeShon Elliott. Is the production from these players sustainable? Are there any other recent surprises who will make a sizable IDP impact the rest of the way?
Guru: All three of these guys should remain productive as long as they stay on the field. Unfortunately, Elliott is the only one sure to do so. To say that Browning has been a very pleasant surprise for the Broncos might be a bit misleading. They have been high on the guy all along so no one in the organization is all that surprised. The question is, will he go back to being the third man in the rotation when Randy Gregory returns? The way the NFL usually works, yes.
I’m not sure what it is about Singleton that NFL teams don’t like. He made a lot of plays as a starter for the Eagles, yet they never saw him as a long-term answer. When he came to Denver, many of us on the outside thought he would be a starter. Instead, the Broncos went with Josey Jewell and Jonas Griffith. Yet whenever Singleton gets on the field, he continues to look good and be highly productive (19 solo tackles in week 6). Jewell is not practicing as of Thursday, so Singleton is in line for one more start but is week-to-week after that.
Deatrich Wise Jr and Tariq Woolen make this list for me. I can’t put a finger on what made the light come on for Wise. He was a marginal IDP contributor for five years, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers or the consistency he is showing. The guy has never produced more than 28 solo tackles or 5 sacks in a season, but he is 16-9-5 with a pair of forced fumbles through six games.
Woolen has a pick in four straight games and is the number one DB since week two by a wide margin. He probably can’t keep up the torrid pace, but that’s what we thought about Trevon Diggs last year too, and he finished with eleven. Sometimes guys just have years like that. Woolen has been impressive in virtually every aspect and reminds me a lot of another Seattle corner that came from nowhere to become a star. He’ll stay productive as long as offensive coordinators still see a late-round rookie when they look at Woolen instead of a talented NFL corner.
Godfather: Frankly, I could take this question off and grab a snack—because the Guru pretty much covered all the bases here.
To say that Browning has made the most of the opportunity provided by Gregory's absence is an understatement. He hasn't just been an effective edge rusher. Or a productive one. He's been arguably the best pass-rusher in the entire NFL over the past two weeks. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Browning's Week 6 sack of Justin Herbert came in 2.7 seconds, which is a ridiculous number. Browning has a few more weeks to solidify a role in Denver's defense, and if he keeps playing like this, he's going be awfully hard to take off the field.
We knew that Singleton was a productive linebacker when the snaps have been there. Granted, 21 tackles in a game takes that to the extreme, but he logged 137 tackles in Philly last year. The thing is, when Josey Jewell returned from injury in Week 3, Singleton returned to special teams duty. Until we hear or see differently, the smart play is to assume Singleton turns back into a pumpkin when the clock hits midnight.
With Elliott, I can already see what will happen. His numbers will deep this week or next to mere mortal levels, and I'll get blown up with "should I drop Elliott?" messages. Is Elliott going to keep posting 10-plus tackles every week? No. Is he going to regress into IDP irrelevance ala Jonathan Owens and his 10 total tackles since October 1? Maybe. This is just how defensive backs are sometimes. Ride the hot hand until it goes cold, and then move on to the next guy. Don't get attached. They'll just break your heart.
So far as pleasant surprises who could keep going this season, I'd add Malcolm Rodriguez to the list. The rookie linebacker for the Lions has seen his role grow steadily since the season began. He's been a top-30 linebacker over his last three contests. And the biggest thing standing between him and IDP stardom is Alex Anzalone. "Rodrigo" will be a star in the season's second half—watch.
2. Six weeks in, there is also no shortage of players who just haven't sniffed expectations, whether due to injury, diminishing role, or just a lack of stats. Point out 2-3 disappointing IDPs who will rebound as the season progresses.
Guru: Jordan Poyer has dealt with injuries and possibly a bit of a shift in responsibilities since Micah Hyde was lost for the season. He’s missed a couple of games and has not been very productive in the tackle columns when on the field. Poyer is a playmaker, and I expect the tackle numbers to rebound now that he is working past the rib injury.
In the first two games, Devin White looked like the player that lit it up in his first two seasons. Over the last month, however, he is looking more like the guy that had a disappointing (compared to expectations) 2021. So far, White has reached double-digit points with every solid matchup. He has a lot more good matchups than bad the rest of the way.
Montez Sweat was the number 87 defensive lineman entering Week 5. In the last two games, the Commanders seem to have figured out how to jump-start their pass rush without Chase Young, and Sweat is stepping up. He is 8-4-3 over those two games and has several good matchups down the road, including two with the Giants in crunch time (weeks 13 and 15).
Godfather: I have already mentioned Fred Warner's slow start more than once in this space this season. Even mentioned him as a potential "Buy Low" candidate if memory serves. But that bargain window is closing by the week. Yes, Warner is still ranked outside the top-35 linebackers for the season, which is most assuredly not what fantasy managers expected from the 25-year-old. But Warner has at least nine stops in three straight games and ranks inside the Top 15 at his position over that span. It can be hard to be patient with slow starters sometimes. But when a guy has Warner's resume, a chill pill is the proper prescription.
On the defensive line, if Jonathan Greenard of the Texans was cut loose in your IDP league, he's worth a stash. The third-year pro has been quiet this season, but he has also been nicked up and has quietly logged 1.5 sacks in four games. Greenard's eight sacks in 12 games last year were no fluke—he was consistently winning at the point of attack. He's going to rebound. Maybe not this week (he's nursing a sore calf). But soon.
Since Norton already stole my boy Jordan Poyer (I see how it is), I'll go with a safety who ranks even lower. Kyle Dugger of the Patriots missed some time, and then once he was back, a reduced snap count gave many IDP managers a case of the twitches. But Dugger was up to an 85 percent snap share in Week 6, and he's been a top-five fantasy option the past two weeks. Dugger's going to end the season the DB1 some predicted he'd be going in.
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