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 2023 season here at Footballguys, The Guru and the Godfather will come together to answer five of that week's most pressing questions.
This is it for most IDP managers—Championship Week. If you're still playing, the odds are good that you're one win away from achieving the goal every fantasy player has when they draft a squad—winning a championship.
With that ultimate goal in mind, most of this week's Guru and the Godfather is focused on the players to target and avoid in this king of must-win weeks. But they saved a little time as the 2023 season winds down to glance back at the season that was before next week's Year in Review.
However, in Week 17, it's mostly time to live in the now.
It's Championship Week in most IDP leagues, which makes it the highest stakes of the season. Which defensive lineman is poised for a huge game that will lead fantasy managers to fantasy glory, and which has the biggest odds of disappointment in this must-win week?
GURU: The Washington Commanders were a stellar matchup for edge defenders early in the season. In recent weeks, however, that has not necessarily been the case. Since week ten, they rank thirteenth in points allowed to the edge position. That said, some situations trump matchups. One of those can be a player facing his former team. If Washington were a horrible matchup, I might think twice about starting Chase Young against them. Since they are still in the top half of the league in terms of points allowed to the position, I'll roll with the talented player who last wore a Commanders uniform just a few weeks ago.
Kayvon Thibodeaux of the New York Giants has 11.5 sacks on the season. While that is a good total, only one of them (actually a pair of half-sacks) has come in the last month plus. He gave us a goose egg against the Eagles. I'm not counting on much more than that versus a Rams team that has allowed one sack or less in four of their last six games and is the second-worst matchup for the position since week ten.
GODFATHER: Chicago Bears edge-rusher Montez Sweat doesn't get the credit he's due, although I'm guessing the $98 million the Bears gave Sweat is enough for him. Changing teams (and schemes) mid-season isn't easy for a player. Doing so while maintaining the level of production you had pre-trade is that much harder. But Sweat has done both, and he finishes the fantasy season with a top-10 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Hopefully, people will keep sleeping on Sweat—grabbing him at value in 2024 sounds fine.
Norton's spot-on about Thibs (by which I mean he stole my idea again).
Full disclosure—I was wrong about Trey Hendrickson of the Cincinnati Bengals, who not only has a career-high 16 sacks but also hit 40 tackles for the first time. I undervalued him. But that doesn't change the fact that his Week 17 matchup is bad. The Kansas City Chiefs may not be the team they once were, but Patrick Mahomes II is one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL even after Malcolm Koonce of the Raiders Hulked out against the Chiefs a week ago.
Linebackers remain the kings of most IDP leagues, and playing the right one in Week 17 could mean a championship. Which lesser (say outside the top 25) linebacker will explode this week? Which big-name linebacker will come up short at the worst possible time?
GURU: Frankie Luvu of the Carolina Panthers is right in that LB25-LB30 range. He should be much higher but his inconsistency this year has been maddening. Luvu has been streaky. In weeks one through five he reached double-digit points once. He followed that with at least eleven points in five straight, then back to single-digits for four before a big game versus the Packers last week at 6-4-1 and a forced fumble. If the pattern holds, he should give us a strong outing this week against a Jaguars squad that has allowed the second most points to linebackers on the season.
Managers with Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a lot more likely to be playing this week than those with Luvu. David is having an excellent season in general, but I am very nervous about him this week. The Saints are a hit-or-miss matchup at best, and they have been much more of a miss of late. New Orleans has allowed the second-fewest points to linebackers since week ten. As if that were not enough, David's lowest point total of the season came against the Saints in week four, when he totaled five assists and less than four fantasy points.
GODFATHER: Krys Barnes of the Arizona Cardinals is a better Elandon Roberts (before he got hurt)—a middling talent thrown into a role as the defensive play-caller because every other off-ball linebacker on the team is hurt. This week, Barnes and the Redbirds face an Eagles team that ranks third in the league in tackle opportunities allowed and will probably be playing from ahead. I ain't sayin'. I'm just sayin'.
Nick Bolton of the Kansas City Chiefs was drafted as a top-10 linebacker in almost every league and as a top-five linebacker in quite a few. But his 2023 campaign has been a major letdown—Bolton missed a chunk of the season with a fractured forearm and hasn't been especially productive since coming back. Now Bolton faces a Cincinnati Bengals team that has spent the entire season at the bottom of the league in fantasy points allowed to linebackers. Don't chase the name—Bolton is a sit this week.
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