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.
As hard as it is to believe, by the time this week ends, we'll be halfway through the 2023 fantasy football regular season. For IDP managers, there have been things that have gone according to plan. There have been plenty of things that have not. And there have been surprises galore.
In other words, it's been like every other season in the history of fantasy football.
As is the case every Friday, the Guru and the Godfather have convened yet again. This time, it's all about getting a win this week—after a quick aside to calm fantasy managers down about disappointing players who hopefully won't disappoint much longer.
Week 7 brings the midway point of the 2023 fantasy regular season in most IDP leagues, and there has been no shortage of disappointing players. To get things off to a positive start, identify one player at each position you think will rebound as we move into the season's second stanza.
GURU: Philadelphia Eagles edge-rusher Haason Reddick opened the season with three straight goose eggs, and he was not even getting close. It looked to me like he was not being used the same by the new defensive coordinator. He began showing signs of life in week four and has gotten progressively better each game since. Last week, Reddick finally looked like the guy who terrorized offenses in 2022. Whatever was holding him back early on has been fixed, and I think Reddick will light it up the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White currently ranks 45th among linebackers. That is a bit deceiving since the Buccaneers have already had their bye, but his average of just under ten points per game is 39th and would be a career-low if it holds up. White put up good numbers in strong matchups with the Vikings and Eagles. He kind of stunk it up in bad matchups with the Bears and Saints before Alvin Kamara was at full speed. In a mediocre matchup with the Lions, his numbers were… mediocre. I expect White to bounce back because his schedule suggests he will. He faces the Falcons twice with their new two-headed running game, followed by Buffalo, Houston, Tennessee, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Carolina to close out the fantasy regular season. All of those teams are somewhere between above-average and very strong matchups. Then he gets the Jaguars during our playoffs.
At less than 9.4 points per game with fewer than 10 in each of his last two, Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James is in a slump. He has a few less-than-desirable matchups coming up but, in my opinion, a player of that caliber at the safety position on a defense who can't stop anyone throwing or running has to come around.
GODFATHER: Given the rip Reddick is on (5.5 sacks and top-five IDP numbers among defensive linemen over the last three weeks), I think it's safe to say that his slump is officially busted. But another big-name D-lineman with a green hat is still wandering the IDP wasteland.
Frankly, I'm not sure why Quinnen Williams of the New York Jets has just half a sack after six games and ranks 21st among defensive tackles. Williams was my No. 1 DT entering the season after 55 tackles and 12 sacks last season. What I do know is that Williams is an elite talent at his position who is just too good a player to continue failing to post any numbers of substance. With Williams on his bye week, I might actually be inclined to try to buy low on the big man right now.
I'll confess, this may be partly because of my slight man-crush on Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu, who plays like his hair's on fire on seemingly every snap. But so far this season, the numbers haven't been there for last season's LB12—largely because of a drop in big-play production. But Luvu is the only linebacker in Carolina playing full-time (or close to it), and where snaps are opportunities follow. Luvu may not finish as an LB1 again, but he isn't going to stay outside the top 40 all season long.
I'm not surprised by any defensive back who disappoints after a big year because that's what defensive backs do. But a lot more was expected of Houston's Jalen Pitre in 2023 after he led all defensive backs in tackles as a rookie than a DB46 ranking six weeks in. Much like with Derwin James, that's partly due to injury, but the Texans safety turned it up heading into the bye, with 19 total tackles over his last two games. Pitre may not be the top-five defensive back fantasy managers drafted, but he's going to be more than a low-end DB4.
Plenty of IDP managers are in must-win mode, so let's get them one—which players at each position are in a position to exceed expectations in Week 7, post a fat stat line, and lead fantasy managers to victory?
GURU: Week 7 features a divisional meeting between the New York Giants and Washington Commanders that projects to be a sack-fest. These teams have allowed an unfathomable 67 sacks between them and are 31st and 32nd in the NFL in that category going into this game. As if that were not enough, both squads have talented pass-rushers in favorable, aggressive schemes. If I were going to name one, I'd go with New York's Kayvon Thibodeaux, but if you have or can get any tackle or edge defender in this game, play him.
My must-play linebacker for this week is David Long of the Miami Dolphins against the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia is allowing 31.89 points per game to the linebacker position. That is 0.53 behind the Dallas Cowboys for the most in the league. With Jerome Baker nursing a back injury, Long is set to be the Dolphins leading tackler in this one and could have a monster game.
I'm going out of character with this one and calling out a couple of corners. L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie of the Kansas City Chiefs are my highest-projected defensive backs this week due to their matchup with the bombs-away Chargers. The corner positions are averaging 18 tackles, 0.7 splash plays, and 2.6 passes defended against Los Angeles. At 30.4 points per game, the Chargers rank fifth in points allowed to the position. I see Sneed following Keenan Allen for most of the game and making a lot of stops while McDuffie works the slot and kicks in both tackles and a big play or two.
GODFATHER: Norton isn't underselling the Commanders/Giants game—the Giants have allowed a staggering 32 sacks in 2023 and are on pace to give up over 90. Were Montez Sweat not nursing a thumb injury, I'd be screaming his name from the rooftops. But with Sweat questionable, this dream matchup could be the chance (for one week at least) for Chase Young to be the player we all thought he would be entering the NFL. It's time for a flag-plant: Young logs two sacks Sunday.
I hope Norton's right about Long, given the number of shares I have personally, but enough about me. The Baltimore Ravens have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to linebackers in the scoring I've used for years with my IDP rankings (old habits die hard). As much as it pains me personally to say this, that sets up Alex Anzalone of the Detroit Lions for a big Week 7. It pains me because, truth be told, Anzalone is an average talent. But it doesn't matter if the tackle is made one yard downfield or 11—they all count the same. And Anzalone should have the opportunity to make a boatload on Sunday.
My esteemed colleague and I had a difference of opinion regarding who would be the starting box safety for the Miami Dolphins in 2023. We won't get into who's right except to say that I was. DeShon Elliott has been a decent IDP contributor when healthy this season, lurking around low-end DB2 territory. There's a good chance the 26-year-old will fare significantly better than that Sunday night against the Eagles. Those will be two busy defensive backfields in a game that should be a blast to watch.
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