Welcome back, IDP Nerds; as the IDP team leader at Dynasty Nerds, I’m back for my third straight season to deliver you my start and sit recommendations for the 2022 season. I genuinely enjoy dropping the IDP knowledge to this series’s loyal readers every year. I can only hope that the work I put in to deliver this content helps you make those challenging lineup decisions weekly.
The weekly recommendations are based on our default IDP scoring. Players will be broken down by the three major positions (DL, LB, DB), with one defensive player per game. It’s common knowledge that you start your studs every week, which doesn’t change on the defensive side of the ball.
As we did last season, we preach the importance of accountability. That being said, there will be a weekly review where we will discuss accuracy briefly before we start each week. I have settled on a ‘hit’ as a 10-point week and a ‘miss’ as anything under double-digit points. Now that we have the criteria defined let’s talk about some opening weekend NFL football.
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
Start – Marcus Davenport, DL NOS
The Saints’ pass rusher is coming off his best fantasy season with 149 points in just 11 games. It’s no secret that Davenport has struggled with staying healthy throughout his career. He’s never played in more than 13 games in his first four seasons. Davenport played a career-high 64% of defensive snaps last season.
Davenport and the Saints’ pass rush face a nice matchup with the Atlanta Falcons in week one. Atlanta gave up the 11th most sacks in the NFL last season. Davenport himself has had success against the Falcons’ offensive line. He has recorded 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his career against Atlanta. It’s a contract year for the former first-round pick, and he can start the season strong against a division rival.
Cleveland Browns @ Carolina Panthers
Start – Anthony Walker, LB CLE
Walker remains one of the most underrated linebackers in all of IDP fantasy football. He turned in his fourth consecutive season of 150 fantasy points or more. Although he only played in 13 games last season, he finished with 164 points while averaging 8.69 tackles per game. The former Northwestern Wildcat has recorded at least 92 tackles in his last four seasons. His tackling numbers alone make him a viable fantasy starter every week.
All the hype around this matchup will surround Baker Mayfield for a good reason. If the Browns are going to pull out this road win, it will be due mainly to their defensive performance, and Walker will be a big part of that. Undoubtedly, a healthy Christian McCaffrey will be a tough test for the Browns linebackers. Walker’s last game against the Carolina Panthers was in 2019 when he was with the Indianapolis Colts. In that game, Walker made ten stops and recorded a sack to finish with 28.50 fantasy points. Walker has a perfect chance to finish as a top 12 LB in Week 1.
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears
Sit – Robert Quinn, DL CHI
Quinn is coming off a monster season. He collected 18.5 sacks and accounted for 37.75% of the total sack production for the Chicago Bears. Quinn was the DL7 last season despite playing on one of the worst teams in the NFL. The veteran pass-rusher averaged 1.15 sacks per game and rewarded dynasty managers with consistent production all season. Quinn only finished under double-digit fantasy points three times all season. Unfortunately, one of those performances was against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers’ All-Pro offensive tackle Trent Williams only allowed one sack and sixteen pressures last season. As good as Quinn is, he draws an unfavorable matchup on the NFL’s opening weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Start – Vonn Bell, DB CIN
Bell continues to be a consistent under-the-radar DB for IDP managers. The former Ohio State safety finished as the DB22 last season in default dynasty nerds IDP scoring. Since joining the Bengals in 2019, Bell has collected 211 tackles with an average of 6.6 tackles per game. His consistent production at the DB position allows him to be a plug-and-play starter for dynasty managers.
Bell will lead the AFC Conference Champions against their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bell has averaged 13.71 fantasy points per game against the Steelers. The Pittsburgh offense will be led by Mitch Trubisky, which favors a run-heavy attack. Bell played an average of 20 box snaps in two contests with the Steelers last season. Bell offers a safe enough tackle floor to offset his lack of consistent impact plays. Dynasty managers should feel he’s a safe start this week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions
Start – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB PHI
Gardner-Johnson gets a significant boost in IDP value after being traded late in the off-season to the Philadelphia Eagles. He went from a slot cornerback role on the New Orleans Saints to the starting strong safety for the Eagles. The former Florida Gators DB had a career-high three interceptions last season. Gardner-Johnson should see an increase in run defense snaps, and his tackle floor should be much safer if he remains the starter for a very talented Eagles secondary.
The new starting Eagles DB posted three 20+ fantasy point performances last season. In a matchup with the Detroit Lions, he is a sneaky IDP in your lineup in Week 1. The Eagles should be in control of most of this game. If the front can force a few errant throws, it’s possible that CGJ can take advantage and turn in a strong opening weekend performance.
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Start – Jalen Pitre, DB HOU
It always seems risky to play rookies before they officially get one regular NFL game under their belt. Pitre was far from the most talented DB drafted this season, but he does step into one of the best situations. The Houston Texans’ defense is all kinds of bad, and they are incredibly young in the secondary. The former Baylor Bear finished his last collegiate season with 75 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.
The Houston Texans rookie DB looked strong in the preseason. He collected nine tackles in two preseason games and is locked into a starting role for Houston. The Texans face a tough matchup trying to stop one of the league’s best running backs in Jonathan Taylor. I expect Pitre to be heavily involved in trying to slow down a strong rushing attack which should lead to plenty of opportunities to rack up tackles.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
Sit – Jaelan Phillips, DL MIA
Phillips enters his second NFL season coming off 8.5 sacks as a rookie. He was surprisingly productive for the Dolphins, who typically rely heavily on their veterans for production. The former Miami Hurricanes pass rusher had 26 pressures despite starting just five games in 2021.
Dynasty managers have to be thrilled about Phillips heading into his second year. He can be a very productive fantasy scorer. Phillips draws a tough matchup in Week 1 against the New England Patriots’ well-coached offensive line. The Patriots allowed the third-fewest sacks (28) last season. Last season, Phillips was only able to notch seven fantasy points in two games against New England. He’s too sack-dependent to rely on him this week in a bad matchup.
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets
Start – Jordan Whitehead, DB NYJ
Whitehead joins the New York Jets this season after being a big part of the successful Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their last Super Bowl title. He replaces former Jets safety Marcus Maye, who left in free agency. Whitehead has averaged 174.9 fantasy points per season in default dynasty nerds IDP scoring.
The Baltimore Ravens offense will be a massive test for Robert Salleh’s defense in Week 1. The Jets are at the disadvantage of not having their franchise QB. We might see the Jets’ defense on the field for most of the afternoon, which could greatly increase the chances for Whitehead to have a big performance.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Washington Commanders
Start – Jamin Davis, LB WAS
Davis had an up-and-down rookie season. He is locked into a starting role alongside LB Cole Holcomb this season for the Commanders. Davis is a very talented LB who can rack up tackles with his range. The hope is that the game slows down for him in his second season, and he can read and react to the ball to make a play.
The Commanders LB only averaged 8.8 fantasy points per game last season. However, he did finish the season strong with five straight double-digit fantasy performances. This season, Washington will have their full defensive line back. It will make it easier for the linebacker group to rack up high tackle numbers. I like rolling the dice on Davis this week after a strong finish to the 2021 season.
New York Giants @ Tennessee Titans
Sit – Bud Dupree, DL TEN
The Titans were dealt a massive blow to their defense when Harold Landry suffered a season-ending injury in practice. Landry was a huge part of the Titan’s defense, being able to apply pressure with their front four last season. The Titans will need a group effort to try and replace the 12 sacks Landry had in 2021.
Dupree will get the first crack at being the replacement for the Titans. He has not been nearly as effective with Tennessee as with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dupree only started six games last season, and his 17 pressures were the fewest he’s had in the past four seasons. The New York Giants’ offensive line is not good, but I would not recommend counting on Dupree for the production you need this week.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Arizona Cardinals
Start – Justin Reid, DB KCC
This week, Reid will get his first real game action with the Kansas City Chiefs. Reid has averaged 187.63 fantasy points per season over his first four years. He’s dealt with many nagging injuries that have kept him from playing consistent games. He will now play football under Steve Spagnuolo, who demands a lot of his defensive backs. I expect a big year from Reid if he can stay healthy.
Most dynasty managers will expect a shootout from this game for obvious reasons. I like the sound of that for the potential to have some big performances from defensive players in this game as well. The pass-happy Arizona Cardinals will be challenging the Chief’s secondary and allow Reid those opportunities to have a big scoring week and hopefully end up a top 12 DB.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers
Start – Khalil Mack, DL LAC
It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t tie in at least one ‘Revenge Game’ into this week’s article. Mack will suit up for his first game as a Los Angeles Charger against the team that drafted him, the Las Vegas Raiders. Mack was a former DPOY with the Raiders, so it’s only right he has a big week against them. He only appeared in seven games last season, but he was riding a five-game streak of double-digit fantasy points before his season ended abruptly due to injury.
Mack’s best game last season was an eight tackle, one sack performance against the Las Vegas Raiders. He finished with 20 fantasy points in that game. The Chargers’ defense looks very strong on paper this season. Mack should see some of his best opportunities playing alongside fellow elite pass rusher Joey Bosa.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Sit – Darnell Savage, DB GBP
The Green Bay Packers secondary improved in 2021, leading to a third consecutive 110+ fantasy point season from Savage. The former Maryland safety has collected at least 50 tackles and two interceptions in each of his first three seasons. The Green Bay free safety is coming off his worst year in coverage, allowing a career-high eight passing touchdowns in coverage last season.
Savage has reportedly been dealing with a soft tissue hamstring issue that’s kept him out of valuable training camp and preseason reps. He will suit up against the division rival Minnesota Vikings, who he’s played six times since being drafted in 2019. Savage has been a double-digit scorer in those six games twice (33.3%). In addition, he’s only averaged 7.5 fantasy points per game against the Vikings over his career. The depth at DB in most dynasty leagues leads me to believe you can find a better option this week, and I would advise you to do that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys
Sit – Demarcus Lawrence, DL DAL
The Dallas Cowboys finished 14th in the NFL in sacks (41) last season. A large part of that success was attributed to 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons. The Cowboys’ defense could have been a top-five unit if Lawrence returned to form. The Cowboys pass rusher has not recorded double-digit sacks in a season since 2018, and while remaining relatively healthy, his consistency has dropped off. His pressure numbers have decreased in each of the last three seasons, and overall he’s been a liability to dynasty managers putting him in their lineup weekly.
It’s not all bad. While Lawrence only played seven games last season, he finished with double-digit fantasy points in five of his last six games. He turned 30 years of age this season and remains the Cowboys’ best pass rusher of their true down lineman. The Dallas defense faces a tough challenge against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line. Tampa Bay allowed the fewest sacks (23) in the NFL last season, and Lawrence was held under ten fantasy points in this matchup a season ago. If you have better options, I will look to take advantage of those this week.
Denver Broncos @ Seattle Seahawks
Start – Bradley Chubb, DL DEN
Chubb has been disappointing for dynasty managers over the past few seasons. Since his rookie year, he’s only been able to play in more than seven games in a season once and has failed to score over 100+ fantasy points in two of those three seasons. In Chubb’s two IDP relevant season’s he’s tallied at least 7.5 sacks. He will remain a sack-dependent performer but his ability to get after quarterbacks when healthy is a huge strength.
Chubb draws a matchup with a bad Seattle Seahawks offensive line. The Seahawks gave up the eighth most sacks (46) last season. Opposing defensive lines averaged nearly three sacks a game against Seattle in 2021. A healthy off-season for Chubb, combined with the fact he will finally have a high-powered offense, will give him more opportunities to reach the double-digit sack mark again. In leagues where Chubb carries DL eligibility, he’s a must-start this week.
That will do it for Week 1 IDP nerds. I appreciate you checking out the content this week, and hopefully, I will have good news to report that our hit rate will be positive next week. The biggest challenge in IDP fantasy football is making those tough game-time decisions that can win or lose you a matchup. It may seem insignificant now, but every win or loss is crucial when trying to get into the playoffs by the season’s end. Keep checking out the content at dynasty nerds and follow us for all your IDP dynasty fantasy football needs.
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