Welcome back, IDP Nerds. I hope you all enjoyed the opening weekend of NFL football as much as I did. It was long overdue for us to sit on the couch and watch endless hours of football as we watched our dynasty players rack up fantasy points. We have another good slate of games in Week 2. Before we dive in, let’s review last week. We came in at a 60% hit rate last week, with nine out of fifteen players predicted correctly. In my experience, the first week of the season is one of the toughest to project. As more data becomes available, it will be much easier to identify top weekly performers.
Be sure to follow our other start/sit articles and authors; they contain great advice to help you each week.
Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Williams DB, Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Williams is coming off a career-best 34 fantasy points in Week 1. The Ravens’ safety hasn’t scored 30 fantasy points or more in a game since the 2019 season. Williams did not grade out very well, with just a 63.5 overall grade by pro football focus. However, he did have double-digit tackles and an interception. His tackle upside has made him a much more consistent fantasy player. Over his last eight games, he’s averaged 5.75 tackles per game.
The Baltimore defensive back saw most of his snaps in coverage (64) and is likely to see the same volume against a very explosive Miami Dolphins passing offense. While Chuck Clark and Kyle Hamilton might be the more attractive players for IDP managers, Marcus Williams will provide better results.
New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns
Jermaine Johnson DL, New York Jets
The New York Jets rookie pass-rusher has IDP managers excited after just one week. The Florida State EDGE recorded two tackles and a half sack in his debut. If this is a sign of things to come, those dynasty managers have reason to be excited. Despite the talent level and week one results, I don’t trust Johnson in my lineup. He only played 19 snaps accounting for just 34% of the defensive snaps. Johnson’s time will come, but unfortunately, I need to see more before I can be confident enough in his production to start him.
Washington Commanders @ Detroit Lions
Malcolm Rodriguez LB, Detroit Lions
As dynasty analysts, we don’t spend all off-season hyping up the rookies for nothing. The Detroit Lions appear to have possibly found something at linebacker in Malcolm Rodriguez. The Oklahoma State rookie went viral last weekend for hip tossing Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce. That aside, he played well and collected six tackles, including one tackle for loss, on his way to a 12-point week one performance. The rookie linebacker will draw a good matchup this week with the Washington Commanders, who allowed two starting linebackers to have double-digit tackles last week. It’s not often a reliable strategy to trust late-round rookie draft picks, but Rodriguez is not a terrible option if you’re hurting for linebacker production this week.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Travon Walker DL, Jacksonville Jaguars
This week’s article focuses on rookies over the first few games. It’s a good thing because that means, in one way or another, these IDP rookies were relevant in their first NFL game. Travon Walker was a monster in Week 1. He had four tackles, one sack, and one interception while playing 83% of the team’s defensive snaps. The rookie defensive lineman had 26 fantasy points in Week 1. That was the most of any rookie IDP.
Travon Walker and the Jaguar’s defensive line face a tougher matchup in Week 2, hosting the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts allowed the 10th fewest sacks in the NFL last year but did give up two sacks in their opening game. I expect the Colts to rely more on their feature running back Jonathan Taylor this week which can limit some of those big play opportunities for Walker and others. If the former Georgia pass-rusher proves us wrong this week, he may be an every-week starter. No questions asked moving forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
Shaq Barrett DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shaq Barrett is borderline a stud in all leagues because he has a defensive line designation. He has the upside and ability to finish as a top 12 player amongst defensive linemen, but his tackle floor limits his scoring compared to the tackle-heavy IDP linebackers. I love the matchup for Barrett this week against a New Orleans Saints offense that gave up four sacks last week against a below-average Atlanta Falcons defensive front. The Buccaneers’ defense had four sacks last week, and while Barrett didn’t register one, he did create five pressures and three hurries. I want Barrett in my lineup in all leagues. He has a defensive line designation, and I would give him a look as LB4 in leagues where I’m lacking depth at that position.
Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants
Damien Wilson LB, Carolina Panthers
Damien Wilson finds himself on his third team in three seasons. He started his time with the Carolina Panthers on a positive note with 15 fantasy points. The veteran linebacker has always been an afterthought amongst dynasty managers, and despite him showing flashes of production, it’s just not consistent enough to earn him a roster spot. Wilson’s efficiency on limited snaps in Week 1 is reason enough not to consider him in your lineup for the time being. We can’t be fooled and overreact to one week so fight that temptation to add Wilson on waivers and start him at the linebacker position this week.
New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Alex Highsmith LB/DL, Pittsburgh Steelers
Alex Highsmith had a massive week one performance with 44 fantasy points. Only his teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick (45) had more. Highsmith was the number one add amongst all IDPs this week on waivers, and for a good reason. The performance he had against the Bengals put everyone on notice.
The loss of reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt is a blessing and a curse for Alex Highsmith’s value. Highsmith should see a much higher volume of work, but losing a truly great player like Watt will draw more attention to him and make it much more difficult to get one-on-one matchups. His first game without Watt after that huge performance was against arguably the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick, who knows better than anybody how to gameplan for specific players. I’m not saying Highsmith can’t get a sack and return value this week. I would lower my expectations in this particular matchup.
Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams
Richie Grant DB, Atlanta Falcons
Richie Grant was one of my favorite targets in IDP rookie drafts last season. Unfortunately, he never put it together and earned the snaps to make him relevant as a rookie. He’s off to a great start in his second season, playing 60 snaps (98%), collecting 10 tackles, and one pass defended for 18 fantasy points in week one. He led the Falcons in tackles and looked ready for a highly productive season in the young Atlanta secondary.
Richie Grant draws a plus matchup this week with the pass-heavy Rams, who allowed five different defensive backs to record at least three tackles in the home opener. There have been multiple injuries at the defensive back position already. Grant having a breakout season could be huge to fill that void left by those players, or at least until they potentially return.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
Uchenna Nwosu LB/DL, Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks signed Uchenna Nwosu to a two-year $20 million deal this off-season. He did not disappoint in his first game with seven tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Nwosu finished with 26 fantasy points after Week 1. He was third on the team in tackles. Over his last two games dating back to last season, he has accumulated 57 fantasy points and at least five tackles and a sack in each game.
The Former Los Angeles Chargers EDGE defender looked very comfortable in the Seattle defense and found himself around the ball nearly every play. Cody Barton and Jordyn Brooks will surely be the leading tacklers for Seattle by year’s end, but IDP managers should be pleasantly surprised by Nwosu’s output if he stays on this pace.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys
Leighton Vander Esch LB, Dallas Cowboys
Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys in tackles in week one with nine stops. The Dallas defense will be spending a lot of time on the field with their struggling offense now losing franchise quarterback Dak Prescott for at least a month. The Cowboys linebacker has collected 25 tackles over his last three games and averaged 17.2 fantasy points per game.
Last week the Bengals allowed five different linebackers to record at least five tackles. Vander Esch played 86% of defensive snaps in week one and likely will be needed to slow down Bengals running back Joe Mixon. The Cowboy’s linebacker hasn’t topped 77 tackles in a season since his rookie season. However, he recorded seven tackles in his last meeting with the Bengals in 2018. A solid start to the season is good for LVE. Hopefully, he can remain a consistent fantasy scorer like he was for most of his rookie season with the Cowboys.
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos
Jerry Hughes DL, Houston Texans
The veteran pass rusher who has spent time with multiple NFL teams had a big performance in his Houston Texans debut. Jerry Hughes had 35 fantasy points in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. Hughes recorded three tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. The Texans desperately needed pass-rushing help, and Hughes helped by recording the team’s only two sacks. His two sacks against the Colts matched his season total last year with the Buffalo Bills. I would expect a much heavier rushing attack from the Denver Broncos this week, which should limit the opportunities of the Texans pass rushers.
Arizona Cardinals @ Las Vegas Raiders
Johnathan Abram DB, Las Vegas Raiders
Johnathan Abram is one of the most reliable fantasy scorers at the defensive back position when healthy. He’s coming off a career-best 116 tackles in just 14 games played last season. The Raiders’ safety failed to score double-digit fantasy points just once last season. He started the 2022 season on the right note with a 21-point performance against the Los Angeles Chargers. Abram should be a plug-and-play safety as long as he is not carrying injury designation into the week. The issues the Raiders have had at the linebacker position this year make him even more reliable as his tackle floor becomes much safer. You can start Johnathan Abram with confidence this week.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Rashan Gary DL, Green Bay Packers
This one doesn’t feel right, but hard to argue with the data provided. Rashan Gary had a breakout season in 2021, recording 9.5 sacks and scoring 192 fantasy points. He is the Packer’s best pass-rusher this season and is off to a strong start recording a sack in his first game. The Packer’s defensive line draws a plus matchup with the Chicago Bears this week, which allowed the most sacks (58) in the NFL last season. In two matchups last season, Gary struggled. He collected a total of 7 tackles and one forced fumble. He averaged 7.5 fantasy points per game against Chicago in 2021. If there are better options, I’d use this data to consider sitting the Packer’s pass rusher this week.
Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills
Matt Milano LB, Buffalo Bills
A healthy Matt Milano is a welcome sign for both Buffalo Bills fans and IDP managers. He is such a big part of making the Buffalo defense as successful as they are. Milano posted a 71.2 overall grade after Week 1 and was used heavily in coverage against Ram’s passing attack. The former Boston College linebacker has scored over 200 fantasy points in two of his last three seasons. Milano, along with his running mate Tremaine Edmunds isn’t the most flashy linebacker for IDP, but they are reliable and consistent. I wouldn’t hesitate to call them matchup-proof; it’s more so they have a bit of a capped ceiling. Matt Milano has averaged 5.7 tackles per game over his last three against the Tennessee Titans. He’s a very good option for your lineup in Week 2.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles
Camryn Bynum DB, Minnesota Vikings
Camryn Bynum has stepped into the starting safety role vacated by Xavier Woods, leaving in free agency. Xavier Woods posted 108 tackles and three interceptions in the Vikings secondary in 2021. Those are high expectations for the young safety, but he seemed to accept the challenge by posting a seven tackle game in his first start of 2022. He has the advantage of playing on a very experienced defense with Harrison Smith, who has been one of the game’s best for the past decade. The matchup with the Eagles will give him more opportunities to play run defense snaps and could spike his tackle numbers. I like Bynum as a solid start this week in leagues where you’re looking for defensive back production.
I’m looking forward to another week of NFL football. The grind never stops, and the constant attention to your team’s waivers, start and sit options, and trades will all be worth it by the season’s end. Good luck to all the IDP Nerds this week. I hope those stud IDP rosters you’ve built with help from us earn you a much-deserved win this week. Make sure to look for all the start/sit content that the dynasty nerds staff provides for you weekly.