IDP Matchups & Sleepers: Week 1
Week 1 is here. After enjoying many Seinfeld re-runs and multiple viewings of Avengers: Endgame, the offseason went by quicker than a snap of Thanos's fingers - the season was inevitable. It was a long arduous offseason of running backs don't matter, wide receivers don't matter, defenses don't matter....which is where I'm going to stop. Defense matters - especially defensive players.
Each week, I'm going to go through our IDP rankings and look at some of the top matchups and sleeper picks for the week at each position. My IDP brother-in-arms, Ross Miles, will have your IDP waiver wire covered. If you have specific questions pertaining to your lineup, you can always refer to the ranks or hit me up on Twitter @Mike_Woellert.
Now, let's see what the opening week has in store for us.
Jerome Baker, OLB, Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens
Baker emerged from the preseason as Miami's signal caller and best defender. Baker gets a favorable matchup in Week 1 against Baltimore, who was a favorable matchup for opposing LBs. The Ravens allowed nearly 56 total tackles per game - while linebackers registered 17 solo tackles per game. Baker recorded a 20.2% tackle rate over 74 preseason snaps and should find himself busy with Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson.
Demario Davis, ILB, New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans
Demario is one of those linebackers who always seems to produce. I really like the matchup for Davis this week against Houston - a team featuring a mobile QB and now a shifty RB out of the backfield in Duke Johnson. Houston's offense allowed 12 tackles per game to opposing ILBs last season. Demario averaged nearly seven tackles per game - resulting in a 12.5% tackle rate. I'll be firing up Davis as an LB2 this week - even with the acquisition of Kiko Alonso.
Jon Bostic, ILB, Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Bostic's matchup puts him on the LB3 radar in Week 1. Bostic won't leave the field as Philly's signal caller, and without many playmakers around him, he should swallow up the majority of tackle opportunities around him. Shan Dion Hamilton should also see some opportunities, as well, but I like Bostic more here. Last season, Zach Brown and Mason Foster combined for 35 tackles in two games against the Eagles. The Eagles should remain a favorable matchup for linebackers, as they allowed 14 tackles per game to opposing ILBs. Bostic should be busy with Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz.
Devin Bush, ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots
I'm going to the rookie right away in Week 1. He showed all I needed to see in the preseason - producing a 21.1% tackle rate over 85 snaps. His speed is elite and is a heat-seeking missile while tracking the ball carrier. He's shaping up to be an IDP stud this season. He's calling the plays for the defense and should be on the field for nearly every snap. Only Houston and Philadelphia allowed more total tackles than the Patriots last season - they just sustain drives. The Pats yielded 11 tackles per game to opposing 3-4 ILBs last season and Bush's speed is going to be key covering guys like James White and Sony Michel.
Josey Jewell, ILB, Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
Jewell is shaping up to be a Week 1 sleeper. Todd Davis's status is up in the air, so it could leave Jewell on the field for the entire game. Jewell had a quiet preseason, however, he showed efficiency with his snaps last season as a rookie - recording a 12.6% tackle rate over 459 defensive snaps.
Big Play Sleeper(s)
Pernell McPhee/Matt Judon, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
If you like to stream big play linebackers, then I have two for you. The Dolphins traded away their elite LT, Laremy Tunsil, and acquired Julie'N Davenport. It appears Jesse Davis is making the move from right to left tackle with Davenport at right. Matt Judon should line up on Davenport's side of the field, which gives him a plus matchup in my book. Only Oakland tackle Kolton Miller allowed more sacks than Henderson's 12. Judon is going to take on the majority of the pass rush load with Terrell Suggs off to Arizona and Za'Darius Smith in Green Bay. Judon generated a respectable 10.5% pressure rate, converting 25.7% of his pressures into sacks. Between Henderson and Ryan Fitzpatrick's mobility, Judon should feast.
Pernell McPhee returns to Baltimore with the chance to play more snaps, after appearing in just 203 snaps in 13 games last season. He still produced a 12.8% pressure rate over that time. Over his career, McPhee has generated a 13.4% pressure rate and should match up with Sterup for most of his snaps. Davis struggled in pass blocking last season at right - allowing seven sacks and 30 pressures over 559 pass-block snaps. Now, he has to learn how to play on the left side. This is a recipe for disaster right out of the blocks.
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