IDP: Week 1 Surprises

Contributed by: Walton Spurlin
Last Updated: Sep 05, 2019 6:49 PM


At long last the 2019 NFL season is set to kick off and what is the old saying, “I couldn't be happier if I were twins.”. The months of IDP draft preparations and hours of actually drafting are finally behind us. Of course they are now replaced by the weekly grind of making our weekly lineup decisions.

In Week 1 it's best not to overthink things and just roll with your high stud draft selections. Don't try to be the smartest owner in the league right out of the gate. Ride the studs, as we took them high for a reason.

That being said. there are always some players that may not have been high draft selections that still could put up sneaky good IDP production for Week 1. We've done the heavy lifting for you amassing a list of some players that could surprise, as well as a few that could disappoint as we get 2019 underway.


Week 1 IDP Surprises

Sam Eguavoen, LB, Miami vs. Baltimore

The Dolphins signed Sam Eguavoen after he played three seasons in the CFL. In his final two seasons in the CFL he had 138 total tackles, four sacks and an interception, as well as two forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown.

That solid production continued in the 2019 preseason as he posted 16 total tackles and a forced fumble.

Eguavoen's emergence has seen him earn a starting three-down role next to Jerome Baker in the middle of the Miami defense. A Week 1 matchup with the run heavy Baltimore Ravens will see him get off to a fast start in 2019.

Jahlani Tavai, LB, Detroit @ Arizona

The recently released Week 1 unofficial depth chart has Jahlani Tavai listed as the backup middle linebacker behind Jarrad Davis. This is a bit deceiving as Davis suffered an ankle injury that will likely sideline him for at least the first game. While he has been attending practice Davis is not participating in drills.

During the preseason Tavai often wore the green dot on his helmet and called out the defensive plays relayed to him by the coaches. The feeling here is he sees an expanded role in Week 1 against a Cardinals' offense that should show a heavy dose of David Johnson.

Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia vs. Washington

After being selected 14th overall in the 2017 draft Derek Barnett has seen his career get off to a slow start. Through his first two seasons he only managed 7.5 sacks with 37 total tackles, a forced fumble and defensive touchdown. To be fair he suffered a shoulder injury last season that would limit him to 10 games and just 235 snaps.

If there was ever a matchup to jump start his career Barnett has it with Washington coming to town. With OT Trent Williams still holding out, the Redskins will be starting recently signed off the street, 36-year old Donald Penn. A multiple sack day for Barnett is in play in Week 1.

Marcus Davenport, New Orleans vs. Houston

In his rookie season Marcus Davenport was hindered by a nagging toe injury that required offseason surgery. That injury contributed to him playing just 417 snaps in 2018. Even on a limited snap count he flashed the skill set that saw the Saints trade up in the draft to select him 14th overall.

He would finish his rookie campaign with 4.5 sacks, which included a two-sack performance in Week 8 against Minnesota. Davenport also stood out in a Week 5 game against Washington with a sack and forced fumble. This week's matchup against a Houston offense that allowed 38.5 sacks to defensive linemen in 2018 is a great one for Davenport.

D.J. Swearinger, S, Arizona vs. Detroit

The much traveled D.J. Swearinger will be playing in his second stint with the Cardinals after a falling out with the coaching staff in Washington last season. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers and will be looking for the same type of big play production he had last season when he put up a sack, four interceptions and three forced fumbles.

In his return to Arizona he has been playing strong safety and that equates to a lot of snaps in the box. Playing behind a less than stellar Cardinals defensive line, Swearinger is going to see plenty of tackle opportunities this week against a Detroit offense looking to run the ball more in 2019.


Players who could disappoint


Tahir Whitehead, Oakland vs. Denver

In his first season with the Raiders Tahir Whitehead finished with solid LB2 numbers and compiled a career high 126 total tackles. The release of Brandon Marshall almost assures that  Whitehead remains a three-down option in 2019 and he should have another strong season.

However, there are a couple of variables in play that will likely cap Whitehead's Week 1 production. Whitehead now lines up alongside recently acquired veteran Vontaze Burfict. As long as he's healthy (and not suspended) Burfict will definitely eat into Whitehead's tackle numbers. Throw in the fact that Denver in recent years has been stingy in allowing points to linebackers and we can lower expectations this week for Whitehead.

Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh @ New England

Stay with me folks as I know this is a big-name defensive lineman and one that IDP owners more than likely drafted in the DL2 range. For the sake of full disclosure that is where Cameron Heyward sits in my rankings as of this writing for Week 1.

Remember, we are looking at players that are in a situation/matchup that could see them disappoint for Week 1, not the season. The Patriots allowed just seven sacks and three big plays to defensive linemen in the regular season last year. In four career regular season games against New England, Heyward has managed just 14 total tackles with a pair of sacks and zero other big plays.

Earl Thomas, Baltimore @ Miami

There's a good chance that name recognition and the hot start he had last season before getting injured has IDP owners not only overvaluing Earl Thomas for Week 1 but the entire season.

Yes, through the first four games before going down Thomas was putting up top-10 DB numbers, with 22 total tackles, three interceptions and five passes defended. However, history tells us that performances were more the outliers than the norm for Thomas.

In nine seasons in the league he has finished in the top 24 in standard DB scoring just three times (one was a top-5 in 2013), with the last time being back in 2014. Don't be fooled by the name folks. The matchup against a struggling Dolphins' offense that won't be on the field much seals the deal to avoid Thomas.

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