Greetings, humans, and welcome back to the sixth passage in an eight-part series about NFL teams' losses, gains, and everything in between, laid out by division; the 2023 IDP Football AFC South Breakdown.
There is plenty of IDP goodness to get into with this division, so let us not waste time. For IDP purposes, this article series will cover every team broken down to give the reader a clearer picture of how the offseason unfolded for each team.
2023 IDP Football AFC South Breakdown
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Another year another head coach for Houston, as they have won eleven games in their past three seasons behind three different head coaches since Bill O'Brien's departure in 2020. Fast forward to today, and ex-49ers defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans is the next in line to attempt to sort this Texans team out, who have only been to the playoffs six times in the franchise's 21 years of existence.
Coach Ryans is a former linebacker for the Houston Texans and looks ready for the task. In the draft this off-season, the Texans selected their "franchise quarterback" with their second overall selection, traded back up to the third pick, and drafted the best EDGE player in the draft who they hope can blossom into a future star.
The first round of the draft these past few seasons has not been very kind to the Texans, as Houston has only utilized three of their first-round selections for their team since 2019, drafting Tytus Howard, Kenyon Green, and Derek Stingley Jr.
|Will Anderson Jr||DL/LB||Alabama||R1P03|
Will Anderson Jr., DL/LB
The new guy in town who the team traded up to select just after selecting their QB1 in the 2023 NFL Draft. The future could be bright for Anderson, who will learn from one of the best up-and-coming minds in the NFL, Texans head coach DeMecco Ryans. I currently have Will Anderson ranked as the DL28 on the FantasyPros ECR.
Anderson isn't someone I am overly targeting in Redraft to lead the charge of my DL room, though as a DL2/3, I am in if you can draft him at a reasonable ADP, that is. He usually is one of the first two players going off the board in rookie drafts.
Only a few days into training camp and rookie, Will Anderson Jr. is already receiving glowing reviews from his head coach: pic.twitter.com/sgbktRJVX9
— Chancellor Johnson (@ChancellorTV) July 29, 2023
Christian Harris, LB
In twelve games last season, Harris accumulated 74 combined tackles and started in eleven of those games. A hamstring injury in camp last season halted Harris's start of the year as he didn't start his season until week 7 of 2022. Harris is still a very raw linebacker who will need some time invested to see his true potential, but what better coach to pull it out of him than Demeco Ryans?
Looking at the linebacker room in Houston, there isn't much behind Harris besides Christian Kirksey and Denzel Perryman, so later in drafts, I have been targeting Harris as a late pick for depth and bye weeks.
Jalen Pitre, DB
God's gift to the DB position for fantasy purposes in 2022; last season, Pitre finished with 147 combined tackles and as many tackles for loss as interceptions (5) per FantasyData. The price of admission this season has never been higher, and with an ADP of 107, Pitre is consistently coming off the board as one of the top two defensive backs in IDP drafts to this point in the off-season.
I am not looking to draft Jalen Pitre in Redraft, and he is someone you will have to pay up for if you wish to roster Pitre on your dynasty teams.
The Texans drafted a rookie to line up opposite Greenard, which should help him get to the quarterback more(in a perfect world). The defensive line will be relied on to get after the quarterback more, so Greenard may be an excellent addition to your Redraft IDP squad in the middle to late rounds.
With that said, Greenard has yet to participate in more than thirteen games in a season and has yet to eclipse eight sacks in a single season. I wouldn't put all of my chips in on Greenard, but another depth piece could be an excellent addition in much deeper redraft leagues; I am not sure I would be targeting Greenard in any dynasty leagues.
Denzel Perryman, LB
Another player whose career has been injured, Denzel Perryman, has been in the NFL since 2015 and has yet to participate in an entire season and has only finished one season with more than 100 combined tackles, which was in 2021 with Vegas.
He does have the opportunity to hold down the MLB role for the season; however, the Texans did draft Hent To'o To'o in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL Draft, so I wouldn't say Perryman's role is a lock for the future. With his current Sleeper ADP of 521.3 shows, you can wait to roll the dice on Perryman if you're feeling spicy in Redraft; in Dynasty, I am staying away.
Desmond King, DB
In King's last two seasons in Houston, he's finished with 80+ combined tackles and five interceptions. In true position leagues, he may be a name I look to for depth at CB, as it appears King will be in the slot role for Houston for a third season.
Jimmie Ward, DB
The former 49er followed his defensive coordinator to Houston to start as the safety opposite Jalen Pitre. Ward has been more of a spot starter in his career for IDP; however, he could be a sneaky play depending on how he is utilized in this Texans defense. If you can throw a dart at Ward in Redraft, I would say go for it.
Jimmie Ward of the Houston Texans will finish as an IDP top-40 DB at the end of the 2023 NFL season.
— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) July 29, 2023
Derek Stingley was drafted as the CB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft in front of Jets corner Sauce Gardner and Stingley didn't live up much to the hype last season as he only participated in nine games. Stingley allowed a 63% completion percentage on 54 targets in his rookie year. In true position leagues, I would see how far down the board Stingley falls and possibly take a chance on him as a CB2/3.
The Colts probably wish they could hit redo on the 2022 season on both offense and defense. I wouldn't say the Colts started hot, as they finished their season opener in a tie with the Texans. In week 3, Indianapolis beat the Chiefs, and in the following weeks, they ended up winning three of their first six games.
Losing a key player in Shaquille Leonard in week 3, lacking an identity in the secondary, and one of the least efficient pass rushes in the league ultimately sealed the Colts' fate as one of the worst defenses in 2022. With that said, there was still room for plenty of IDP points.
In a recent training camp presser Colts General Manager Chris Ballard addressed questions about the defense and emphasized competition at the corner position and rolling with youth in the secondary "We drafted three corners. There was a reason we drafted three of them."
This defense enters the 2023 season headlining with players such as linebacker Zaire Franklin who finished as the LB4, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner who finished as the DL11 in 2022(per FantasyPros).
|Julius Brents||DB||Kansas State||R2P44|
|Darius Rush||DB||South Carolina||R5P138|
|Jaylon Jones||DB||Texas A&M||R7P221|
|Liam Anderson||LB||Holy Cross||UDFA|
DeForest Buckner, DL
Despite playing on the interior of the Colts' defensive line, Buckner has finished as a top-20 defensive lineman for the past four seasons. He is about as sure of a lock as you can get as a DL2 with a DL1 upside. It's not like Buckner is some well-kept secret, so you'll probably be drafting him shortly after the surge of top-tier defensive linemen.
He had seven weeks with 10+ fantasy points, and his lowest weeks were around four fantasy points. The last time Buckner posted zero points in an IDP matchup was in 2020, and he didn't play in that game.
The Colts dynamic duo of DTs Deforest Buckner and Grover Stewart worked on their get offs & moves. Had to start it off to show the young guns how it’s done. pic.twitter.com/XJPc7Dx46z
— Jay Robins ?mark (@RobinsLucas) August 2, 2023
Zaire Franklin, LB
The price tag is high in drafts, but that is what happens when a linebacker finishes top-5 in his position the season prior. Franklin was an absolute menace last season, posting 10+ fantasy points per game. The only question is will Franklin continue to receive the LB1 reps in Indy?
Franklin received his reps last season because of the injuries to the linebacker room, and now with former Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke in New York, it pretty much solidifies Franklin's reps, so regardless if Leonard is back, Franklin should be very much IDP relevant. In recent years, the Colts' defense has supported two linebackers for IDP, and though you'll have to draft him early, it should be worth the early investment.
Kenny Moore II, DB
In 2021 Moore finished as the DB1. Moore had a year to forget when it comes to IDP in 2022, mostly, and he had a few high weeks (four weeks with 10+ points) and a few lows (four weeks with under five fantasy points) while missing four games at the end of the season.
Multiple interceptions and 30+ tackles were the difference between Moore's 2021's DB1 finish and 2022's DB95. I wouldn't be the first to jump on Moore in a draft at the top of the defensive backs list, but I would start considering him more toward the end of drafts.
"Can you give us an update on Shaq?" Was the first question answered in a recent interview with Colts GM Chris Ballard? At this point in the off-season, Leonard has passed his physical, but from the sound of the interview, it will be a "progression play," it seems the Colts are in no rush to put Leonard in the line of immediate contact just yet.
Whether he makes his debut in pads this preseason or in the season opener is to be revealed; we know that when Shaquille Leonard is on the field, he usually finishes among the top linebackers. There is some risk that comes with drafting Leonard in redraft formats; however, if he is, in fact, healthy, he will be the LB1 in Indy.
Which AFC South defensive back would you rather roster in IDP redraft formats with deep rosters?
— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) July 19, 2023
E.J. Speed, LB
In Speed's current situation, he may get more snaps than he's ever had in a single season in the NFL, but that's not saying much, as he had 316 snaps in 2022. Speed is a stache at best at this time. I don't see Speed becoming more fantasy relevant than being utilized as a bye-week placeholder unless there is an injury to one of the other linebackers.
It should be noted that Speed did have five weeks with 8+ fantasy points in 2022, so with the brass not wanting to roll out Leonard immediately, perhaps Speed could see more fantasy relevance at the beginning of the season and later into the season if the Colts utilize more of a rotation at the linebacker position.
Julian Blackmon, DB
"I'd be surprised if Julian doesn't have an excellent year." General Manager Chris Ballard said this when asked about Julian Blackmon in a training camp pressor. Blackmon is making the full-time switch to the strong safety position. The Colts' aim to utilize both safeties in the box and deep "interchangeable.." was how Chris Ballard described it.
Last season in weeks 15 & 16, Blackmon posted games of over ten fantasy points, and in the final week of the 2022 NFL season, he posted 17 fantasy points. Blackmon allowed an 84.6 catch percentage to receivers in 2022, so I don't expect quarterbacks to shy away from throwing his way, or any other Colts defender, for that matter.
Blackmon hasn't been discussed as an IDP target until recently, and if you wait on the defensive back position in your redraft drafts, Blackmon is a perfect guy to slot in as your DB2/DB3.
Julian Blackmon showing how to play the alley pic.twitter.com/x7RfBphwRv
— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) August 22, 2022
Rodney Thomas, DB
Last year, in Thomas' rookie season, he played in 63% of defensive snaps and had an interception in three of the last four games of 2022. The tackles never really spiked for Thomas, and the interceptions cannot be promised, so I would shy away from drafting Thomas this season, aside from your super deep leagues.
Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell spoke of healthy competition, pushing each other, and finding comfortability as a defensive unit as goals for the Jacksonville defense in 2023. The Jags IDP unit consists of two-time tackling title holder Foyesade Oluokun, defensive stopper in the secondary Rayshawn Jenkins, and the first overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Travon Walker.
The Jacksonville defense saw two players finish in the top 3 in total fantasy points in their respective positions. There is a lot of IDP goodness on the defensive side of the ball, leaving more to be desired only with the defensive line, which still has some hitters on it, as I will explain below.
|Tyler Lacy||DL||Oklahoma St.||R4P130|
|Antonio Johnson||DB||Texas A&M||R5P160|
Josh Allen, DL/LB
Going into the final year of his rookie contract, with no long-term deal in sight, Josh Allen will be looking to solidify his role as a leader for this defensive line and team this season. Allen was the Jags highest finishing defensive lineman for IDP in 2022, finishing as the DL19.
The pass rushing is excellent from a pressuring-the-quarterback standpoint; he struggles with sealing the deal, bringing down the quarterback, and sometimes missing tackles. In recent best ball drafts, I've seen Allen go as early as the DL11, which is a little too high for me; however, Allen did have five weeks in 2022 with 12 or more points, so the spike weeks are lovely.
In the case of drafting Allen in Redraft, you will likely have to pay up to get a guy who will finish in the DL2ish range.
Foyesade Oluokun, LB
The two-time running NFL tackle leader has made his name known among IDP managers everywhere and is consistently taken as one of the top-3 linebackers off of the board in every draft. Oluokun has never been a substantial sacking linebacker though he will tally a few on the stat sheet each season; the 12 tackles for loss last season jumped off the page at me as they were his personal best in a single season.
In nine weeks last season, Oluokun finished with 10+ tackles and only had one week last season that he finished with less than ten fantasy points. When you draft Oluokun, you know you are getting tackling points consistently at a high rate.
Rayshawn Jenkins, DB
2022's DB3 saw some real spike weeks last season. With that said Jenkins finished with 12 pass deflections, three forced fumbles, and 116 combined tackles, all the most for him in a single season. Jenkins had eight weeks with 10+ points in 2022.
It seems like it's boom or bust when you have Jenkins in one IDP lineup come game day. Some weeks you get two tackles, and others get eight tackles. Jenkins is being drafted outside of the top tier of players in IDP drafts despite his 2022 top-3 IDP finish.
I've seen Jenkins taken consistently outside of the top-10 defensive Backs and have even seen him go past the DB25 in some drafts (like in this IDP Madness Best Ball LG1 Draft). There were little to no changes with the defense this off-season. Therefore, at the current draft cost, Jenkins looks like a steal.
Travon Walker, DL
Regardless of whatever stats Walker failed to produce last season, it seemed like everyone was out on him the second he became the first overall draft selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville defensive line is looking for someone to step up and lead it, and this could be a more significant year for Walker now that he's got his feet wet in the NFL. His rookie season had its ups and downs as far as IDP scoring goes, finishing with three weeks with 11+ points and several games with less than five fantasy points.
You don't have to pay to draft Walker onto your IDP teams, so I'm all for drafting Walker. That said, I wouldn't feel great with him as my DL1 and would much rather have him rostered as depth in case he does catch fire at some point this season.
TRAVON WALKER WITH A SACK, PICK, & FORCED FUMBLE IN HIS FIRST NFL GAME PUT SOME RESPECT ON MY NUMBER 1 PICK pic.twitter.com/4DRlLoBt0u
— dr. jxke ? (@cantguardjake) September 11, 2022
Devin Lloyd, LB
The 2022 LB42 caught fire early in the season, finishing each of the Jaguars' first five games with 10+ fantasy points. He then saw some mid-season struggles to the point that fellow rookie linebacker Chad Muma saw more snaps in a few games last season.
Lloyd looks better, but he's not there yet, is what defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell had to say about Lloyd as he heads into his second season. I think the LB2 job in Jacksonville is his to lose, and we could see more aggressive play from Lloyd this season resulting in more fantasy points. It also doesn't hurt that Lloyd saw over 1,000 defensive snaps last season.
I have Lloyd as your LB2, where I feel the most comfortable on my redraft roster.
Andre Cisco, DB
Cisco is more of the deep safety on the team and, as a result, was targeted less than 30 times in 2022. From what I've witnessed in drafts this offseason, you can wait forever at defensive back and still draft Cisco.
Cisco finished as the DB3 in Jacksonville in his first real season as a starter and could improve his numbers from last season as he settles into his role in his third season in the NFL.
Dawuane Smoot, DL
Smoot has finished with 5+ sacks in each of his past four seasons. He is not someone I am eyeing to draft in your everyday IDP redraft leagues, but more so a name to watch in deeper leagues or redraft best ball leagues as a late-round dart throw.
He probably won't get over 600 defensive snaps, but he does well as a rotational pass rusher and had three weeks last season with 10+ fantasy points. Maybe he can keep the dream alive for another year.
K'Lavon Chaisson, DL
I only bring up the Jaguars' 2020 first-round draft selection because defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell brought up K'Lavon Chiasson in a post-camp pressor stating, "He's never had the chance for a full season." He also said, "It's time for his hard work to pay off for him." Now, that is probably a coach talking about a player who he's looking to take that next step forward.
The Jaguars did decline the fifth-year option on Chaisson's rookie contract, so he's going into the final year of his current contract with Jacksonville. If Chaisson can stay healthy, he should receive a decent amount of rotational snaps this season as he aims to prove himself.
The Titans aren't normally known for amazing options in the IDP realm; however, this year, there has been a small amount of buzz around the improving Tennessee defense. Star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons was inked to a multi-year contract extension. The Titans didn't draft any rookies to add to the defense but have added a few depth pieces through undrafted free agents.
Nothing really jumps off of the page with the Titans IDP options. However, there is some solid value to be had with this team if your draft plays out well.
|Caleb Murphy||LB/DL||Ferris St.||UDFA|
Jeffery Simmons, DL
Last season was feast or famine, depending on the week for Simmons, as he posted six weeks with 10+ fantasy weeks and one week with 25+ points. Simmons also missed two games in 2022 and finished several contests with less than five fantasy points. Simmons was also the recipient of a multi-year contract extension back in April.
Simmons has never finished a single season with excellent tackling numbers; however, for a player who plays all over the line, it's not enough to deter one from drafting him. In my 2023 NFL IDP Draft Rankings, I currently have Simmons as my DL24 and am seeing him taken after the first two waves of defensive linemen go off of draft boards.
Azeez Al-Shaair, LB
The Titans signed the former 49ers linebacker to a one-year deal this off-season, and this is the first chance in his career(4 years) to start in every game in a single season. 2022 wasn't anything special from an IDP perspective; however, in 2021 Al-Shaair played in 13 games and had 102 combined tackles and nine tackles for loss.
Azeez Al-Shaair is a player you can wait to draft in Redraft as he's consistently drafted outside the top 30 linebackers, but I believe he will finish inside the top 30 at the position.
Kevin Byard, DB
2022's DB22, Kevin Byard, is a player with the name that usually attracts drafters after the initial wave of defensive backs goes off the board in drafts; however, this was not the case in 2022. I've seen Byard come off the board around the DB30, and it is now a name you can wait to draft if you're holding out on defensive backs until the end of your draft.
Byard only had one week with one game over one fantasy point but finished with six or fewer fantasy points in four weeks. Most of the season was an excellent baseline of points every week. Byard won't have many splash weeks, but he is a player who won't lose you many weeks.
Which AFC South defensive back would you rather have as your DB1 in redraft at the current @sleeper ADP?
— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) July 12, 2023
Harold Landry III, LB/DL
Harold Landry had his best statistical season in 2021; in August of last year, he tore his ACL and was forced to watch the 2022 season from the sidelines. Landry is typically drafted inside the top 40 defensive linemen this season and is worth the drafting price.
In Landry's last three healthy seasons, Landry has finished with 60+ combined tackles, 10+ tackles for loss, and 14+ quarterback hits.
Monty Rice, LB
This season Tennessee is going with two fresh faces stepping into starting roles for the first time in their careers. Monte Rice was a third-round selection by Tennessee in 2021 and should have enough familiarity with the defense to show what he can do as one of the two starting inside linebackers this season. Rice started in six games last season and finished with 66 combined tackles and four tackles for loss.
Arden Key, LB/DL
DL60+ in drafts, Key is a name to watch late in bestball redraft formats and deeper redraft leagues as a bye-week savior. Key looks like he's one of the starters on the outside of the line in Tennesee. The main thing that caught my eye with Key's last two seasons in San Francisco and Jacksonville is that his pass rushing and ability to pressure the quarterback has improved every season.
If you're looking for a player who racks up tackles, I would look elsewhere, as Key has never finished a season with more than 30 combined tackles. Arden Key is the definition of a pass-rushing sleeper this season.
Arden Key double swipe. Every Titans pass rusher is so quick w their hands pic.twitter.com/mstdbNCWff
— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) August 2, 2023
Amani Hooker, DB
When Amani Hooker is on the field, he supplies an excellent points baseline but has missed decent time in the past two seasons. Hooker could be great as a spot starter this season but is not the SAF to draft in Tennessee this season. If injury hits your roster or your players aren't working out, Hooker may be a name you can swoop up off the waiver wire after the first few weeks of the season.
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