Greetings, humans, and welcome back to the fourth passage in an eight-part series about NFL teams' losses, gains, and everything in between, laid out by division; the 2023 IDP Football NFC North Breakdown.
One common theme I noticed with the teams in this division is that you could make a case for any of them to win the division, but none have a given path to the division title.
You have the Lions, who have arguably the best roster in the division for the first time in maybe forever but have a decent amount of fresh faces in their defensive back seven. The Packers, who are ironically green on offense, should look for the defense to help carry them most weeks, meaning more IDP points(fingers crossed).
The Vikings are a defensive mess but could have some games for IDP purposes if their offense consistently puts up points. Lastly, the "Baby Bears" are looking to up their status in the NFL after an overly rocky 2022 on both sides of the ball.
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 NFC North Breakdown
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The brass in Chicago is cooking something defensively, and youth is the key ingredient. The Chicago Bears only lost one defensive player worth noting this offseason, and they also added several fresh faces via the 2023 NFL Draft.
With key veterans coming in from free agency (Edmunds/Edwards) to lead the defense, it seems this team is on the up from a defensive standpoint, as defensive coordinator Alan Williams has much more to work with in his upcoming second season.
The Bears' defensive unit finished 2022 dead last in pass yards allowed per attempt and 31st in rushing yards allowed per play(via FantasyData), so there is much to improve on.
|Gervon Dexter Sr.||DL||Florida||R2P53|
|Zach Pickens||DL||South Carolina||R3P64|
|Travis Bell||DL||Kennesaw St.||R7P218|
T.J. Edwards, LB
Edwards finished 2022 tied for 6th among all linebackers in solo tackles(99) and 10 tackles for loss, netting him an average of 9.3 FPPG (via FantasyData) and the 2022 FantasyPros LB5.
It is yet to be known which player will call the plays for the Bears' defense. I can say that from the looks of Edwards' three-year deal; he will be a solid IDP option as an LB2 for at least this season, if not the one after as well.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB
Edmunds only participated in 14 games last season but averaged 8 FPPG (via FantasyData). The price of admission may be a tad high in Redraft, given Edmunds' production for fantasy to this date. New scenery could mean a change in points, but I would feel better with another option as my LB1/LB2.
Jaquan Brisker, DB
The Bears' 2022 second-round selection out of Penn State had a solid start to his NFL career bringing down the opposing quarterback four times and allowing a 56.3% completion rate to receivers. Brisker saw time all over the field as the free safety, in the slot, and outside of the defensive line, but most of Brisker's snaps came from the box.
A Fantasypros top-10 finisher at the defensive back position, even with missing two games last season. With Jaquan Brisker finishing ten weeks with 10+ fantasy points in 2022, he may be one of the first defensive backs off the board in drafts.
Bears rookie safety Jaquan Brisker put this Giants guard on the ground like it was nothing ? pic.twitter.com/p2K5Y05tYn
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) October 3, 2022
Justin Jones, DL
Justin Jones is coming off the best statical season of his career, tieing his career high in sacks (3) and finishing 2022 with his most combined tackles in a season(52). Nothing flashy, as Jones finished 2022 as the DL38 and is a player I wouldn't expect much more than a few mild spike weeks from.
In Redraft, I see Jones as a solid bye-week slide-in option who you can place as your DL3 and hope he comes up with a decent week for your team.
Jack Sanborn, LB
FFIDP's undrafted darling from last season, Jack Sanborn, saved seasons for managers last season, coming in hot mid-season off of the waiver wire. In weeks 9-13 of 2022, Sanborn averaged an impressive 19.02 FPPG (Via FantasyPros)
As previously stated, the Bears brought in two top-of-the-class free agents at linebacker and drafted Noah Sewell in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Jack Sanborn will see some field time, but not enough for me to roster him unless it's in a deeper redraft league.
Kyler Gordon, DB
Kyler Gordon finished 2022 as the FantasyPros DB54 and the Bears third highest scoring defensive back. Now Gordon did miss three games last season, but one thing he did do was provide a decent floor of fantasy points every week, only scoring less than six fantasy points in three contests.
The Chi-town slot corner could be a solid DB3 option in leagues if you decide to wait on the position.
The Detroit Lions started the season only winning in one of their first several games and losing their leader in the secondary(Tracy Walker) due to a week 3 Achilles injury. In the second half of the season, the Lions looked like an entirely different team winning eight of their last ten games and just missing the playoffs.
Drafting Jack Campbell in the first round and Brian Branch in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft showed that the Lions are looking to build the defensive unit with youth while extending the contract of linebacker Alex Anzalone, thus sending Malcolm Rodriquez's immediate chances of a starting role up in a cloud of smoke.
|Brodric Martin||DL||W. Kentucky||R3P96|
Aidan Hutchinson, DL
The 2022 NFL draft's second overall selection had himself quite a first season, finishing with 52 combined tackles, 9.5 sacks, and participating in all seventeen regular season games. According to FantasyPros, Hutchinson finished the 2022 season as the DL20, and I only think Hutchinson's numbers will increase as he becomes more comfortable and settles into the Detroit defense.
It should be noted last year, Hutchinson had several games where he scored 5.0 fantasy points or less, so let's hope his numbers increase while his consistency goes up.
Jack Campbell, LB
Another year another defensive first-round pick for the Lions' defense, Jack Campbell, was viewed as one of if not the top linebackers in the 2023 NFL draft class. Campbell is expected to become the starting MLB for years to come.
The thing that stands out about Jack Campbell's game is his sure tackling and fundamentals. I wouldn't mind having Campbell as an LB2/LB3/Flex option in Redraft.
In 2022 Gardner-Johnson finished the season tied for 1st in interceptions(6) while only participating in 13 games for the Philadelphia Eagles, placing him as the DB30 last season. New year new squad for C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and with that comes new responsibilities and perhaps a new role.
Which Lions DB do you trust the most in Redraft formats?
— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) June 15, 2023
Alex Anzalone, LB
The 2022 LB26 is back for his third season in Detroit, but this time, he's expected to have a lesser role in the defense though still contributing to the starting defense. Anzalone will be lining up beside newly drafted defender Jack Campbell and could have similar stats to what he put up in 2021 (78 combined tackles in 14 games).
With Anzalone no longer the LB1 in Detroit, he is becoming almost forgotten in drafts. Remember, Anzalone signed a three-year contract extension in March of this year. If you're looking for a sure tackler later in drafts, Anzalone could be a solid play for depth in redraft leagues.
This was one of Alex Anzalone’s best plays in 2022. pic.twitter.com/ibASRIIsD8
— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) March 13, 2023
Tracy Walker, DB
When Lions head coach Dan Campbell first arrived in Detroit, he challenged Tracy Walker to take the leadership role in their defense. Walker only participated in three games in 2022 for the Lions as his season ended due to an Achilles injury. Last season Walker was primarily the deepest defender on the field, though he did have snaps in the box and a single sack.
The size was too small of a sample to say anything definitive about Walker in this new-age Lions defense. However, you could wait on defensive backs and draft Walker late in Redraft as a spot starter or DB3.
Brian Branch, DB
The first safety selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, Brian Branch, heads to a thick defensive back room in Detroit. The Lions signed C.J. Gardner-Johnson this off-season in free agency and have Tracy Walker coming back from injury to lead the defense.
I wouldn't look to draft Branch in Redraft this season.
Kerby Joseph, DB
Kerby Joseph is an interesting name for IDP this season. Tracy Walker returns to the secondary as the free safety, which could mean Joseph is free to roam around and make plays in the box. In this new role, I believe the second-year player could improve last year's DB48 performance while showing his versatility in the secondary.
Green Bay Packers
Despite the Packers winning four of their last five games, they missed the playoffs by losing in week 18 to their division rivals. The offense has seen major turnover in the past two seasons, which means that the defense will have to step up in a major way from now on.
This defense has ginormous fantasy potential for now and the future with young names like Quay Walker, newly drafted defensive end Lukas Van Ness, and veteran players like De'Vondre Campbell and Rashan Gary. No one player jumped off the page looking at the 2022 fantasy stats, but 2023 may tell a different tale.
|Lukas Van Ness||DL||Iowa||R1P13|
|Karl Brooks||DL||Bowling Green||R6P179|
|Anthony Johnson||DB||Iowa St.||R7P242|
|Brenton Cox Jr.||DL/LB||Florida||UDFA|
Quay Walker and De'Vondre Campbell, LB
The difference in fantasy points between the linebacker duo was less than fifty points despite Campbell missing four games last season. Both are efficient linebackers for Redraft IDP; Quay Walker would be the better linebacker in Dynasty.
I've seen Quay Walker drafted at the beginning of most Redraft drafts this offseason, usually within the top 10 linebackers taken. At this ADP, you're drafting Walker at his ceiling, and with co-backer De'Vondre Campbell still around a few rounds later, I would feel much more comfortable waiting in my drafts and taking Campbell at a draft discount.
Speed + Physicality is the Quay Walker package...
Love the finishing/momentum stopping tackle here on 3rd down pic.twitter.com/tvt6L3QOb4
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) August 26, 2022
Rashan Gary, DL
Before his mid-season-ending injury, Rashan Gary averaged 10.1 points and ended his season with 10+FPPG. Gary had six sacks and finished third on the Packers at the end of the season in pressures. He is expected to pick up where he left off pre-injury in 2022, and I would target him in redraft leagues.
Preston Smith, DL
Preston Smith, the silent assassin on the defensive trenches, has finished his last two seasons in Green Bay with 8.5+ sacks. His tackling comes sporadically; however, Smith is a name to look for late drafts. The Packers did pay up this draft for another player at Smith's position, so anything past this season is very murky.
Lukas Van Ness, DL
The new guy in town, Vukas Van Ness, was never a true "starter" at Iowa; however, that didn't stop him from receiving first-round draft capital. I believe Van Ness will be more part of the rotation to start the season, with the opportunity to make the starting role his by the end of the season.
Darnell Savage, DB
Darnell Savage aligned all over the secondary last season yet didn't log any pressures or sacks. Never finishing any of his four seasons with over 80 tackles, I would only look to draft Savage in deep redraft leagues. Given his versatility in the secondary, he is a name to watch in the first few weeks on your local Waiver Wires.
Rasul Douglas, DB
Yes, interceptions are not an IDP stat that a manager should rely on; however, it's worth noting that Douglas has had nine interceptions in the past two seasons. Rasul Douglas has never been targeted less than 65 times in a season.
Though he isn't known for racking up tackles, Douglas finished 2022 with his best in a single season(85 combined tackles). In true position leagues, I have enjoyed having Douglas on my team.
The Vikings seem to be pressing the reset button on their defense. They should be a competitive rebuild if the offense can score many points. With that said, this team has some bright spots and decent value for IDP.
Minnesota allowed the second most passing yards in 2022 and was towards the bottom of the NFL in sacks with 38 as a defensive unit.
The current state of the Vikings' defense: The IDP with the most fantasy points in 2022 on the Vikings has chosen not to show up to camp, a second-year player with little to no experience is taking over at MLB, and the future of the secondary went out at the beginning of 2022 with a season-ending injury.
|Ivan Pace Jr.||LB||Cincinatti||UDFA|
Danielle Hunter, DL
Danielle Hunter is a very talented defensive lineman who finished as the DL14 and had four weeks with 17+ fantasy points. This off-season, Danielle Hunter had chosen to hold out of the Vikings' mandatory minicamp earlier this summer in hopes of signing a new contract.
If the Vikings pay him, Hunter could be a great pick for your DL if you miss out on the top few players. Conversely, if the Vikings don't pay him and he holds out, you'll waste an excellent draft pick.
Jordan Hicks, LB
2022's LB22 (via FantasyPros) Jordan Hicks has been overlooked in redraft drafts despite being the only sure thing in that linebacker room. In Hicks' first season in Minnesota, he finished with the second most combined tackles(128) in his eighth season. Jordan Hicks has a great tackling floor and a small sack upside. If you see Jordan Hicks falling in your drafts, take him.
Harrison Smith, DB
Despite not playing a full season for the past two years, Harrison Smith is still one of the better players in redraft leagues at the safety position. Smith can play both the box safety and deep safety roles. Smith has finished five of his eleven seasons with five interceptions.
Despite missing three games last season, Smith finished 2022 as the DB23. If you're waiting on defensive backs in your drafts, and you should be, Smith makes for a good selection.
Which Vikings linebacker do you believe will have the better season for IDP?
— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) June 27, 2023
Brian Asamoah, LB
Though Brian Asamoah did play in a handful of games last season, he didn't play more than a handful of snaps in each contest. Asamoah will headline the Vikings locker room with Jordan Hicks for at least this season.
Asamoah wasn't tested in coverage last season, but coming out of college, he wasn't well-known for his pass coverage. The starting job is his to lose.
Lewis Cine, DB
The former first-round pick saw his rookie season end before it began, as Cine fractured his leg in the 4th game of the season and never returned to action. When Cine played in the 2022 preseason, his snaps at free safety doubled his time in the box, and with veteran Harrison Smith still around, I would be waiting another year before drafting Cine in your standard leagues.
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