2023 IDP Football NFC South Breakdown

by Steve Hungarter (IDPHunter)
2023 IDP Football NFC South Breakdown

It is my pleasure to give you the 2023 IDP Football NFC South Breakdown.

At first glance, you might think this is a horrible division. Guys named Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask lurk around here. Tampa has sketchy Quarterback play and a bad offensive line. Carolina has a rookie Quarterback play, and we assume a heavy run offense this season. Atlanta has a 2nd-year Quarterback and a first-round top-ten running back as its new stars. Overall view of these teams is sloppy offensive play, most teams were over the salary cap before the draft started, and several aging players were on both sides of the ball.

We have not even mentioned the records from last season. The Division winner (Tampa Bay) didn't even have a winning record last season at .500. Well, I am here to tell you all that it may not be good for offense, but it is great for IDP football. Usually, bad offense results in solid defense snaps and many turnovers for our experienced older players who know the systems. You are in for a treat with this Division. Let's take a closer look.

2023 IDP Football NFC South Breakdown

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Greg GainesDLGain
Ryan NealDBGain
Carlos WatkinsDEGain
Akiem HicksDLLoss
William Gholston DLLoss
Mike Edwards DBLoss
Keanu NealDBLoss
Rakeem Nunez-RochesDLLoss

The Todd Bowles era is starting now. Now you would think that happened last year, right? His second season as head coach marked a significant turning point for the team, making it that now, it truly feels like his team. The franchise has concluded its most successful two-year period in history, bidding farewell to Tom Brady, Bruce Arians becoming a distant memory, and Brian Leftwich being relieved of his duties. Despite finishing last year with a .500 record, the team managed to win their division, albeit hindered by injuries. Looking ahead to this year, what can we expect? Anticipate Todd Bowles to spearhead and lead this defense with a tough and no-nonsense approach to support the growing pains on offense, primarily at the quarterback position, which may be viewed with some skepticism.

It's worth noting that in terms of statistical rankings, the team finished tied for 9th place in total defense with an average of 324.3 yards allowed per game, placing them in the bottom tier of Tier 1 defenses. They performed well against the run, ranking 9th, and were decent against the pass, ranking 15th. An interesting observation is that Todd Bowles' crew recorded 45 sacks, ranking 7th in the league, with a significant number coming from aggressive quarterback blitzes.

Eric RoweDBGain
Kamu Grungier-HillLBGain
Henry AndersonDLGain
Shy TuttleDLGain
Damien WilsonLBLoss
Jordan MackLBLoss

Key IDP's

Devin White, LB

Devin White has expressed his desire for a trade, primarily motivated by his contract aspirations. He excels in best ball formats, where his ability to generate sacks holds significant value. However, compared to traditional off-ball linebackers, his tackle production may be lower due to his involvement in blitzing. Although his coverage and rushing abilities may be questionable in real-life football, in fantasy football, he is likely to finish as an LB1 despite these concerns, providing big boom weeks in the final year of his rookie deal.

Antoine Winfield, DB

Antoine Winfield is an outstanding player whose impact on the Buccaneers' defense extends beyond his fantasy value unless you are participating in an All-22 league. He will be partnered with Ryan Neal at safety, and they are part of a deep group of safeties who have the potential to put up solid fantasy numbers.

From an IDP perspective, the focus is primarily on Winfield, who is often drafted as a top 5 defensive back and is considered an elite defender in real football. His ability to read the game and react quickly sets him apart from most players.

IDP Wildcards

Vita Vea, DL

Vita Vea often goes unnoticed despite consistently receiving high snap counts when compared with other DT and being an integral part of the team's defensive success. In the previous season, he recorded an impressive 6.5 sacks.

In IDP leagues where DT is required, Vita Vea faces limited competition for snaps, allowing him to consistently contribute and produce impressive numbers compared to other players in his position.

Lavonte David, LB

Despite turning 33 in January, Lavonte David remains a top-notch player and is just as effective as he was earlier in his career. Last year, he finished as the LB18, and it would not be surprising to see him deliver a similarly strong season in 2023, especially after signing a contract extension in April. David is often overlooked in fantasy drafts, usually going around LB28 in draft rooms, but he performs as a top 13-15 player. He presents a sneaky value in redraft leagues, where you can draft him as an LB3 but utilize him as an LB2-caliber player.

Calijah Kancey, DL

The Buccaneers used their first-round pick to draft Calijah Kancey, a talented young player who brings valuable interior pass-rushing skills to the team. However, it is unlikely that Kancey will immediately step into a full-time starting role and may see playing time in intermittent spurts. He is a total wild card and could be used in only the deepest of IDP leagues.

Shaquil Barrett, DL/LB

The Buccaneers suffered from the absence of Shaquil Barrett last season, and it was evident on film that the team struggled to recover from his injury. Shaq has been an exceptional performer for the Buccaneers, but his 2022 season was cut short due to a torn Achilles. The hope is that he will make a full recovery and return to his top form. In redraft formats, he can be a valuable asset for contending teams. Currently, Barrett's ranking as the DL49 in best ball formats seems low, which could present a buying opportunity for savvy fantasy managers.

Carolina Panthers

Calijah KanceyDLR1 P19
YaYa DiabyDLR3 P82
SirVocea DennisLBR5 P153
Josh HayesDBR6 P181
Jose RamirezDLR6 P196

Regardless of any current opinions about Matt Rhule, it cannot be denied that he made effective use of the 2020 Draft to acquire impactful defensive players who have not only contributed to the team but have also become its strength. It is possible that this focus on defense may have led to some shortcomings on the offensive side of the ball. Taking this into account, Carolina has brought in Frank Reich to implement his version of the West Coast offense and brought in a new Defensive coordinator.

Despite the team's struggles in 2022, they were just one game away from winning the division, resulting in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC South. The main reason for this outcome is evident: the defense consistently bailed out the team despite the challenges faced on offense.

The rise of the defense became evident as the offense struggled to find the end zone and settled for field goals. The defense managed to hold three opponents to ten points or less in three games. In terms of overall rankings, this DST unit finished 22nd with a total of 350.2 yards allowed per game. They were 18th against the rush and 22nd against the pass. While these numbers may not appear elite, it's important to note that this unit was frequently on the field due to the offense's struggles. From a fantasy perspective, the Carolina defense offers potential value as individual defensive players (IDPs) due to their significant snap counts and playing time, even if their real-life performance was not outstanding.

NamePositionCollege23 Draft Result
DJ JohnsonLBOregonR3 P80
Jammie RobinsonDBFlorida StateR5 P145

Key IDP's

Brian Burns, DL/ LB

Brian Burns, who had a breakout season last year as a DE, recorded an impressive 68 pressures and 13 sacks. The Panthers plan to utilize him as a 3-4 outside linebacker in Ejiro Evero's new defensive system.   Depending on the scoring format, he finished 7th in the Big Three and 5th in the 1-2-3 scoring format for DL positional scoring. Despite not receiving much help on the other side, Burns continues to produce impressive numbers. Expect another big year.

Jeremy Chinn, DB/LB

Jeremy Chinn, expect a rebound year hear. I believe he plays here because there is a possibility that he will be utilized as a joker OLB, playing in the slot due to his less effective play at safety or in the box. This theory suggests that because they now have Jessie Bates to accompany Woods as a Saftey, Chinn will now be on the field as one of the defense's best players and may be deployed as a joker LB, a role he excelled in during his rookie season. However, the exact deployment of Chinn will become clearer during the minicamp. While it's currently wishful thinking, it remains an intriguing possibility. Because of this news and the format, expect DB1 value here.

IDP Wildcards

Derrick Brown, DT

Derrick Brown also contributed 40 pressures and 65 combined tackles. Brown has already established himself as a reliable choice in tackle-heavy DT-premium scoring formats, and he has the potential to increase his value by improving his sack production from last season. With an impressive record of 12.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, opponents will likely need to double-team him to limit his disruptive impact. In the new defensive scheme, Brown is expected to play as a 3-4 edge DE, which will lead to a different style of play for him, as he will be positioned wider and tasked with covering more gaps than before.

Vonn Bell, DB

The seven-year Veteran who has logged 109 appearances and 93 starts with the Saints and Bengals, will look to fill a key role with the Panthers now. I would sell high on him,  beings his game is mostly as the box safety, and it is thought Jeremey Chinn will be doing that here.

Frankie Luvu, LB, and Shaq Thompson, LB

Frankie Luvu and Shaq Thompson can coexist in the new defensive scheme under coordinator Ejiro Evero. Thompson is likely to secure a full-time role and has the potential to finish as an LB2. Luvu may not see every snap but is expected to play a significant number of snaps, making him an enticing IDP option, especially in best-ball formats and leagues that heavily reward sacks. Luvu had a solid season with 117 combined tackles, including 87 solo tackles, playing all 17 games with 500 snaps. While his ADP may be a bit high, it is expected that his snaps and stats may decrease slightly. Nevertheless, he remains a strong performer for your lineups.

Shaq Thompson (ILB)is now 29, though quietly aging, and has consistently produced around 100 tackles, with 78 solo tackles. He is often available in drafts after the tier-one linebackers have been selected, making him an easier target to acquire. In best-ball formats, he holds an LB41 value as a tier-two linebacker. It's worth noting that Luvu played ahead of him earlier in the season, but Thompson remains a reliable mid-range LB2

New Orleans Saints

Khalen SaundersDTGain
Nathan ShepherdDTGain
Jonathan AbramDBGain
David OnyemataDTLoss
Shy TuttleDTLoss
Kaden EllissLBLoss
Marcus DavenportDELoss
Justin EvansDBLoss

The New Orleans Saints are learning the hard way what life is like without their leaders. After two seasons without Drew Brees and one season following the departure of their former "retired" head coach Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints are facing a challenging journey to regain their momentum. They concluded the 2022 season with a disappointing 7-10 record, marking their worst performance since 2005.

Despite attempting various strategies, such as rotating quarterbacks and experimenting with one of them in the flex option, the team's efforts on offense proved futile and led to frustration. However, the defense stood out as a stark contrast to the struggling offense and performed admirably.

In the final six games, three of which were against playoff teams, the defense held opponents to fewer than 18 points per game. Overall, the defense showcased its strength, finishing 5th overall in the league, allowing an average of 314.8 yards per game. The passing defense was particularly impressive, ranking 2nd in the league, surrendering only 184.4 passing yards per game. However, the run defense struggled, ranking 24th with opponents averaging 130.5 rushing yards per game.

It became evident, through film analysis as the season progressed, that while the older players on the defense still had skills, they tended to wear down in later stages of games, leading to vulnerabilities in defending the run. Opposing teams capitalized on this weakness by exploiting the run game.

PlayerPositionCollegeDraft Result
Bryan BreseeDTClemsonR1 P29
Isaiah FoskeyDENotre DameR2 P40
Jordan HowdenDBMinnesotaR5 P146

Key IDP's

Cameron Jordan, DL

Cameron Jordan, a defensive lineman, had a decent season with nine sacks and 56 combined tackles. However, those that watch the game tapes will notice that he is no longer the dominant force he once was, as indicated by his career-low pressure rate of 7.9%. Jordan also seemed to slow down in the later stages of the games, primarily in the fourth quarter of games. Since we play Fantasy Football, the stat line is all we care about, but the team brought in reinforcements to help reinforce that idea. Consider Jordan a top 25 player at his position still.

Demario Davis, LB

As for Demario Davis, he had 109 tackles with a career-high of 6.5 sacks. It's worth noting that he had the lowest tackle rate in the league and an increased missed tackle rate. In drafts, it would be advisable to adjust expectations and consider him as an LB3/4 option, although he remains an excellent Blitzer. With no significant challengers to his role at the moment (Werner and Ellis leaving), Davis could be a cost-effective starter in redraft leagues.

Pete Werner, LB

Werner's sophomore season was impacted by a five-game absence due to an ankle injury, and he failed to live up to the expectations set by his promising rookie campaign. Peter Werner did lead the league in solo tackles before he got hurt. As a dynasty asset, Werner could be valuable for teams considering the potential for Davis to age. However, his outlook in the short term may be more uncertain, and it could be a good opportunity to acquire him at a lower cost now following his injury-affected year. For those that remember, his rookie season might be your last chance to stash him now.

IDP Wildcards

Bryan Bresee, DL

Bryan Bresee, a highly touted former five-star college recruit who was once the nation's top-ranked prospect, has found himself in an advantageous situation. With the departures of David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle in free agency and the newly acquired Khalen Saunders considered below average, Bresee has landed in an ideal spot. As a rookie, he will need to outperform Saunders and Shephard to secure a starting position. The expectations for Bresee are high, but he has the potential to meet them. Despite struggling to match the college production of his draft peers, he now has an excellent opportunity to prove his worth and silence his critics.

Carl Granderson , DL/LB

Carl Granderson and Payton Turner may step into more prominent roles, but they will face competition from second-round pick Isaiah Foskey and veteran Tanoh Kpassagnon. The competition for these positions will be fierce as the team looks to fill the void and find a suitable complement to Jordan on the defensive line.

Isaiah Foskey, LB

A four-star draft prospect out of Notre Dame, who became the school's all-time sack leader is a wild card his first season in regards to playing time. Don't be surprised if he is a superstar on this team in seasons to come, he is a definite Dynasty stash.

Tyrann Mathieu, DB

Despite his impressive 88 combined tackles from last year, he remains a wild card here because of the defense scheme Joe Woods will run; the traditional split between the box and deep safety responsibilities may be slightly reduced. This adjustment could potentially have a negative impact on Mathieu's production, as well as Marcus Maye's.

Marshon Lattimore, DB

Marshon Lattimore faced significant injuries in the 2022 season. While he averaged 6 fantasy points per game, it serves as a reminder of how scoring for defensive backs (DBs) can be unpredictable. Nevertheless, given his talent, Lattimore will remain one of the more coveted fantasy cornerbacks. He is best left on waivers unless you are in a league requiring cornerbacks.

Atlanta Falcons

Jessie BatesLBGain
David OnyemataDTGain
Kaden EllissLBGain
Jeff Okudah CBGain
Calais CampbellDEGain
Bud DupreeDL/LBGain
Lorenzo CarterDL/LBGain
Casey Heyward CBLoss
Erik Harris FSLoss
Cornell ArmstrongCBLoss

Arthur Blank and his Falcons had to face adversity early on. The Falcons had the 27th ranked Defense (362.1). They were in the bottom in rushing defense, 23rd (130.2), and passing (25th) 231.9. The first-year defensive coordinator will have his hand's full retooling this unit.

Ryan Nielsen is the new Defense coordinator, who comes from rival New Orleans Saints and has a defensive line background. The Saints actually valued him and tried to keep him, but Nielsen took this job, realizing the massive challenge it brings. He is well renowned for having mentored Cameron Jordan and Try Hendrickson into the players they are now. Not just on the defensive line, but his fingerprints are all over Saint's older defense now. The hope is he can turn the defense into a similar one he created with the Saints the last five seasons.

There is enough information to know that Nielsen will try to have the same success and bring in "his guys" to this club. So expect a 4-3 with the edge players being bigger players that can help with the run. His defenses in New Orleans were notorious for stopping the run with just their defensive line, allowing the linebackers to make the big plays. The front office did bring in help for the defensive line and should instantly improve from what it had last season.

PlayerPositionCollegeDraft Result
Zach HarrisonDT/DEOhio StateR3 P75
Clark Phillips IIICBUtahR4 P113
DeMarcco HellamsDBAlabamaR7 P224

Key IDP's

Troy Anderson, LB

In his second year, Troy Anderson is expected to transition into a full-time linebacker role. If you haven't already added him to your IDP roster, acquiring him without a significant investment may prove challenging. Elliss's presence also diminishes some of Mykal Walker's value, despite Rashaan Evans' departure. As of now, there are no further updates or rumors regarding Evans' potential re-signing. In his rookie year, Evans demonstrated the potential for big-play sack contributions, making him suitable for the role.

Kaden Ellis, LB

Kaden Elliss made a strong impact in 2022. While he may not conform to the traditional mold of an off-ball linebacker, concerns arise regarding his adaptability to various defensive schemes. However, it is promising that he reunites with his former defensive coordinator, Ryan Nielsen, from their time together with the Saints.

Richie Grant and Jessie Bates, DB

Richie Grant, a defensive back, possesses the potential to thrive in the box safety role favored by Ryan Nielsen. The acquisition of Jessie Bates, another defensive back, adds to the intrigue, and Bates' value in IDP leagues will rely on his ability to make impactful plays as the deep safety.

IDP Wildcards

Grady Jarrett, DL

Grady Jarrett had a bounce-back season in 2022, finishing as a lower-end DT1. While he had a disappointing year in 2021, his consistent performance throughout his career indicates that he is a dependable option in a position that lacks depth in fantasy football.

Arnold Ebiketie, DL

Arnold Ebiketie (LB) showcased his dominance in the Big Ten just a year ago. He accumulated an impressive 28 pressures, 16 hurries, and nine quarterback hits, consistently overwhelming opposing tackles in most matchups. Unfortunately, the arrival of Dupree or Elliss could potentially affect Arnold Ebiketie's playing time, and Lorenzo Carter seems to have been overlooked by many at this point. Any of these players can be a total wild card based on how the snap count sorts out.

AJ Terrell, DB

AJ Terrell, a cornerback, has demonstrated his proficiency against top-tier receivers and showcases his tackling prowess in run support. He is expected to lock down his side of the field effectively.

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