2023 IDP Second-Year Breakouts

by Alex Michael
2023 IDP Second Year Breakouts

The hype of the 2023 NFL Draft is over, and the era of overvaluation on rookie players reduces with each week that passes. While that takes its natural path, it is worth looking back at the draftees of the 2022 NFL Draft to identify who may have been underutilized or have been kept a secret by their coaches for the past 12 months, making them our 2023 IDP Second-Year Breakouts.

Of course, players such as Tariq Woolen, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, and Jalen Pitre are on the radar of most fantasy managers. However, some players aren't, and this article could give you a later-round advantage in redraft leagues or the key to long success in dynasty leagues.

There are many reasons these players aren't thought of in the same light as the list above (by no means complete). As there are 32 teams in the NFL, each team is going through its situation, and sometimes players are side-lined or overlooked.

The article below aims to shed some light on players that can impact your starting line-ups. Additionally, some players may grow in value throughout the 2023 season, leaving you in good stead as a fantasy manager once the season concludes.

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2023 IDP Second-Year Breakouts

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Defensive Linemen/ EDGE

So, the first position we will look at for some 2023 IDP Second Year Breakouts is the joining Defensive Lineman and EDGE position. We will split this up with some EDGE players first, followed by an interior lineman, for good measure.

Drake Jackson (EDGE, San Francisco 49ers)

Let's start with my favorite sleeper in this article, Drake Jackson. Jackson has been quietly grafting a position in the 49ers' defense, which will return strong again this 2023 season. With the addition of Superbowl LVII runner-up Javon Hargrave from the Philadelphia Eagles and the return of both Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, the only position that the 49ers were lacking in 2022 was the EDGE position opposite Bosa. Operating in a 4-3 system, Drake Jackson has a clear path to occupying that role. Along with strong college statistics, Jackson came up with several big plays in 2022, even with limited game time.

Even though Jackson didn't start any games in the 2022 season, Jackson made 11 total tackles, three tackles for loss, three sacks, and 6 QB hits, and was only on the field for around 20% of defensive snaps. Jackson blocked eight passes and made an interception, indicating he may have a versatile role in 2023. In 2022, the starting role opposite Nick Bosa was occupied and shared by both Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu. Both Ebukam and Omenihu have moved on from San Francisco to the Colts and Chiefs, respectively. Kerry Hyder, who remains with the 49ers, was used in rotation with Bosa, and he will likely maintain that role in 2023. This means that Drake Jackson has one of the best opportunities as a second-year IDP player to break out. The role is Jackson's to own.

George Karlaftis (EDGE, Kansas City Chiefs)

Karlaftis started all 17 games last season for the Chiefs as they picked up a Superbowl LVII win against the Philadelphia Eagles. With 33 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks, 10 QB hits, seven passes defended, and two fumble recoveries, the Chiefs couldn't ask for more from a rookie pass-rusher.

Even though the Chiefs added Felix Anudike-Uzomah in the 2023 NFL Draft and Charles Omenihu in free agency,  the two appear to be battling out for the spot opposite Karlaftis occupied by Frank Clark in 2022. This means that Karlaftis will have every opportunity to improve on last season's solid rookie season and become a true 2023 IDP second-year breakout. This upward trajectory for Karlaftis would be the perfect time to hold and trade for Karlaftis in dynasty IDP leagues.

At least for the next two seasons (until contract may become an issue), we can be sure that the former Purdue Boilermaker will be a permanent fixture in the Chiefs' defense. Surprisingly Karlaftis is still overlooked in the earlier rounds of IDP drafts, so for any start-up leagues, Karlaftis would be a great target around Rounds 7-8 of an IDP-only draft.

David Ojabo (EDGE, Baltimore Ravens)

David Ojabo has said he feels "more explosive" than before the Achilles injury that kept him out of almost the 2022 season. In Week 17 of 2022, Ojabo's cameo appearance produced one tackle, sack, 1 QB hit, and one forced fumble. Suppose the instant production is anything to go by. In that case, Ojabo will be a force in this solid Ravens defense, even with Odafe Oweh standing to feature more in the Ravens' updated 3-4 scheme (as discussed here: 2023 IDP Football Camp Battles).

While playing for the Michigan Wolverines, although it was for one season, Ojabo was a force to be reckoned with. Notching 35 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 3 defended passes, and a fumble recovery across 13 games, it is no surprise the Ravens took him in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Standing at 6'4" and 265 lbs and adding some muscle this offseason, Ojabo intends to shake fear into opposition quarterbacks. With not much depth behind Ojabo on the Ravens' latest depth chart, according to Fantasy Data, Ojabo will be on the field a lot this season and will be given every opportunity to replicate his college form in the NFL.

Jordan Davis (DL, Philadelphia Eagles)

It's safe to say that Jordan Davis was underwhelming in his first season in the NFL. Equally, something is brewing in Philadelphia, and with the strength in numbers their defensive line has, it will be a scary season for their opposition. As the year passes, people wait for Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham to pass the baton to the next generation. Both Jordan Davis and now rookie Jalen Carter couldn't ask for better teachers at this level. Even though Davis was a Superbowl runner-up, he didn't feature too often before or after his ankle injury, so what has changed?

Simply put, Davis has put himself to work. Now joined by fellow Georgia Bulldog Jalen Carter, the gang is back together and will dominate their way through the opposition's interior. Carter has a sterling reputation which could see opposing linemen double up on Carter, creating channels through the middle for Davis. Working in an effective 1-2 punch combination on the inside could see Davis (and Carter) rack up their production this season. With the strength in depth that the Eagles have at defense, everyone will get their fair share of production, as opponents don't know who to stop first.

Linebackers

The next part of our journey to search for 2023 IDP Second Year Breakouts takes us to the linebacker position. The next section will focus on "true" linebackers, but we will start with a hybrid player first.

James Houston (LB, Detroit Lions)

Some people might be scratching their heads with this name, wondering who James Houston is, and no, I didn't mean Justin Houston! Only those with an eagle eye vision (or anyone who tuned into Hard Knocks last year) will know the name. The even more eagle-eyed spotted Houston forced his way into the Lions' defense in Week 12 of the 2022 season. For those of you new to the party, Houston didn't play a single snap before Week 12. After Week 12 of the 2022 season, Houston only had two starts but managed to rack up an impressive ten total tackles, seven tackles for loss, eight sacks, 10 QB hits, and a forced fumble.

Positionally, Houston has worked from the "Sam" spot but can work on the outside and in rotation with one of the middle linebackers. If Detroit opts to work a 3-4 unit with Hutchinson on one side, with the roster available, Houston, aka "The Problem," could be operating opposite Hutchinson this season. That would be a "problem" for opposing quarterbacks, especially if Houston picks up where he left off at the end of the 2022 season.

Troy Andersen (LB, Atlanta Falcons)

I love talking about Troy Andersen. He is a unique prospect in the NFL, and former Montana State Bobcat brings a different kind of leadership personality to the linebacker corps. During his college years, Andersen played as a running back and quarterback and settled on linebacker in his junior year. To put this into perspective, Andersen holds the record for 2nd most rushing touchdowns in Montana State history, with 33 rushing touchdowns!

So why am I mentioning this? Well, it's because Troy Andersen knows exactly how running backs think. After all, he is one. He knows all of their tells and signs and their body language, and he loves to tackle. Even though Andersen didn't feature much as a starter last season, Andersen still made 63 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. Andersen started five games out of the 17 he featured in, projected to lead this season as a starter; there is no limit to what Andersen can produce in fantasy terms.

Damone Clark (LB, Dallas Cowboys)

Damone Clark is fast and incredibly athletic. With the second-highest scoring draft profile amongst linebackers at the combine before the 2022 NFL Draft, Clark has the foundations of a solid player. The former LSU Tiger took half a season to adjust to the requirements of the NFL before working his way to a starting position. Tipped to be a starter this season, Clark is the favorite to occupy the middle linebacker position. Due to his ability to cover a lot of ground, Clark gives himself an advantage over his competition.

The Cowboys did draft Clark in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft, which was a steal for someone dubbed the "tackling machine" in college. Clark stayed true to his reputation by making 44 total tackles in 2022 without missing! The Cowboys added to the linebacker position with former Texas Longhorn DeMarvion Overshown, but this feels more like succession planning for Leighton Vander Esch. Clark looks to be holding down the fort for his starting position, and it might be good to pick him up before your league-mates do.

Christian Harris (LB, Houston Texans)

The Texans' defense is looking interesting this season. Even with their depth at the linebacker position in 2022, the Texans continued to bolster the position with Harris' ex-Crimson Tide linebacker partner Henry To'o To'o. Similar to that Overshown's situation in Dallas, To'o To'o is likely a succession plan move for Christian Kirksey. The same could be said of Christian Harris, but the second-year linebacker started 11 out of 12 games last year in a very crowded defense.

Needing to wait until Week 7 before suiting up due to a hamstring injury, but in the two-thirds of the games that Harris was available, he was at the races. He has set the pace with 74 total tackles, six tackles for loss, one sack, and 3 QB hits. On top of this, Harris also blocked five passes, made one interception, and made a forced fumble. This versatility and the ability to target the ball should keep him in a prime position to produce in fantasy terms this season.

 

Defensive Backs

Lastly, we look at the potential defensive backs of our 2023 IDP Second Year Breakout series. While several more could be on this shortlist, I've limited this to four.

Trent McDuffie (DB, Kansas City Chiefs)

Another Kansas City Chiefs player is to feature in this article, but it can't be helped! McDuffie is my most-rostered player across IDP leagues (100%); that's how much I believe in him this season. He predominantly operates from the nickel back position and is the perfect complement to L'Jarius Sneed operating on the outside. A similar style player to Antoine Winfield, McDuffie knows how to play in coverage and has a keen eye for tackling opponents. McDuffie almost plays like a hybrid safety in some formations.

In the 2022 season, McDuffie often got his hands on opposition in the 11 games he played (where he featured as a starter in all those games). With 44 total tackles, one tackle for loss, and one sack, McDuffie can only improve. To add to his 7 blocked passes and forced fumble, if McDuffie continues to get around the field, there is no reason why he can't be considered a top-20 defensive back in 2023. The former Wazzu defensive back is gaining traction amongst the IDP community, so make a move fast if you want him rostered before the start of the season.

Kyler Gordon (DB, Chicago Bears)

Another nickel back! The position is becoming more important in tighter secondaries, and Kyler Gordon is another player who stands to benefit from the transition. In his rookie year for the Bears, Gordon was a great compliment to Jaquan Brisker, and the two of them working together caused consistent havoc for opposition receivers in 2022. Starting in 14 games last season, Gordon chalked up an impressive 71 total tackles, two tackles for loss, six blocked passes, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Not bad at all.

The Bears were eager to pick up Gordon in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Bears even picked Gordon (at 39th overall) 9 spots before they picked up Jaquan Brisker (at 48th overall). The Bears hold Gordon in high esteem, and the two will line up alongside one another again this season in what is becoming a very dynamic Chicago Bears defense. Gordon is currently available in later rounds of IDP-only drafts and is of great value.

Derek Stingley (DB, Houston Texans)

Stingley is another player who his rookie teammate overshadowed. After being picked by the Texans 3rd overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, Derek Stingley watched 2nd-rounder Jalen Pitre break records. While this might have set back Stingley, along with a hamstring injury in Week 9, up to that point, Stingley was on an excellent trajectory, the kind of trajectory you would expect from someone who had to pair up against Ja'Marr Chase in college practice sessions.

In the nine games Stingley featured for the Texans, he put up 43 total tackles, one sack, 1 QB hit, five blocked passes, and an interception. If those numbers are extrapolated for a full season, we could look at a very different ADP value for Stingley going into the 2023 season. Thankfully, Stingley is going very late in IDP-only drafts this offseason and has even been available around the round 20 mark! That is astounding value. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the sentiment toward rookies is still in full effect, and it's best to take advantage of Stingley is still sitting on your draft boards.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please reach me at @DynastyGuruNFL on Twitter.


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