This year, we’re bringing you a new series covering each NFL division’s IDP dynasty fantasy football outlook. We’ll bring you an overview of each team, highlight the best and worst positional groups, and make some predictions for the division as a whole. Let’s jump into it!
NFC WEST IDP OUTLOOK
The Arizona Cardinals struggled on defense last season, and it doesn’t look like it is going to get any better in 2023. J.J. Watt decided to retire in the off-season. Team leader Budda Baker has spent the off-season asking for a trade. The new coaching staff is trying to figure out how to best use former first-round pick Isaiah Simmons.
Inside linebacker Zaven Collins showed some really good promise last season while Kyzir White comes over from the Philadelphia Eagles, his third team in three seasons. The defensive interior leaves something to be desired with L.J. Collier, Carlos Watkins and Rashard Lawrence. On the edge, Cameron Thomas is joined by Myjai Sanders and rookie BJ Ojulari from LSU. It’s a young and talented group that will get a chance to see what they can do.
The safety room as it currently stands is a strength with Baker and Jalen Thompson, and with Simmons moving to slot corner. This group can be an impressive IDP collection. The cornerbacks on the other hand are a mystery. Marco Wilson, Antonio Hamilton and Kris Boyd are a no-name group. Rookie third-round pick Garrett Wilson dropped in the draft because of an ACL injury at Syracuse. I would doubt the Cardinals would rush him back this season.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
The Rams had the best defense in the league two years ago. They were absolutely dominant on their way to winning the Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals. But that seems like a distant memory. This defense has been completely taken apart. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is the only centerpiece left on the squad and he has been talking about retirement the last few off-seasons.
When the Rams went all in to win a championship, they left themselves with very few draft picks. In fact, the Rams haven’t had a first-round pick since they selected Jared Goff number one overall in 2016. Their 2015 pick was running back Todd Gurley, who is out of the league, and it was Donald in 2014. So, what is left? A team with little talent and what that looks like it will be a bottom-feeder in the NFL this season. Trying to find some sneaky good IDP players is about all you have left.
The best chance for an IDP standout this season is inside linebacker Ernest Jones. He had 114 tackles last season and could be in for a lot more this season with the departure of Bobby Wagner, who finished as a top-ten IDP last season. Christian Rozeboom and Jake Hummel will get a chance to play with Jones. The cornerback group, which used to be a strength with Jalen Ramsey, but now has names like Derion Kendrick, Robert Rochell, Cobie Durant, and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson. Safeties Russ Yeast and Jordan Fuller will compete with former sixth and seventh-round picks Quentin Lake and Jason Taylor II.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The San Francisco 49ers have the clear-cut best defense in the division. They might even have the best defense in the entire league. They are led by reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa. The all-world defensive end led the league with 18.5 sacks. He is joined on the edge by second-year man Drake Jackson, who showed promise as a rookie, and former first-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders Clelin Ferrell. The 49ers have a strong interior with Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw and the recently added Javon Hargrave from the Philadelphia Eagles. Hargrave had 60 tackles and 11 sacks to help the Eagles unit lead the league in sacks in 2022.
Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw lead a good linebacker group and are top IDP players. Safety Talanoa Hufanga reminded many of a former Polynesian superstar Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, last year during his breakout season. Tashaun Gibson and Penn State rookie Ji’Ayir Brown round out the safety group. Charvarius Ward is joined by Isaiah Oliver and Deommodore Lenior at cornerback. The 49ers allowed the least points per game (16.3) and yards per game (300.6) in 2022 and they might be even better this season. This could be a scary group for opposing offenses in 2023.
The Seahawks’ offense surprised last season. The defense is hoping to surprise this year. They brought back former defensive leader Bobby Wagner after a season with the Rams. He spent the previous ten years with the Seahawks and has been an IDP monster throughout his career. Wagner is a nine-time All-Pro Selection with more than 1,500 tackles in his career. Seattle brought in former Steeler Devin Bush to help out at linebacker with star Jordyn Brooks expected to miss significant time this year with an ACL injury he suffered in the final week of the regular season in 2022.
The Seahawks really have worked to improve their pass rush. After signing Uchenna Nwosu away from the Los Angeles Chargers last season, they added Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, and Derick Hall as second-round picks in three of the last four drafts. After striking gold with 2022 fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen, who made the Pro Bowl after tallying 63 tackles, six interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 16 passes defensed, the Seahawks decided to take Illinois standout cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the fifth overall pick. The Seahawks would love to have a healthy Jamal Adams (25 games played in three seasons) at safety this season. If he isn’t healthy, they signed surprised IDP standout Julian Love away from the New York Giants. Love finished as a top-three safety in most IDP formats last season. Quandre Diggs has made three straight Pro Bowls. This has the chance to be one of the Seahawks’ best defensive units in years if they can put it all together.
POSITIONAL GROUP RANKINGS
- 49ers: A
- Rams: A-
- Seahawks: B-
- Cardinals: C-
The 49ers already had a stout interior with Armstead and Kinlaw, and then Hargrave takes them to another level. Teaming up with Armstead should make the 49ers even better in 2023. The Rams defensive line is led by Donald, one of the all-time best to ever play the position. But even Donald doesn’t feel like the same player who was absolutely dominant and considered the best defensive player in the league a few short seasons ago. Dre’Mont Jones comes to the Seahawks from the Denver Broncos and helps solidify the Seahawks’ weakest defensive position. The Cardinals need to think hard about how they can improve this unit in the future.
Javon Hargrave career stats:
EDGE – DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
- 49ers: A+
- Seahawks: B
- Cardinals: C
- Rams: D
Bosa is one of the most dominant edge rushers in the league. He led the NFL in sacks last season with 18.5 and was voted First Team All-Pro. Jackson should see an uptick in production in his second season out of USC. The Seahawks have a number of players that can contribute. Nwosu, Taylor, Mafe, and Hall are a young talented group that needs to turn up its production. Thomas showed some good signs in his rookie season. He is the Cardinals’ most productive returning pass rusher from last season, and he only had three sacks. He will need help from Sanders and Ojulari if they are to become an effective group. Rams’ rookie third-round pick Byron Young from Tennessee will get a chance to play early and often, but who else will line up with him is up in the air.
Nick Bosa career stats:
- Seahawks: A
- 49ers: A
- Cardinals: B-
- Rams: C-
If healthy, Wagner and Brooks are the most dominant IDP group in the division. They both can produce as top-ten fantasy scorers as each of them had over 300 fantasy points last season. The 49ers pairing of Warner and Greenlaw is a formidable duo at linebacker. Both players have top 20 IDP upside. They combined for more than 250 tackles and 500 fantasy points in 2022. The Cardinals have a solid group with Collins, White and Pappoe. Collins had 100 tackles and 11 TFL in his sophomore campaign. White has over 100 tackles in the past two seasons but is on his third team in three years. The Rams IDP hopes lay with Jones, who could see a lot of action this season on a depleted unit.
Bobby Wagner career stats:
- 49ers: A-
- Seahawks: A-
- Cardinals: D+
- Rams: D+
The 49ers have the most experienced group and get the nod at least for this season with Ward, Lenior and Oliver. But the Seahawks have one of the most exciting young units in the league. The upside of Woolen and Witherspoon together is astronomical and will be fun to watch grow over the next couple of seasons. The Cardinals and the Rams don’t even have anyone worth mentioning.
Tariq Woolen career stats:
- Cardinals: A
- Seahawks: A-
- 49ers: A-
- Rams: D+
Can the Cardinals keep this group together? There is a chance that two of the three players on this unit will be gone before the season even starts. Baker, Thompson and Simmons are the most talented group in the division and really are the only thing to praise about the Cardinals this season. All three should be good IDP plays either in a Cardinals uniform or someone else’s. Adams’s health makes all the difference for the Seahawks. Signing Love to back up Adams and Diggs was a big-time move. This Seahawks secondary could be dangerous. Hufanga was spectacular last season and is just scratching the surface of his abilities. Gibson is a steady veteran, but Brown could bring some more athleticism and excitement to the secondary. The Rams have a ragtag gang of late-round misfits.
Talanoa Hufanga career stats:
MVP: Nick Bosa, EDGE SF
Only 25 years old, Nick Bosa hasn’t even hit his prime yet. The former second overall pick in 2019 out of Ohio State, reached the pinnacle of his sport last season winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after totaling 51 tackles, 18.5 sacks, 19 TFL, and 48 QB Hits. Bosa is ranked either first or second overall in most IDP dynasty rankings. He should be a huge asset for the foreseeable future and the building block of any dynasty team.
NFL sack leaders by season:
LVP: Aaron Donald, DL LAR
This is less about Donald the player and more about the team around him. This team is going to play from behind most of the year, which is going to result in fewer pass-rushing opportunities. The talent around him is also not what it used to be. Donald is going to see a lot of double and triple teams this season. He is most likely as good as he has ever been throughout his career, but the IDP production you will see this season will most likely not equal his cost.
MOST IMPROVED: Jamal Adams, S SEA
Adams is ready to prove he is back and ready to play like his former Pro Bowl self. Injuries have plagued him the last three seasons in Seattle. If he can play like the top safety the Seahawks originally traded for from the New York Jets in 2020 it will go a long way to improving the defense. Adams has been a good IDP scorer even in his injury-plagued 2020 and 2021 seasons. With all the talent surrounding him, he should be able to get back to dominating form.
Jamal Adams career stats:
BIGGEST STEAL: Ernest Jones, LB STL
Jones has proven to be a reliable IDP in his first two seasons in the NFL by being a competent tackler and solid producer, even in a part-time role. He had over 100 tackles on just 66% of the team’s defensive snaps last season. That snap share should shoot up this season with Bobby Wagner now gone. Jones is still not widely known in fantasy circles meaning you can wait on him in drafts. He is a sneaky mid-round pick in IDP leagues.
BIGGEST BUST: Devin Bush, LB SEA
Bush was signed to help fill the void left by Jordyn Brooks’ ACL injury until he can return. But I would not get my expectations up too much. With Bobby Wagner back in the middle for the Seahawks, Bush won’t find a lot of tackles available. He had plenty of chances in Pittsburgh to take over, but after a promising rookie season and ACL tear of his own, he just never fulfilled the promise of being the tenth overall pick.
WAIT FOR IT: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS EDGE RUSHERS
This is a talented group that has had a lot of draft capital invested in it. The biggest issue is figuring out who is going to be the one or two guys that earn the snap count share and thus pick up the majority of IDP fantasy points. Uchenna Nwosu is being drafted the highest of this group but Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe and Derick Hall will all be in the mix. Keep an eye on this group and see who rises to the top and if you can pick any of them up from the waiver wire during the season.
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