2024 Dynasty Division Outlook: NFC South IDP

Jason Abbey

Last year, we brought you a new series covering each NFL division’s IDP dynasty fantasy football outlook. We are back at it again this year. We’ll bring you an overview of each team, highlight the best and worst positional groups, and make some cool predictions for the division as a whole. Let’s jump into it!

Atlanta Falcons

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Grady Jarrett missed nine games in 2023. He may not be the impactful pass rusher he was earlier in his career, but his absence was felt. David Onyemata carried the can pretty well in Jarrett’s absence but had little help from Ta’Quon Graham and Albert Huggins. The Atlanta Falcons shored up the position by adding Ruke Orhorhoro in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft. While fellow rookie Brandon Dorlus is listed as a DE on the depth chart above, he’s capable of playing inside – he played 44% of his snaps for the Oregon Ducks in the B gap last season.

The Falcons’ defense has struggled to generate pressure for the last three years, and Bud Dupree and Calais Campbell – two of their three sack leaders in 2023 – have moved elsewhere. However, there’s hope on the horizon. Arnold Ebiketie showed signs of progression in his second season, talented rookie Bralen Trice was added in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and hopefully, new defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake realizes Kaden Elliss needs to be given more opportunities to rush the passer.

 

Nate Landman profited from the injury to Troy Andersen and provided a serviceable waiver wire addition for IDP managers who needed linebacker help. Andersen is still unproven at the NFL level but deserves a chance to earn a starting spot alongside Ellis. Lake may employ two linebackers as he did in his last defensive coordinator job with Washington. If he does, there is room for Ellis and possibly Andersen to be fantasy-relevant, but the last time we saw Lake’s scheme was in 2018, so there are no guarantees.

Jessie Bates III had a career year in 2024 in terms of how well he played and how he produced for fantasy purposes. He’ll be hard-pressed to reproduce at the same level while handling the deep safety role, but he’s bucked the trend in a similar role most of his career, so maybe he’s the unicorn. Richie Grant vs DeMarcco Hellams will be an interesting battle. Toward the end of the season, Hellams, a seventh-round pick in 2023, was favored ahead of 2021 second-round pick Richie Grant. Grant was dreadful, but the coaching staff have talked him up, so it’s anyone’s guess who earns the start with a new defensive coordinator in town.

A.J. Terrell is a solid cornerback. Dee Alford was OK but was slightly inconsistent. There’s very little depth behind them. Jeff Okudah has left to join the Houston Texans, and while he was abysmal in 2023, he was second among the Falcon’s cornerbacks with 600 snaps, so someone will have to step up. Unfortunately, cornerback depth will be a weakness for the Falcons’ defense unless Antonio Hamilton, Clark Phillips III, or Kevin King has a career year.

Carolina Panthers

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Derrick Brown has become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. He doesn’t earn the credit he deserves in IDP circles because he’s not a stellar pass rusher, but in fantasy leagues that reward tackles handsomely, there were few better players in 2023. Brown accrued 108 combined tackles last season, 24 more than the next nearest DT.

The most significant change at edge rusher is the departure of Brian Burns. Jadeveon Clowney is the only player IDP managers in shallow leagues should target, but keep your eyes peeled for D.J. Wonnum. The former Vikings player is a poor pass rusher but has delivered impressive raw stats because he’s earned more snap volume than he deserves in recent years. That may continue in the absence of any competent competition in 2024.

Long-serving linebacker Shaq Thompson remains the frontrunner to lead the linebackers group in snaps despite the addition of Josey Jewell. Frankie Luvu‘s pass-rush abilities will be missed, but as an off-ball linebacker, the dropoff to Jewell is not significant. At some point, the Panthers may want to see what they have in Trevin Wallace, given Thompson is due to become a free agent next year.

The main change in the secondary is the addition of Jordan Fuller, who was brought in to replace Vonn Bell. Xavier Woods will reprise his full-time role as one safety, and Jaycee Horn and Donte Jackson should remain at outsider cornerback, with Troy Hill in the nickel role.

New Orleans Saints

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders are starters on the depth chart above, but Bryan Bresee should lead the Saints’ DTs in snaps. The 22-year-old has the potential to develop into a productive player in his second season.

The Saints finished 29th in the league in sacks last season. Carl Granderson is a capable player, but Cameron Jordan is not the player he once was. Chase Young was brought in on a one-year prove-it deal and should feature heavily. Payton Turner, Isaiah Foskey, and veteran Tanoh Kpassagnon will struggle to earn significant snaps.

Despite advancing in years, Demario Davis was as good as ever and easily outperformed Pete Werner. Werner faces new competition in the shape of former Chiefs’ linebacker Willie Gay and Khaleke Hudson, who was highly productive toward the end of last season for the Washington Commanders. The Saints further stockpiled their linebacker group by adding Monty Rice, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, and drafting Jaylan Ford in the fifth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Tyrann Mathieu was the one constant at safety for the Saints in 2023. Marcus Maye, Jordan Howden, and Jonathan Abram interchanged at the other spot. Maye is no longer with the team, and Howden is the favorite to start next to Mathieu, as Abram played as poorly as he always has.

Marshon Lattimore remained with the Saints despite rumors he may be traded. He’ll lead a promising cornerback group comprising Paulson Adebo, who improved dramatically in his third season, and second-round rookie Kool-Aid McKinstry. Alontae Taylor was the designated nickel corner in 2023 but was inconsistent.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Depth chart courtesy of Ourlads

Vita Vea continued to perform well last season, and it’s exciting to wonder how much better this unit could be if Calijah Kancey develops into the player the Bucs envisioned. Greg Gaines and Logan Hall will continue to frustrate by leeching snaps, thereby limiting Vea and Kancey’s potential ceiling.

 

Yaya Diaby offered a lot of promise in his rookie season. However, he’ll need to produce more than 28 pressures in his second season to earn anywhere close to the eight sacks he had last year. Tryon-Shoyinka disappointed once again and may struggle to keep talented second-round pick Chris Braswell at bay. I suspect we’ll see a heavy edge rotation again, with Randy Gregory, William Gholston, and Anthony Nelson in the mix.

Lavonte David continued to defy father time and had a fine season. The Bucs were wise to let Devin White walk after yet another poor year, and his departure provides an opportunity for K.J. Britt to prove he belongs. SirVocea Dennis could challenge Britt, but we’ve seen little of the former fifth-round pick. J.J. Russell fell out of favor after being handed a brief every-down role.

Antoine Winfield was a superstar in 2023 and will undoubtedly be the top safety selected in IDP leagues. Jordan Whitehead will almost certainly begin the season as the starter next to Winfield, but rookie third-round pick Tykee Smith could pose a threat if Whitehead continues to struggle with missed tackles.

Carlton Davis was traded to the Detroit Lions, leaving Zyon McCollum, Jamel Dean, and Christian Izien as the presumed starters at cornerback. Don’t rule out Tavierre Thomas, who was signed in free agency.

Positional Group Rankings

Interior Defensive Line

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers B+
  2. Carolina Panthers B
  3. Atlanta Falcons C
  4. New Orleans Saints C

Brown is the best NFL DT in the division, and in tackle-heavy fantasy leagues, he would elevate the Panthers’ score to an A-. However, he lacks a productive sidekick, and the combination of Vea and Kancey has more appeal in most fantasy leagues. Kancey showed enough promise during his college career and rookie NFL season to suggest he can become an impactful pass rusher.

The Falcons have capable but aging low-end fantasy DT2s in Jarrett and Onyemata and have attempted to future-proof at DT with the addition of Orhorhoro and Dorlus. Still, we have yet to see what the rookies are made of.

Bresee has been slept on a little, but it would not surprise if he made a name for himself as a pass rusher in 2024. Shepherd is a better pass rusher than he gets credit for, but he is not productive enough to start in fantasy. I suspect Saunders will lose opportunities and tackle volume due to the emergence of Bresee.

Edge

  1. New Orleans Saints C
  2. Atlanta Falcons C-
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers D+
  4. Carolina Panthers D-

These grades reflect the lack of talent at the edge position in the NFC South. None of the players currently in the division achieved double-digit sacks last season, and Carl Granderson was the only edge rusher with more than 50 pressures.

Question marks hang over Granderson, Young, and Jordan, but they take the top spot as they should each surpass five sacks.

If Ebiketie continues to improve, Trice makes an early impact, and Ellis is afforded more edge snaps, the Falcons could outperform this grade in 2024. But that’s a lot of ‘ifs.’

Diaby and Braswell are tempting dynasty stashes, but in 2024, I suspect the Bucs will struggle to generate pressure from the edge spot. As mentioned above, Tryon-Shoyinka has been a bust.

I was tempted to give the Panthers an even lower score, but Burns’ production plateaued in recent years, and I don’t think there’s much if any, drop-off to his replacement in Clowney. Still, Wonnum is not as good as his raw stats suggest, and nobody else on the roster will be on the fantasy radar. Last year’s third-round pick, D.J. Johnson, was ineffective when given an opportunity, and it speaks volumes that the equally ineffective Yetur Gross-Matos was favored down the stretch. It would be unfair to write Johnson off after his rookie year, but the early signs weren’t good.

Linebacker

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers B-
  2. New Orleans Saints B-
  3. Carolina Panthers B-
  4. Atlanta Falcons C+

David is the best linebacker in the division, closely followed by Demario Davis. Unfortunately, neither has a proven player alongside them, and I’m not confident that whoever else wins the competition to start will retain an every-down role all year.

Thompson and Jewell aren’t the flashiest players, but they’re solid, reliable performers in IDP. Thompson’s ability to recover to pre-injury form is the only question mark.

I would grade the Falcons’ linebackers higher than this in fantasy leagues that reward sacks handsomely because of Ellis’ ability to get after the quarterback. I’m not yet sold on Andersen, and Landman is a limited player, and I’m concerned they may eat into each other’s snap share.

Cornerback

  1. New Orleans Saints A-
  2. Atlanta Falcons B-
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers C-
  4. Carolina Panthers D

The Saints allowed the tenth-fewest passing yards in 2023 and could be better in 2024 if they can avoid injuries. A healthy Lattimore would be a significant boost to their cornerback group. Adebo had some outstanding games last season, and if he and Taylor can become a little more consistent and McKinstry becomes the player many envisage, this unit could be impressive.

Terrell and Alford are a promising cornerback duo. My concern with the Falcons’ unit is depth. Someone will have to play outside corner if Alford remains the designated nickel back, but there’s nobody else on the roster I’m confident in.

Izien is likely to be the Bucs’ most productive cornerback in fantasy. Dean has some appeal, but his performance and production dipped in 2023. I’m unsure if McCollum is good enough to retain his role, so I want nothing to do with him in IDP.

Donte Jackson was the only productive Panthers’ cornerback in 2023 because nobody else played more than 500 snaps. I was encouraged by how Jaycee Horn played when he returned to the lineup, but from a fantasy perspective, I struggle to envisage this group producing at a high level.

Safety

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers A+
  2. Atlanta Falcons A-
  3. Carolina Panthers C
  4. New Orleans Saints C

Antoine Winfield is the top safety in IDP after his incredible season in 2023. He was so productive that it would be sensible to expect some statistical regression. Whitehead is not on the same level as Winfield. Still, from a fantasy perspective, he has consistently delivered solid numbers in a role similar to the one he will occupy in his second stint with the Bucs. Smith is a dynasty stash, for now.

Bates III makes it two excellent safeties in the division. Hopefully, he can continue producing for IDP managers despite playing a predominantly deep role. Neither Grant nor Hellams excite me as fantasy options, but assuming one wins the job outright, they would be worth picking up on waivers in deep leagues.

If Fuller assumes the Vonn Bell role, he may have some fantasy appeal, but I’m in no hurry to add Fuller or Woods in IDP leagues. Neither Bell nor Woods were very productive in Ejiro Evero’s scheme last season.

Mathieu is an excellent coverage safety and is always a threat to record a few interceptions per season. He has 20 takeaways in the last five seasons. Unfortunately, his tackling efficiency dipped in 2023, and it’s reasonable to expect similar returns in 2024. Howden has done well to become a starter after entering the league as a fifth-round pick last season, and despite his five pass breakups, he was also an inefficient tackler.

Divisional Predictions

MVP: Antoine Winfield Jr, S TB

I was tempted to go with David here. As phenomenal as Winfield was in 2023, safeties are far more inconsistent than linebackers at stacking back-to-back productive seasons. I mentioned earlier that expecting a similarly outstanding season from Winfield would be foolish. However, Winfield’s talent and the presence of Todd Bowles provide hope that Winfield can buck the trend.

 

LVP: Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, EDGE TB

This one was a gimme. Tryon-Shoyinka’s snap share diminished midway through the 2023 season because he’s been ineffective since entering the NFL as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It took Diaby only eight games to surpass him in the pecking order. If the Bucs have any sense, they’ll prioritize developing Braswell over kicking the tires on Tryon-Shoyinka again. It looks like there will be a heavy rotation at edge rusher.

Most Improved: Calijah Kancey, DT TB

Bresee was a candidate here, as were Diaby, Jarrett, and several young linebackers who will earn more significant roles in 2024. Kancey got the nod because he’s an ascending player. I believe in his talent, and I’m confident he’ll be given every opportunity to shine.

Biggest Steal: K.J. Britt, LB TB

It’s a tough call here. Despite being the favorite to replace White, I’m not 100% confident that Britt will outright win the job alongside David. If he does manage to win the competition and finds himself in an every-down role, he’ll be a massive steal in IDP formats.

Biggest Bust: Pete Werner, LB NO

I didn’t intend to list Werner here as I assumed the perception of him would be at an all-time low. However, he’s LB29 in the DLF Dynasty IDP Rankings, and I’m not convinced he’s good enough to fend off the new competition on the Saints’ roster.

Wait for it: Bryan Bresee, DT NO

It will be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think there’s much to choose between the talent of Kancey and Bresee. I believe Kancey will be given a larger snap share, so I’ve nominated him as the most improved player in the division. Still, Bresee has what it takes to make some noise in his second year.

jason abbey