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Top 10 IDPs in the NFC West
Jase Abbey lists his top 10 IDP assets for the 2023 season from the NFC West.
We’re in the midst of our divisional preview series on The IDP After Show, breaking down the top 10 IDPs in each NFL division with the help of some of the best IDP minds in the fantasy. This week, host Jase Abbey was joined by Jayson Snyder, senior writer at Dynasty Nerds, to discuss their favorite IDPs in the NFC West.
Listen to the full episode here.
In this article, Jase shares his top 10 picks with us, starting in Arizona.
10. Kyzir White (Arizona Cardinals)
The linebacker situation for the Cards is uncertain, but we’re seeing glimpses of how this may unravel. The team is considering deploying Zaven Collins in an edge role. I doubt that will be a full-time switch, but the mere idea suggests he may not be viewed as the top choice for what will probably be one full-time off-ball linebacker role in their defensive scheme.
We know Simmons isn’t the answer based on what we’ve seen. If he plays full-time in 2023, he’ll probably be the nickel defensive back again.
White, however, has been handed the green dot, albeit in what head coach Jonathan Gannon described as a situation they are evaluating “day-to-day.”
The 27-year-old has been a solid contributor for the last two seasons while playing for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022, accruing 250 combined tackles over that period.
The early signs suggest he may perform a similar role for his new team while working under Gannon, his defensive coordinator during his time with the Eagles.
9. Budda Baker (Arizona Cardinals)
Baker is one of the few safeties I feel comfortable placing in the top tier at his position. He’s the rare example of a safety who finishes as a perennial top 12.
He is not the type of defensive back who will earn five or more interceptions in a season, so you would be justified in ranking Baker a little lower if the Minkah Fitzpatrick or Jordan Poyer types dominate defensive backs in your scoring setting.
However, Baker provides a relatively low floor at a position in which we struggle to find reliable, consistent contributors.
Entering his seventh year in the league, Baker will continue to play every down and spend a healthy amount of his snaps near the line of scrimmage. As a result, he should continue to provide solid tackle volume.
He surpassed 100 combined tackles in four of the last five years.
And came within a whisker of 100 combined tackles in his one other year as a full-time starter.
Baker has a new defensive coordinator in Nick Rallis. Still, the talented safety has weathered four different defensive coordinators in the last six years, so it’s safe to assume he’ll do the same in 2023.
8. Uchenna Nwosu (Seattle Seahawks)
I was a non-believer in Nwosu a year ago. He was only moderately productive in four years with the Chargers and joined the Seahawks, a team famous for employing a heavy rotation at the edge position.
Enter 2022, and he was far more productive. He wasn’t quite as impressive in the second half of the year, but 61 pressures and double-digit sacks were a marked improvement on his output from previous years.
Any time a player takes a leap in production, fantasy managers want to know whether he can maintain that output on an ongoing basis.
I’m opening myself up to being wrong on Nwosu twice in two years, but a closer investigation provides reasons for me to remain lower than consensus.
According to PFF, Nwosu’s 11.9% win rate ranked a lowly 99th among all edge rushers, suggesting he did not beat blockers at a rate comparable with other leading edge rushers.
In stark contrast, Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett, and Rashan Gary produced win rates between 25 and 30%.
Nwosu is going as the EDGE17 in The IDP Show best ball drafts. I think that’s a little steep. I’m not saying Nwosu can’t be a productive player again this season. After all, I have him ranked number eight on this list. His 78.1% snap share in 2022 dwarfed that of any Seahawks edge rusher in the last four years, and he recently signed a $45 million extension with $32 million guaranteed, providing some assurance that he’ll remain heavily involved going forward.
I’m simply suggesting we pump the brakes a little.
7. Javon Hargrave (San Francisco 49ers)
Hargrave is one of those guys who has just gotten better and better throughout his career. His pressure rate in 2019 should have been a nod to what was to come, but it wasn’t until 2020 or 2021 that he truly broke out.
He has now capitalized on that success, signing a massive contract with the 49ers, essentially moving from one top 3 defensive line to another, where he should have every chance to continue his ascension.
It’s worth noting that Hargrave had over 700 snaps in each of the last two years. Interestingly, no 49ers interior defensive lineman saw over 500 snaps in 2022.
I’m not concerned. There’s a new DC in town, but more importantly, teams typically don’t sign guys to 4 years, $84m with $40m guaranteed unless they intend to use them extensively.
Hargrave gives the 49ers the interior presence they wanted when they drafted Javon Kinlaw. It’s scary to think how good this 49ers D line can do with Bosa, Hargrave, and company.
6. Dre Greenlaw (San Francisco 49ers)
Greenlaw has always been a solid linebacker, but it wasn’t until last year that he truly established himself, putting up 130 combined tackles despite missing a couple of games.
His spot at number 79 on the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2023 was thoroughly deserved.
It helped that Greenlaw played 150 snaps more than he had in his first few years in the league, but we can credit his improvement to more than increased snap volume.
Greenlaw was notably more comfortable in coverage, demonstrating proficiency in an area that often tempts teams to remove linebackers on obvious passing downs.
Azeez Al-Shaair was barely a thorn in the side of Greenlaw’s snap share in 2022, but it’s still positive for Greenlaw that Al-Shaair has parted ways with the team.
5. Fred Warner (San Francisco 49ers)
Warner is going as the LB4 in The IDP Best Ball drafts with an ADP of 16.4. That’s 26 spots higher than his teammate, Greenlaw, who is going as the LB13.
I would prefer to wait for two or three rounds and acquire Greenlaw at that value.
This is not intended to discredit Warner; it’s merely a reflection on the fact that the gap has narrowed between the two players in terms of ability and fantasy production.
Greenlaw ranked 10th among all linebackers with a 15.4% tackle efficiency in 2022, eclipsing Warner, who ranked 39th with only 13.1%.
However, Warner remains every bit the model of a modern NFL linebacker. He’s arguably the best coverage linebacker in the NFL, competing with only Lavonte David for bragging rights.
Granted, his ability as an NFL player is not always reflected in his fantasy production, but every down linebackers remain in short supply, so he’s still a valuable IDP.
4. Ernest Jones (Los Angeles Rams)
I recently talked about Jones on a breakout episode of The Big Nickel IDP Podcast with Jon Macri. It feels like every man and his dog is predicting big things for Jones this year, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Rams groomed Jones as the heir apparent to Wagner last year, and Wagner has departed the team to return to the Seahawks.
Jones was one of the leaders at his position in tackle efficiency in 2022, racking up 114 tackles on only 723 snaps. It’s sensible to expect Jones’ tackle efficiency to fall. We know that it can vary significantly from year to year. However, Jones’ snap volume should be much higher this season. Assuming he’s healthy, it would be a surprise if he did not eclipse 1,000 snaps on a defense devoid of talent.
Despite what seems like a wave of optimism about his 2023 projections, I was surprised to see Jones going as only the LB20 in the IDP Show best ball drafts, two spots behind Patrick Queen. I much prefer Jones at that value.
I’m not getting as carried away with him as a player as others are, as I think he’s still got a point to prove, but he will undoubtedly be heavily involved this season and has a realistic shot to finish as an LB1.
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3. Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks)
We know age isn’t on Wagner’s side. He’s just turned 33 years old, and the physical toll of a career spanning 11 years must catch up with him at some point.
His tackling efficiency also took a hit last season, but it’s fair to assume this was because he was asked to blitz a career-high 113 times. We know that off-ball linebackers who blitz often can struggle to maintain pace with the leaders at the position in tackle volume.
But I’m excited to see him move back to the Seahawks. It feels like he’s gone home, and I believe it’s his best spot for fantasy purposes, too. He’ll be playing under a new DC in Seattle in Clint Hurtt, who joined the team just last year, but Hurtt continued to use two linebackers at a rate higher than the league average.
Regardless, Wagner will undoubtedly be the top dog among all Seahawks linebackers. Jordyn Brooks looks like he will miss time, and while Brooks has been productive, he does not compare with Wagner for his ability.
Wagner still has some juice in the tank, and it would surprise very few people to see him finish 2023 as an LB1 yet again.
2. Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams)
I discussed Donald with Matt Record during the Bounceback Candidates edition of The IDP After Show. The perception of the future Hall of Famer as an elite fantasy asset has taken a hit. On face value, his production in 2022 paled compared to what we’ve grown familiar with over the years.
Furthermore, Donald recently turned 32, and speculation continues to circle about his appetite to play for many more years.
Granted, he is no longer head and shoulders above all other interior D linemen in the league. Part of the reason is the improved play of six or seven other, younger stars at the position, such as Quinnen Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Jonathan Allen, and co.
Donald can still get it done. He was 12th among 106 interior defensive linemen in pressure rate last year, and it’s important to note that, of the 11 guys listed above him, his finishing rate, or ‘ability’ to convert pressures into sacks, was the second lowest of the group.
We know finishing rates vary more than pressure rates do each year, so there is a reasonable argument to suggest Donald was unfortunate to earn only five sacks in 2022, considering he generated 40 pressures in 11 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.
I believe a bounce-back year is on the cards for Donald, and I’m bullish about placing him at number two on this list.
1. Nick Bosa (San Francisco 49ers)
Bosa has dominated from the moment he stepped onto the field, and, with the exception of the 2020 season he lost due to injury, he hasn’t looked back.
The scary thing is that Bosa is still getting better. Last season he earned:
90 pressures and 19 sacks (both career highs)
32 combined tackles
Two forced fumbles
The 25-year-old ranked fourth among all edge rushers in pressure rate in 2022, behind only Micah Parsons, Rashan Gary, and perhaps surprisingly, Josh Uche.
Bosa is in a cluster of four guys at the top of my redraft AND dynasty rankings, including Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett, and Maxx Crosby.
I’m not overly concerned about Bosa’s holdout. His new contract will probably be the largest for any non-QB in the history of the league, and these things take time to put together.
The 49ers know how crucial the dynamic edge rusher is to their success, so it seems unlikely they will allow him to miss any time. John Lynch seems confident of getting something done and even suggested the team may waive the league-mandated fines Bosa has accrued due to the holdout.
I expect Bosa to be there for the season opener, and he will pick up right where he left off last year.
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