• IDP Outlook 2023 Fantasy Football Team Previews: AFC North IDP Roster Rundown & Depth Chart Dive Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns IDP

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    AFC North IDP Outlook

    The AFC North is loaded with IDP talent this year. Granted these players have gotten older, and have been consistently good for years now. In my humble opinion, this may be the greatest division in all of Football. It's safe to think this is another consistent year, even though the player is one year older. Let's look deeply at some of the best players and rookies that could impact 2023.


    Cincinnati Bengals

    Total Defense 16th - 7th Rushing Defense - 23rd Passing Defense

    Defensive line

    The defensive line is led by Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, who have both been successful in this system. Sam Hubbard had 32 tackles, eight sacks last season. Hubbard, solidifying his status as the primary contributor at the EDGE position. He is more of a pass rusher than a tackler, which is the polar opposite of Hendrickson but completes each other's game well.

    Trey Hendrickson had 60 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2022. Despite dealing with some injuries in the 2022 season, Hendrickson would have been given more attention if not for the injury, something we as owners need to pay attention to and avoid when drafting. Known more as the better tackler of the two, he produced significantly expect more of the same productivity, as these two complement each other well.

    Joseph Ossai and Myles Murphy, the first-rounder from Clemson, are expected to alternate in as backup, expect Murphy to be an evidential starter down the road.

    The interior position is held down by B.J. Hill and D.J. Reeder, who at this point are more really good football players than they are fantasy ones. For deeper leagues, keep an eye on Reeder, who has been often injured so he would be cheap. In 2022, he was 13th in pressure rates (just one percent behind Aaron Donald) before being hurt. Had 50 tackles his last full season that he was healthy, and had a solid 84.3 pass rush grade on PFF despite having no sacks. It's only a matter of time. If you are like me and playing in deeper formats with DT-specific leagues, then you could do no worse.

    Linebackers

    Watching the tape and you will see that the Bengals lined up in a 4-2-5 most games. Wilson and Pratt benefited good statical season with Hill and Reeder in front of them. Logan Wilson was the Bengals' lone run-one solid linebacker, and the others get shuffled in. At linebacker, it remains unchanged from 2022 so expect this sort of scheme again. Logan Wilson led this team with 123 tackles and remains a great option in IDP because he is an inside linebacker and gets a high snap count, so this is what you want in IDP linebackers.

    Germaine Pratt had 99 tackles last season. He is generally perceived as a top-50 linebacker in the IDP league formats. He will continue to see production just on the way this defense fuels, with around 75% or greater snaps (which is what you want) of the defensive snaps given to its LB2. Akeem Davis-Gaither will come in and get opportunities limited as the LB3 role

    Defensive Backs

    In the secondary, you will see your first camp battle between Jordan Battle and Nick Scott. It will be exciting to see who wins out. My money is on Battle, and pairing him up with former first-rounder Daxton Hill will be exciting to see.

    Daxton Hill comes in with Bates now gone, last year's first-round draft pick Dax Hill must prove he could play. The 4.38 speed he showcased at the Combine will be sorely needed in this revamped secondary.

    Cincinnati also invested a third-round pick in Alabama safety Jordan Battle, who is expected to compete with Scott and likely surpass him at some point during the season, potentially even before Week 1.

    As mentioned above expect a position battle with Nick Scott for a battle to play the other safety spot next to former first-rounder Daxton Hill. He will need to win this position to be a consistent player. As he has shown in College to be a consistent four-year starter for coach Nick Saben, he has an outstanding landing spot to do the same.

    The cornerbacks on this team are Cam Taylor-Britt who gets some buzz, He is known to play good press-man. Smooth turn and run at the line. He has got really good film and this is why the Bengals used the 2022 round two pick 60 on him. The other side has Chidobe Awuzie, a tackling corner who suffered an ACL tear in October. He might not be ready.


    Baltimore Ravens

    Total Defense 9th - 3rd Rushing Defense - 26th Passing Defense

    The Baltimore Ravens employ an extensive rotation on their defensive line, this is telling. It proves to us that this is indicative of the feeble lack of pass rush. They were once viewed as an elite DST unit that has come crashing down in recent years.

    Defensive Line

    The defensive line was screaming for help last season. This year is hoping to have fixed the pass rush. David Ojabo, a 2022 second rounder figures to log significant snaps and is one of this year's sleeper candidates.

    Odafe Oweh, a first-round pick in 2021 has regressed since then and should not be counted to do much. I do take him at the end of drafts only as a dart throw but would much rather prefer Ojabo.

    Justin Madubuike has some value as an interior lineman in only the deepest of deepest IDP leagues. I roster him in my 32-team league.

    Linebacker

    The linebacker room is pretty talented, Roquan Smith stands out as the premier IDP asset for his position. Since joining the team via trade in 2022, he has played every single snap and has consistently performed at an LB1 level, and is the top LB to roster in all of IDP for the second straight season.

    Patrick Queen, the second linebacker behind Smith, accrues fantasy points but lacks exceptional talent on the field. Queen has played around over 80% of snaps in the past and is expected to maintain a similar contribution in 2023. However, he does carry some risk due to potential fluctuations in playing time, so managers should exercise caution before regarding him as an elite linebacker option. Still, managers continue to fade him because of the trade news and that should not be the case. Queen is good when he is an LB2 and should be targeted around LB40, as he will exceed his ADP.

    The Ravens also selected Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round of the 2023 draft. always hard to position a rookie, but he was one of the top 3-4 in this linebacker draft class; so excited to see what he comes out with.

    The team also retain Tyus Bowser, after returning from a knee injury and did okay. A sneaky own as a last-round pick in linebacker-friendly tackle leagues.

    Defensive Backs

    The Ravens signed the NFL's top linebacker and drafted the top safety in 2022, hoping to change that. This year's team will be somewhere in the middle but will have some wild card players, hopefully, ready to step up for key roles and bring this defense back to being respectable.

    The secondary was the victim of a few fourth-quarter collapses last year. Most notably, the Dolphins, Bills, and Giants. Despite this, it has few stars in it. Hopefully with a healthy pass rush this season, these players will shine because of it.

    Marlon Humphrey made the Pro Bowl with 71 tackles as a cornerback. He also never yielded a touchdown in coverage all season. If you have to slot CBs in your league, this is one you want.

    The other corner here is Rock Ya-Sin who has been a below to average starter (he did have 62 combined tackles his rookie year in 2019 and the Colts drafted him 34th overall) but the player is riddled with injuries and would be best left on waivers. He hopes to rejuvenate his career here.

    Kyle Hamilton is a buy for me, he may end up being the top player at his position by the end of 2024. His rookie season started rocky but finished out strong, knowing this, I try to target owners he burned in his rookie season. He started to slow as a rookie, only getting 50% of the snaps, which resulted in him playing out of position often and missing plays; the Ravens were forced to cut his snaps back.

    All was forgiven in the last five games of the season when they figured out how to use him, resulting in 62 tackles, a single sack, and a forced fumble. I expect a huge leap forward in year 2 for his player.

    Marcus Williams signed from the Saints last season and he delivered. He led the team in interceptions despite missing eight games.


    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Total Defense 13th - Rushing Defense 16th - Passing Defense 19th

    Defensive line

    This is an older group. Cameron Heyward recently completed his 12th season and, despite being frequently overlooked, maintains his dominance at his position. Larry Ogunjobi is also positioned to take on a substantial workload at the defensive tackle position. The team likely recognized this need and selected Keeanu Benton in the second round of the draft. He will share rotation duties with Markus Golden, a new signing in free agency. Rumors from the offseason suggest that DeMarvin Leal has left a strong impression during Otas, potentially making significant strides in the upcoming offseason.

    Linebackers

    The linebacker corps stands out as the team's most impressive unit. T.J. Watt, unquestionably an exceptional player and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, leads this group. Expectations are that Watts picks up where he left off. During his absence due to injury, Alex Highsmith took the opportunity to shine, tallying an impressive 14.5 sacks. If both of them manage to remain injury-free, this dynamic duo will unleash havoc on opponents.

    Newcomer Cole Holcomb comes over from the Commanders. One thing, he could do well is play the inside and sack up tackles. Holcomb looks to have the green dot and play the role of the Steelers. The team typically employs only one primary linebacker, with Holcomb expected to fill that role. I am expecting a huge year out of him.

    Kwon Alexander and Elandon Roberts just signed, expect some form of rotational role. Since the others play edge, look for the LB2 here in Pittsburgh to historically get around 75% of the snaps. I target Roberts as a deep-round linebacker in big-league drafts. He has the potential to log huge snap counts.

    Defensive Backs

    Minkah Fitzpatrick stands as a top-tier choice for the position, showcasing his excellence through six interceptions and 96 tackles. These achievements led to his appointment as the team's captain.

    At this juncture, Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal are simply average performers and might find themselves unclaimed on waivers, even in the most competitive leagues.

    The Steelers possess a promising combination of youthful and experienced talent at cornerback. Joey Porter Jr. joins the team as a second-round draft pick to start opposite free agent acquisition, Patrick Peterson. Their roles are safe unless Levi Wallace or Chandon Sullivan manage to challenge their positions. Keep an attentive watch on Wallace, who has demonstrated effective tackling skills in his prior team.


    Cleveland Browns

    Total Defense 13th - Rushing Defense 9th - Passing defense 19th

    Defensive Line

    Last season, injuries took a toll on the Browns' defense early on, causing them to struggle. The team faced challenges due to injuries to key players, yet they managed to secure a spot in the top 15 defenses for the 2022 season. The most pressing need, especially within the front seven, should find a resolution in 2023.

    Despite his recovery from a car accident, Myles Garrett maintained his position as one of the premier defensive athletes in the NFL. He remains one of the elites. To fill the EDGE position opposite Garrett, a role previously held by Jadeveon Clowney, the team executed a trade for former Viking Za'Darius Smith. The majority of pass-rushing snaps belong to these two players.

    Meanwhile, Alex Wright and the newly acquired Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, a free agent, will provide rotational support. The Browns met their requirement for a strong player in the interior defensive line by signing Dalvin Tomlinson and drafting Baylor DT Siaki Ika in the third round of the draft. Tomlinson is a cheap, deep late-round DT who will log extensive snaps at that position. I take shots with him, where the format and scoring allow it.

    Linebackers

    Man, this was a mess in 2022. It looks to fix itself heading into this season.

    Last season, the Cleveland Browns faced significant challenges in managing their linebacker situation. Both Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki have renewed their contracts with the team. This decision, along with the inclusion of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Jacob Phillips, once again adds intricacy to predicting the linebacker configuration.

    The Browns made a wise decision by re-signing Walker. Everyone will focus their attention on Walker and his potential return from a quadriceps injury. If he can make a comeback, it will greatly benefit this group. Walker had a strong season before his injury, and the team's performance suffered as a consequence.

    He aims to wear the green dot for them again in 2023 and put the injuries in the past. Anthony Walker held the green dot for the last two seasons, outplaying JOK before the injury. Often overlooked and available on waivers, the most desirable LB from this group is Walker. On the other hand, JOK frequently underperforms based on his ADP but strangely is the first selected in drafts.

    Defensive Backs

    Grant Delpit concluded a robust season with 105 tackles, placing him in the top ten at his position, and he's just 24 years old. He performs even better in the Schwartz system, which grants him additional time in the box.

    The team acquired Juan Thornhill through free agency and expects him to start. He projects as a two-high safety and could offer value during bye weeks.

    Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson will resume their roles as outside cornerbacks, with Greg Newsome primarily covering the slot position. In leagues requiring a cornerback, Ward is an absolute target to own and has pretty decent stat lines for the best ball as well.


    Thank you for checking out my article! You can read all of my articles on my IDP Guys author page. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @TheBroNamaths and @IDPGuys (we have offense, too), and please consider becoming a subscriber!

    Steve Hungarter (IDPHunter)

    Steve is U.S Army retired Veteran who's been playing in IDP leagues since 2004. He is currently ranked #4 in IDP accuracy on Fantasy Pros and recently selected into The Fantasy Sports Writers Association for his content. In addition to being an ECR ranker on Fantasy Pros, Steve also writes articles for both Fantasy Six Pack and IDP Plus. When Steve was a kid he got in trouble a lot. He would be held after school for trading his Football cards and comic books. He spent his time in the hallways, doing his own original content. The teachers would say not to do those silly things and obide by the rules. Fortunately, Steve was not a good listener.
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