NFC South Tier Preview- IDP Edition 2020

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The NFC South is being touted for its high powered offenses, but what about the IDP studs. There’s tons of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Here’s the NFC South Tier breakdown for 2020.


NFC South – Tier 1 Players (Top 12 Potential)

Grady Jarrett, DT, ATL – August ADP: 221.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 38 solos, 31 ast, 12 TFL, 16 QB Hits, 7.5 sacks, 2 FF

My NFC South tier begins with Grady Jarrett. He is criminally undervalued at defensive tackle. Jarrett’s gotten better statistically each year he’s been in the league and is atop the leaders in snaps every season at a tough position to play high volume snaps. He’s a top guy and a must-start every week. 

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Cameron Jordan, DE, NO – August ADP: 174.50

2019 Stats: 16 games, 37 solos, 16 ast, 15 TFL, 25 QB Hits, 15.5 sacks, 1 FR, 3 PDs

Jordan is coming off his career-high in sacks and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down even after the 30-year-old mark. As a dynasty asset, I would hold onto him if I’m a contender, but in a rebuild, he’s a player to trade and get value. In redraft leagues, it’s full steam ahead as he looks to get double-digit sacks for the 4th straight season. He’s a top 5 defensive end. 

Lavonte David, LB, TB– August ADP: 132.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 82 solos, 41 ast, 10 TFL, 7 QB Hits, 1 sack, 3 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT, 7 PD

David is a top tier linebacker still. With Luke Kuechly retiring, David is the top linebacker in the division. His tackle numbers aren’t as high as they were his first 4 seasons in the league, but he also has a better supporting cast with him than he did in his first four seasons. Davis should get 120 total tackles again this season and is good for a handful of turnover plays a season. 

NFC South – Tier 2 Players (13-24 Potential)

Dante Fowler, DE, ATL– August ADP: 268.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 40 solos, 18 ast, 16 TFL, 16 QB Hits, 11.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR, 6 PD, 1 TD

Fowler finally got a say in where he gets to play after being traded from Jacksonville to the Rams. He may have re-signed with the Rams had they not had salary cap issues. Fowler finally settled into a comfortable role on the team and produced as an edge-rushing linebacker. He will be classified a defensive end with the Falcons and has a great opportunity to be the top guy on this line. Double-digit sacks I would expect from Fowler and a career-high 12 is my prediction.  

Deion Jones, LB, ATL – August ADP: 106.75

2019 Stats: 16 games, 68 solos, 42 ast, 8 TFL, 4 QB hits, 1 FR, 1 INT, 1 TD, 5 PDs

Jones was overshadowed by teammate De’Vondre Campbell in 2019. The biggest missing piece to Jones’ game was the turnovers created. He had 1 INT and 1 FR and that was it. His passes defended were down as well. Jones has an opportunity to get back to LB1/2 level this season and getting back to his sophomore tackle numbers of 91 solos and 47 assists. 

Shaq Thompson, LB, CAR – August ADP: 113.75 

2019 Stats: 14 games, 75 solos, 34 ast, 11 TFL, 4 QB Hits, 3 sacks, 3 PDs

The retirement of Luke Kuechly spells the passing of the LB torch in Carolina to Shaq Thompson. He will have to step up in Kuechly’s absence and has a great opportunity to take over that LB1 production that Kuechly vacates. 

Demario Davis, LB, NO – August ADP: 134.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 87 solos, 24 ast, 11 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 12 PDs

Davis stepped up his pass coverage game last season getting as many pass breakups last season as he did in his previous 4 combined. He’s had a steady 110-111 combined tackle number for both of his seasons in New Orleans and should hit that mark again. He will be 31 this season but has a few more seasons of production left in him. 

Devin White, LB, TB – August ADP: 110.75

2019 Stats: 13 games, 58 solos, 33 ast, 4 TFL, 5 QB Hits, 2.5 sacks, 3 FF, 4 FR, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 3 PDs

White lived up to his playmaking ability with 2 TDs in his rookie season. He has a very good teammate in Lavonte David to mentor him and help shoulder some of the responsibilities so White can just play. His stats should get better this season in the tackle department, but his other playmaking skills any player would hope for in a season. 

Shaq Barrett, LB, TB – August ADP: 145.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 45 solos, 13 ast, 19 TFL, 37 QB Hits, 19.5 sacks, 6 FF, 1 INT, 2 PDs

Depending on your scoring, Barrett could have been the best linebacker in your league last season. He had a fantastic season and wrecked quarterbacks last season. I would expect those numbers to come down a bit as teams will look to get a block on Barrett a little more. He will still be playing for his next contract, so double-digit sacks aren’t out of the question. I just think it will be closer to 10 than 20. 

Keanu Neal, S, ATL – August ADP: 186.50

2019 Stats: 3 games, 11 solos, 3 ast, 1 QB Hit

Neal disappointed owners for a second straight season with another season-ending injury. When he is on the field though, there are few safeties that I’d rather have than Neal. He can be had for very little in a trade if the owner has soured on his injuries.

Jeremy Chinn, S, CAR – August ADP: 245.00

Rookie

Chinn is slated to be one of the leaders in snaps among rookies as the Panthers have virtually no depth at the position and drafted him to be the strong safety of the future. The defensive coordinator has changed, but Eric Reid was a fantastic fantasy option last season and he wasn’t brought back to the team (and is still a free agent). Chinn was an impressive college player with 243 total tackles and 13 INTs in college. He could very well be a safety 1, but a conservative projection has him in the 2nd NFC South tier. 

NFC South – Tier 3 Players (25-36 Potential)

Brian Burns, DE, CAR – August ADP: 318.25

2019 Stats: 16 games, 19 solos, 6 ast, 5 TFL, 16 QB Hits, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD

Burns had a pretty successful rookie season getting 7.5 sacks and even scored a touchdown. I’m looking for Burns to take the next step and very well could attain double-digit sacks this season as they lean on him to be their top pass rusher. They did draft Yetur Gross-Matos and if he can duplicate what Burns did last season, this tandem could be something special for Carolina going forward. 

Kawann Short, DT, CAR – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 2 games, 4 solos, 1 TFL

Short is on the downside of his career and missed most of 2019 with a partially torn rotator cuff. Short will be one of the lone Panther veterans on the team as many players have left at Matt Rhule overhauled the defense through the draft and a few free agents. If Short can grab 5 sacks this season and some tackles, that’ll be good enough for a DT3. He will also play the very important role of mentor to 1st round wrecker, Derrick Brown

Donte Jackson, CB, CAR – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 13 games, 32 solos, 8 ast, 1 TFL, 2 FR, 3 INTs, 8 PDs

I couldn’t completely ignore corners, could I? Jackson could be a streamable option through the season as he will likely line up against Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones 6 times this season. Those are high volume receivers that give opportunities for points. Teammate Eli Apple is another good option, but only because he allows so many catches nearby.

Isaiah Oliver, CB, ATL – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 16 games, 50 solos, 12 ast, 1 QB Hit, 1 FF, 11 PDs

The Falcons like Oliver so much they let Desmond Trufant go. He put up decent corner numbers with 50 tackles and 11 PDs. The two stats I like to pay attention to with corners. There’s not a lot of strategy in looking at a young corner who will be the #1 for the Falcons this season and like Jackson will see high volume WRs for a good chunk of games. 

Malcolm Jenkins, S, NO – August ADP: 290.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 63 solos, 18 ast, 6 TFL, 9 QB Hits, 2.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 FR, 8 PDs

Jenkins spent the last 6 seasons in Philadelphia but played a similar role as he did when he was with the Saints for the beginning of his career. He will continue to be a box safety and take the place of Vonn Bell, who left for Cincinnati. He played a hybrid linebacker/safety role for the Eagles and is more of a run stopper than coverage specialist, which is perfect for IDP. He’s not on my dynasty radar, but for redraft, he is a value pick late in drafts. 

Fantasy Depth Players with Potential- Tier 4 and below

Tahir Whitehead, LB, CAR – August ADP: 225.50

2019 Stats: 16 games, 79 solos, 29 ast, 6 TFL, 1 QB Hit, 1 PD

Whitehead has long been known as a tackling machine. Unfortunately, that’s about all he offers as a linebacker. He will be a decent tackling option for the Panthers, but how much 3rd down and passing situation work he will get depends on his coverage skills. I don’t see the Panthers being very good this season, but the team will grow throughout the season. There is also very little depth behind Whitehead and Shaq Thompson, so opportunity should be there. 

A.J. Terrell, CB, ATL – August ADP: NR

Rookie

I’m not spending much time on corners, but a rookie corner and probable starter spells good news for fantasy. He should get tested often and the opportunity is there to make plays or collect tackles. 

Janoris Jenkins, CB, NO – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 15 games, 50 solos, 11 ast, 5 INTs, 16 PDs

Jenkins is a playmaker at corner. He had his best season for interceptions last season and 2nd highest passes defended numbers. He was cut from the Giants after using an inappropriate term and the Saints scooped him up immediately. Ethics aside, Jenkins is a great corner target. 

Jamel Dean, CB, TB – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 13 games, 16 solos, 5 ast, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 17 PDs

Not even a starter most of the season Dean showed his skills at making a play on the ball. 17 passes defended is no joke considering he was a part-time player. He should be rewarded with more playing time and get more opportunities to swat and pick the ball. I would like to see his tackle numbers increase though.

Carlton Davis, CB, TB – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 14 games, 54 solos, 6 ast, 3 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT, 19 PDs

Another Buc, another high swat number. Davis was the better option between him and Dean last season, but they should even out. Davis got more playing time and a lot more tackles. High tackles and high PDs are my kind of corner. 

NFC South Tier – Buy

Deion Jones, LB, ATL – August ADP: 106.75

I’m banking on Jones coming back to at least an LB2 level this season. I mentioned him earlier so I don’t need to go into detail, but some people have written him off and you can by him on the cheap and get good production in return. 

Eli Apple, CB, CAR – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 15 games, 53 solos, 5 ast, 1 QB Hit, 1 FF, 4 PDs

It’s amazing to me that Apple still gets opportunities to play in the NFL. Quarterbacks target him like crazy when he is on the field. He does get the tackles after he gets beat though, so continue to roll him out there. 

NFC South Tier – Sell

Tahir Whitehead, LB, CAR – August ADP: 225.50

A veteran who in dynasty won’t have many more seasons to offer. Oakland moved on from him Detroit didn’t fight hard to keep him and he’s on a one-year deal. Sell after a couple of good games to maximize your value. 

Shaq Barrett, LB, TB – August ADP: 145.00

Sell high! I don’t see Barrett replicating his 19.5 sack season. So sell him to somebody who doesn’t look forward. You probably got him off of waivers, so anything you get for him is a value in the positive for your team. 

Keanu Neal, S, ATL – August ADP: 186.50

I don’t want to get burned again. Wait for a good Keanu Neal game and trade for something else you need. Injuries can happen to any player, but to think Neal can be the same player he was 3 years ago after two season ending injuries would be foolish. 

NFC South Tier – Sleepers 

Marlon Davidson, DT, ATL – August ADP: NR

Davidson is the forgotten Auburn lineman, mainly because Derrick Brown was such a monster on film. Davidson has some pass-rush ability and will get to play next to Grady Jarrett. I like the move to DT on My Fantasy League and as a sleeper for 2020.

Antione Winfield, Jr., S, TB – August ADP: NR

Winfield should become the top safety for the Bucs. He is a playmaker just like his father was except he’ll get to make more plays on the ball being a safety instead of a cover corner. Justin Evans and Jordan Whitehead could still eat into his snaps, but that should only be temporary. He’s probably gone in dynasty, but in redraft leagues, he’s a good late flyer. 

 

Check out our offensive player tiers on Dynasty Football Digest here.


Thanks for reading my NFC South tiers. If you hated it or loved it let me know @seahawksdan8 on Twitter. If you want to check out my NFC South Tier preview on offense click the link! You can check out my defensive writing at IDPGuys.org. You can find me on the IDP Lounge, IDP Nation, and Devy IDP Grind podcasts on the Reiter Digest Network and podcast catcher of your choice.

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Father, Husband, Teacher, Long time Dynasty, and IDP manager since 2004. Love Superflex, IDP, Devy. CoHost of IDP Nation, Devy IDP Grind, and IDP Lounge. Go Hawks! Go Irish!