IDP Pre-Season Preview: NFC South
Steve Gallo
August 19, 2013
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Every year there are new faces in new places – not just players, but coaches too.  With those changes come scheme changes, and value changes with regard to fantasy football.  Which is why drafting off stats from the previous year isn’t a wise thing to do. However, reading each divisional preseason update would be a wise thing to do. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at or find me on twitter @SteveGalloNFL.

Atlanta Falcons

HC: Mike Smith
DC: Mike Nolan
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
The Falcons defensive line losses veteran John Abraham, but they add a formidable pass rusher in the form of Osi Umenyiora. I’d call it a push to small plus for the Falcons. For fantasy owners Umenyiora should have a bit more upside then he had with the Giants – where he ranked 41st among DL in 2012. In big play leagues, he’s a low level DL2 with some upside, and in tackle heavy/neutral leagues he is a nice DL3 that could provide some upside.

Sean Weatherspoon missed two games due to injury last year, and that killed his end of year ranking. However, his PPG average of 14.333 ranked 20th among LBs. That ranking correlates well with his ADP of LB18. I liked Weatherspoon a lot last year, and this year, I think he is still a bit of a bargain at his ADP. Minimally, you are looking at a LB2, but he has LB1 upside. In short, I’m a buyer. Stephen Nicholas got off to a hot start in his first four games of 2012, but from week 5 thru week 16 he didn’t do so well – ranking 58th over that span of time. Nicholas could still flash from time to time, but I don’t think he is someone that should be drafted. As for MLB, Akeem Dent, I’ll pass. Not much upside for a 2-down LB on the Falcons defense.

William Moore missed the final four games of the regular season (final three of the fantasy season) due to a hamstring injury, contributing to his end of season ranking as DB36. That’s a far cry from the DB9 ranking he had at the end of week 13. With an ADP of DB14, Moore actually has some value for IDP owners. While there is plenty of turnover at the DB position, I’d much rather take a chance on Moore as DB14 then I would if he was coming off the board as DB9. Outside of Moore, I’ll take a pass on the rest of the Falcons secondary. However, I will say that if you are in a CB mandatory league, rookie Desmond Trufant could present some value as QBs try to test the young CB.

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Carolina Panthers

HC: Ron Rivera
DC: Sean McDermott
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
The Panthers may not win many games this year, but I feel safe saying that it won’t be because of their DL. Both Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are premier pass rushers, and both are also top targets at DL for fantasy owners. Johnson’s ADP of DL7 makes him slightly a worse value than Hardy and his ADP of DL10. The Panthers added DT Star Lotulelei, and the rookie should prove to be a very valuable addition to the Panthers front seven. Fantasy wise, I wouldn’t invest in him, that is unless you are in a dynasty league that is DT mandatory.

As strong as the Panthers DL is, their LBs might even be stronger. Luke Kuechly was just one solo tackle shy of tying James Laurinaitis as the top scoring fantasy LB. If you want to own Kuechly it will cost you since he has an ADP of LB1. I won’t argue hard against taking Kuechly that early, but my drafting philosophy is to target DE earlier than LB. Joining Kuechly is Jon Beason (WLB) and Thomas Davis (SLB). I’m not worried one bit about Beason hurting Kuechly’s value, but I do like the value that Beason presents since he isn’t getting drafted in many leagues. Gone are the days of LB1, but there’s no reason to think that he can’t finish as a LB3.

Clearly the secondary is the Achilles heel for the Panthers. Fantasy wise I’m not willing to invest in either FS, Charles Godfrey or SS, Mike Mitchell. Mitchell will be worth keeping an eye on and if he starts to put up numbers you can grab him off waivers.

New Orleans Saints

HC: Sean Payton
DC: Rob “I’ll be out of work for like 5 minutes” Ryan
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: Yes

Defensive Line
With Rob Ryan and his 3-4 defense now in town, any fantasy value the Saints DL had is all but gone. Cameron Jordan finished as DL9 last year, and his ADP of DL21 might seem like a bargain, but with the scheme change, he’ll be lucky to finish in the top-36.

Curtis Lofton finished as LB17 in 2012, and in drafts now he has an ADP of LB29. I don’t fully know what to expect from Lofton this year, but I know I have no issue whatsoever with taking him as LB29. At that point I see little downside and enough upside that he could put up mid-level LB2 numbers. As for his running mate at the other ILB spot – Jonathan Vilma – I don’t hold out as much hope. I just can’t erase from my memory what and how Vilma fared in a 3-4 when he was with the Jets. As for OLBs, Will Smith,, and Junior Galette, they’ll each be lucky if they have 5 minutes of fantasy value under Ryan.

Roman Harper may have finished 2012 as the 3rd highest scoring fantasy DB, but the acquisition of Kenny Vaccaro in the draft has wreaked havoc on Harper’s ADP (DB23), and rightfully so. As it stands now, in redraft leagues I’d suggest steering clear of both Harper and Vaccaro – too much risk. In dynasty leagues you can buy Vaccaro but temper expectations for 2012.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

HC: Greg Schiano
DC: Bill Sheridan
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
For the most part, both Adrian Clayborn (ADP, DL31) and Da’Quan Bowers (undrafted) are being overlooked in fantasy drafts. I liked the duo going into last year, but injuries derailed both of the Buccaneers young DEs. This year, I’m drinking the kool-aide again. The addition of Darrelle Revis is a big part of that. The Buccaneers secondary was pretty horrid in 2012, and the addition of Revis changes that in what could be a big way. So you ask, how does that factor in for the two DEs? Well, if the secondary can cover just a split second or so later it allows the pass rushers the extra bit of time they need to get to the QB. And with all that said, looking at the cost to own either Bowers or Clayborn I see no reason to bypass their upside. If they crap out – again – then cut bait.

There isn’t much to dislike about Lavonte David from a fantasy perspective. He finished as LB8 last year, and this year I do expect him to once again finish as a top-10 LB. The thing that I dislike is his ADP (LB8), again, it isn’t about expectations for him, but rather the value he presents.  Mason Foster finished as LB42 last year and his ADP stands at LB40. If you were a subscriber last year then you shouldn’t have a hard time remembering that I wasn’t a big fan of Foster fantasy wise last year, and nothing has changed my opinion for 2013. I’d much rather go for a player with more upside.  Players like Kiko Alonso or Nick Roach, both of who aren’t even being drafted in many drafts.

I like what the addition of Darrelle Revis does for the Buccaneers NFL wise, but fantasy wise Revis doesn’t hold much if any value. Revis wasn’t the only big splash the Buccaneers made in the secondary. They also added Dashon Goldson at FS. Fantasy wise, I don’t expect much from Goldson. If you are looking for big fantasy numbers you need to look at second year SS, Mark Baron. Baron’s ADP of DB7 is high, but I’d much rather target him in round 13 or 14 instead of the DBs with higher ADPs earlier. I’d also like to point out that 2013 will be first time since 1997 that Ronde Barber isn’t suiting up in a Buccaneers uniform.

Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).

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