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Fantasy football: Ideal fits for top IDPs in the 2023 NFL Draft

Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) chases TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the third quarter of the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

• DeMeco Ryans gets his LB1 of the future: The Houston Texans‘ new head coach upgrades his linebacker corps by adding Iowa’s Jack Campbell in the second round.

• Finally, a challenger to usurp Alex Anzalone: Much to the delight of IDP managers, PFF’s No. 1 ranked linebacker is heading to the Detroit Lions.

• The all-athlete edge corps: The Baltimore Ravens add Georgia’s Nolan Smith to its group of speedy athletes coming off the edge.

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Before the 2023 NFL Draft unfolds in one week, fantasy managers hope that their favorite prospects will end up in ideal spots to produce while also not hurting the stock of some of their other favorite fantasy and dynasty assets.

We’ll live in a perfect world for this exercise, focusing on the most realistic spots based on projected draft position, in order to identify the most ideal fits for some of this year’s top skill position rookies (no quarterbacks) coming into the league.

DI Jalen Carter, Georgia

Big board rank: 2
PFF projection: Top-five pick
Ideal fit: Las Vegas Raiders (7th overall pick)

The Raiders enter this year’s draft with a variety of needs, but the middle of the defensive line qualifies as a significant one with only Bilal Nichols (55.5 overall grade) in line for another heavy role after playing over 800 defensive snaps last season. Andrew Billings, who was second among the team’s interior defenders in snaps (478) is off to Chicago, likely leaving Jerry Tillery, who has never earned a seasonal grade above 50.0 in his four-year career, in a key role as things stand right now.

Enter Jalen Carter, who posted elite grades across the board for Georgia in 2022, including a 92.3 overall grade, a 91.2 run defense grade, and an 89.1 pass-rush grade. Carter’s dominance defending the run and rushing the passer would fit right in between last season’s top IDP, Maxx Crosby, as well as Chandler Jones, to assist with production by collapsing the pocket, but also to benefit from cleaning up between those two established veterans.

EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

Big board rank: 3
PFF projection: Top-five pick
Ideal fit: Indianapolis Colts (4th overall pick)

The Colts’ leader in defensive snaps off the edge (733) and team leader in sacks last season (12), Yannick Ngakoue, is still a free agent, and it’s looking unlikely that he re-signs with the team. The Colts did bring in Samson Ebukam this offseason, but he projects more as a pass-rush specialist, especially if Indianapolis can snag a blue-chip prospect like Anderson.

After spending a first-round pick on Kwity Paye just two seasons ago, the Colts can pair an NFL-ready Anderson with the former Wolverine who should start to hit his stride in the NFL and give them a formidable starting duo right away in 2023. 

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