FANTASY IMPACT – NFC South and AFC South
By Dan Rosier (@theBleagueSays)
BACK ROW SHOW BANDITS!
Here we are at the beginning of the 2019 redraft season. Some deeper league slow drafts are starting to prop up and casual gamers are starting to hit the mock draft lobbies. That, in turn, has started to show fluctuations and inconsistencies with ADP. If you have been following along all offseason, it could throw the proverbial spanner in your ‘works’ as to where you thought players might go in the draft. Some guys that go early may seem like a reach right now. Ah yes! Those three little letters that can tilt the crap out of #fantasytwitter because people must be right - all the time - and everyone else must be wrong - all the time. Our memories are now shorter with recency bias. They are inflated by the offseason madness of coaching changes and rookies hitting their stride. Shout out to 2018’s Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins hype trains from the online preachers. Neither really blew up, nor did any ‘hot takes’ as the kids all said last year. But you know by now, I thrive in the grey area where there is no such thing as wrong - just measured.
In this four-part series, I will be breaking down two divisions at a time, and this week I'm heading North and checking out the AFC and NFC where I will dig into a Boom, a Bust, a Breakout and a Sleeper from each Division. Some may be obvious, others not so much, but just have a read and let me know what you think!
To keep consistent, everything below is set to Half Point Per Reception scoring unless indicated. ADP data was found collectively from fantasyfootballcalculator.com and fantasypros.com - thank you!
Here we go!
NFC SOUTH BOOM - D.J. MOORE, CAROLINA - 2018 WR47, FINISHED WR37, CURRENTLY WR28:
Now I know what you are thinking… “Yes, I do love a slot receiver.” I also love a second-year breakout, and I love that when D.J. Moore started to get more time on the field, he started commanding more looks and love from Cam Newton.
I also low-key love what Carolina is building. Out with the big, bulky, slow, receivers and in with the quick and dangerous little fellas that can all be used with versatility. The NFL is changing rapidly. Speed kills and Carolina is built for the modern game moving forward, led by Moore, McCaffrey and Samuel.
D.J. Moore is currently (again, depending on the size of your league) going as a high-end WR3, to a backend WR2 in the mid-sixth round. And right now, it’s not that I believe he is being overlooked, quite the contrary, I think that is just about what he should be. However, in the fifth round, we have Sammy Watkins (who knows what he will or won’t do with or without Tyreek Hill), Jarvis Landry (with Odell Beckham lining up next to him as the alpha) and Tyreek Hill who is yet to receive his suspension. D.J. Moore feels like a high-floor, safer play over those who are going ahead of him who has some question marks heading into the 2019 season.
AFC SOUTH BOOM - KEKE COUTEE, HOUSTON - 2018 FINISHED WR106, CURRENTLY WR48:
Really? Another slot receiver? Really? Let me indulge you with the narratives first:
Tell me, who is the WR2 on Houston’s team if Fuller is unavailable? Will Fuller, as incredible as he is and the undeniable relationship with DeSean Watson that he has will always be prevalent, the fact that he may or may not be ready for week one of the NFL season has to mean something to fantasy owners. It means something for Houston too when they prepare for their season opener.
Tell me, does Houston have a dominant pass-catching running back on their roster that we don’t know about? Unless D’Onta Foreman grew a set of hands like Dion Lewis has, or Lamar Miller all of a sudden bumps up to 80-plus targets in a season I’d say that no, they don’t have a dominant pass-catching running back on their roster right now (‘sup Duke Johnson, do you like warm weather or what?).
Tell me, has Houston had a relevant Tight End since Owen Daniels? I love me some Kahale Warring, however, Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins are clearly not the answer. None of them are. Maybe in DFS. If you are desperate and blew your cash.
Coutee could be primed to step into a role as Houston’s automatic WR2, and sitting in the 10th round? Coutee is definitely worth a sniff in all formats in my opinion as your fourth or fifth receiver at worst and could end up being an every week flex play if things break right for him.
NFC SOUTH BUST - AUSTIN HOOPER, ATLANTA - 2018 TE19, FINISHED TE6, CURRENTLY TE16:
Part-time tight end, part-time dog groomer Austin Hooper, unfortunately, makes the list.
Shattering my early jump on him in the #BRIL this year, I actually bought into the idea that along with key coaching additions on Dirk Koetter (as the new OC) and Mike Mularkey (as the new Tight Ends Coach) - both of which over the past few seasons in Tampa and Tennessee respectively had used the tight end predominantly was a big win for Hooper this offseason. We have seen Delanie Walker and a combination of Cam Brate and OJ Howard have success - so in some form - maybe Hooper could too.
Now, a big positive for Hooper is that he is currently going in the 13th round as the TE16. That’s about right. But if you are waiting that long I could probably say that he is disposable or droppable most weeks. I’d dare say I would rather jump on a ‘tier 2’ tight end like Jared Cook in that 7th round instead, after the spine of my team on draft day has been built. On top of seeing about half of his targets (88 targets in 2018) coming in about 4 games, we are looking at a team that has DeVonta Freeman returning, the growth of Calvin Ridley expanding and Julio Jones being Julio Jones. We are looking at a world where Hooper is the fifth option and at that rate you are already fighting an uphill battle.
AFC SOUTH BUST - MARCUS MARIOTA, TENNESSEE - 2018 QB18, FINISHED QB23, CURRENTLY QB28:
They gave away peanuts to bring in Ryan Tannehill. If that isn’t warning sign number one, then I don’t know what is. Quarterbacks are gaining massive contracts left, right and center it seems every other week. Hell, even Derek Carr got paid the big bucks once! But not Mariota who seems to be in a ‘prove it’ year, despite having four years under his belt already. The talk of him gaining weight to combat injury is a nice thought. Though I’m not sure if that makes any sense because if your bones are made of chalk, it won’t matter how heavy you are they’ll still likely break.
The Titans are doing their due diligence and have given him players to throw to this year. I love the Adam Humphries addition and although everyone is upset about the landing spot for AJ Brown. I think it’s fantastic knowing that he will see the field straight away unlike others who landed in places where they will struggle to see work early. Delanie Walker returns too, which is a bonus as we know they can connect frequently too. I think no one is actually drafting Mariota unless, again, it is as a cheap DFS play or in BestBall where he will have the odd big week and that’s about it. Weekly you can’t trust him unless it’s in a 2QB or super-flex league and even then, you’re hoping to grab a third option ahead of him.
That’s a pass from me.
NFC SOUTH IMPACT PLAYER - MICHAEL THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS - 2018 WR5, FINISHED WR6, CURRENTLY WR4:
I’m not sure what to say about this. It’s an obvious choice here but still. Select Michael Thomas. Be like Michael Thomas. If you need any more reasons than this then I can’t help you.
AFC SOUTH IMPACT PLAYER - LEONARD FOURNETTE, JACKSONVILLE - 2018 RB8, FINISHED RB39, CURRENTLY RB14:
Leonard Fournette set the world on fire when he came into the NFL and since then… Not so much the same thing in year two.
For what it’s worth, He hasn’t gone this late in a while which in itself is probably a value right? The Jaguars this offseason also made a half-assed attempt to boost their stocks in the backfield by adding Alfred Blue and Ryquell Armstead. I don’t believe there is any threat to his opportunities going forward unless he proverbially shoots himself in the foot - which is at times likely. I like that Nick Foles is in Jacksonville and having a real quarterback running the offense and I think that veteran presence and wisdom will help a volatile team steady itself. And if so, a guy like Leonard Fournette can only reap the benefits of that. Their offensive line took a beating last year - it has since improved and become healthy, another thing that helps Fournette moving forward. We saw snippets of Fournette showing his receiving chops last year which included a 5-56-1 TD effort against the Colts. Now I’m not predicting he becomes the next James White by any stretch, but it is good to know that he can play that role when called upon.
I don’t think I would ever go out of my way to reach for him this year, but I know that if he falls into the third round I would be all in.
NFC SOUTH DEEP SLEEPER - JAMEIS WINSTON, TAMPA - 2018 QB21, FINISHED QB21, CURRENTLY QB15:
It is literally now or never for Winston and I feel like now must be the time. They aren’t going to run it, that much is true, unless Ronald Jones is the next Leonard Fournette (see what I did there?), so it seems as if through the air will be the catch of the day for Winston in 2019 (see what I did there too?). I believe he has QB1 for fantasy in his bag of tricks, and I think he has a bit more upside than guys like Jared Goff and Philip Rivers in the same range of drafts to make me want to take a risk on him. If said it once, I’ve enough times - grab a spare Quarterback at the end of your draft. Because, you know...
Just in case...
AFC SOUTH DEEP SLEEPER - NYHEIM HINES, INDIANAPOLIS - 2018 RB67, FINISHED RB32, CURRENTLY RB50:
I’m not a backup/handcuff kind of cat, but if you're looking at the 11th round then that is pretty much what you are going to find. In deeper leagues you may be looking for upside where the appeal of a ‘satellite’ back could be a thing that separates some players apart because of the value of receptions and that can be understandable.
Nyheim Hines had just under 750 all-purpose yards and 4 touchdowns as a rookie, and although Marlon Mack is the clear starter in that backfield, Hines is already their clear-cut passing down back. I also don’t see Spencer Ware or Jordan Wilkins as a threat to his role so there is a bit of safety in that regard also. Hines has been at it saying he wants to hit that 1000-yard mark for the year. The season would have to go right for him for that to happen; but can he come up with numbers like his 2018 debut? Yeah, why not.
Taking a risk in redraft on say an Alexander Mattison or Damien Harris who are going in the same range as Hines - who are both fine players in their own right - although Rookies. When you don’t know the role, they will have to start the season makes it somewhat of a wasted pick. Hines now at least has the upside of having a role already and that is something, which is better than nothing.
And there you have it! Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this and connecting with us at The Back Row Board for The Back Row Fantasy Show.
Check out Chris Foster’s work on the also for a much smarter view than mine - I accept this, I know where I am in life (which I’m mildly fine with) and his work is fantastic so please check it out and follow him @FootballNuke. You can find me as always at @TheBLeagueSays.
And if you haven’t - which would be shocking considering you’re on the @TheBackRowShow webpage right now - give the guys a Follow @Barkbackrow, @Nealdrox, and @Armsbackrow - And remember to Rate/Review/Share/Like/Subscribe to the Podcast and Posts!
But most of all…..Enjoy!