NFC SOUTH TEAMS’ FANTASY RELEVANT PLAYERS

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class John Nieves Camacho [Public domain]

Oh man, there are a lot of big name players in the NFC South. But how many are Fantasy Relevant? Let’s a look and find out.

New Orleans Saints

QB Drew Brees

When will Brees not be fantasy relevant? All he does is throw the ball. He is still putting up big numbers year in and year out 3,992 yards (the first time as a Saint he has been under 4,000 yards) and 32 touchdowns just last year. Brees is just outside the top 5 QBs to most but don’t let that fool you come draft day. Draft him him as your weekly starter. And let him lead you deep into the playoffs. Stat projection: 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns

RB Alvin Kamara

It’s his back field now (Marl Ingram is in Baltimore now). He’s the “man” to carry the ball. But how well will he do it? Last year he had 883 rushing yards, 14 rushing touchdowns, 81 catches, 709 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns.Yes the Saints lost Ingram but they brought in ball hawking Latavious Murray in. Kamara is fast, jukes all over the place, and can catch. But will he be able to carry the full load and live up to his first round landing spot. Draft him high but be cautious of the hype. Stat projection: 1,100 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns, 90 catches, 800 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns

WR Michael Thomas

PPR players draft him NOW! Like right now! His 125 catches, 1,405 yards, and 9 touchdowns were mind blowing. Yes, he’s the only target for Brees but he can handle the pressure as the team’s WR 1? Yes, yes he can. He’s easily a top 3 fantasy WR, so draft him as your WR 1. All he does is catch the ball! Stat projection: 135 catches, 1,600 yards, 12 touchdowns

TE Jared Cook

New team, new quarterback, and new season. Cook is one of those tight ends you love to hate. One week he goes off and the next he’s no where to be found. Last year with his 68 catches, 896 yards 6 touchdowns you loved it or hated it. Will Brees rely on him as much as you do in your fantasy season? Let’s hope so. Draft him as you weekly starter but be ready to stream him with another TE in case he starts to flop. Stat projection: 75 catches, 950 yards, and 10 touchdowns

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston

This is going to be Winston’s make or break year. Can he get over the hump of being an average QB and go to an elite QB? His 2,992 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 281 rushing yards, and 1 touchdown last year in 11 games says he’s ready to get over that hump. He has the weapons around him to do so, as we will see. He has a rocket for an arm that allows him to throw deep passes, he is mobil enough to get you fantasy points there, and he has a new head coach who likes to throw. Winston should end the season in or near the top 12. Draft him as your weekly starter but be paying attention when he starts to slump and you need to pick up a waiver QB for a few weeks. Stat projection: 3,800 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 300 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns

The running backs for the Bus are some of the worst in the league. And as a three running back by committee (Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, and Andre Ellington) none of them have fantasy relevance. Pass them by in your drafts. Oh and if you’re thinking Jones, wait a year, 2020 will be his year, because he is coming off a pretty bad rookie season.

WR Mike Evans

Evans is one of those players who puts up huge numbers 86 catches, 1,524 yards, and 8 touchdowns just last year. But you can’t figure out how and why. He doesn’t have a great QB, the WRs aren’t anything special, and there is no running game. So why is he still a top 10 WR? He’s sneaky good. He can go off for weeks catching ton of passes for a lot of yards and then switch it to a ton of touchdowns for a few weeks. He will get you consistent fantasy points each week. Draft him as your WR 1 and you will “sneak” your way into the playoffs. Stat projection: 100 catches, 1,700 yards, and 10 touchdowns

WR Chris Godwin

DeSean Jackson has left for the Philadelphia Eagles, that means Godwin gets bumped up to the team’s WR 2. And that means he goes from your bench to you flex position. It would be hard to trust him as your WR 2 unless you went RB heavy and ignored WRs in your draft. Last year he had 59 catches, 842 yards, and 7 touchdowns. They will get a bump up because he will see more playing time and targets but not enough to be your WR 2. Draft him, but don’t draft him to early. Stat projection: 70 catches, 1,000 yards, and 10 touchdowns

TE OJ Howard

His second year in the league wasn’t too bad he had 34 catches, 565 yards, and 5 touchdowns in 10 games. This year he should be the second or third option in the passing game. That depends on what you think Godwin will be. Still a decent tight with a decent QB throwing him the ball should land Howard in the Top 5 TEs preseason and end of the season rankings. Draft him as your weekly starter. Stat projection: 55 catches, 750 yards, and 8 touchdowns

Carolina Panthers

QB- Cam Newton

Going into his 9th year in the NFL, Newton has played all 16 games 5 times. He’s only missed 5 1/2 games, he left one early. What? Really? But he’s always injured maybe but he still plays. However, he is coming into this season already banged up with a shoulder injury. But reports say he will be ready for week 1. Draft him as your weekly starting QB, because if he comes close (and he may pass it) to last year’s stats 3,395 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 488 rushing yards, and 4 touchdowns in 14 games you won’t be disappointed. Stat projection: 3,800 passing yard, 30 touchdowns, 500 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns

RB- Christian McCaffrey

Here’s last year’s stats.

Rushing yards 1,098, check

Touchdowns 7, check

Catches 107, check

Receiving yards 867, check

Touchdowns 6, check

Passing yards 50, check

Passing TD 1, check

What can’t this guy do? If it wasn’t for Zeke and Barkley, McCaffrey could easily be the first pick overall in your drafts. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. He is clearly the team’s number one option and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The Panthers didn’t draft or sign and real contender to take carries away from him. Draft him and CHECK yourself into the playoffs. Stat projection: 1,200 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 110 catches, 900 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns

WR DJ Moore

He is now team’s WR 1 since they got rid of Devin Funchess (now with the Colts). Because he’s big, fast, has good hands, and he’ll see more targets, his 55 catches, 788 yards, and 2 touchdowns from last year will improve. He put those numbers up as a rookie, not too bad. If you draft RB-RB, he will be a weak WR 2 on you team. If not, he’s a solid flex for you team. Stat projection: 75 catches, 900 yards, 5 touchdowns

TE- Ian Thomas

If Greg Olsen continues to play this year and all signs are saying he is, then Thomas is the TE 2 for the team. If Olsen retires then he gets bumped to TE 2. But either way he could be used a decent streaming or bye week filler TE for your team. Last year as a rookie he had 36 catches, 333 yards, and 2 touchdowns. They should see a slight bump up as he is gaining more trust from Newton. If you draft him wait on him until the later rounds. Stat projection: 50 catches, 500 yards, and 5 touchdowns

Atlanta Falcons

QB- Matt Ryan

13 of the Falcons 16 games this year are in a dome. Talk about great conditions to play football in. This should only make his stats from last year 4,924 yards (second highest in his career) and 35 touchdowns (second highest his career) go up. They drafted help on the offensive line, didn’t lose any WRs, and drafted another WR. There is no reason why Ryan isn’t your weekly starter. Don’t reach for him as you may want to because of all of those done games. He does put a dud occasionally. Stat projection: 5,100 yards and 40 touchdowns

RB- Devonta Freeman

He is the only running back worth drafting this year for the Falcons. (Tevin Coleman is with the 49ers now) Unless you draft handcuffs, then sure take Ito Smith. But now you just wasted a pick. But back to Freeman, when he is healthy he is amazing. Last year he had 68 yards and 0 touchdowns in 2 games. In 2017 he had 865 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns, 36 catches, 317 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown. Freeman will be pretty close to that this year. He is a decent RB 1 for your team but a solid RB 2 if you take him as your RB 2. Stat projection: 1,000 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 45 catches, 400 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns

WR- Julio Jones

Is he finally on a touchdown run? The 113 catches (second highest in his career), 1,677 yards (second highest in his career), and 8 touchdowns (second highest in his career) from last year says he is. He’s been so inconsistent in the touchdowns category. He does have help this year to take away the double team with WR Calvin Ridley is in his second year. Jones is still the team’s WR 1 and should be yours too. However, if you draft Zero RB, he would be an excellent WR 2 for your team. That means you would have two WRs 1 on your team. And if you play PPR, watch out you’re getting a ton of points. Stat projection: 120 catches, 1,700 yards, and 12 touchdowns

WR- Calvin Ridley

64 catches, 821 yards, and 10 touchdowns isn’t bad for a rookie. Double digit touchdowns for a rookie! With a better understanding of the playbook and relationship with QB Matt a Ryan, Ridley will be a solid flex for your fantasy team this year. He is fast, a good route runner, amazing hands, and he can jump for the 50/50 ball. All things the Falcons want in a WR 2 but for your team a flex. Stat projection: 80 catches, 1,000 yards, and 12 touchdowns

TE- Austin Hooper

Oh, the sleeper tight end from 2 years ago. The one we all thought was going to break out year after year after year. Is this going to be his year? Probably not, he’s the team’s third to fourth option in the passing game. His stats last year said so 71 catches, 660 yards, and 4 touchdowns, all three career highs. Some think he’s a top 10 tight end who is your weekly starter. Others think a streamer out of the top 10. Safe to say he’ll be right around 10. But for your team, stream him with another tight end by playing the weekly matchups. Stat projection: 75 catches, 700 yards, and 7 touchdowns

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