Chris Sweet – Senior Fantasy Analyst: The Wagner Wire
This is the 3rd part of an 8 part series. You can find the previous installments below.
For our 3rd installment, we are heading to the AFC South. This is a division that was owned by Peyton Manning and the Colts for over a decade. When the Colts drafted Andrew Luck it seemed like they would own it for the next decade as well. Going into 2017 that is not the case. The South is as open as it has been and there is no shortage of Fantasy Football Performers.
It took no time for the Texans to be dealt a huge blow when Will Fuller broke his collarbone as training camp opened. Fuller is expected to miss 2-3 months. That is a big enough problem, however, the bigger concern right now is seeing which QB wins the Starters job. Tom Savage is the slight favorite over rookie Deshaun Watson but I would expect both to see time as the Starter this year. Brock Osweiler was so bad last year that even Tom Savage starting could be an upgrade over the year Brock gave us. The offense should once again revolve around the run game of Lamar Miller but he did not quite live up to expectations. The Dolphins may have been on to something by limiting his touches. He is still a borderline RB1 in drafts as he sees a lot of volume. Rookie D’Onta Foreman will back Miller up and Alfred Blue is still on the roster for now. The passing game revolves around DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins saw 151 targets last year but only caught a little over half of them and failed to break 1000 yards after posting 111 catches for over 1500 yards in 2015. The hope is that the departure of Osweiler helps Hopkins retain his 2015 form. Behind him are Braxton Miller, Jaelen Strong, and Devin Street. Strong was a highly touted prospect 2 years ago but the drafting of Miller and Fuller last year showed that the Coaching Staff was not impressed. C.J. Fiedorowicz provides low TE1 upside and can be had relatively late in drafts. The Texans D is probably one of the Top 5 options this year and the Kicking is done by former Terp Nick Novak.
Studs: DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller
Solid Starters: C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU D
Sleepers: D’Onta Foreman, Deshaun Watson
Deep Sleepers: Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller
Normally I would start this off by talking about Andrew Luck being an elite option at QB. The problem is that depending on who you listen to, Luck may be starting the year on the PUP list which would force him to miss the first 6 games of the season. No matter how good TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief are, 6 games of Scott Tolzien is not getting their maximum fantasy potential. Hilton proved what a complete fantasy stud he is last year seeing 155 targets and leading the NFL in receiving yards with 1448. Fantasy experts have been waiting for Moncrief to break out the past few years. Thus far he has been a great red zone threat but not much more than that. Phillip Dorsett and Kamar Aiken are the other receivers of note. Dorsett had opportunities to shine last year but did nothing with them. Aiken if forced to start could yield strong results. Tight End Jack Doyle impressed so much last year that the Colt sent Dwayne Allen to New England for virtually nothing. He is a trendy TE pick this year. “Old Man Strength” Frank Gore is still a starting Running Back in the NFL at age 34. He isn’t fast but he does what he is paid to do and you could do worse as your RB2 or RB3. The Colts drafted rookie Marlon Mack but Robert Turbin has impressed and should be Gore’s back up again. The Colts D is nothing you want to mess around with on your fantasy team. Adam Vinatieri is still a top end K as the oldest player in the league once again.
Studs: Andrew Luck (No Pup), TY Hilton
Solid Starters: Donte Moncrief, Frank Gore, Jack Doyle
Sleepers: Jack Doyle, Marlon Mack, Kamar Aiken
New Jacksonville Head Coach Doug Marrone has been quoted as saying that the perfect number of passes for Blake Bortles to throw this year would be zero. This is not great news for Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, and Allen Hurns. I believe what Marrone is getting at though is that the Jaguars are going to focus on being a run first team in 2017. I can’t blame him. The Jaguars took Stud Rookie RB Leonard Fournette 4th overall in this year’s draft. Jacksonville has had to be a pass first team the past few years because they fell behind early most games. The Defense should be much better in 2017 which is good news for Fournette. Blake Bortles isn’t a very good NFL QB but he has been a good to great Fantasy QB the past 2 years. He should fall out of the Top 10 conversation this year unless Fournette ends up getting injured. Allen Robinson saw 151 targets last year, but like DeAndre Hopkins could only catch around half of them. Robinson may see his targets go down but it’s possible the quality of them may go up. He’s definitely worth the risk at his current ADP as the upside is a Top 10 season. Marqise Lee had a solid season last year and Allen Hurns fell off big time. I’m not targeting either in my drafts this year. Rookie Dede Westbrook is a deep sleeper candidate. Longtime Jaguar Marcedes Lewis and Mychal Rivera will be competing for the starting TE job. The D is an intriguing play this year. Jason Myers is the Kicker.
Studs: Leonard Fournette, Allen Robinson
Solid Starters: Marqise Lee
Sleepers: Blake Bortles, TJ Yeldon
Deep Sleepers: Dede Westbrook
Tennessee is a team on the rise. They were on their way to a possible AFC South Title last year when Marcus Mariota broke his fibula. This year they will look to build on that and feature a slew of fantasy favorites. Mariota is a sexy pick to make the leap this year, but I don’t advise taking a QB earlier than the 8th round or so. The run game is boosted by Mariota’s own mobility. Demarco Murray stepped back into the elite conversation last year with 346 touches for over 1500 total yards and 12 TDs. Backup RB Derrick Henry contributed with 600 total yards and most people are expecting his role to grow this year. It may be a situation to stay away from as taking either serves a certain risk. Number 5 overall pick Corey Davis will be a starter from Game 1 as long as his hamstring injury is nothing serious. Across from him will be the underrated Rishard Matthews with Eric Decker in the slot. The noise from camp is that Mariota and Decker are already on the same page making him a great sleeper candidate. Rookie Taywan Taylor has been getting some first team reps while Davis is out. We move on to Tight End where the Titans are loaded once again with Delanie Walker. Walker is a Top 5 Fantasy TE the past few years and should be great once again. The Titans D should be ok and the kicker is Ryan Succop.
Studs: DeMarco Murray, Marcus Mariota
Solid Starters: Delanie Walker, Eric Decker, Corey Davis
Sleepers: Rishard Matthews, Derrick Henry
Deep Sleepers: Taywan Taylor, Jace Amaro
Thanks for reading, leave me a comment or a tweet. Check back soon for the AFC West preview. Follow me on Twitter @TheChrisSweet