Hey guys, we are only a few weeks away from real football! Football that actually counts! Holy moly! I’ve been a bit tied up these past few weeks, and haven’t been able to finish my division previews (thanks a lot Sammy Watkins, Ezekeiel Elliot, Julian Edelman and Spencer Ware). So let’s do that, with the final two coming in the AFC West and South. So for today, let’s look at the AFC South!
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The Titans made some pretty impressive moves in the offseason. In the draft, they went out and got Corey Davis from Western Michigan, who is already making a name for himself in the preseason and training camp (and isn’t a bad late-round flier in drafts either), and over the offseason, went out and got veteran wideout Eric Decker. Both moves already add to an impressive receiving corps for the young QB Marcus Mariota. Mariota, who already had a very solid 2016 season, looks primed to have an even better 2017 season. He’s currently being drafted at 72nd overall as the 8th QB off the board, which in my opinion, is just about right as he’s my 8th QB in my rankings. However, he does pose some legitimate upside, and if you aren’t going early with either Rodgers or Brady, then I think Mariota is a really great option.
As for the individual receivers themselves, I’m a little less certain. Sure, they all collectively are great for Mariota, but individually for fantasy, I can’t say for certain that one stands out over another. I wouldn’t invest in a Titans wideout for 2017, as it’s a crowded group, but I don’t mind the likes of Corey Davis (110th overall) or Decker (92nd overall) as late round fliers. Rishard Matthews is going pretty late, but I wouldn’t expect too much from him. As for Delanie Walker, I think there are better options above him and below him that have much higher ceilings, so I don’t really find myself getting him in drafts.
As for the running games, a lot of people seem to be worried about DeMarco Murray, but I don’t really mind him that much. Sure, he’s got a lot of tread on his tires, but he’s still very consistent and a great fit in this offense (unlike in Philly), so I really don’t mind him at his current ADP of 11th overall. I think it’s a great idea to handcuff him with Derrick Henry, as he should be an immediate RB1 should Murray go down, but it’s gonna cost you a little bit, because unlike typical handcuffs, he carries a 8th round price tag. Still a great option, however.
Heading into the offseason and NFL Draft, the Texans didn’t have to do much to transform an already good team into a better one, and that mostly just meant for them to get rid of QB Brock Osweiler. Well, they did, and didn’t waste too much time in turning around and getting QB Deshaun Watson from Clemson. It’s still too early to tell yet if he’ll get the start over Tom Savage (thanks in part to Savage’s BFF-for-evs DeAndre Hopkins), but either candidate is a big upgrade over Osweiler. On offense, it’s more of the same from last year. I’m still interested, but not excited, about Lamar Miller. The hope is that the passing game is good enough for opposing defenses to not stack the box against Miller, but only time will tell. I’m interested, and excited about Hopkins, however. I think it’s a big upgrade from Osweiler to Savage/Watson, and I think he’ll easily finish as a Top-12, maybe even Top-10 receiver in fantasy this year.
And that’s pretty much it. The Texans are a stellar team, yet pretty simple for fantasy. You like Miller, you love Hopkins, you want their D/ST, you’re not touching anyone else, except for Savage/Watson as a streaming option. Simple as that.
This might get a little complicated. It’s looking more and more as the days go by that Andrew Luck is going to miss the first week of the regular season, although it looks like it might just be one week and that’s that. Which is why it’s so puzzling why everyone is avoiding him like the black plague. In fact, recently, Matt told me that he got Luck in the TENTH round of a draft of his (regular, not an industry one). Everyone is preparing for the worst for Luck, which actually makes me sort of like him if he gets to be a serious value during my drafts.
If he is only out for a week, I’m not moving T.Y. or Moncrief. For Hilton, he was still incredibly productive last year as a WR1 for both the Colts and in fantasy, and one week without Luck this year shouldn’t change that. However, it’s a lot different for Moncrief. Moncrief’s fantasy stock pretty much depends on Luck being there for Indy, and if he misses any serious amount of time, I’ll be forced to move Moncrief down some in my rankings.
As for the rest of the offense, I don’t really mind some of these names in fantasy. Frank Gore hasn’t been outside of the Top 20 in PPR leagues since Bush was in offense, and although he’s a year older, I don’t have any doubts that he can do it again. However, it’s wise to invest in a handcuff for the rookie Marlon Mack. Tehol loves him some Mack, and I originally wrote him up as a really solid college prospect before the draft.
One final name for the offense to consider is Jack Doyle. Doyle last year had his best games in the blue uniform without Dwyane Allen, and now Allen is permanently out of the picture. If you’re gonna punt on TE’s in drafts, you should eye Doyle and Eric Ebron as your guys to get.
This team is pretty rough (except for Fournette). Like I’ve said numerous times on many different podcasts and live streams, this Jags team is like a Kansas City 2.0. A team marked by strength on the defense to mask the inefficiencies of their QB play, while relying on the ground game to give them the advantage in the end. So for fantasy, I’m going to stay the hell away from Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson (unless he’s coming at a serious value), while placing emphasis on their team D/ST and Leonard Fournette.
Matt and I disagree a TON on Fournette, and it’s pretty clear. Matt believes he’s gonna suck because Bortles is terrible, and their O-Line isn’t good enough to solely rely on Fournette to save the offense. While I slightly agree about their O-Line, the name of the game is volume in fantasy, and the production will come where there’s volume, and there’s gonna be plenty of that for Fournette. Unless I’m dead wrong and they’re gonna use their other All-Stars of T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory.
Yeah I didn’t think so.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @razzball_zach.