Completed Previews: AFC NorthNFC North – NFC East Part INFC East Part II – AFC East Part I – AFC East Part I

2019 projections referenced below are based on razzball.com 2019 projections managed and updated by our very own @RudyGamble . ADP, and strength of schedule referenced below are based on fantasypros.com consensus data.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan

2018 Recap

  • QB2
  • Started all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 9 out of 16 games (3 additional games < .9 of beating projection)
  • 38 TDs (3 rushing) / 12 turnovers (5 FUM)
  • 608 passing attempts (QB3)
  • 22.2 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 13th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
    • Tale of two halves:
      • Weeks 1-8: faces 5 teams ranked among the top 11 toughest fantasy defenses and only 1 matchup against a top fantasy defense ranked among the top 10 easiest
      • Weeks 10-16: faces 6 teams ranked among the top 10 easiest fantasy defenses and only 1 matchup against a top 10 hardest fantasy defense

Matt Ryan was a late round steal last year, unfortunately we will not get the same value from him this season after posting a QB2 finish. Matt’s current ADP sits at 70 overall and QB6 off the board. Atlanta posted the 3rd highest passing rate in 2018 at 65%. If you missed our boys Zach’s pass/run ratio article make sure to peep it here. Some might have concern after the change at offensive coordinator but it will not be a complete overhaul for Matty Ice and the Falcons. Dirk Koetter was Matt’s OC from 2012-2014 where he lead the Falcons to an NFC championship game in 2013. Ryan finished QB11 in 2013 and QB7 in 2014. Ryan might have overpriced himself in this years fantasy drafts. Rudy has Matt regressing slightly; projected a QB13 finish, throwing ~40 less passes and ~8 less TDs. 

RB Devonta Freeman

Recorded no substantial stats in 2018 (knee injury). Started 2 games but did not finish either game.

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 25th easiest overall strength of schedule
    • Rough start (weeks 1-4), 3 match ups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 hardest. #8 wk 1 @ MIN, #10 wk 3 @ IND, and #4 wk 4 vs TEN.
    • Brutal stretch to finish the season and during the fantasy playoffs (wk 13 – 16), no matchup against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest. Three matchups against defenses ranked among the top 10 hardest, #3 wk13 vs NO, #7 wk14 vs CAR, and #5 wk16 vs JAC.

Devonta Freeman reminds me of the not-so-poor mans LeVeon Bell heading in to 2019. Before missing 2018 due to injury, Freeman posted the previous PPR finishes: 2017 RB13, 2016 RB6, and 2015 RB1. Freeman finished 2017 with 865 yds on 196 attempts for 4.4 yds per carry, 47 targets, and 8 total TDs. Freeman’s RB13 finish in 2017 looks pretty at initial glance but after peeling back the onion, he ranked RB20 in total rush attempts and RB25 in targets. Freeman proved to be extremely efficient with his opportunity in 2017. Can he keep up the efficiency after a whole year off rehabbing from injury? An RB13 finish in 2017 was ~183 total points away from RB1, compare that to the 2017 WR13 (Golden Tate) that finished only ~84 points behind WR1. Yes, Freeman is providing value this season relative to his ADP in 2017 and prior years but the juice might not be worth the squeeze. After breaking down his strength of schedule, Freeman only faces two fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest for opposing RBs over the course of the 2019 fantasy season. Freeman’s current ADP is 33 overall and RB15 off the board. Rudy has him projected to finish behind his ADP with an RB20 finish. Even after the departure of Tevin Coleman, in an offense that’s 3rd in total pass attempts and brings in new OC Dirk Koetter, who failed to produce a top 10 fantasy back while in Tampa, you might want to consider tempering your expectations with Freeman. 

WR Julio Jones

2018 Recap

  • WR4
  • Started all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 8 out of 16 games
  • 10 games over 100yds receiving 
  • 10.6 targets per game and WR1 in total targets (170)
  • 7.1 receptions per game and T-WR3 in total receptions (113)
  • 14.8 yds per reception and .5 TD per game
  • 20.4 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 7th easiest overall strength of schedule for receivers
    • Juicy last half the season…After Julio’s week 9 bye week (weeks 10 – 16), 6 out of 7 of his games are against defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest fantasy defenses for WRs. The only matchup not ranked in the top 10 easiest is week 16 vs JAC (#2 hardest)

I don’t need to waste your time explaining why Julio Jones is a first round fantasy pick this year. You could argue he should be the number 1 overall WR off the board but we are splitting hairs between ‘Nuk’ Deandre Hopkins, Devante Adams, and Michael Thomas. Rudy has Julio finishing WR2 overall, only behind Adams. I do love Julios last half strength of schedule and he does have the highest rated easiest strength of schedule amongst the top 4 receivers. 

WR Cavlin Ridley

2018 Recap

  • WR22
  • Played all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 7 out of 16 games
  • Only 1 game over 100 yards receiving
  • 5.8 targets per game and T-WR39 in total targets (92)
  • 4.0 receptions per game and T-WR32 in total receptions (64)
  • 12.8 yards per reception and .63 TD per game
  • 12.9 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance 
    • 7th easiest overall strength of schedule for receivers
    • Juicy last half of the season…After Calvin’s week 9 bye week (weeks 10 – 16), 6 out of 7 of his games are against defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest fantasy defenses against opposing receivers. The only matchup not ranked in the top 10 easiest is week 16 vs JAC (#2 hardest)

Everyone is expecting for Calvin Ridley to have his break out season in 2019 during his sophomore campaign. I was surprised to learn that Mohammed Sanu beat Ridley in total targets, receptions, and receiving yards in2018. Ridley beat Sanu in total TDs and yards per reception. Ridley’s pre-season hype has him slightly over priced in my opinion. His current ADP of 55 and WR 22 is 12 spots richer than Rudys projected WR33 finish for Ridley. Rudy has Ridley regressing quite a bit in the touchdown department, down to 4.4 from 10. With Devonta Freeman back in the fold and a new OC in town maybe we should pump the breaks on Ridley at his current price. 

TE Austin Hooper

2018 Recap

  • TE6
  • Played all 16 games
  • Hit and beat weekly projections 7 out of 16 games
  • Zero games over 100 yards receiving
  • 5.5 targets per game and TE7 in total targets (88)
  • 4.4 receptions per game and TE4 in total receptions (71)
  • 9.3 yards per reception and .25 TD per game
  • 10.2 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 21st easiest overall strength of schedule for TEs
    • Rough start to the season (weeks 1-4), faces the #8 (wk1 @ MIN), #5 (wk2 vs PHI), and #1 (wk4 vs TEN) ranked hardest fantasy defenses and only one matchup against the #10 ranked easiest fantasy defense (wk3 @ IND)

Hooper’s current ADP of 109 and TE11 is ahead of his current projected TE15 finish. At an extremely shallow position, unless you grab one of the top 3 TE’s (Kelce, Ertz, Kittle), waiting until later rounds to grab your TE is my recommended strategy. If you can get Hooper in round 10, or later, go ahead and take him. 

Quick Hits: Playing second fiddle to Tevin Coleman last season, Ito Smith failed to due much with his opportunity. He finished with only 315 yards on 90 touches in a pass first offense. I’m only interested in grabbing Smith for insurance if Freeman is my RB2/3, due to Devonta’s recent injury history. Rudy has Ito projected to finish the season as RB45, putting him in RB4 range. If the Falcons decide to run the ball more and ‘save’ Freeman by limiting his touches, then Ito will have a chance to produce more in 2019. Mohammed Sanu is projected to finish the season as WR72. He is right inline with his current ADP of WR70 and 211 overall. Sanu is merely a deep bench grab but could turn in to a hot waiver add if Jones or Ridley find themselves injured in 2019. 

Carolina Panthers

QB Cam Newton

2018 Recap

  • QB13
  • Missed two games to finish 2018 due to injury (shoulder)
  • Beat weekly projections 8 out of 14 games
  • 28 TDs (4 rushing) to 13 turnovers (all INT)
  • 488 rushing yards (QB4)  on 101 attempts (QB2)
  • 471 passing attempts (QB18)
  • 20.2 fantasy points per game (QB8)

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 12th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
    • Sweet finish to the fantasy season (weeks 11-16), no matchup against a fantasy defense ranked among the top 10 hardest against opposing QBs and three matchups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest

Prior to Cam’s week-8 flair up, of his shoulder, he was averaging 24.1 fantasy points per game. This was good for QB2 in fantasy points per game. During the offseason, Cam had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder to help clear up his injury. He is expected to be good to go for the start of training camp. Newtown’s current ADP of 89 overall and QB9 is the kind of value we look for when drafting a quarterback. Rudy has Cam finishing the season as QB5, ahead of Baker Mayfield and NFC counterpart Matt Ryan

RB Christian McCaffrey

2018 Recap

  • RB2
  • Started all 16 games
  • Hit or beat weekly projections 11 out of 16 games
  • 4 games over 100 yards rushing and 2 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 6.7 receptions per game on 7.8 targets per game
  • 5.0 yards per carry and 8.1 yards per reception
  • 24.1 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 14th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
    • Decent start out of the gate (weeks 1-4), faces the #6 (wk2 vs TB) and #1 (wk3 @ ARI) ranked easiest fantasy defenses for opposing RBs. Only one matchup against a top 10 hardest fantasy defense (#7 wk4 @ HOU)
    • Down the stretch (weeks 13-16), one matchup against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest (#5 wk14 @ ATL) and one against the top 10 hardest (#10 wk16 @ IND)

Christian’s 124 total targets put him at the top of the RB charts in targets and WR14 when compared to wideouts. McCaffrey is an RB1 from his rushing stats alone combined with a top 15 WR, making him arguably the #1 fantasy asset heading in to 2019. He finished ahead of Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliot in receiving yards and targets, but behind Zeke and SB in total rushing attempts. Essentially the ‘top 3’ can be looked at as 1a, 1b, and 1c between Zeke, SB, and McCaffrey. The #1 pick is in the eye of the beholder. Christian’s current ADP sits at 3 overall and RB3 off the board, exactly in line with Rudy’s #3 overall finish for him in 2019. I won’t beat a dead horse with this one, you won’t see McCaffrey fall past the 4 spot in your drafts. 

WR D.J. Moore

2018 Recap

  • WR36
  • Played in all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections in 6 out of 16 games
  • 5.1 targets per game and WR45 in total targets (82)
  • 3.5 receptions per game and WR42 in total receptions (55)
  • 14.3 yards per reception and .13 TDs per game
  • 9.8 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 14th easiest overall strength of schedule for WRs
    • Attractive matchups after his week 7 bye (weeks 8-16), 6 out of 8 matchups are against defense ranked in the top 10 easiest for opposing RBs and only one matchup against a defense ranked among the top 10 hardest

After Carolinas “WR1,” Christian McCaffrey, Moore led the team in targets. Now that defacto WR1 from 2018, Devin Funchess, moved on to Indianapolis he frees up 79 targets in the passing game. DJ Moore provides middle round value for those seeking a cheap #1 wideout on a dynamic offense. His 59 OVR ADP and WR24 off the board is richer than Rudys projected WR42 finish. With Christian eating up the lead share of receiving targets, and Cam’s tendency to run, it’s easy to see how Moore can be projected lower than his current ADP. The opportunity as the lead wideout paired by his athletic ability I understand why he has relatively high ADP. Moore averaged 7.3 targets per game down the stretch last season and averaged 67 receiving yards per game (weeks 11-17). I’ll take the over on Rudy’s current projection of DJ. 

CAR Quick Hits: WR Curtis Samuel is an exciting late round upside grab as he moves into the #2 wideout role in this system. With Defenses keying in on Christian this season, it’ll be interesting to see what Norv Turner draws up to get the ball in his dynamic playmakers on the outside in Moore and Samuel. Curtis is currently getting drafted 126 overall/WR50 and Rudy has Curtis finishing the season ahead of DJ Moore with a WR32 finish. I really hope this is the case because I picked up Samuel in the 10th round of my #SFB9 draft. I like the upside and love the value. I’m not too excited about, “somewhat” retired, TE Greg Olsen after he spent the majority of last season apart of the broadcast team for Fox. It’ll be a feat if Olsen can stay on the field for a full season. Rudy has Greg projected to finish 2019 as TE10, this is assuming Greg stays fairly healthy throughout the season. Greg is practically free in one TE leagues, going 157 overall and TE17. I guess he’s worth the flier at the end of drafts. If Olsen goes down the Ian Thomas will be the TE1. The new comer, Chris Hogan, is projected to finish as WR95 and not worthy of a draft pick at this time.

 

Next up: NFC South Part II- New Orleans Saints + Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

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