By Pasha Hashemzadeh
Here we provide you with a fantasy outlook for each AFC South team:
The Texans have a new-look offense heading into the new year with former Denver signal caller QB Brock Osweiler and former Miami RB Lamar Miller in town. Osweiler looked good in limited action last year en route to the Broncos’ Super Bowl win, though he doesn’t have much on tape and could have a shaky year one in Houston despite having one of the league’s best targets at his disposal in WR DeAndre Hopkins. Osweiler is not on the fantasy radar, while Hopkins is a surefire top five WR that could very well be a first round selection come draft day. He has all the tools to succeed – great hands, vertical leaping ability, speed, and length. Even with Brian Hoyer under center last year, Hopkins put up Pro-Bowl numbers and established himself as one of the league’s elite at his position. Opposite him will be either second year WR Jaelen Strong or rookie first round pick Will Fuller. Fuller has more upside given his talent, though both players are recommended to be shied away from. Fuller is a player to monitor during camp and preseason, as he is the frontrunner to grab #2 duties and if Osweiler is able to build an early rapport with the young wideout, he could be an intriguing late round selection or waiver wire pick up. The Texans figure to be a run-heavy team under HC Bill O’Brien, who has pounded the ball since his time in Houston. Miller is an RB1 heading into the year, as he has all the talent to succeed in this offense. Miller wasn’t given a true opportunity to let loose in Miami, and a full workhorse role makes him a drool-worthy player come draft time. He could truly breakout this year. Behind him on the depth chart is rookie Tyler Ervin who excels in the passing game and could spell Miller at times. Ervin is a solid handcuff to Miller in the late rounds. The Texans do not have a tight end worth rostering in fantasy. With arguably the best player in the league in J.J. Watt leading them, the Texans defense will be a top 10 unit to draft this season.
Between the Andre Johnson experience and injuries, QB Andrew Luck had a disappointing season following his true breakout year in 2014. Luck goes into the new year as a top five fantasy QB prospect, and with the aging Johnson out of town, this offense should be able to click better this year. Luck’s primary target will be WR T.Y. Hilton, who should be drafted as a WR2 with upside, given he has arguably the league’s most talented QB at his disposal. Donte Moncrief will look to solidify himself as the man opposite Hilton, and could turn into a potent deep threat this year with his good size and speed. Second year wideout Phillip Dorsett will be in the mix on three-WR sets and could have a nice year in this offense. At the moment, he is nothing more than a fantasy WR5. Should Hilton or Moncrief go down, Dorsett would be a priority waiver wire pick up. RB Frank Gore was disappointed in his 2015 season and looks to bounce back this year, though it may be tough as he is a year older and one of the oldest RBs in the league. He is being had in the mid rounds currently, though it is recommended to shy away as history has shown that RBs at his age simply do not fare well in the production category, regardless of how good his offense may be. With TE Coby Fleener out of town, Dwayne Allen’s prospects have shot up and he could be Luck’s go-to man in the redzone. Allen excels in blocking, something he will be mostly used for. He is currently a TE2 with upside. Monitor him during camp and preseason, as should he build a strong rapport with Luck, he could enter the TE1 discussion. The Colts are woeful on defense and the unit should not be drafted in fantasy.
QB Blake Bortles, who has the makeup of a Big Ben-type QB, broke out in 2015 and became an elite fantasy play down the stretch. He has a young and talented corps at WR in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars figure to be down in a lot of games, despite upgrades on defense, so one would figure their aerial attack will be used often. Robinson is a high-end WR1 while Bortles is a low-end QB1. Hurns is a solid WR3 in fantasy. There was no better deep threat in the league last year than Allen Robinson, as he had the highest yards per catch. He looks to build on his 2015 success and could easily see himself in the Pro Bowl again given he has another year under his belt in the Jaguars offense. TE Julius Thomas is a big redzone threat, and is a low-end TD-dependent TE1 given he can stay healthy. The Jaguars running game is a messy one now that Chris Ivory was brought into town. 2015 rookie RB T.J. Yeldon had a solid rookie year and looked to be a workhorse going into 2016, but the Jaguars had other plans when they brought Ivory in. Look for a RBBC here and the true value of each player comes if the other gets hurt. They are both flex options at the moment, and not great ones. While the Jaguars significantly upgraded on defense this offseason by bringing in Malik Jackson and Jalen Ramsey, they still figure to be down a lot, making this defense not fantasy worthy. They could be a nice streaming option at times given their talent on the defensive side of the ball.
The Titans are a very young team on both sides of the ball, and they will certainly struggle at times this year. Second year QB Marcus Mariota had a mixed rookie year that saw him produce while on the field while also being kept off it due to multiple injuries. He looks to take a big second year leap, and has some weapons at his disposal to do so. The Texans bolster a young WR corps in Dorial Green-Beckham, Kendall Wright, and Tajae Sharpe. The projected starters are Green-Beckham and Wright, though 2016 fifth round pick Sharpe has taken some first team reps in minicamp over DGB. DGB has immense talent, and could be a huge deep threat, but needs to get his head in the game. Wright will look to man the slot this year, with the other two aforementioned players playing the outside. Sharpe, a UMass product, arguably has the most upside and is a player to monitor during camp. All wideouts are currently not start-worthy for fantasy, but close attention should be paid to all of them this offseason to see who builds a good connection with Mariota. The Titans had a major upgrade at RB this offseason when they traded for DeMarco Murray and drafted Derrick Henry out of Alabama in the second round. They figure to be a run-heavy team and use their two-headed monster, as both are huge and bruising RBs. Murray is currently an RB2 as he figures to get most of the work, while being spelled by Henry at times. Henry is a must-handcuff to Murray. TE Delanie Walker looks to have another impressive year and serves as a fantasy TE1. The defense can be left undrafted, as they are simply too young and untalented to succeed this year.