NFC South Fantasy Preview

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By Pasha Hashemzadeh

Here we provide you with a fantasy outlook for each NFC South team:

Atlanta Falcons:

Julio Jones might be the best WR in the game with his consistently elite numbers produced year in year out. He is a surefire first round pick in fantasy and you should be happy to have him on your squad. Despite the presence of Julio, Matt Ryan’s talents are subpar and he simply does not produce at a QB1 level in fantasy. Mohamed Sanu was paid big money this offseason to help take the pressure off Julio and give Matty Ice another target to throw to. Rookie TE Austin Hooper looks to make his mark, though it is recommended to steer clear of him come draft time as TEs don’t fare well in their first years historically. Devonta Freeman was an absolute stud behind the elite run-blocking offensive line last year. While he is in an offense where he can produce, he is still an undersized and an average talent, along with second year talent Tevin Coleman in his rearview mirror. It would not be a surprise if this turned out to be a RBBC. Freeman is currently being drafted in the second round of drafts, though it is recommended to let someone else draft him. The Falcons have a below average defense that shouldn’t be drafted in any formats.

Carolina Panthers:

Reigning MVP Cam Newton looks to build on his strong season with his top target in WR Kelvin Benjamin back and healthy. Benjamin still has some conditioning issues at the moment, nothing he can’t clean up come training camp. Benjamin is a solid WR2 in fantasy, while his second year counterpart Devin Funchess could be a sneaky late round flier after reports have surfaced that he looks phenomenal at OTAs. He is a player to monitor during camp and preseason. Barring injury, Greg Olsen should see another top five TE finish this season as Cam’s go-to target in the redzone. Jonathan Stewart is the Panthers’ lead back when healthy, though he is currently dealing with injury at the moment. Cameron Artis-Payne is the backup, not a very intriguing prospect. Cam should be a big part of the run game, and if Stewart is healthy, he makes for a solid RB2 in a good Carolina offense. The Panthers defense should be drafted as a top five unit as they are the foundation of the team and were a big part of last year’s Super Bowl run. Josh Norman is out of town, but the front figures to be strong enough to mask any deficiencies in the secondary.

New Orleans Saints:

One could say Drew Brees is on the decline, though he will still get his as he always does. Despite losing Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks last offseason, Brees still put up numbers with Brandin Cooks as his top go-to man. With the arrival of C Max Unger in the Graham trade, Brees was given more room to operate in the passing game. The Saints drafted studly Ohio State WR Michael Thomas who looks to lineup opposite Cooks this season. He is a player to monitor during the offseason, as he has all the tools – height, speed, hands, leaping ability – to succeed. Thomas is an intriguing player and should be a solid late round flier, while Cooks is a high-end WR2. The Saints figure to balance the offensive attack a bit more this season with the emergence of veteran RB Mark Ingram. Ingram was the RB3 prior to going down last season, and makes for a great second round pick this season given he is a feature back in what looks to be a good offense. C.J. Spiller will be more of a gadget player and is someone to steer clear from given his fantasy futility and inability to stay on the field in recent years. Newly acquired TE Coby Fleener looks to be Brees’ main go-to man in the redzone and is on the TE1 radar. The Saints figure to have a porous defense with stud S Jairus Byrd seemingly never able to make it onto the field.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The arrow is pointing up for the Bucs offense as second year man Jameis Winston looks to build on a strong rookie campaign. At his disposal, he has current and former Pro Bowl WRs in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Evans is a WR1 in fantasy while Jackson is on the decline and is more a WR4/5. Second year Kenny Bell is a player to monitor during camp, as he could surpass VJax as the WR2 in TB. Doug Martin was rewarded a nice contract after a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. He looks to be the horse for this offense, while being spelled by talented backup Charles Sims at times. Sims’ PPR floor is high given his involvement in the passing game, and can be drafted as a solid flex play. Martin should be drafted as a RB1. Third year TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins has disappointed thus far this offseason and could even be demoted. Steer clear of him. The Bucs have a lot of talent on the defensive end, and could be a good streaming option this year, though at the moment they are undraftable.