AFC South Breakdown: Don’t press your luck

August 5, 2021

Look, I’m going to be straight you. There’s a lot of slim pickin’s down in the dirty AFC South. Two of the four teams have more hard questions than the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions and the other two are either really young or carry a lot of injury risk.

That said, if you can mine the value out of here, it might be the difference between a title and a just missed if you push the right buttons week to week. Fantasy has always had an element of luck to it, but you might want to toss an extra penny in that fountain if you’re going to count on dudes found in this article.

Tennessee Titans

Must Draft: This is probably the most clear-cut option in the whole AFC South. You take AJ Brown if you have the chance and you don’t look back. He has the volume and with the addition of Julio Jones, he won’t see the double teams that he has in the past.

Value: Someone is going to roll their eyes, but I still think Julio Jones is a valuable fantasy asset. Yes, he’s a possible injury risk every damn week, but so is Derrick Henry. I am willing to admit he won’t get the volume he had in Atlanta, but I think his targets will be in high-leverage situations like third downs and in the red zone.

Sleeper: If Julio doesn’t bring out the pitchforks and torches, telling you that the Titans D is your sleeper pick will. They get the quickly disintegrating Colts, dumpster fire Texans, and youthful Jaguars twice to go with the crappy Jets and the leaderless Saints. Barring a bevy of injuries, this defense should not give up a ton of points. If you want to stream them, that’s fine, but be willing to pay with the No. 1 waiver slot to land them.

Bust: I have no clue who will play tight end this season and whoever that person is will certainly not be anywhere near as good as Jonnu Smith. Maybe you’ll get lucky with a bye week fill-in TD, but that’s definitely the best your going to get.

Indianapolis Colts

Must Draft: Ummm…Jonathan Taylor, I guess. It’s never good when your QB, best OL, and your coach all have foot injuries. I think Indy will be down early and often but Taylor is still the best weapon they have. Just don’t expect the production everyone was projecting a couple of weeks ago.

Value: Looks like this is Michael Pittman Jr.’s spot, but I don’t feel great about it. We have no idea who will even be throwing the football Week 1, but whoever lines up under center, they’ll be looking Pittman’s way, especially since they’ll be behind most weeks.

Sleeper: {Shakes Magic 8 Ball} Fate says this will be the guy who wins the quarterback job while Carson Wentz is out. Now whether that is Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger, or Brett Hundley (gross) is anyone’s guess, but they are a waiver wire dice toss at most.

Bust: This can only be Carson Wentz. The dude has just spiraled since his potential MVP season. Since then he’s watched Nick Foles win a Super Bowl with his team, got beat out by Jalen Hurts, then goes to Indy as The Man, only to get hurt….again. I was hoping he had a chance at Comeback Player of the Year, but now even if he does return I doubt he’ll have any kind of worthy production.

Houston Texans

Must Draft: Much like the Colts above, there’s really only one real option and that’s Brandin Cooks. Houston will be getting blown out most weeks, so the passing game will be in high gear, plus Cooks is actually a pretty good wideout. The quarterback situation is still iffy, but he’s one guy you can trust.

Value: Go fish. If you force me to pick someone, I guess that person is David Johnson. No, he’s not going to get a ton of carries and yes, he gets hurt a lot, but he’s a good pass catcher and if the blitz is coming hot like I suspect it will be, he can pick up yards after the dump-offs.

Sleeper: I haven’t seen anything as undesirable as this quarterback situation since I was still dating. (You had your chance ladies.) With Deshaun Watson’s situation still unclear at best, I’m going to work under the assumption Tyrod Taylor starts the season. It wouldn’t shock me to see Davis Mills get some run during the latter part of the season. Maybe they catch fire with Cooks, but an ugly bye week DFS stack is the only reason I would look in this direction.

Bust: The aforementioned Deshaun Watson. Even if only half of the women accusing him are true (and I suspect that it’s closer to all of them) that’s still really, really, really, really, really bad. His best scenario is to land on the Commissioner’s Exemption List, but I think a long-term suspension is the most likely.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Must Draft: You knew this was going to be Trevor Lawrence, right? He might be further down the ladder in a redraft league, but you’re still taking him as at least your QB2. His weapons are decent so he could make some noise, but even Peyton Manning had a crap-ton of picks in his rookie year, so you’ll have to live with those.

Value: From the sound of reports, Travis Etienne has been the star of Jags camp. Now, I have no damn clue why in the hell Urban Meyer only wants to throw him the ball and not let him run it, but either way, you can drop him in your flex spot and feel good about what you’re going to get.

Sleeper: If Urban is going to insist on playing Etienne at WR, then that means James Robinson’s workload won’t suffer that much. On draft night the fantasy community left JRob for dead, but perhaps might be only mostly dead.

Did I drop a Princess Bride clip in a fantasy football article? You’re damn straight I did.

Bust: With all due apologies to Karl Safchick, Phillip Dorsett is pretty much dead man walking. He’s on at least his third team since he came into the league and he’s never really made any kind of serious impact. I would fade him all day.