NFC South Preview: Southern-fried goodness

August 8, 2021

Gone from the NFC South are the fantasy football stalwarts of Julio Jones and Drew Brees.

But, enter Kyle Pitts, the return of Christian McCaffrey, and a trio of pass-catchers in Tampa and there is still plenty of fantasy football value to be had below the Mason-Dixon line.

Don’t forget, everything you read below is subjective and subject to the writer’s own bias.

Atlanta Falcons

Must Draft: Kyle Pitts, TE: I have been a staunch supporter of getting Kyle Pitts on my teams. Though he has yet to take a snap in the NFL, I view him as the “best of the rest” at the tight end position.

Pitts is rightfully so going as the fourth tight end off the board and at a position where points are at a premium, I am willing to take a stab at him in the fourth round, especially with the trio of Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle coming off the board in the first two rounds.

I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that Pitts tops Mike Ditka’s rookie TE record and catches passes for more than 1,076 yards, especially in an offense now void of a big-time pass catcher behind Calvin Ridley.

Avoid: Younghoe Koo, K: I know this is a bit of a cop-out to place a kicker as my avoid player, but, any kicker that is going before the final round (final two, if you play with defenses) is too big of a buy for me.

Despite what Linda keeps telling me, it’s much too hard to predict who is going to be the top kicker from week to week.

Koo was the top kicker last year and one that many people found on the waiver wire. I am grabbing my kicker in the last round, probably the kicker who plays the Jets, and figuring out who my kicker is week-to-week from there.

Value: Mike Davis, RB: This has to be Davis and I don’t know where else I would be willing to go with it.

The Falcons didn’t bring anyone in this offseason that will reasonably challenge Davis for touches. Yes, he will lose some snaps to Quadree Ollison and Javion Hawkins, but, this is his job to lose.

Davis is going as RB22 and is a threat in both the passing and the running game as he showed last year.

In 12 starts for Carolina last year, Davis has 642 rushing yards and 59 catches for 373 yards, and eight total touchdowns.

Bust: Calvin Ridley, WR: Full disclaimer, I have Ridley ranked as my redraft WR6 and that is where his current ADP lies.

But, outside of Davis, who you’re not investing a ton to get, Ridley had the biggest potential to flop.

Ridley performed well without Julio last year, but, there is a bigger chance of him seeing a lot of extra coverage this year, at least until Davis and Pitts draw the defenses in.

I don’t imagine Ridley falling too far down the WR ranks, but I think the odds of him finishing worse than WR6 are decent.

Carolina Panthers

Must Draft: DJ Moore, WR: Don’t get me wrong, this is no such slight at Christian McCaffrey, but, unless you’re sitting with a top-two pick heading into your draft, you have around a 0-percent chance of ending up with CMC in that RB1 slot.

Moore has topped 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, catching passes from Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, and Will Grier. I’m not saying that Sam Darnold is the best of the five, but I am suggesting it.

Moore gives Darnold the first alpha of his career and the former Jet should like his new weapons, buoyed by CMC and DJ Moore.

The fourth-year pro is going at WR21 as of this writing. I am definitely gobbling him up if he is still on the board in the fifth round.

Avoid: Sam Darnold, QB: Is this the portion of the writing where I say good things about the signal-caller out of USC and then disparage him a few returns later?

Yeah, I think it might be. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Darnold is in for the best season of his career, especially with Moore, Robby Anderson, and CMC surrounding him.

However, I don’t think I am willing to draft him in a 1 QB league. He’s being drafted as QB31 and while I think he fares better than that this season, I am hoping to see him have a few good weeks before I am even willing to use a waiver wire pick up on him.

Value: Robby Anderson, WR: After back-to-back 700-yard seasons in his last two years in Green and White as a Jet, Anderson topped 1,000 yards in his first season as a Panther. Even if he thought their mascot was a Bear.

Again, I’ll say good things about Sam Darnold. Linked to Darnold again, I am fond of another potential big season from Robby A. During their time together in New York, Anderson caught 102 passes for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Anderson is currently being drafted as WR35, I have as my redraft WR31, but a WR2 finish is not out of the realm of possibility for him.

Bust: Christian McCaffrey, RB: The biggest question when drafting CMC? Where is his floor? We don’t really know is the answer. In his two healthy seasons since his rookie year, McCaffrey has been the fantasy RB1. But, if you’re taking him with the first pick of the draft, that is what you’re expecting/needing out of him.

If you bust on your first pick of the draft, especially with THE first pick, the next player you’re getting is the 24th-“best” player off the board.

CMC is my redraft RB2. But, I am by no means suggesting that if you have the number one pick that you forgo CMC in favor of someone else.

New Orleans Saints

Must Draft: Alvin Kamara, RB: The Saints have quickly become one of the most confusing fantasy landscapes in all of football. They went from having sure every week plug-and-plays to a lot of question marks.

Karama is one of the few Saints that you know you can put in your lineup and be ready to go in your RB1 slot. Like CMC, this will likely take a top two or three pick, depending on the likes and dislikes of your fantasy mates. But, Kamara is my RB1 and the player I would take if I had the number one pick.

You already know that he is going to see the majority of the snaps in the backfield, but with a lot of question marks at WR (I think TommyLee Lewis is WR1 there, rolls eyes because Doug thinks I am serious), Kamara will see a lot of snaps in the slot and catching the ball out of the backfield.

Avoid: Michael Thomas, WR: I have a hate-hate relationship with Thomas. Luckily, I haven’t been burnt by his recent injury “shenanigans.”

No, I don’t really think he’s making up injuries to get out of work, just the draft capital you have to invest to get him has been a little high for all the games he has missed.

If he is healthy, he is probably a Top 10 to 15 wide receiver. The problem is, his health is always a question mark especially as of the last couple of years. I think he will be in for a big season when on the field, especially linked to Jameis Winston. But, with him already expected to miss a few weeks of the season, I am not willing to invest a draft pick in him.

Value: Jameis Winston, QB: If you’re one of those people who believe in drafting a backup quarterback (I am not), Winston could be a league winner for you.

There are a lot of question marks about the starting quarterback position in New Orleans, one that will likely have more clarity as the preseason goes on. But, Sean Payton’s love for Taysom Hill does bring into question what kind of role Winston will play. Hill was enough to get Drew Brees off the field.

If you’re drafting Winston as your backup quarterback, I would be sure that your starter has a late bye, just so you can watch what the Saints do at quarterback the first few weeks and cut bait if you need to.

Bust: Taysom Hill, QB: Call me what you want, I am probably a hater when it comes to the quarterback-turned-special teamer-turned tight end-turned-quarterback, but there’s a zero-percent chance you see Hill on any of my rosters this year. Not even to win a bet.

I thought for sure, the week he was the starting quarterback for the Saints and you could slot him at TE, that was going to be a big advantage. It wasn’t and Taysom Hill stinks.

Don’t waste your time, don’t say his name on draft day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Must Draft: Mike Evans, WR: His price tag is a little steep for me right now, he’s being drafted as WR13, but there is no player you’re more sure of what you’re going to get yearly than Evans.

The seven-year pro has seven seasons with over 1,00 yards receiving and has caught at least 8 scores in each of the last three seasons.

The one worry with Evans, there are some weeks he will lose you games, see Weeks 1, 6, and 7 of last season when he combined for 14 points. But, he will also win you weeks, just by getting into the endzone, see Week 3, where he caught 2 passes for 2 yards and 2 touchdowns.

When other managers let Evans fall, grab him, you won’t regret it. Most weeks.

Avoid: Rob Gronkowski, TE: I know it is a shallow position, but your drafting Gronk with the hope/expectation he scores a touchdown every week.

Gronk is one of those guys that you’re sitting on your bench most week because he just isn’t going to put up 10 catch-100 yard games every week. And why are you drafting someone that you can’t start? (Ignore the hypocrisy of the fact I told you to do that with Winston).

Value: Tom Brady, QB: This hurts. I hate Tom Brady. But, the numbers are there. QBs such as Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer have exploded in their second season under Bruce Arians.

Brady was also awesome in 2020, playing with an alleged MCL injury (listen, I’m not a doctor and I don’t believe a thing Tom Brady says). The billon-year signal called throw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns last year (guys, he’s six months younger than Doug, who graduated high school the year I was born).

I would expect Brady at least to repeat his finish as a QB1 from a year ago.

Bust: Chris Godwin, WR: I like Godwin quite a bit, but this is one of those, there are too many mouths to feed situations. Brady loves Scotty Miller and Antonio Brown. Evans, Gronk, and fellow tight ends Cameron Brate and OJ Howard are going to get the looks in the red zone.

So where does that really leave Godwin in the situation?

I do believe he will have his games where he is able to surpass 20 fantasy points, but like Gronk, probably not enough to start him every week.

In my opinion, Godwin is better suited as a bestball player.