2019 Fantasy Football Preview: NFC South

Friday, Jul 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm ET

Training camps will be here before you know it followed quickly by the preseason. That means that fantasy drafts are right around the corner as is your fantasy research. Let's start that research with the NFC South.

Aggregated team reviews are below.

NFC South



Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The additions of Bruce Arians as head coach and new coordinator Byron Leftwich suggest that the Tampa Bay offense should be firing on all cylinders. Jameis Winston could have a monster season with Mike Evans and O.J. Howard solid targets for him. The passing game isn't so much of a question mark as the run game is. Given Arians' history, we'd expect an uptick from either Peyton Barber or Ronald Jones but neither guy is exciting based upon last year's performance.

Top Fantasy Player

Mike Evans

Mike Evans - WR

With DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries gone, Evans has a chance to top 150 targets and deliver first-round value for the second time in his career. So you should absolutely pounce on him if he's still available the late second round. Evans set career bests with 17.7 yards per reception and a 62.3% catch rate in 2018. If he comes anywhere close to matching that with increased volume, he could be the No. 1 receiver in Fantasy.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBJameis Winston11th$8
RBPeyton Barber51st$1
WRMike Evans8th$38
TEO.J. Howard4th$20

Sleeper: Ronald Jones

Bruce Arians seemed to take a liking to Jones during the offseason and didn't add any serious competition to the backfield for him or starter Peyton Barber. Fantasy managers will be shy to take Jones with any draft pick, but if he makes headlines in August, his stock will shoot up into at least the middle rounds. Even without the headlines, Jones is a decent late-rounder.

Breakout: Chris Godwin

For the second year in a row, Chris Godwin will be popular on Draft Day in all leagues. And while he was good in 2018, he should be better this season. The addition of Bruce Arians as Tampa Bay's coach, as well as the departure of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, should make Godwin worth drafting as early as Round 4 in all formats. In 2018, Godwin had at least 13 PPR points in seven outings. But he should be more of a focal point on offense in 2019 since he's now moving into the slot for the Buccaneers. Mike Evans should still be the leader of this passing attack, with O.J. Howard also a significant factor. But Godwin should thrive with Jackson and Humphries gone, and in six games over the past two seasons without Jackson on the field, Godwin has scored at least 12 PPR points in four of them. Godwin's Average Draft Position will likely be Round 5, but don't be afraid to reach for him in Round 4 given his breakout potential in 2019.

Bust Alert: Peyton Barber

Ronald Jones' disastrous rookie season left Peyton Barber atop Tampa's depth chart. He racked up 234 carries and 20 catches — but still finished just 31st in PPR points and 26th in non-PPR. The Bucs didn't make any significant additions to the backfield this offseason. But Jones will be given every chance to win the starting job and reportedly had a strong spring. If Barber is passed on the depth chart, he'll hardly be worth drafting in fantasy leagues. And even if he sticks as the lead back, his ceiling doesn't extend much beyond what we saw last year.

Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons

The passing attack in Atlanta remains unchanged from last year with Julio Jones leading the receivers and Matty Ice under center. Tevin Coleman, a popular fantasy handcuff, has moved on and Ito Smith has moved up the depth chart behind Devonta Freeman. The fantasy relevance of Smith is what we'll be watching. Freeman's usage has declined (15 or fewer touches in his past 16 games), and if he gets hurt, Smith could end up being a steal at his current ADP.

Top Fantasy Player

Julio Jones

Julio Jones - WR

Frustrating touchdown totals aside, there is no way Julio Jones should slide past the end of the first round on Draft Day. Jones has five straight seasons with at least 14 games played and at least 1,400 receiving yards. You should expect a sixth in 2019, even with the emergence of Calvin Ridley. If anything, Ridley's success in the red zone may loosen things up for Jones.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBMatt Ryan7th$14
RBDevonta Freeman17th$31
WRJulio Jones3rd$50
TEAustin Hooper11th$7

Sleeper: Mohamed Sanu

Sanu has finished among the top 37 WRs across fantasy formats in 2 straight seasons. He has a shot to make it 3 in a row in 2019 under pass-leaning OC Dirk Koetter. Sanu doesn't bring a high weekly ceiling but is a nice floor option to have on your roster. And he's regularly available at the tail end of fantasy drafts.

Breakout: Ito Smith

With Tevin Coleman gone, the opportunity for a significant role in Atlanta alone makes Ito Smith a worthy target in the eighth round of Fantasy drafts. He'll have to improve on his 3.5 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per catch marks from his rookie season, but that shouldn't be too much to ask with Atlanta's revamped offensive line and a year under his belt. Smith will begin the season apprenticing behind Devonta Freeman, but given the latter's injury struggles, a significant role could be there for Smith at some point. There's league-winning potential here if everything breaks right.

Bust Alert: Calvin Ridley

Ridley flashed some serious weekly upside as a rookie, topping 16 PPR points 6 times. But he also finished with fewer than 8 PPR points in 7 different outings. Expect that weekly volatility to remain in 2019 as Ridley battles for targets with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper. The good news is that Atlanta should chuck it plenty under pass-heavy play-caller Dirk Koetter.

New Orleans Saints New Orleans Saints

What's not to like in the Big Easy? Drew Brees continues to march towards the Hall of Fame with an impressive fantasy offense. With Mark Ingram gone, it's the Alvin Kamara show, and unless you've got a Top 4 pick, there's little chance of you having Kamara on your team. His handcuff this year will be newly-acquired RB Latavius Murray. The passing game will feature stud WR Michael Thomas, but there are some intriguing options including Jared Cook, Ted Ginn, and Tre'Quan Smith.

Top Fantasy Player

Alvin Kamara

Alvin Kamara - RB

It's time to quit doubting the sustainability of Alvin Kamara's performance and simply accept him as a top-four running back and a top-four pick in any format. The fact is an incredibly talented back in a great offense with an elite quarterback is going to do some amazing things. Kamara will still share work (now with Latavius Murray) but you should expect around 300 touches, 1800-plus yards, and double-digit touchdowns.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBDrew Brees9th$10
RBAlvin Kamara4th$62
WRMichael Thomas4th$46
TEJared Cook8th$16

Sleeper: Ted Ginn Jr.

There really aren't any sleepers with upside in New Orleans this year, but Ginn certainly comes to mind. Only one of Ted Ginn's 12 seasons has been beneficial for Fantasy managers, so don't come into 2019 expecting Ginn to be a hero. What we can expect is for Ginn to compete for the No. 2 wide receiver role in camp this summer. If he gets it, he should earn the 6.1 targets per game he had when he was healthy last year. That would get him close to 100 targets.

Breakout: Tre'Quan Smith

Second-year receiver Tre'Quan Smith will compete for more playing time in Saints camp this summer. His versatility to line up out wide and in the slot will almost certainly keep him in the offensive loop, but finding targets in an offense with guys like Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and new tight end Jared Cook won't be easy to get regularly. That'll change if the 6-foot-2 speedster is wise on the playbook and his route running is improved. If the preseason buzz around him builds, expect him to get nabbed with a pick in Round 11 or later. If not, he'll remain as a wait-and-see prospect in long-term formats.

Bust Alert: Drew Brees

Drew Brees is still as good as he's ever been, but that's no longer the case for fantasy. Gone are the days when Brees was an easy early-round pick — you're taking him more as a low-end No. 1 QB in the middle rounds now — but that's mostly just because he doesn't have to throw as often as he did. After racking up 600-plus attempts in nine out of 10 seasons, he was under 500 in 2018, his lowest number since 2004. That's the downside of an improved defense and running game. Brees still got to 30 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards, but he's no longer a set-it-and-forget-it Fantasy quarterback.

Carolina Panthers Carolina Panthers

There's no elite WR option in Carolina which means that we're looking at guys like D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, but even they will take a back seat to RB Christian McCaffrey who led the team with over 100 catches last year - an impresive feat for even the most talented wide receivers, let alone a running back. Cam Newton is as tough as it gets and remains a Top 10 fantasy QB.

Top Fantasy Player

Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey - RB

It's Christian McCaffrey's versatility and speed that makes him a prominent top-four overall pick in Fantasy drafts. He was one of five running backs to get 300-plus touches and is looking for more after adding some serious muscle this offseason. That might send his 13.7 carries per game average higher. He finished 2018 working as an every-down back, including four 1-yard touchdowns and nine scores from inside of 10 yards. Mesh all that together with his nearly unparalleled receiving prowess (8.1 yards per grab and 5.8 receptions per game through two seasons) and a 2,000-total-yard campaign can't be ruled out.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBCam Newton8th$11
RBChristian McCaffrey3rd$60
WRD.J. Moore23rd$23
TEGreg Olsen17th$1

Sleeper: Curtis Samuel

Curtis Samuel is the kind of weapon who needs the ball in his hands wherever he can get it, and the Panthers started realizing that last season. His continued emergence makes him a high-upside mid-round target for Fantasy, as the Panthers continue to figure how to get the most out of him. He averaged 59.6 yards per game over his final five contests, with 40 targets, and most of that came either with a limited Cam Newton or a backup. A threat to take it to the house every time he touches it, expect Samuel to get a lot more chances in 2019.

Breakout: D.J. Moore

Someone in every draft will believe in D.J. Moore's production rising and grab him in Round 5 or 6. Will it happen? Moore led the Panthers' receivers in targets, catches and yards as a rookie and should see a larger share of the work in 2019. He should also find the end zone more after scoring just twice in 2019. But his success hinges on Cam Newton's shoulder being OK for the start of the season. If it's not, Moore will catch passes from someone like Taylor Heinicke or Will Grier, and that might get ugly. Moore's high-volume nature should push him into a safer value in PPR.

Bust Alert: Greg Olsen

We're expecting Greg Olsen to be back on the field for the Panthers in 2019, but we're not sure just how effective he'll be. Limited by significant foot injuries in each of the last two seasons, the 34-year-old has missed 16 games and has just five touchdowns and two appearances with 70-plus yards. As he slows down, the Panthers might have found a replacement for him in Ian Thomas, who finished 2018 with a touchdown and at least 40 yards in two consecutive games. Until the situation clears itself up - and it may not clear up at all - Olsen shouldn't be considered the reliable Fantasy starter he once was. Let someone else draft him.

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