AFC South Pre Draft Offseason Risers and Fallers
We start our journey through the AFC down South where there are 3 new offensive coordinators and some interesting free agent moves to discuss including a certain super bowl hero taking his talents to
Jacksonville. Letʼs dive in and take a look at what these teams have done before the draft.
Coaching Changes - Tim Kelly takes over as OC, but Bill OʼBrien will still call the plays. Kelly has been with
OʼBrien for years so there isnʼt expected to be any changes of note to the offense
Free Agency - Alfred Blue signed with Jacksonville and Demaryius Thomas is yet to sign anywhere, but other than that the offense is in tact. The Texans added Matt Kalil to their O-line and could also address the position in the draft which has the chance to help everyone in the offense.
Risers - The guy I like the most as a breakout on this team is easily Keke Coutee. He had a chance to be the feature guy in this offense in the wildcard game against the Colts last season and shined with 11 catches on 14 targets for 110 yards and a TD. Sure, heʼs unlikely to have that type of target share with Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller around, but Fuller is no sure bet to be 100% to start this season and even if he is I expect Coutee to start in the slot where he spent most of his time last season. This passing offense could be dynamic and if the pieces can all stay healthy itʼll mean great things for Deshaun
Watson. Iʼd love to see them add a pass catching RB and maybe even one of the TEʼs from this deep class and Watson could compete for the QB1 spot - for real.
Fallers - For such an exciting team, the RBʼs here are uninspiring to put it kindly.... Ok, theyʼre boring. In fact, Lamar Miller is so boring that he causes us to get excited about DʼOnta Foreman. Iʼm expecting the
Texans to bring in an RB via the draft and depending on who it is they could compete for touches right away. If the value for Lamar Miller drops far enough, I might be willing to bite because there at least a chance that he leads the team in rushing and adds in 6-8 TDʼs. The same canʼt be said for Foreman who I wonʼt be owning anywhere. Heʼs completely unproven and is coming off an achilles injury that sidelined him for all of the 2018 regular season.
Coaching Changes - None
Free Agency - Out with Ryan Grant and in with Devin Funchess. Funchess seems like the kind of receiver who will do well with Andrew Luck and I like the addition he makes to this team.
Risers - During the 2018 season there was so much smoke connecting this team to free agent running backs that I was sure something was going on internally with Marlon Mack. But here we are, major free agent threats to him are all signed and Mack is left as the top dog. Nyheim Hines presents a threat to him in the passing game, but he poses almost no threat to his carries. As long as the Colts donʼt spend a high pick on an RB, Mack will enter the season with strong RB2 upside.
Fallers - Leaving Detroit for Indy led to an amazing 2018 for Eric Ebron in which he totaled 110 targets, 66
catches, 750 yards and 13(!) TDʼs. The obvious question now is, can he repeat it? The Ebron truthers will of
course tell you that he can. Indy has obviously seen what Ebron can do and of course theyʼll continue to
use him the same way. Letʼs just say Iʼm skeptical and a lot of it has to do with Jack Doyle who struggled with injuries all last season and only played in 6 games. Hereʼs why - Doyle missed weeks 3-7 in 2018 while Ebron got off to a hot start. In those first 7 games, Ebron had 33 catches, 357 yards and 6 TDʼs. While Doyle was out Ebron played an average of 53.6 snaps per game. What happened when Doyle came back? The next 3 games Ebron played 17, 21 and 25 snaps. To be fair, in those limited snaps he had 6
targets total and actually did well with them scoring 3 TDʼs. With Doyle back can he average a TD on 50% of his targets? I say no. Add in the improvements to the receiving core and I expect Ebron to take a giant step back and I would absolutely sell him high.
Coaching Changes - John Defilippo was brought in to be the OC after being fired mid season by the Vikings in 2018. He was previously the QB coach in Philly, which at least partially explains the major move they made in free agency!
Free Agency - Itʼs Nick Foles time in Jacksonville and I like the move for them if they can surround him
with some talented pass catchers. They lost Moncrief to Pit, ASJ to NE, and Carlos Hyde to KC. They then
brought in Alfred Blue and Geoff Swaim who could factor in this year depending on injuries and the draft.
Risers - Nick Foles has had one of the more fascinating careers in recent memory. Heʼs been in and out of starting jobs, got Jeff Fisherʼed, and then found himself as one of the most unlikely Playoff/Super Bowl
heroes of all time. He now get an opportunity to walk into Jacksonville and be the starter from day one,
something he hasnʼt had in a long time. Joining Defilippoʼs offense in Minneapolis leaned towards the pass heavy side, will he carry that over to Jax? I think he will which will give Foles lots of opportunities. He probably doesnʼt have the play makers on offense to be able to compete for a top 12 QB spot, but he is at
least a QB2 with upside. Dede Westbrook is the WR Iʼm most interested in on this team. He is dangerous out of the slot and should be in line to see over 100 targets in this offense in 2019 (101 in 2018). Marquise Lee will be back and they will almost certainly address the position in the draft, but Westbrookʼs name should be written down in pen as the starting slot receiver and could be in line for a break out.
Fallers - 2018 was a season to forget for Leonard Fournette. He missed 9 games for various reasons
including suspension and had health struggles for the second year in a row. His relationship with the Jaguars seems strained at the very least and feels like it could blow up at any minute. Even if health and his relationship with the team donʼt derail his 2019 season, heʼs also turned into a largely game flow dependent RB as he adds almost nothing in the passing game. Add to that his 3.9 and 3.3 yards per carry over the last two seasons and we could be looking at more of a TD dependent RB. He has produced plenty in that department scoring 16 TDʼs in 22 games, but is that enough to warrant a place in your every week dynasty lineup considering the price youʼre going to have to pay? Count me out.
Coaching Changes - The Titans promoted from within to fill the void of Matt LeFleurʼs departure and now
former TE coach Arthur Smith holds Marcus Mariottaʼs destiny in his hands. Who he is as a play caller is a mystery, but at least we donʼt think itʼll be an entirely new system for Mariotta to learn.
Free Agency - Roger Saffold is a major addition to this offensive line where they had their share of
problems last year. I also like the addition of Adam Humphries into this offense as well and expect him to
earn his QBʼs trust right away.
Risers - Has anyone else ever gone from hyped to left for dead to super hyped all in one season the way Henry did in 2018? Statistically his season is as fascinating as any one else in the NFL that I can remember. My biggest take away from my deep dive into him is that I believe something changed for
Henry over their bye week. I still canʼt say what because no one has seemed to ask that question, but the
difference in his yards per carry is a tip off to me that he approached the second half differently than the first. From 3.3 in weeks 1-7 to 6.0 ypc in weeks 9-17. That led to more trust from the coaching staff and his snap counts and carries trended up as he proved his value. His new OC can only be described as a huge fan of Henryʼs based on his comments and that can only mean great things for Henry. Thereʼs obviously a chance that Henry merely took advantage of his fresh legs while everyone else was worn down by the season, but that argument isnʼt convincing to me. Iʼm buying Henry and expect him to have a great 2019.
Fallers - When you think of Corey Davis, do you think of him as a slot receiver? I didnʼt either, which is why I was surprised to learn that he took almost 63% of his snaps from he slot last season. I had not
considered the addition of Humphries to be a potential take away from Davis, but after seeing those snap counts I began to wonder. Humphries worked almost exclusively out of the slot in 2018 (83%) and while he probably could move out wide, Davis seems like the most likely candidate for that. He clearly has the skill set to move to a more prominent role on the outside, but itʼs yet another adjustment the third year receiver has to make. Iʼm not quite ready to sell him yet, but Iʼll be looking for info on this once training camp is underway.