NFC South Pre Draft Offseason Risers & Fallers
With all of the activity going on in the NFL it might be hard to believe itʼs only been two months since the Patriots embarrassed the Rams in Super Bowl 53 (sorry Rams fans, Iʼm a bitter Saints fan). NFL team are tirelessly working to improve their rosters at a blistering pace... Well, most of them are trying to improve Looking at you, Gettleman. So much has happened so fast that it can be tough to keep up with all of the changes around the league. Donʼt worry, weʼve got you covered. As free agency winds down and teams continue their draft prep weʼll be taking a look at who has risen and fallen around the league from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Weʼll go division by division breaking down each team starting in the NFC South.
Coaching Changes - Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was fired and replaced by former Falcons OC Dirk Koetter. Koetter has a reputation for being a pass heavy play caller with many of his offenses ranking near the bottom of the league in rushing attempts.
Free Agency - Other than adding a couple interior lineman the Falcons have been quiet. Their biggest loss on offense is Tevin Coleman and on the defensive side of the ball they parted ways with Robert Alford and Bruce Irvin, most notably.
Risers - The most obvious riser for the Falcons is Ito Smith. The fact that Atlanta has not addressed the RB position in free agency and their willingness to let Tevin Coleman walk puts Ito in a great position to provide his fantasy owners sneaky value next season. The caveat to this of course is that I expect them to address the position in the draft. Their bigger needs fall on the defensive side of the ball, so the RB they bring in could be a later round pick which could be good news for Ito Smith owners. Devonta Freeman will enter the season as the starter, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to stay injury free putting Ito in a position where he could be the bell cow at some point this season. Keep in mind, the pass first nature of the offense will cap the upside of Freeman and Smith so donʼt overpay. I should also mention Calvin Ridley here, as I do expect him to benefit from Dirk Koetterʼs pass first approach and I expect growth as a receiver in his second year. If he can make the strides heʼs capable of this could be a great passing attack.
Fallers - Considering the lack of free agents the Falcons have brought in, I donʼt think anyoneʼs value has fallen since the regular season ended.
Coaching Changes - None
Free Agency - The Panthers lost Devin Funchess to the Colts, and brought in C Matt Paradis from Denver.
Risers - Curtis Samuel benefits most from the departure of Devin Funchess and if he stays healthy Samuel could fully breakout in 2019. After being hindered by injury in his first season, Samuel worked his way into a sizable role in the offense late in 2018. He gained the trust of the coaching staff and QB and saw his snaps and targets go up consistently after week 11. With more opportunity came more production and the chance to show off his speed and abilities after the catch. Greg Olsens return could limit targets, but thatʼs no guarantee. The nature of his game could make him a boom or bust WR 2/3 type with a high ceiling and low floor week to week which could make him more of a best ball play. Itʼs hard for Christian McCaffereyʼs value to rise much, but the addition of Paradis should make his life a little easier. He proved he could carry the load last season and is a top 5 RB for me in any format.
Fallers - Greg Olsen continues to be linked to broadcast roles every off season and so far those have proven to be fruitless. However, between that and the injuries over the last couple seasons Olsen has become almost impossible to trust as a fantasy asset. If you have him, you have no choice but to hold since you couldnʼt get much in return. Put him on your trade block and if you get any offers at all be ready to hit that accept button. Cam Newton has already had an off season to forget. His shoulder surgery caused rumor of him missing all of 2019, although those rumors appear to be off base for now. His value is probably at the lowest itʼs been in years and itʼs possible a savvy owner could acquire him and stand to profit if his value rises over the next few months. He has the weapons and pedigree to be a top tier QB, but if the shoulder does not return to form sooner rather than later you could be left with Cam taking up a spot on your bench or IR.
New Orleans Saints
Coaching changes - None
Free Agency - The Saints lost Mark Ingram to the Ravens, but added Latavius Murray. Max Unger retired and the Saints quickly replaced him with Nick Easton from Minnesota. They are rumored to be adding Jared Cook and special teams ace Marcus Sherels. Sherels should allow Kamara to move away from his return duties in 2019. The Saints also retained Teddy Bridgewater.
Risers - Alvin Kamara was already a high draft commodity, but the loss of Mark Ingram should improve his value even more. Kamara was consistently one of the best RBʼs last year, but his best games came with Ingram out last season. The games without Ingram were also the games in which Kamara had the highest amount of offensive snaps. Latavius Murray will accompany him in the backfield in 2019, but is not the same caliber back as Ingram. I believe this move signals a larger role for Kamara going forward and itʼs not hard to imagine a scenario where he finishes the season as the number 1 fantasy RB. Teddy Bridgewater re-signed with New Orleans and all indications are that he will be given the keys to this offense once Drew Brees retires. Brees is past his prime, but Sean Payton has consistently produced top tier offenses over the last dozen seasons. Teddy is talented enough to keep that going and could be the starter going into 2020. In deeper and super flex leagues he is a must stash.
Fallers - Drew Breesʼ value will enter 2019 at its lowest point in over a decade and deservedly so. He is one of the smartest and hardest working QBʼs in the league, but Iʼm worried that heʼs lost his fastball. That said, he will still benefit from being able to dump the ball off to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas will continue to produce. The addition of Jared Cook gives the Saints a third option in the passing game they desperately needed as well. If Brees can push the ball downfield to Smith and Ginn on occasion, then this offense could thrive. But if Drewʼs arm strength looks similar to the way it did in the 2018 playoffs I wouldnʼt bank on that. With that in mind, Tre'Quan Smith and Ted Ginn go into the season with a lot of risk and are probably nothing more than boom/bust WR 4/5 options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coaching Changes - Completely new staff. Bruce Arians is now HC and Byron Leftwich is the OC. Todd Bowles now is the DC.
Free Agency - Adam Humphries and Ryan Fitzpatrick found new homes in Free Agency and Desean Jackson was traded to the Eagles. Lots of turnover on the defensive side of the ball, but nowhere to go but up for this group right? They did bring in former first round pick Breshad Perriman.
Risers - Jamies Winston and Chris Godwin are easily the biggest winners on this team. Letʼs start with Jamies. Is there a better coach to make you feel good about a QB than Bruce Arians? QBʼs have consistently played well under BA and Jamies will arguably be the best one heʼs coached in a while. Donʼt get me wrong, Jamies has to prove he can be consistent and prove that talent week in and week out... but itʼs there. Ryan Fitzpatrick moving on to Miami also makes Ryan Griffin Jamiesʼ primary backup which should provide much more job security than Jamies had in 2018. The upside here is big, even with the departure of DJax and Humphries. Speaking of the WR departures on this team,
Chris Godwin is poised for a third year breakout. With Humphries and DJAX out of the way, Godwin should see a big increase in targets. Iʼm not buying him as aggressively as others in the industry, but the conditions are right for more opportunities for Godwin and opportunity is king I fantasy football.
Fallers - OJ Howard. While itʼs possible for a tiger to change itʼs stripes, Bruce Arians has a reputation for not utilizing his TEʼs in the passing game. Heʼs quoted quite a few times as believing a TEʼs primary job is as a blocker. Will he carry that into TB? That remains to be seen, but Iʼm selling my shares of Howard and betting on Arians track
record on this one.