Must, Bust, and Lust for the AFC South
You can follow me on Twitter @smooth1074
As I assessed all of the AFC South's roster for the next chapter of this series, I realized that there has been an infusion of talent made to this division during the off-season. From talented rookies to veterans, all teams improved, but there was one team that suffered a major loss (Nuk Hopkins blasting off from Houston to Arizona). This will be one of the most interesting years in recent history to see if general managers did indeed improve their respective teams for a chance at the championship or did they drop the ball. The only thing more challenging this upcoming draft season, will be if fantasy owners can do the same and avoid possible landmines. Hopefully, with this leg of the series tour, I will help you find some gems to take you to the promise land.
Here we go!
- The Must: Will Fuller - I know what you're thinking, Fuller is injury prone and there's no way you want him on your fantasy team. Well if that thought crosses your mind, I hope I'm in the same league with you. With the Texans trading away DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, there are now 150 targets available for the taking. Who better to grab those receptions than Fuller, as he's been one of Deshaun Watson's favorite targets when healthy. Since 2017, when Watson was named the starter as a rookie for the Texans, he has been more willing to throw downfield when Fuller is active (17 percent downfield attempt rate) as averse to when the wide receiver is out of the line-up (11 percent downfield attempt rate). Watson has been more accurate as well when Fuller is streaming down the field completing 43.2 percent of his passes as opposed to 34.3 with him out nursing an injury. Fuller's current ADP is 87.8, coming in at WR36 off the board. He would be an excellent WR3 or WR4 for your fantasy team with a great chance to post WR2 numbers on the season if he can be blessed with some good health. In the seventh or eighth round smash that draft button if he's there in your drafts. One last thing, coach Bill O'Brien has already come out and said Fuller is completely healthy and ready to roll.
- The Bust: Brandin Cooks - The Texans seem to be like a fantasy team this off-season as they acquired Cooks shortly after trading Hopkins to the Cardinals for David Johnson. Cooks has shown glimpses of being a great receiver in the past but he's too much of a boom or bust for my liking. Last season Cooks played in 14 games for the Rams and only scored in double figures four times last season. In two of his last three seasons, he has had a catch rate of 57 percent (2017) and 58.3 percent (2019), which ranks 60th for wide receivers with a minimum of 50 receptions last season. Cooks ADP is currently 90 and I would much rather have his teammate Fuller who's ADP is a few spots earlier or maybe focus on another position at that point of the draft.
- The Lust: Randall Cobb - The one good thing that the Cooks signing does, is open things up for Cobb in the middle. Cobb had a very underrated 55 receptions for 828 yards and three touchdowns last season as the third or fourth option in the Cowboys passing game last season. He will play the slot and have plenty of room to work as Cooks and Fuller will keep the secondary occupied as they don't want to get burned deep by them. Cobb is a very reliable wideout as his career catch rate is 69.3 percent. Cobb's ADP is passed 200 and you can select him in one of the last rounds of your draft and enjoy a PPR gold mine that has the chance to provide WR3 to WR4 numbers for your fantasy team.
- Dynasty Nugget: Kahale Warring - If you want a tight end for your deep dynasty team, Warring could be your guy. Warring was a third-round draft pick in 2019 for the Texans. He did not play a down last season because he was placed on injured reserve right before the season started due to a concussion and hamstring injury. The talented tight end posted 51 receptions for 637 yards and eight touchdowns in 19 games. Warring is super athletic and ranked fourth among all tight ends in his SPARQ-score coming into the draft. The only tight ends that ranked ahead of him were Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, and Foster Moreau. There have been reports that Warring along with several wide receivers have had several practice sessions with Watson during the pandemic downtime. So the tight end is poised to make a splash in the offense this season.
- The Must: Jonathan Taylor - You want help to win your fantasy league, just draft Taylor in the fourth round and call it a day. Taylor has the draft capital, as the Colts traded up in the second round to select the talented running back. General Manager Chris Ballard has built a genuine playoff contender over the last few years, and the offensive line that he will be running behind is top-shelf quality. Taylor has dominated the college scene for the last three seasons. He has demonstrated that he can be a true workhorse by rushing for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards a carry for his college career. Not only is Taylor a monster on the ground but this past college season for the Badgers he illustrated his receiving game skills by setting a career-high of 26 receptions for 252 yards and adding another five touchdowns. It will only be a matter of time before Taylor takes over the backfield for the Colts. Taylor's current ADP is 48.5 and sure to surge in the coming weeks.
- The Bust: Marlon Mack - Well if Taylor is going to take over the majority of the carries, that means Mack's value will take a huge hit. Mack had a career-year last season, providing 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 17.6 rushes a game last season for the Colts. Due to Taylor's arrival, he will most certainly be averaging under 10 touches a game. Mack has also been a non-factor in the passing game over the last three seasons because Nyheim Hines has been used exclusively in the passing game during his time in the league. Through the same time-frame, Mack has a total of 52 receptions, averaging a measly 1.3 per contest. By mid-season, Mack will be mainly used to give Taylor a breather and be considered just a handcuff.
- The Lust: Michael Pittman Jr. - The wide receiver product from USC, is someone to try and land on your teams at the end of all your drafts if he's still there. T.Y. Hilton is getting up there in age and has trouble staying healthy at times. Therefore, Pittman Jr. could be the heir apparent to Hilton, as the Colts' go-to receiver. Pittman Jr. had an incredible senior season for the Trojans, as he provided 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. His current ADP in redrafts is currently at 160.3 as WR59 off the board. The talented rookie is a solid reserve that will be a great option to have for bye weeks with the potential to pay off with huge dividends by the end of the season.
- Dynasty Nugget: Parris Campbell - Campbell was drafted by the Colts in the second round 59th overall, of the 2019 NFL Draft. He had an injury-plagued season only playing in seven games last season, which ultimately ended with him landing on injured reserve late in the season. Campbell was very productive in his senior season with the Buckeyes. He finished the 2018 college season with 90 receptions for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. There might be a great buy-low opportunity in dynasty right now before training camp starts to kick it in high gear. Maybe he can be acquired for a third-round rookie pick.
- The Must: Leonard Fournette - Fournette is a true workhorse. He demonstrated last year that he can easily carry the load by pounding the rock 265 times for 1,152 yards and three touchdowns. Not only did the stud running back prove he can handle the grind by playing 15 games last season, but he also illustrated that he is great coming out of the backfield for the passing game. Fournette accumulated a career-high 76 receptions for 522 yards. I see his usage in the passing game may take a little hit this year with the arrival of Chris Thompson but there is no one on the roster currently that will challenge him for rushing touches. In a contract year, I'm banking on Fournette having a big year. At his current ADP of 28, Fournette is being drafted as RB16 and should be a steal in the third round of fantasy drafts if he is still there.
- The Bust: Tyler Eifert - I think we all have been suckered into drafting Eifert at one point or another during his career. The veteran tight end has proven that he has talent, but the problem is he can never stay healthy. Out of his first seven seasons, Eifert has played more than 13 games on only three occasions. The remaining four seasons he's played in eight or fewer games. Many fantasy managers love selecting tight ends late in drafts and stream them from week-to-week. Initially, if you are implementing the late tight end draft strategy avoid the early season headache of drafting Eifert and let him be another owner's problem. Let Eifert show if he can stay active and be useful in the new offense and maybe you can stream him later in the season.
- The Lust: D.J. Chark - Ah, right in time for Chark week. The Jaguars player that has every fantasy manager's attention heading into the 2020 draft season is Mr. Chark. In his second season in the league last year, Chark exploded in the Jaguars offense and was without a doubt the team's most improved player. His chemistry with Gardner Minshew is undeniable, as he became the gunslinger's number one option. The wide receiver was targeted 118 times last season and he tallied up 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns with those targets. Chark is being drafted as a low-end WR2 with an ADP of 54. If you want him on your fantasy teams you must be ready to pounce on him in the mid-to-late fourth round.
- Dynasty Nugget: Laviska Shenault Jr. - Shenault is another weapon that the Jaguars added for Mr. Minshew in the 2020 NFL Draft. The wide receiver is an explosive player that has great run-after-the-catch talent. While playing last season for the Colorado Buffaloes, in 11 games he was able to muster up 56 receptions for 764 yards and three touchdowns in spite of terrible quarterback play. In the previous season, he went over 1,000 yards and had six touchdowns. If you still have to do your rookie drafts he should be targeted in the second round.
- The Must: A.J. Brown - The obvious must is Derrick Henry, but unless you draft him in the first round you are not obtaining his services this year. Brown had a ridiculous second half of the season last year. Seven of his final 10 games were double-figure outings and he had five top 10 weeks for the season, which was second only too Michael Thomas for the league lead. His explosion coincides with Ryan Tannehill being named the starter. Once Tannehill became the starting quarterback, Brown's game took off and he became Tannehill's number one weapon of choice. Guess who got paid this off-season and is back behind center, that's right Tannehill. Brown's current ADP is 42.8 as the WR16. I would rather draft Brown over Adam Thielen and Amari Cooper who at times is a boom or bust wideout.
- The Bust: Corey Davis - I might be a year too late in calling Davis a bust, but here we are. For a player that was drafted fifth overall, Davis has failed to be a dependable target in this offense. Brown as a rookie took over Davis as the number one wide receiver quite easily last season. In 42 games, Davis has only scored 6 touchdowns which is pretty unbelievable. Even his stats regressed across the board last year from the previous season totaling 43 receptions for 601 yards and two touchdowns. Don't let any pre-season hype full you, just let Davis go un-drafted, and float in the waiver wire.
- The Lust: Darrynton Evans - Evans is a rookie running back that the Titans selected in the third round in this year's draft. He is currently their number two running back and is a Henry injury away from becoming an RB2. Evans proved at Appalachian State that he can carry a heavy workload. In his final season in college, he accumulated 1,480 yards on 255 carries with 18 touchdowns. Evans also added 21 receptions for 198 yards and five touchdowns. He will also be implemented as a third-down back so he has a stand-alone value from the start. With a current ADP of 196 as RB56, Evans could be a steal in the late rounds of fantasy drafts later this summer. His ADP will be sure to rise as training camp progress.
- Dynasty Nugget: Jonnu Smith - Smith finally has all the tight end work for himself from the get-go. Since entering the league in 2017, Smith has started the season always having to contend with Delanie Walker for looks. With Walker missing most of last season, Smith demonstrated that he can be leaned on by Tannehill. The talented tight end had a career-best 79.5 percent catch rate last season that led to 35 receptions for 439 yards and three touchdowns. He's a dynamic athlete who is being drafted as TE18 and has the potential of providing top 10 tight end numbers.
The next stop on the series tour will be the AFC North.
Previous Must, Bust, and Lust List: AFC East
ADP was determined by using Fantasy Pros
Pro Football Reference was used for NFL stats
Sports Reference College Football Reference was used for college stats