Fantasy Football: AFC South Winners & Losers from the NFL Draft
2017 is probably a season most of the AFC South, outside Jacksonville, would like to forget. Coming off a 3-win 2016 season, the Jaguars defense led them to the division title and carried them through the playoffs. Unfortunately, they could not overcome the Patriots to represent the AFC South in the Super Bowl. The Texans fell from division winner to bottom-dwellers with just 4 wins, but appear to be up and coming with their sensational QB Deshaun Watson heading into his second season. The Indianapolis Colts struggled without Andrew Luck while the Titans snuck into the playoffs for the first time since 2008 after a second consecutive 9-7 season.
The Indianapolis Colts made 11 draft picks, including four in the second round to go with their 6th overall pick of Notre Dame’s OG, Quenton Nelson. Andrew Luck is a winner for (finally) getting some protection in the form of two offensive guards selected within the first 37 overall picks, adding Auburn’s OG, Braden Smith early in the 2nd Round. After fielding one of the most porous defenses in the league, the Colts selected an OLB and two DEs with three of their four 2nd Round selections.
Marlon Mack is, somehow, a winner and a loser. The Colts invested early picks to help their O-Line and didn’t select an RB until Round 4. Unfortunately for Mack, that 4th Round pick was the electric Nyheim Hines out of NC State, who will likely slot right into the pass-catching role in the offense. While Andrew Luck is a winner with the O-Line selections, he wasn’t given any major upgrades in the receiving corps, which is a good sign for the newly signed Ryan Grant.
Winners: Blake Bortles
Losers: WRs (Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole)
Just in case the Jaguars Defense wasn’t strong enough, they used their 29th overall draft pick on Florida’s DT, Taven Bryan, then added Alabama’s S, Ronnie Harrison in the 3rd Round. Sandwiched between those two defensive players was another SEC draft pick, LSU’s WR, D.J Chark. Heading into the draft, WR and Defense were two areas that most people felt were strengths of the Jaguars. The addition of Chark to the WR corps is a boost to QB Blake Bortles but makes the fantasy prospects extremely muddy and a stay-away team for fantasy owners. The WR corps was also hurt by the fact that the Jaguars have doubled-down on Bortles by not adding a QB to the team until the 6thRound.
After giving up 2018’s early picks to select Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft, the Texans were left to sit back and watch the first two rounds pass by until they selected their first player of the draft in Round 3. While the Texan’s would ultimately select 8 players, none of them appear to have any immediate impact for fantasy purposes.
Winners: Titans DEF
The Tennessee Titans made just 4 draft picks in this draft, three of which were defensive players. The NFL is a copycat league and the Titans appear to be chasing the formula that led Jacksonville to the AFC South division title in 2017. A heavy focus on improving their LB corps with a versatile ILB and a pass rushing OLB, the Titans DEF could be a sneaky streamer for 2018.