Fantasy Football: NFC South Winners & Losers from the NFL Draft
2017 was a great season for three of the four NFC South teams. The New Orleans Saints (11-5) won the division and both the Atlanta Falcons (11-5) and Carolina Panthers (10-6) earned wildcard berths into the playoffs. Expectations were equally as high for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a 4-game losing streak mid-season and a lingering injury to Jameis Winston limited the Bucs to just 5 wins. Expectations for all four teams are high in 2018 and this is shaping up to be one of the most competitive divisions in the entire league.
This article will recap the NFC South part of Episode #545 of The Fantasy Footballers podcast- NFL Draft Breakdown: NFC Winners & Losers.
The Falcons followed up their Super Bowl appearance by tieing for the division lead at 11-5 and securing a wild-card playoff berth. WRs fell down draft boards, allowing Atlanta to land one of the top WR prospects in Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Ridley figures to immediately slot in across from Julio Jones. Keep an eye on 4th Round RB, Ito Smith, who may become fantasy relevant if the Atlanta backfield sustains any injuries.
The Carolina Panthers had one of the weakest WR depth charts in the league heading into the draft. They used the 24th overall pick to select many analysts top WR prospect, Maryland’s D.J. Moore. The rest of the Panthers’ draft was heavily focused on defensive players, with 6-of-8 picks coming on that side of the ball. While there are still unsigned veteran free agent running backs available, Christian McCaffery and Cameron Artis-Payne were given a boost of confidence when the Panthers’ did not use a draft pick on an RB.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints surprised almost everyone when they traded their 27th overall pick, a 5th Round pick and next year’s 1st Round pick to the Packers to move up to 14th to select DE, Marcus Davenport. The Saints spread their picks around, selecting two offensive linemen and three total defensive players. The big addition for fantasy purposes is UCF WR, Tre’Quan Smith. The 6’2, 210lb Smith should easily supplant Brandon Coleman, who saw more playing time than many people expected in 2017.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winners: Tampa Bay DEF
Losers: Peyton Barber
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have probably done everything possible to forget 2017. When 6 of your 16 games each year are against Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton, you better have a strong defense. For 2018, the Bucs attempted to overhaul theirs, selecting five defensive players with their eight picks. First, they added the top DT prospect, Washington’s Vita Vae. Vae stands 6’4″ and weighs in at 347lbs and figures to start from day one. The Bucs used their 6th pick of the 2nd Round to fill a glaring hole at RB by selecting USC thumper Ronald Jones. Through a series of trades, the Bucs continue to focus on defense by selecting two CBs in the second round and a Safety in the 4th. Expectations will again be high for Buccaneers.