The AFC South is one of the most competitive but weirdest divisions in all of football. From season to season the best team in the division can go from first to worst and you can have nearly every team finish within a game or two of each other. Take 2018 the Texans won the division but weren’t the best team as they were beaten in the wildcard round of the playoffs by the Andrew Luck lead Colts. Each year anyone of the teams usually could upset everyone and win the division although it is less likely to be the Jaguars this year.
Once again, we will look at the fantasy risers and fallers for each team the person I am going all in on and the one I am staying away from. These will be the guys you will want to pick in your fantasy leagues and who you should avoid as they may cost you your league by picking these players
So, without any further rambling let’s get into the AFC South Risers and Fallers starting with the Frank Reich lead Indianapolis Colts.
Rising: Parris Campbell
Parris Campbell is not a name you were probably expecting to read here being he had a very injury plagued rookie season in 2019 playing only 7 games while only getting 18 catches for 127 yards and 1 touchdown but 2020 will be different. The former Ohio State Buckeye is a speed merchant running a 4.31 40-yard dash at the combine before being selected in the 2nd round by the Colts. He currently has an ADP of 209 so he is worth a last round pick flyer with thanks to the weapons the Colts now have on offense. On the outside he has 2 gentlemen we will speak about later in T.Y. Hilton & Michael Pittman Jr who will get the best corners every week and a dangerous backfield with Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor & Nyheim Hines with a competent tight end in Jack Doyle. I will go into later why Philip Rivers won’t be worth a pick for your fantasy team, but he will help Parris Campbell playing out of the slot or on the outside. Campbell with his speed is a guy who you can have run deep go routes or in and under to get some yards after the catch and the odd jet sweep much the same way Deebo Samuel plays for the 49ers. Fantasypros.com currently has Parris Campbell pulling down 39.1 catches for 495.3 yards and 3.1 receiving touchdowns. I can easily see him becoming the guy who will save Rivers on 3rd down for that 5-yard catch and tack on 3 more yards after the catch every game. Parris Campbell won’t be the WR1 for the Colts, but he is absolutely worth a last round pick in the draft who will have a big game or two during the season
Falling: T.Y. Hilton
T.Y Hilton has been the Colts number 1 receiver for a few seasons now and he has been able to have some pretty good seasons with his best being 2016 where he had 91 catches for 1448 yards and 6 Touchdowns. 2019 was a down year for Hilton due to injury where he only played 10 games and had 45 catches for 501 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Reason why I feel Hilton will be down this year is the Colts finally have some help for him at wide receiver and a new quarterback who will look to spread the targets out amongst the other receivers. T.Y. Hilton has a current ADP of 48 and according to Fantasypros.com of 70.5 catches and 1057.3 yards with 6 touchdowns which you would be happy with for a full season but the question I have is would I be happy drafting Hilton at 48 and getting those stats? I think that due to the additions in the draft and the return of Parris Campbell for a healthy season the targets will not be as many for Hilton. I would still pick T.Y. in my draft if he is available but with the added talent to the Colts roster 48 might be a little high for my liking. If he is still there in the 60s then I will try to snap him up.
All In: Michael Pittman Jr
Most people in this situation probably would be picking Jonathan Taylor but with him potentially splitting backfield time 3 ways I feel Pittman is a better fit here. Matt Miller from Bleacher Report has compared to Michael Pittman Jr to Kenny Golladay/Auden Tate. The second of those names isn’t what you would want to get excited about but if Pittman can turn into Kenny Golladay then you would be ecstatic as the Colts. The 6-foot 4 receiver who ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine isn’t blazing speed however he is a big man who will be great in goal line fades and jump ball situations to secure the catch. The current ADP for Pittman is 175 which for a rookie is right around when a lot of rookies will get selected but the Fantasypros.com projections of 46.5 catches and 636.1 yards with 4.1 touchdowns would make you happy as a fantasy owner who selects him. With Hilton getting the best defender each week and the speedster in Parris Campbell in the slot Michael Pittman Jr could exceed these projections. He maybe a dynasty pick more so than a redraft however if I were to pick him in a redraft league I would not be unhappy with those stats as he probably wont be your starting receiver each week but he will be able to help prop up your scoring from week to week. Michael Pittman Jr is not being mentioned with the good wide receivers from this recent draft but I honestly believe in a few years’ time he may be looked at as one of the top 5 receivers from this class.
Stay Away: Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers did not have a good 2019 season with the Los Angeles Chargers, and he had such a bad year the Chargers moved on from Rivers and have turned the franchise over to Tyrod Tayler & Justin Herbert. 2019 Rivers threw for 4615 yards with 23 TDs and 20 interceptions which was equal 2nd worst in his entire career. Rivers will be turning 39 years old and he is nearing the end of his career which usually at this stage of a quarterbacks career the stats start to trend downward. The level of receivers with the Colts don’t have the same ceiling as the Chargers however they have a higher floor than what Rivers had playing in Los Angeles which may help him during the season by having more weapons than what he has been accustomed too however I don’t believe his stats are going to be worthy of even a late pick in a draft as there are so many QBs I would rather pick besides Rivers.
Rising: Jonnu Smith
Jonnu Smith isn’t the most well-known name in the NFL or for the Titans but every single year he has improved his receptions and yards each year. Rookie season Jonnu Smith had 18 catches for 157 yards, his sophomore season 20 catches 258 yards and last season 35 catches for 459 yards. When I am looking for someone to draft in my leagues, I like the look of guys who improve year in and year out and Jonnu Smith fits that mould for me. Fantasypros.com is projecting Smith to have 46.3 catches and 534.6 yards with 4.5 touchdowns. With not a great 2nd wide receiver option to compliment AJ Brown this is where Smith can excel. Tannehill has enjoyed a great connection with Brown towards the end of last season and will need that bail out option when AJ gets double teamed and this too me is where Jonnu will come in. He is not going to be a guy you would class in the tier of Kittle & Kelce and not quite in the tier for me of Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst, Darren Waller & Hunter Henry but he is in that next tier who you can pick him up towards the back end of the draft (his current ADP is 153) so you can load up on talent early on knowing that Jonnu will be available near the end of the draft. Keep an eye out for Jonnu Smith this year he could propel himself to be a top 7 TE this year.
Falling: Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry had his best pro season in 2019 leading the league in rushing yards with 1540 and attempts with 303. Henry also added 16 touchdowns to go with those stats which made him the RB5 in PPR leagues. The chances that Derrick Henry can replicate those exact stats will be difficult as shown by Fantasypros.com which is projecting 292.7 carries for 1428.6 yards and 12.1 touchdowns. It is natural for Henry to regress slightly so he won’t likely finish as the RB5 this year but Derrick Henry is still a fantasy go to guy who will get a ton of carries and yards and the obligatory 75+ yard run against Jacksonville, just don’t be expecting him to put up the exact same fantasy numbers as last year. The Titans also added rookie 3rd round pick Darrynton Evans out of Appalachin State to compliment Derrick Henry so his workload will decrease from week to week as last season Derrick Henry played 61.5% of offensive snaps to put up these numbers. After signing a contract extension, the Titans will want to make sure he is around and at his best for years to come so look to see his carries drop off for 2020
All In: A.J Brown
AJ Brown ended 2019 as the WR1 for the Titans catching 52 passes for 1051 yards and 8 touchdowns. He didn’t start all 16 games for the season and wasn’t really a huge part of the offense with the first 10 weeks of the season having 27 catches for 446 yards. That means for the last 6 weeks of the season AJ Brown had 25 catches for 605 yards. Just to break that down more that is an average of 24.2 yards per catch which would have been top of the league in yards per reception by 4 yards per catch. AJ Brown finished 2nd in the league for 20.2 yards per catch anyway but the first 10 weeks he was at 16.5 yards per catch. That means is that AJ Brown gets yards and lots of them every game imagine if he had 52 catches for 24.2 yards per catch, he would have finished at 1258 yards for the season. What I am trying to say is AJ Brown is the number 1 receiver for the Titans and is going to be a problem for NFL defenses for a long long time. AJ Brown’s current ADP is 30 which I would be ecstatic to have him at pick 30 and I am going to throw out a spicy take here. I would rather have AJ Brown then Davante Adams and Deandre Hopkins for Fantasy this year. AJ Brown I am all in on this season.
Stay Away: Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill got the Titans to the playoffs last season after taking over for Marcus Mariota and did a fantastic job getting them to the AFC Championship game which earned him a massive contract extension. The reason why Tannehill will never get picked on one of my fantasy teams is due to the fact that one week Tannehill could have 391 yards and 3 touchdowns like he did in week 14 against the raiders and then the next week he can have 72 yards on 15 attempts as he did against the Patriots in the playoffs. The Titans are a run heavy team so the odds of Tannehill throwing for only 72 completed yards during the season may not happen but the fluctuation of passing yards from week to week and the fact that he doesn’t run like Lamar Jackson means he is never going to be a Fantasy stud. With a current ADP of 128 that is way too high for someone who isn’t going to be a fantasy must have. Tannehill will help the titans march to the playoffs, but he won’t help me in my fantasy team.
Rising: Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks may cause a lot of people to eye roll when you see his name pop up in this section right here and I can completely understand that, however there is a good reason why Cooks will have a bounce back year this year. Between 2015 and 2018 seasons Cooks averaged 76.75 catches per season and 1149.25 yards per season which if you were told your receiver would average this you would take everyday of the week. Cooks was injured last week so he did miss a few games and didn’t have a huge impact on the games he did play so he is due to go back to the consistency that we are accustomed too. His current ADP is 80 which I feel is a little low with Fantasypros.com projecting 61.9 receptions and 854.7 yards with 4.4 touchdowns. The other reason why Cooks will bounce back is Deshaun Watson will be looking for a number 1 receiving target to replace Deandre Hopkins and Cooks can be that guy for him. Look for Cooks to go above the projections and get back to that 1000-yard mark and closer to the 75 catches mark that you could bank on him getting year in and year out. Cooks is a little low for my liking and I would be very happy to pick him up around pick 80.
Falling: Will Fuller
Will Fuller can be a game changer when he is out on the field with his immense speed and ability to break tackles, he can rack up the yards at a big clip. The only problem is Fuller cannot stay on the field with constant hamstring and soft tissue injuries it really makes you wonder what he is able to do with a full bill of health and a full season. Fantasypros.com have projected Fuller to get 60.8 catches for 826.3 yards and 4.9 touchdowns which has given him an ADP of 87. If Fuller is able to pull those numbers down, you would be very happy the only problem is he won’t stay on the field for a full season. The most catches Will Fuller has had in a season was last season where he had 49 catches for 670 yards. That isn’t what you would want from your number 2 receiver whether it be in real football or fantasy football. The biggest issue and I know I keep harping on it is his ability to stay on the field. If he can stay on the field for a full season, he will get to that 61 catches and 826 receiving yards but with him destined to tweak a hamstring after a big game will make me steer clear of Fuller and go after Brandin Cooks.
All In: Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson is an absolute superstar and I don’t think there is anyone who can deny that. Last season was not his best throwing the ball for Watson racking up 3852 yards but still an impressive 26 touchdowns. Mix in the fact that he is probably the 2nd most elusive QB behind Lamar makes him a dangerous guy with his arm and his legs. The only issue with the Texans is they haven’t been able to keep Deshaun upright and he is being hammered every game. Deshaun Watson has a current ADP of 65 which I would be happy picking him in this spot with Fantasypros.com projecting 4000.9 yards with 25.7 touchdowns while rushing 91.5 times for 487.6 yards with 4.8 touchdowns. The Texans offense is built around what Deshaun Watson can do with his arm and his legs and to me a guy who can manipulate the game as much as he can I am all in on as we have been able to see with Lamar in Baltimore and Mahomes in Kansas City. Grab Watson whenever you can he will be one of the top 5 QBs this year and the next year and the next year. You won’t be disappointed in what he can do for your team.
Stay Away: David Johnson
David Johnson most notable headline for this upcoming season will be that he was a part of the trade for Deandre Hopkins and that is about it. Johnson played 13 games last season due to injury and the trade for Kenyan Drake and his stats were a lot worse than I realised. 345 rushing yards for 2 touchdowns and 36 catches for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns. The last time David Johnson rushed for over 1000 yards was 2016 when he rushed for 1239 yards and 16 touchdowns, numbers which he hasn’t got close to since then. I have heard people say that well Carlos Hyde ran for over 1000 yards he will just step in and have the exact same numbers as what Hyde did which may have worked except for 1 huge thing. The Texans traded Deandre Hopkins and if you are wondering why that will affect the running back its because without the same quality on the outside the defense can now focus in on the run game to make things more difficult for Deshaun Watson. My only other person for this spot was head coach Bill O’Brien, he is now fighting for his job after trading away so many draft picks for players in the last few seasons that I would want to stay away from him because a superstar player maybe next on the chopping block to be traded away. David Johnson won’t be having a bounce back season this year he won’t be worth the pick his current ADP is 48 which is way too high for him, he may not even be the best Johnson in the Texans backfield. If he is available after picks 100, I may look at him but besides that not for me thanks.
Rising: Tyler Eifert
Tyler Eifert might be a surprising name to see here but sometimes a change is as good as a holiday. The former first round pick of the Bengals has had an injury interrupted career and I am a believer in a fresh start for someone who gets injured. There is something about leaving a team where you had a heap of injuries and revitalising your career. Tyler Eifert is currently going undrafted and its easy to understand why after his 2019 season of 43 receptions, 436 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fantasypros.com is projecting a decrease on his 2019 stats with 36.8 catches and 399.8 yards with 2.7 touchdowns. Eifert has talent and that’s why he was a first-round pick of the Bengals in the 2013 draft, but injuries really have crippled this young man. A move to Jacksonville will be good with no real names at tight end in front of him there will be plenty of playing time and plenty of targets coming his way. I believe that Eifert will get closer to 55 catches then the 36 projected which will rush his receiving yards over 600 and I think the red zone opportunities that may come out will have him pushing 5 touchdowns this season. I know this can come back and bite me this year, but I do think a new start will reinvigorate Tyler Eifert and he could be one of the sneaky pick ups who will help you during the season get a win here or there.
Falling: Dede Westbrook
Dede Westbrook is about to enter his 4th season in the league this year and has posted back to back seasons of 66 catches and 717 & 660 yards receiving. His touchdowns dropped from 5 to 3 in 2019 which isn’t a huge drop off but when the Jags have DJ Chark & Chris Conley already and after drafting Laviska Shenault Jr Westbrook will see his targets drop off this year. Fantasypros.com has backed me up with this projecting Westbrooks catches to slip to 58.1 and yards to drop down to 618.1 this has pushed his ADP down to 177. The added wide receiver depth that Jags have added and the emergence of DJ Chark will see Westbrook become a 4th or even 5th receiving option on this team so I wouldn’t want to select him and you will probably be able to pick him up on the waiver wire if injuries hurt Jacksonville. His catches will go down and his yards will go down which to me is not a guy I want on my team. Be wary of Dede this season he won’t be a huge part of the Jaguars offense this year and I think he may need to go to another team to see his true potential show.
All In: DJ Chark Jr
2019 was a breakout season for DJ Chark with a very impressive 73 catches for 1008 yards and 8 touchdowns. The second-year man out of LSU became the number 1 receiver for the Jaguars in a year that Jacksonville was not a good team. DJ Chark impressed people enough he currently has an ADP of 56 and they are expecting another good season out of him with Fantasypros.com projecting 70.6 catches for 968.2 yards and 5.8 touchdowns. With the chemistry between Minshew and Chark built from last season look at more throws coming his way before the other receivers on the team get a look in. If he is available at 56, I would be jumping all over him and too be honest I would be selecting him ahead of a guy like Tyler Lockett or AJ Green or even Adam Thielen as I think he will go over 1000 yards again and around 80 catches. One of the other players to help this year will be the speedy Laviska Shenault Jr who will help coming out of the slot to take away a cover safety to give Chark single coverage to bring in some extra catches and some room to run after the catch. DJ Chark is my guy on the Jags this year and he will be a wide receiver cornerstone for years to come.
Stay Away: Gardner Minshew
The Jacksonville Jaguars traded away their big money quarterback after 1 season in Nick Foles and left the franchise in the hands of Gardner Minshew II. Minshew is not a long-term solution for the Jags who I don’t believe have anywhere near enough talent to be competitive this year so will be looking forward to the 2021 draft where they can select one of the 2 best college quarterbacks coming out next year in Trevor Lawrence & Justin Fields. Fantasypros.com has Minshew projected 3755.8 passing yards with 20.9 TDs and 10.8 interceptions which really aren’t stats to write home about and really be a guy who is going to win you any fantasy leagues. Minshew will not be worth picking in any draft with his current ADP anywhere between 180 to 208 depending on the site you are playing on. Do yourself a favour don’t pick Minshew wait 1 year to pick their next quarterback in Lawrence or Fields.
There we have it the AFC South break down of my risers and fallers this season the guys who I think can and will impact your fantasy leagues. This year we would expect Tennessee to win the division with the Texans and Colts close behind but weird things happen in this division every year.
Thanks for taking the time to have a read and feel free to hit me up on twitter @BradBolt1 and let me know which guys you are all in on and which you want to steer clear of this season.