This week, we’re all set to cross the conference line and check in on the NFC South. After putting three teams into the playoffs last year, the NFC South has a lot of fantasy talent to discuss. Here are each team’s most undervalued and overvalued players as well as a deep sleeper to keep an eye on from each team.
Undervalued – Julio Jones, WR
I’ve seen a LOT of Julio Jones hate recently and I just can’t wrap my head around it. Jones is one of the truly dominant players in the NFL yet his value in dynasty leagues seems to be continually sliding. His detractors seem to point to inconsistent production, age, and injuries as the largest knocks. This doesn’t actually hold up under further analysis though. Over the past 4 seasons Julio has averaged 1579 yards, 102 catches, and just under 6 TDs per season. In those 4 years, his lowest receptions total was 83 and his lowest yardage total was 1409. His touchdowns were underwhelming last year, but touchdowns tend to follow yards. If you gain a lot of yards, the touchdowns will come too. And Julio Jones consistently posts massive yardage totals.
As for injuries, Julio has played in 61 of a possible 64 games over the past 4 years. His health has largely been a complete non-factor outside of a broken foot early in his career. Julio may get hurt moving forward or he may not – but attempting to predict future injuries is pointless. Finally, Julio is still only 29 years old. For a wide receiver, that isn’t a death sentence. I would expect him to dominate for at least a few more years. Keep in mind, that dominant players tend to age better than your average players. Julio is still a dominant player and should be in for both the Falcons and fantasy owners for several more seasons.
Overvalued – Austin Hooper, TE
Hooper’s problem seems to be that there’s simply nothing special about him. He plays in a crowded offense and has never been highly productive. While he’s a solid player, he lacks the dominant skills or athleticism to demand targets over players like Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman. I think Hooper’s increased production last season was closer to his ceiling than it was a step on the way to fantasy stardom.
Deep Sleeper – Ito Smith, RB
Smith mostly flew under the radar leading up to the draft due to his small size, but the Falcons saw enough to take him in the 4th round. Initially, this may seem like a poor landing spot behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but I’m not so sure. Tevin Coleman is set to become a free agent after next season and considering what the Falcons are already paying to Freeman I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move on from Coleman. If that happens, Smith could be in line to share backfield duties with Freeman. I doubt Smith ever becomes a lead back and you will have to be patient, but Smith is the sort of flyer I like to take a shot in if I have roster space.
Undervalued – Cam Newton, QB
Cam Newton has finished among the top 5 QBs 5 times in the past 7 years. The Panthers have added DJ Moore to the roster this year and will see a healthy Greg Olsen return to the lineup. Add that to promising young players like Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess and this might be the best group of weapons Cam has ever played with. I rarely encourage paying up at QB, but Cam could present an excellent opportunity to buy low.
Overvalued – Christian McCaffrey, RB
I know I just praised McCaffrey above and he is a solid player, but his fantasy value may be overstated. I simply have a hard time seeing him ever produce consistently as a runner. He was atrocious between the tackles last season and the Panthers clearly don’t trust him there as they brought in CJ Anderson to bolster the backfield. CMC will still be used heavily and he will catch plenty of passes, making him a PPR monster, but he lacks the workhorse back upside of some of the players being drafted near him.
Deep Sleeper – Curtis Samuel, WR
Samuel was a 2nd round pick for the Panthers last season. He missed the 2nd half of last season with a serious ankle injury after failing to produce much in the first half of the season. Since then the Panthers have added 2018 1st round pick DJ Moore to the mix at WR making Samuel’s path to relevance even more difficult. Samuel, however, had the talent to be a 2nd round pick and is still only 21 years old. It’s completely possible he develops into a solid NFL receiver. While his value isn’t high now for obvious reasons, he shouldn’t be completely forgotten.
New Orleans Saints
Undervalued – Tre’Quan Smith
Smith was essentially nonexistent in fantasy football discussions before the Saints took him in the 3rd round of the draft this year. His profile, however, is quite impressive when you look closely. For starters, a 3rd round pick is a solid draft capital investment and he was taken ahead of several more highly touted prospects. Secondly, the Saints have a great offense led by a Hall of Fame quarterback (more on Brees in a minute). Thirdly, the Saints don’t have an intimidating depth chart opposite Michael Thomas meaning Smith could step in and play immediately. And finally, Smith is 6’2”, with sub 4.5 speed, and solid collegiate production (over 1100 yards and 13 TDs last season). After digging deeper into his profile, Smith belongs closer to the James Washington, DJ Chark group of receivers than he does to those drafted in the 4th and beyond.
Overvalued – Drew Brees, QB
Brees finished last season as just the QB12 in fantasy. That’s not bad and Brees should bounce back a little due to the Saints likely passing a bit more next season, but the days of Brees being an automatic top line fantasy starter are likely over. His name, however, still carries a lot of weight which means you may be able to deal him for something of value and fill in cheaper options at QB that can replace 90% of his production.
Deep Sleeper – Boston Scott, RB
Another player that missed the fantasy radar before the draft, Scott has just a sliver of value thanks to the Mark Ingram suspension. If he can make a splash while Ingram sits, he could carve out a nice role alongside Alvin Kamara in future seasons. Scott is only worth rostering in extremely deep leagues though.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Undervalued – Chris Godwin, WR
Godwin was a 3rd round pick out of Penn State last season. He started the season slowly but finished with a couple big games at the end of the season. His athletic profile and size make him an interesting prospect opposite Mike Evans and the Buccaneers coaching staff has been buzzing about Chris Godwin earning a starting spot on the outside this season. Godwin has as much upside and opportunity as any of the 2018 rookie wide receivers.
Overvalued – Ronald Jones, RB
I know I outlined my reasoning for having Jones as just my rookie RB8 in my post draft article but I want to reiterate them here. I’m just not a Ronald Jones fan. His size and history as a pass catcher are both working against him and I don’t feel he runs with enough power or makes enough defenders miss to survive in the NFL. Jones is worth a 1st round rookie pick to be sure, but I just can’t justify putting him in the same tier as Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Rashaad Penny.
Deep Sleeper – Peyton Barber, RB
Well since I don’t like Jones, Barber is the obvious sleeper. Barber has quietly been a very solid back for the Bucs the past 2 years and he’s still only 23 years old. Considering the questions about whether Jones can handle a full NFL workload, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barber steal a few carries and some 3rd down work this season.