Fantasy Football Offseason Outlooks: NFC South
Our offseason breakdowns of the NFC teams by division for Fantasy continues with the NFC South. There may not be a lot of headline offensive player movement in this division, but two running backs who may be on the move can make significant news.
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NFC South Fantasy Football Outlooks
New Orleans Saints
If he chooses to leave New Orleans, Mark Ingram could be the biggest impact free agent RB outside of Le’Veon Bell. Ingram is 29 years old, but he has not been a pure featured runner for much of his career, and that means he likely has a few good years left. You cannot automatically assume he is near a “dangerous” age when he has not been a consistent lead RB.
Ingram has said publicly he wants to stay with the Saints, but he truly deserves a shot to start somewhere else, and can go to a team that is close to winning or near championship form and become the piece that puts them over the top. He’d be an ideal fit in Houston. There have already been mentions of Baltimore, too.
If Ingram leaves, Alvin Kamara could be perceived as a higher workload type of guy and may become the third or fourth RB off the board in many 2019 fantasy football drafts. Of course, it will depend on who the Saints sign as the new No. 2 RB to get an early read on Kamara’s workload for 2019. If they sign a Latavius Murray or Mike Davis, that would be an indication that Kamara should still share carries with another notable RB.
The Saints could use another reliable WR, but are 28th in salary cap room as the offseason begins. They may not be in the market for a Golden Tate but could sign a lesser guy that makes sense, such as Dontrelle Inman or Jermaine Kearse, or simply draft a WR with one of their first few picks. Josh Hill is expected to return at TE, and there is not much available in free agency. Needs remain at pass-catcher but the Saints don’t have a lot of cash. Being so close to Super Bowl contention could possibly help land a decent add like Randall Cobb or Jamison Crowder.
Teddy Bridgewater is expected to leave in free agency, so New Orleans could draft a QB for the future rather than spend on a top veteran backup.
The 2019 passing game looks set with all major players returning, and we should see more consistency from Calvin Ridley in his second pro season. If Austin Hooper does not put together the solid campaign we have waited for, this could be the last season we see him as the primary TE for the Falcons. Julio Jones was a TD force in the second half of the 2018 season and Matt Ryan reclaimed his perch among the best QBs in Fantasy Football. He was QB3 after 16 weeks of 2018 Fantasy play.
The big questions are at running back, where Tevin Coleman is expected to leave and the hope is that Devonta Freeman can rebound after a lost season. Freeman is just 27 years old so it may be too early to assume his best days are behind him. Coleman should get a lot of attention in free agency even though he mostly disappointed when given a larger opportunity in 2018. He could end up as the lead guy in a timeshare, which would seem to make Philadelphia a good landing spot, but the Eagles need to clear cap space first. The Jets have also been mentioned as a possible destination.
I believe the Falcons drafted Ito Smith as a guy to eventually replace Coleman as half of the timeshare, which was a smart move. They acquired him a year early and gave him a real chance to become comfortable in the offense. Smith should step forward to be a flex type, as he showed some TD promise as a rookie. Freeman will likely be drafted as an RB3 but can reclaim RB2 status and see his value vault if he looks good in the preseason.
There was a sigh of relief earlier this month when it was revealed that Cam Newton’s shoulder damage was not as bad as initially feared, and it appears he will be ready for training camp. It would be smart for the Panthers to make a play for a top backup QB. Carolina is 26th in salary cap space but could conceivably be a team that considers a Josh McCown or Ryan Fitzpatrick type. They should have a more proven backup if the shoulder becomes more of an issue at any time.
Carolina would ideally like to have a more solid backup to Christian McCaffrey so he does not get overworked, and he may not quite get the same amount of touches as he did in 2018. That might ding his Fantasy outlook just a tad. Guys like Doug Martin or Alfred Blue could fit the bill, just to take away a few carries a game to ensure McCaffrey gets a decent amount of breathers. Those types could also start adequately in case of an injury.
Devin Funchess may leave in free agency, and while D.J. Moore could emerge as a regular Fantasy starter in 2019 and Curtis Samuel has some upside, the Panthers need a dependable pass-catcher to fully flesh the WR corps out. Crowder would be a perfect fit, as would Randall Cobb, but the Panthers may be left to sift through the Inman/Kearse types.
Greg Olsen says he still wants to play, but it’s just a matter of time before Ian Thomas takes over for good at TE, and he is a great dynasty prospect with some possible yearly appeal for 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Adam Humphries is expected to test free agency and may be one of the biggest winners at his position in the cash competition. He would be quite an add for New England or could be a featured guy for a needy team like the Bills or Raiders. I could write a whole article on potential landing spots.
A Humphries departure would boost the fantasy appeal of Chris Godwin into projected WR3 territory. O.J. Howard could be as good as the No. 4 Fantasy TE next year if he stays healthy. Jameis Winston will get another chance under Bruce Arians, who must realize that the erratic young QB has never benefitted from a reliable running game. Acquiring one should be a first step into settling Winston down and not making him feel like he has to carry the offense. His Fantasy appeal may drop some in the process, but he has never been dependable, anyway. He will still be a QB2.
The Buccaneers should shoot for a RB who can be a lead runner in the short term until Ronald Jones hopefully blossoms. The Buccaneers are 25th in salary cap space, but they can get a lower-tier free agent who can be versatile and respectable, such as Bilal Powell, Mike Davis or T.J. Yeldon. A pass-catching type can only serve Winston well as Arians tries to improve the supporting cast around him.
Scott Engel is a 20-plus year veteran of the Fantasy Sports industry as a national writer, broadcaster and managing editor. He is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame.
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