In this edition of the 2019 AFC South fantasy football outlook, Andrew Luck will be at the top of many lists following a successful season post-injury. Fantasy football owners should look to stack the Houston Texan’s dynamic duo of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. However, there are question marks in Tennesee and Jacksonville. What do we make of the Titan’s backfield? And, can Nick Foles continue to bring the magic in Jacksonville?
2019 AFC South Fantasy Football Outlook
Andrew Luck proved, in 2018, that he was fully recovered from a shoulder injury that led him to miss the entire 2017 season. And, with that, Frank Reich‘s offense wasted little time proving to the football world that Luck was ready to go. Luck passed for 53 attempts in week one. Too much, too soon? That’s for real-life football analysts to debate. We, of the fantasy world, couldn’t have been happier. However, he did pass for fewer than 31 attempts five times during the season.
Luck proved to be very efficient for fantasy owners. He passed for three or four touchdowns in each game between weeks four and twelve, averaging 24 fantasy points (FP), added three more games with fantasy points in the mid-twenties. Additionally, he had one ceiling game of 35 FP and four games of 13 FP or less.
Marlon Mack and the Colts running game is a point of contention for fantasy owners. He’s shown flashes of being capable of being a feature back. Therefore, fantasy owners want to see him get 15 to 20 touches. Two factors keep Mack from being a true RB1: The fact that Luck will pass the ball a lot and injury. Can he be trusted? Until he can prove that he can stay healthy and be a more focal point of the offense he is merely a RB2 and should be ranked accordingly.
T.Y. Hilton should be a top ten wide receiver. He averages upwards of eight targets per game and double-digit fantasy points. Working with Andrew Luck, clearly a favored target, Hilton is a wide receiver that offers the ceiling of some of the games best. However, nagging injuries have led to missed games. Additionally, the offense is becoming more diverse with the emergence of the two tight ends, Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron. The other wideouts the Colts offer leave little to be excited about. The Colts added Devin Funchess in free agency but he hardly instills confidence in fantasy owners. However, the addition of Parris Campbell has Devy owners excited. He brings a speed game that will have opposing defenses on their heals.
When discussing the Colts’ fantasy outlook we have to look at Eric Ebron. During the “Fantasy” regular season he went without a touchdown in only four games and averaged double-digit fantasy points in all others. Jack Doyle appeared in only six games due to injury leaving Ebron as the lone tight end. Ebron, as a focal point of the passing attack, had five or fewer receptions in 12 games. This leads me to believe he was very touchdown dependent in 2018 and the season should be looked at as an outlier. However, if Doyle is limited in any way it would be difficult to look past Ebron after the first tier of tight ends are drafted.
Should you stack the duo of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins? Yes! The only thing that gives me pause is injury risk to either. But, you can rest assured that Watson will be looking Hopkins way a lot. Add Watson’s rushing ability and it would be a disappointment to see Hopkins land outside the top ten overall quarterbacks in 2019.
The Texan’s running game is still on the shoulders of Lamar Miller and some dynasty league owners are clinging to D’Onta Foreman to emerge from an injury he just can’t shake. The Texans added few players in the later rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft and undrafted free agents. There would be an upside if to the Texan running game if one can overtake Miller as the starter.
DeAndre Hopkins will quite possibly be the first overall wide receiver taken in re-draft leagues. Hopkins was the number two overall wide receiver in PPR leagues and did not score under double-digit FP in any game. Much to the chagrin of fantasy owners, injury continues to plague Hopkins receiving partner Will Fuller. After reaching double-digit FP in five out of eight games to begin the season, Fuller was sidelined the entire second half. Opposite Hopkins, Fuller was a very reliable WR2 for fantasy teams.
Keke Coutee emerged (week four 11 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns) as a speed threat out of the slot. Coutee was held back by injury and only appeared in four games. All three have the potential to blow the lid off defenses and are enticing to fantasy owners.
Tight ends, Ryan Griffin and Jordan Thomas, combined for 44 receptions, 520 yards, and four touchdowns. Thomas recorded all four of the touchdowns and could be considered a sleeper option at tight end. Especially, if he emerges from training camp as the lead tight end.
Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill. There. I said it only because the quarterbacks of the Titans need to be mentioned. Otherwise, there is nothing to see here. Move along. Just kidding! We’ve been pulling for Mariota for a few years now. He flashes an outstanding ability to create plays with his arm and feet. He managed 20 or more fantasy points five times with a high game of 31 FP. However, inconsistency and injury will continue to lead to depressed draft status. I can see him as a possible QB2 in larger leagues and drafted into Best Ball leagues.
Where does that leave Ryan Tannehill? My opinion is that Tannehill would have to really impress the staff in training camp to overtake Mariota. None the less, the situation bears monitoring.
The running game of the Titans is where it gets somewhat interesting. The timeshare of James White and Derrick Henry did nothing for fantasy owners during the year. Perhaps if you hade White on your team he was helpful on a PPR basis. As for Henry, owners probably kept him on the bench in hopes of what he ended up doing during the NFL Playoffs. Too bad it didn’t happen during the year.
The Titans are largely in the same position as a year ago sans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur (now Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers). If Head Coach, Mike Vrabel, can give fantasy owners what the want? Feed Henry, at minimum 20 touches, and give White 8-12 touches/targets. Which, would open up the field to take advantage of talented wide receiver Corey Davis. Then there is potential for some real fantasy gold.
Davis’ average draft position will remain depressed in this offense. The quarterback play is just too inconsistent to elevate Davis out of the WR3 tier. Although the entire fantasy community knows he has the upside of a higher tiered wide receiver. There is some talent after Davis but nothing more than an add if Davis were to go down with an injury. And tight end Jonnu Smith has yet to realize his talent playing behind Delanie Walker.
Nick Foles brings his talents to the Jaguars. Jacksonville and fantasy fans alike are glad to see the Blake Bortles experience come to an end. Foles might not be in an elite tier of quarterback but he brings consistency with his ability to complete passes to open receivers and take what defenses give him. His presence alone gives a bump to the Jags passing attack.
Question marks cloud Leonard Fournette. Immensely talented with the ability to wear down defenses with his punishing style he just can’t stay on the field or out of trouble in public. Fantasy football owners hope he can live up to his ADP of potential, top ten running back. Fournette appeared in seven games in 2018 and when received more than 18 carries (four out of the seven games). With that being said, he produced double-digit FP in each of those games. Fournette has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (an average of three targets per game). If you gamble that Fournette can avoid injury, he can be had in the second round of drafts.
What to make of the passing game? Marqise Lee, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook will lead the way. Keelan Cole, a sleeper favorite in 2018, and second-year wide receiver, DJ Chark will push for playing time. Westbrook will be the slot receiver with little competition. The receiver that creates a connection with Foles in the pre-season will climb draft boards.
Adjust Your Rankings
Luck and Watson have a spot in the top ten quarterbacks. Can Foles replicate his Philly magic? He could be the mid round QB to lead a team to fantasy glory.
Fournette has RB1 written all over him. Will fantasy owners pass over him leaving you with a potential running back stud past the second round? Mack and Henry could be part of a stable of stud running backs for a fantasy champion. However, one or all could leave to fantasy heartbreak.
Hopkins and Hilton! It sounds like a nice start to the zero running-back strategy (waiting past round two or three to draft your running backs). Add Davis in later rounds and, that could be a heck of a roster of wide receivers. Not to mention Foles’ favorite target. Who will emerge as this year’s stud, dud, and sleeper?
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