The AFC South fantasy football outlook gets a makeover. Out: a former Super Bowl MVP and one of the most feared wide receivers in the NFL. In: a future, Hall of Fame quarterback, and the Tennesee Titans ante up for the two players that spurred their run to the AFC championship game. The AFC South fantasy football outlook has some new faces that will look to upend the king of the hill. Let’s dive in and adjust our rankings for the AFC South fantasy football outlook.
2020 AFC South Fantasy Football Outlook
What The, What
Deshaun Watson has to be scratching his head. He’s been running for his life behind an inept offensive line since his arrival. Yes, thank you, head coach, Bill O’Brien for bringing offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. However, he shipped perennial pro-bowler DeAndre Hopkins for a player that’s one concussion away from retirement. However, Watson continues to shine and put up fantasy points, making him a top-ten quarterback in all fantasy football formats.
Old is the New, New
See what I did there. The same word used in different contexts to head two consecutive paragraphs. That’s right. O’Brien math equals ship off a young star for aging veterans. Sure, the math checks out. Right? David Johnson gets a reprieve after getting replaced by a younger, healthier Kenyan Drake in Arizona. Will he be enough to get the offense back on track. You can argue that his receiving ability should help out Watson. That alone will get him drafted higher than he should be. However, I tend to like the offensive situation and the quarterback leading the way. I like Johnson as an RB2 on my PPR rosters or as a strong RB3, much like drafting Todd Gurley, for just in case of an emergency/brake-glass scenario.
Cooks, Stills, and Glass
I did that on purpose. Although not an aging trio cranking out classics, they are a trio that is a stubbed toe away from the injured reserve list. Kenny Stills might be the healthiest of the crew and that should carry some weight but he’s a WR3/4 at best. Both Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller are excellent receivers and could be WR1 and WR2, respectively, on rosters. However, they can’t be counted on to last a full season. Draft at your own risk.
Tight Ends on the Rise
Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, and Kahale Warring are all solid at their craft. The problem the Texans and we fantasy players will face is who will emerge? While Fells proved valuable over the last part of the 2019 NFL season, he was primarily used as a blocker. Aikens, Thomas, and Warring all have overcome injuries and are primed to make a push for the starting spot. This is a position group that I am more than willing to pass on. However, this position battle bears keeping an eye on.
Better Luck Next Time
Always a bridesmaid, Philip Rivers brings his ability to pass for stats, not playoff victories, to Indianapolis. I predict a record amount of interceptions for Rivers. However, pass-catching backs in this offense could thrive. I’m not banking on QB1 stats from Rivers. However, he’s obviously worthy of a back-up spot on all fantasy rosters.
Highly-drafted rookie Jonathan Taylor brings his bag tricks just a short trip south from Madison, Wisconsin. Marlon Mack better get and stay healthy. His days are clearly numbered. Taylor will be eased in but by season’s end, he’ll be pushing for rookie of the year honors. I’m drafting Taylor ahead of Mack as an RB3. If not for the lack of practice time and preseason reps, I’d rank Taylor higher. I’m expecting Taylor to be commonplace in the RB2/flex position to carry teams to fantasy playoffs.
The Hilton Hospital
I’m starting to sense a theme. When on the playing field, T.Y. Hilton makes a case for the top-ten overall wide receivers in the game. However, his injury history rears its ugly head and we’re inevitably watching the injury report trying to determine if he’s going to take the field. Parris Campbell should be healthy this year. We’re yet to see what he can bring to the table. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr. brings promise and should be drafted in dynasty leagues. His time could come sooner rather than later given the injury history of this receiving corps.
Nice Tight End
Eric Ebron, we hardly knew ya! Interesting how things change after one promising season. That sound you hear is the chorus of boos coming from the Mid-Western cities Detroit and Indianapolis. With that being said, Jack Doyle is as steady as they come. If not for some injuries he could be getting more love. I expect TE1 numbers from Doyle whom Rivers will come to rely on quickly.
Rockin’ the ‘Stache
Now that the Jags sent Nick Foles packing, Gardner Minshew now carries the fate of the Jaguars on his shoulders. And, given this young man’s swag, I think he’s up for the challenge. I like the Jags to ride that ‘stache as an underdog to contend for the AFC South. That said, expect Minshew to improve his stats in year two. Enough for QB1 consideration on your roster? No! However, he’s absolutely good enough to warrant a roster spot as your QB2.
Hard to believe Leonard Fournette‘s true value became his receiving ability. But, that’s where we are. He amassed 1600 total yards, but only accounted for three touchdowns. This was good enough for overall RB7 in PPR leagues. The question we have to ask ourselves is how he advances with a new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden. If he continues to see those types of targets he’d be hard to pass on in rounds two or three. With Minshew’s expected improvement, it could open up the running game for Fournette. Like I said, I’ll strongly consider him late in round two or in three depending on how I construct my team.
DJ Chark emerged in his second year as a go-to option for Minshew, which was good enough for overall WR17 in PPR leagues. Chark will be in high demand as a part of the second tier of young ascending wideouts. Dede Westbrook is lightning in a bottle. He’s stuck as a WR4 in terms of tiers of wide receivers on my fantasy chart. Look for him to get more usage in his third year. Lastly, Chris Conley is just two years removed from being touted as a top target. Although he failed to live up those expectations, he showed flashes in 2019 and should be receiver we keep an eye on.
Tight Ends, Not So Much
Veteran Tyler Eifert just can’t shake the injury bug. He’s as talented as they come however, he just can’t stay on the field. Next up is James O’Shaughnessy. Move on from this group. The Jaguars drafted Josh Oliver in the third round of the 2019 draft. If you kept him on your dynasty roster you’re hoping he earns a spot as the Jaguars also have Geoff Swaim as apart of this group. Need I say more?
An Earned Contract
Ryan Tannehill broke out in a huge way guiding the Titans to an AFC championship appearance. On the way, the Titans have found the identity they’ve been looking for aside from their better-than-average defense. The coaching staff found a pocket passer able to hit all throws and take care of the ball. Tannehill was able to form a solid duo with A.J. Brown and didn’t hurt that he had Derrick Henry to hand the ball to. So how does this affect his fantasy prospects? Although he didn’t put up gaudy numbers, he scored above 20 fantasy points in six of eleven games he started. He was extremely efficient with his passes, ala Russell Wilson. Wilson, he is not. I’m not quite sure I trust him as a QB1, but I’ll be more than happy to keep him as a back-up.
Beast Mode 2.0
Derrick Henry emerged as a go-to running back for the Titans in the 2019 NFL season. It was about time as the fantasy community clamored for a heavier workload knowing Henry’s potential. He did not disappoint fantasy general managers. I pity the fool that tries to tackle Henry. He rambled for touchdowns in every game but three. The Titans’ offensive identity is squarely on his shoulders. He should be considered at the end of first rounds and not past the second in all fantasy formats.
A.J. Brown is another of the rookie receivers to put their stamp on the NFL. Brown will be apart of the tier-two receivers that will build fantasy teams in the middle rounds of all drafts. He did enough to earn overall WR21 in PPR formats. He should be viewed as a high-end WR2 on all rosters. For all of Brown’s success, we’re still waiting on Corey Davis. Davis is now an afterthought in fantasy formats worth a roster spot on expanded rosters. However, this is Davis’s third year. If we subscribe to the third-year breakout theory, Davis could be a deep sleeper.
Arrow Continues to Point Up
Jonnu Smith broke out with the venerable Delanie Walker out for the season. Smith displayed the athleticism and talent that had we knew was there all along. He exploded for double-digit fantasy points in consecutive games weeks 14-16 that helped many in their quest for a fantasy championship. The fantasy community is bullish on Smith, rightfully so. He’ll be drafted as a TE1 in most formats. I like him after the stud tight ends have been drafted as a late-round steal.
AFC South Fantasy Gold
The AFC South fantasy football outlook is a menagerie of promise and heartbreak. Young studs in this division will carry the day while the veterans could prove to be the downfall of a fantasy football collapse. However, there is value to be had from the AFC South. Stay true to your draft board and you will be rewarded. Good luck and good fantasy.
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