Editor’s Note: As our coverage of the 2016 NFL Draft and its impact on fantasy football continues, we bring you our 2016 winners and losers series. These articles accompany our individual SWOT articles for over 30 prospects, as well as our IDP reviews and mock draft submissions. We’ll follow that up with team-by-team draft reviews because, you know, that’s kind of what we live for.
Make sure you’re ready for your dynasty league rookie draft by staying up on all these articles, checking out our rookie draft guide, rookie rankings, rookie draft cheat sheet and mock draft rooms. There are simply no better resources out there for dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts.
Without further delay, let’s review the post-draft fantasy winners and losers from the AFC South.
Brock Osweiler, QB HOU
Osweiler was one of the biggest winners in free agency (especially in the money department) when he signed a four-year, $72 million contract with Houston. He was also a big winner after the NFL Draft was completed. The Texans gave him two more weapons to play alongside DeAndre Hopkins by selecting Will Fuller in the first round and Braxton Miller in the third. The deep threat the Texans now have with Fuller should make it harder for team to double cover Hopkins, thus making for more scoring opportunities for Osweiler. A gadget player like Miller should also help open up the offense and add just another wrinkle for teams to plan for, which should also help benefit the other pieces in the offense. It may take some time for Miller to develop, but it’s clear the Texans are committed to surrounding Osweiler with as many weapons as possible and putting him in the best position to be successful.
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Tyler Ervin, RB HOU
Some pre-draft Ervin fans may not have been a fan of his landing spot as he ended up behind Lamar Miller on the Texans depth chart. However, I think Ervin was a huge winner on draft weekend. He went much higher than most expected at #119 overall as the fifth running back off the board. Going in the top 120 means he will get a better opportunity than he would have likely received as a sixth or seventh round pick and he steps into a depth chart barren behind Miller. The aforementioned Miller has only missed three games in his career, but he has never shown workhorse ability as he has only eclipsed 200 carries in a season once. I think people expecting the Texans to give him 225-250 carries in 2016 will likely be disappointed and Ervin will be a solid change of pace back for him. If Miller gets injured, Ervin did show workhorse ability in his final college season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 294 carries. He’s worth a look in the third round of rookie drafts this Summer.
For the same reasons I think Blake Bortles was a loser on draft weekend, I think the Jaguars’ draft was great news for both TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory. The odds that two running backs can be relevant on a team with consistent negative game flow are slim. If the Jaguars’ additions on defense in both free agency and the draft make them competitive in games and help them become a winning football team, Yeldon and Ivory will be able to run the ball more and get touches throughout the game and also in the red zone, rather than in the first half and between the 20’s where Yeldon got nearly all of his touches in 2016.
Andrew Luck, QB IND
Many people have criticized Ryan Grigson and the Colts front office for how they have drafted since drafting Andrew Luck first overall in 2012, but from a fantasy perspective, they have consistently done everything to help him. They drafted his college teammate Coby Fleener (though they lost him in free agency), they have drafted and re-signed TY Hilton and Dwayne Allen to long-term deals and they have also drafted Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. This year, they addressed the biggest concern on the offense, which is protecting the player they are about to make a large long-term investment in. In the first round, they drafted the player who many considered best interior lineman in the draft in the form of Alabama Center Ryan Kelly. In the later rounds, they selected added important depth to the offensive line with a pair of tackles in Le’Raven Clark (third round) and Joe Haeg (fifth round) and another interior lineman to close out the draft with Austin Blythe (seventh round). Luck may have just received the protection he needs to use the weapons the team has accumulated throughout his first four years in the NFL
Blake Bortles, QB JAX
I loved the Jacksonville Jaguars draft as they were able to snag two of the best defensive players in the draft and also spend six of their seven picks on the defensive side of the field. Unfortunately for Blake Bortles’ fantasy stock, this may not be a good thing. Bortles scored a majority of his 2015 fantasy points in the second half when the Jaguars were trailing big in games. I do think an improved defense could help make him a more efficient player, though. If the Jaguars are playing in close games, teams won’t always know he is passing the ball. However, I’m concerned the lack of volume could hurt his fantasy production. We’ll have to see how this plays out and just how good the Jacksonville defense will be, but they have enough potential to make me at least a little concerned.
DeMarco Murray, RB TEN
Murray is one of the biggest fantasy losers coming out of the NFL Draft, not just the AFC South. After the Titans acquired him with for a swap of fourth round picks earlier in the off-season, they invested a second round pick in Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Some think the presence of Murray is a hinderance to Henry’s short term value. However, Murray is a 28-year old running back coming off his worst season as a pro and I think Henry will supplant him early in training camp, making him no more than a relief or change of pace back for Henry by mid-season. A bold prediction for sure, but Murray certainly lost value.
Tajae Sharpe, WR TEN
Sharpe was a high volume pass catcher at UMASS, catching 61, 85 and then 111 passes in the last three seasons, respectively. Now, it wasn’t likely Sharpe would be able to step into the role of a WR1 for any NFL team, but he was picked in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by a team crowded at the pass catching positions with Dorial Green-Beckham, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews ahead of him on the depth chart. The Titans will likely let Wright walk in free agency in 2016, but even then, that still puts Sharpe fourth in the passing game pecking order, at best. Falling into a less than ideal situation could be a great thing for Sharpe fans as he is now falling to the mid-third round in many rookie drafts. You just have to believe his talent will trump his situation because his landing spot was a disappointment.
Jaelen Strong, WR HOU
Draft weekend was not a good one for Strong and his accompanying dynasty stock. His value has been falling ever since the beginning of his NFL career. He followed up a disappointing rookie season where he only amassed 14 catches for 161 yards and three touchdowns, with a February marijuana possession arrest. Strong hasn’t been suspended for the incident, but the Texans proceeded to draft two receivers in the first three rounds by selecting Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. When it comes to the point of hoping a young player gets traded or cut to revive his dynasty stock, the situation is likely bleak and Strong isn’t worth much more than an end of the bench roster spot at this point in his young career.