The AFC South looks like it could be a highly competitive division in 2018. Each team addressed specific needs up and down the roster with this year’s NFL Draft. The Titans and Jaguars prioritized defense more with defense and special teams. The Colts and Texans bolstered their offenses in areas of need. It looks like every team truly got better on paper this year with no clear draft blunders at first glance. But what does that mean for the players already on each team in the division? Let’s take a look at each team’s offensive selections and find some winners and losers in terms of dynasty value.
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame (Round 1, Pick 6)
Braden Smith, OG, Auburn (Round 2, Pick 5)
Nyheim Hines, RB North Carolina State (Round 4, Pick 4)
Daurice Fountain, WR Northern Iowa (Round 5, Pick 22)
Jordan Wilkins, RB Mississippi (Round 5, Pick 32)
Deon Cain, WR Clemson (Round 6, Pick 11)
Luke Falk, QB Washington State (Round 6, Pick 25)
Marlon Mack, RB IND
“What? How could this be? The Colts just added two running backs in the NFL Draft. How could that be a good thing for Marlon Mack’s fantasy value?” It’s a great question. Thanks for asking.
Ever since Mack was drafted in 2017, there were rumblings of the Colts eventually selecting a “real” feature back early in the NFL Draft in the near future. Even though it was clear Frank Gore was on his way out after 2017, many people just assumed the Colts would invest early in the 2018 NFL Draft, leaving Mack as an afterthought.
The Colts took one look at their offensive line and recognized it wouldn’t matter who ran behind that mess if they didn’t fix things quickly. They nabbed possibly the best player in the entire draft when they selected Quenton Nelson (OG, Notre Dame). And then they went and grabbed Braden Smith (OG, Auburn) just for good measure. The result was an instantly improved offensive line – that’s immediate plus for whichever running back leads the Colts backfield.
But yes, the question still remains. Who is going to lead the Colts backfield? The answer should obviously be Marlon Mack. Why? Nyheim Hines started out at NC State as a wide receiver. He should see some snaps out of the slot and see some work out of the backfield, too. However, he’s a tiny little 5’8”, 198-pound scat back. He offers zero real lead back potential in the NFL.
Jordan Wilkins is a “bigger” back, but is really just a cheap backup by pro standards. He boasts an average athletic profile, average (at best) receiving chops and is going to be 24 years old before he takes an NFL snap (yes, he is 1.5 years older than Marlon Mack). Plus, for the people who think he offers better size than Mack, his BMI is actually slightly lower.
The situation is far from clear to some, but that’s why Marlon Mack is an even bigger winner. He’s obviously going to be the lead back for the Colts, but his price is still incredibly low. Go buy him up in your leagues.
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Blake Bortles, QB JAX
Blake Bortles isn’t exactly talked about as a “winner” very often, but he is this off-season. The Jaguars added three positives for him – a big vertical threat at wide receiver, an offensive tackle and a purely backup quarterback late in the draft. DJ Chark may not be a perfect wide receiver (he’s far from it), but his athleticism (40-inch vert and 4.34-forty) and huge catch radius (6’3” with long arms) could definitely help the inaccuracies of Bortles. Will Richardson definitely improves the depth and package versatility of the Jaguars offensive line. He could perhaps even be future starter. And lastly, Tanner Lee presents zero threat to Bortles long-term as a starter. Some believe Bortles’ days still may be numbered as a starter, but his 2018 outlook is definitely improved.
Lamar Miller, RB HOU
First things first, it seems most people in the dynasty community hate fantasy points. How do I know? They hate Lamar Miller. Miller has logged at least 1,215 yards from scrimmage, 31 receptions, and six combined touchdowns four years in a row. How many other running backs have hit those thresholds over the last four years? The answer is zero.
And apparently the Texans don’t think he’s very bad, either. They didn’t draft a single running back to go along with Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman (returning from an achilles injury), and Alfred Blue. Miller may not be the most efficient running back in the league, but he still possesses a solid opportunity to produce. At just 27 years old, he has 1,000 fewer career carries than LeSean McCoy. There’s plenty of tread left on his tires. Go acquire Miller given his egregiously low dynasty price (RB 32 according to May 2018 ADP).
The Tennessee Titans added Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Jonnu Smith in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, there were still rumblings all Spring the Titans would be looking to acquire at least one other pass catcher via the NFL Draft. They actually had some official visits with a few wide receivers eventually selected on day two of the draft. It looks like Jon Robinson believes in his current crew, at least for now. Davis was just finding himself down the stretch in 2017. He should continue to grow. Taylor should see more snaps in three wide receiver sets in 2018. Smith is probably still a Delanie Walker departure away from fantasy relevance, but that’s coming soon enough.
Colts Tight Ends
Jack Doyle is coming off a career season with 80 receptions for 690 yards and four scores. He looked like a sneaky buy in dynasty there for a while. Donte Moncrief was leaving. The Colts wide receiving corps looked horribly void of talent. However, then the Colts added Eric Ebron, seemingly sapping both tight ends and their value. Then the Colts add Ryan Grant (an underrated talent) via free agency, then Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain via the draft. Even if Andrew Luck returns, the upside at tight end looks much less appealing than just a few months ago.
Dede Westbrook, JAX WR
Once Dede was in the lineup, he was the clear deep threat for the Jaguars in 2017. Per airyards.com, from weeks 11 to 17, Westbrook’s average depth of target was 12.3 yards downfield. Keelan Cole and Marqise Lee’s average depth of targets were 11.7 and 9.1 yards, respectively. However, due to Westbrook’s inefficiency with those targets, he only averaged 12.6 yards per reception. If DJ Chark is utilized as the team’s new deep threat, Dede could see an immediate decrease in meaningful opportunities.
Stephen Anderson, HOU TE
It looked like Stephen Anderson could see some reasonable opportunity in 2018 there for a bit. CJ Fiedorowicz retired. Ryan Griffin isn’t the perfect picture of health, receiving ability, or age. But then the Texans drafted not one, but two tight ends (one in round three). Anderson looks like he’s the odd man out unless he beats out Jordan Akins.
As always, find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. Look for my videos using the hashtag #TouchdownTime. And yes, I love to chat about these players. I want to learn from you! Thanks for reading, and keeping living that Dynasty Life.