The NFC South was one of the more active divisions during NFL draft weekend with eight selections at the skill positions relevant to fantasy football, including five in the top 84. Veterans in this division have had a shake up in value since the NFL draft.
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Round 5, No. 156: Brian Hill, RB Wyoming
Round 5, No. 174: Eric Saubert, TE Drake
Round 1, No. 8: Christian McCaffrey, RB Stanford
Round 2, No. 40: Curtis Samuel, WR Ohio State
New Orleans Saints
Round 3, No. 67: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round 1, No. 19: O.J. Howard, TE Alabama
Round 3, No. 84: Chris Godwin, WR Penn State
Round 5, No. 162: Jeremy McNichols, RB Boise State
Jameis Winston, QB TB
One of the biggest winners of draft weekend and the off-season in general was Jameis Winston. After two seasons of an aging Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries at the WR2 position, it was clear that Winston would need an upgrade in the weapons department, and he got exactly that. After adding DeSean Jackson in free agency, the Buccaneers added OJ Howard who could quickly develop into one of the best tight ends in the NFL, as well as Chris Godwin who should serve as a developmental WR3 early on in his career.
Winston threw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons with an injured and shallow depth chart at wide receiver. The added depth and the expected development for the young players puts Winston in a position where he could have one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2017 and for years to come.
Winston may not have a top ten fantasy season on his resume yet (QB13 in 2016, QB11 in 2015), but his new weapons should help him pay off his QB4 price tag, and in superflex leagues, selecting a young quarterback with many years of expected top production can be a big advantage.
Cam Newton, QB CAR
Winston wasn’t the only QB to get some new weapons. The Panthers also added to Newton’s arsenal in the first two rounds. Christian McCaffrey gives Newton a receiving threat out of the backfield that he hasn’t had yet in his career, which will help make up for the mediocre performance by wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess in recent seasons. McCaffrey’s running ability will also take some of the pressure off Cam Newton who has had to carry the Panthers offense single-handedly on a number of occasions throughout his career.
After adding the versatile McCaffrey in round one, the Panthers added another hybrid weapon with wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Samuel will serve as the deep threat in the Panthers offense with his 4.31 40 time, he adds a weapon to the offense that was missing from the offense with the two tall wide receivers in Funchess and Benjamin. Samuel may not play the traditional wide receiver position, but he will be another player teams will have to gameplan to stop each week.
With his added weapons, Newton can get close to returning to 2015 form where he was the QB1 in fantasy and the NFL MVP. At his ADP of QB7 and 76 overall, Newton has the opportunity to pay off big as a value in startups.
Mark Ingram, RB NO
The month of April was not kind to Mark Ingram and his dynasty stock. First, the Saints signed veteran Adrian Peterson just before the draft. Second, they invested a third round draft pick (including future year draft capital) in Alvin Kamara from Tennessee. Many reacted to these two transactions saying that Ingram is in Head Coach Sean Payton’s doghouse of sorts, and this could go one of two ways.
If Ingram remains in New Orleans for 2017, he is a clear loser as he likely loses his goal line work to Peterson and he will likely lose most of his receiving work the rookie Kamara who had 74 receptions in two college seasons. Without those two roles, Ingram upside is certainly limited, however if these two moves result in Ingram being traded during training camp, he could end up being an off-season winner with a new offense and out of the Payton doghouse.
Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
Jonathan Stewart hasn’t always been the most exciting player to own in fantasy football, however in recent years he’s been fairly reliable as the only back to own in Carolina when healthy. Stewart had back to back 200 carry seasons with 15 total touchdowns, but those days are likely done with McCaffrey entering the backfield.
Stewart supporters will claim McCaffrey will primarily be used as a receiver early on, and he certainly will be used in the passing game, but teams don’t spend that kind of draft capital on a running back just to use them as a receiver. Once McCaffrey proves proficient in the running game, Stewart will be relegated to being the Panthers #2 goal line back behind Cam Newton, and once that happens, Stewart will be nothing more than a bye week/desperation injury play.
Yes, I did sing the praises of the Buccaneers offense in the Jameis Winston write up, however the draft has turned the Buccaneers backfield into one of the most difficult to project in the NFL this season. Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season, which means Jacquizz Rodgers is likely slated to start the season at RB1, while splitting carries with Charles Sims and rookie Jeremy McNichols.
If any of the three is going to take control of the backfield early on, I think McNichols has a shot with his workhorse college production that includes 3,000 rushing yards and 53 total touchdowns in the last two seasons. McNichols is also a receiving threat out of the backfield 88 catches in the last two seasons, which could relegate Sims to the bench or even traded/cut during training camp. When Martin returns from suspension, he will likely serve as the RB1 in the offense, but it is likely with the depth at the position, none of the backs will consistently see more than 15 touches in a game.