NFC South Tier Preview 2020

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The NFC South tiers for fantasy production have been a sweet spot for a long time. 2020 should be no different as they welcome Tom Brady and Teddy Bridgewater into the fray. We’ll take a look at the best bets for top NFC South tier production for these offenses.


NFC South Tier 1 Players (Top 12 Potential)

Matt Ryan, QB, ATL – August ADP: 94.75

2019 Stats: 15 games, 408/616 comp/att, 4,466 yds, 26 TDs, 14 INTs, 34 rush, 147 yds, 1 TD

Ryan has only failed to reach 4,000 yards twice in his career and only less than 20 touchdowns once. Ryan is always at the top of the NFC South Tier lists. The Falcons are a pass-first offense and have two top options at wide receiver. The departure of Austin Hooper could hurt Ryan in the red zone, but Hayden Hurst will look to fill that role around the goal line. Todd Gurley is a good pass-catching back and whoever the wide receiver three ends up being Russell Gage, Laquon Treadwell, or Olamide Zaccheaus. I would think that Matt Ryan has around 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns and finishes as a top 10 quarterback for fantasy purposes.

Drew Brees, QB, NO – August ADP: 91.75

2019 Stats: 11 games, 281/378 comp/att, 2,979 yds, 27 TDs, 4 INTs, 9 rush, -4 yds, 1 TD

Brees much like Matt Ryan can almost be penciled in for nearly 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns per season. He is 41 years old and his statistics have declined over the last three seasons, but he can still lead an offense and let his receivers do some dirty work to move the ball. Brees missed 5 games last season and still finished as a QB2 last season. Most of his throws come within the 0-20 yard range and is dominant with an 80% completion percentage and 21 touchdowns. 

Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR – August ADP: 1.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 287 rush, 1,387 yds, 15 TDs, 142 targets, 116 rec, 1,005 yds, 4 TDs

Do I really need to spell this one out for everyone? He’s really good at football. Even a regression by 25% would still be a 1,000-yard rusher, 750-yard receiver, and about 15 touchdowns. So, he’d basically be about  Aaron Jones, which wasn’t bad last season. Regression or not CMC is an RB1 if not the RB1. If the NFC South had a tier 1A, McCaffery would be alone in the tier.

Alvin Kamara, RB, NO – August ADP: 4.25

2019 Stats: 14 games, 171 rush, 797 yds, 5 TDs, 97 targets, 81 rec, 533 yds, 1 TD

Kamara came back down to Earth a tad in 2019, but still managed 1,300 yards. New Orleans is going for one more shot at a title before Drew Brees retires and the championship window closes. Kamara isn’t a lock for RB 1 this season, but around RB5-10 isn’t crazy talk. We can expect around 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns minimum from Kamara.

Michael Thomas, WR, NO – August ADP: 3.75

2019 Stats: 16 games, 185 targets, 149 rec, 1,725 yds, 9 TDs

He was far and away the top WR in 2019 and 2020 shouldn’t be much different as Drew Brees will look to pelt MT with targets to move the ball down the field. Thomas’ production may not reach the ceiling of 2019, but you can still expect him to be a top-five WR. You can pretty much pencil him in for 100 catches minimum and if they pepper him like they did last season 120 could be within reach. The arrival of Emmanuel Sanders as a viable receiving option could knock off some targets as Brees will take what the defense gives him. 

Julio Jones, WR, ATL – August ADP: 15.00

2019 Stats: 15 games, 157 targets, 99 rec, 1,394 yds, 6 TDs

Julio down by the schoolyard is still one of the most fear-inducing matchups for defenses. 2019 was a season the Falcons wanted to forget about and Jones missed 100 catches by 1 last season breaking his 5-year streak of 100 catch seasons. Atlanta is usually in some shootouts through the season and the losses of Desmond Trufant and De’Vondre Campbell may weaken an already poor defensive unit leading to even more shootout potential. 

Mike Evans, WR, TB – August ADP: 24.75

2019 Stats: 13 games, 118 targets, 67 rec, 1,157 yds, 8 TDs

The arrival of Tom Brady has a lot of buzz around Tampa and the offense. Evans is probably the best downfield threat that Brady has had since Randy Moss. This isn’t really about Tom Brady, but Evans is the type of receiver that relishes the jump ball situation and Brady did very well throwing the ball downfield to the right side. Evans also excels downfield on the right side of the field catching 5 of 11 deep balls for two touchdowns on that side. Evans will have to gain Brady’s trust early by avoiding drops, but Evans could be in for a great season. 

Chris Godwin, WR, TB – August ADP: 19.00

2019 Stats: 14 games, 121 targets, 86 rec, 1,333 yds, 9 TDs

It’s tough to justify having two WRs in the same offense in the top 12, but Evans and Godwin are both in that conversation. They likely both won’t hit in the same week, but Brady will feed a matchup that he likes. Don’t forget that Godwin gave Brady #12! Brady owes him some targets. I jest, but seriously Godwin is a solid receiver that could become his favorite underneath target and the middle of the field option for Brady. 

NFC South Tier 2 Players (13-24 Potential)

Tom Brady, QB, TB – August ADP: 132.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 373/613 comp/att, 4,057 yds, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 26 rush, 34 yds, 3 TDs

Nobody has gotten more fanfare this offseason than 43-year-old Tom Brady. His arrival in Tampa has caused some to think that he takes the Tampa offense to a whole new level. If you take away Jameis Winston’s INTs this offense was already very dynamic. Brady will just be working to maintain the offensive production and cut down on the mistakes. That translates into wins on the football field, not necessarily fantasy production. He has a ton of weapons at his disposal, but a high tier 2 quarterback is about what Brady has been the last few seasons. 

Todd Gurley, RB, ATL – August ADP: 29.75

2019 Stats: 15 games, 233 rush, 857 yds, 12 TDs, 49 targets, 31 rec, 207 yds, 2 TDs

Gurley dominated last year’s offseason with worry about his knees. He didn’t break 1,000 yards rushing and was released as the Rams fought a salary cap hell. The 14 total TDs however are very valuable, and the Falcons love to pass. The run game previous to 2019, where nothing went right for the Falcons, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were both productive fantasy backs. Gurley can get back to 1,000 yards rushing and matching his touchdown numbers from last season is attainable. 

D.J. Moore, WR, CAR – August ADP: 28.25

2019 Stats: 15 games, 135 targets, 87 rec, 1,175 yds, 4 TDs, 6 rush, 40 yds

Moore could very well unseat one of the tier 1 receivers on my list, but it comes down to his quarterback for me. Teddy Bridgewater has been a game manager over most of his career, but it will be interesting to see what head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady will do for this offense. McCaffery should still be the focal point of the offense, but Moore is probably the 2nd option for moving the ball. Moore, if healthy, should be a lock for a WR2 if not more. 

Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL – August ADP: 38.50

2019 Stats: 13 games, 93 targets, 63 rec, 866 yds, 7 TDs, 2 rush, 19 yds

Ridley gets a great number of targets considering he plays with the target monster Julio Jones. He does have the benefit of a better cornerback matchup also because of Julio. Ridley was WR29, but if he plays a full 16 game season should be in that late WR2 area. He will get some big games when defenses want to try to take away Jones from the game. Double-digit touchdowns would also be attainable as he did that in his rookie season. 1,000 yards and 10 TDs would be a successful season for Ridley. 

Hayden Hurst, TE, ATL – August ADP: 87.50

2019 Stats: 16 games, 39 targets, 30 rec, 349 yds, 2 TDs

Hurst is a gamble. He’s had a beast in front of him in Mark Andrews in Baltimore his entire career. I have optimism because Atlanta traded for him after Austin Hooper departed for Cleveland and his 75 receptions and 6 TDs are up for grabs. The Falcons also do not have a viable WR3 on the team, so the top four options are Jones, Ridley, Gurley, and Hurst. I don’t know that he’ll hit Hooper’s numbers but 570 yards and 5 TDs (Mike Gesicki) was good enough for a TE1. 

NFC South Tier 3 Players (25-36 Potential)

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, CAR – August ADP: 290.25

2019 Stats: 9 games (5 starts), 133/196 comp/att, 1,384 yds, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 28 rush, 31 yds

Bridgewater’s best season as a pro he had 3,231 yds, 14 TDs, and 9 INTs. There’s a chance that Rhule and Brady can bring out the best in Teddy B, but this is a team that may struggle in 2019. Bridgwater can hope that dump-offs turn into huge plays with McCaffery, Moore, and Curtis Samuel being speedy playmakers. Robby Anderson was brought in as well to add to the offense, but the offensive line is a question. He could hit 3,300 yards and 15 TDs, but those would be career highs, but Kyle Allen did that last season and that didn’t work out too well. 

Ronald Jones, RB, TB – August ADP: 89.00

2019 Stats: 16 games, 172 rush, 724 yds, 6 TDs, 40 targets, 31 rec, 309 yds

No matter what I write here 50% of you will hate it and 50% of you will love it. RoJo is a polarizing player, but RB3 is definitely attainable. He did that last year. The Bucs brought in LeSean McCoy to compete and drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the 3rd round. 

Why Jones over these two? First, McCoy was a healthy scratch in the Super Bowl. He doesn’t have much left in the tank, but can be a good mentor for the younger backs. Vaughn? Well rookies can cut out a role, but I don’t think Bruce Arians and Brady will give the lion share of the reps to Vaughn. Dare Ogunbowale is more likely to be the 3rd down back as he plays on special teams and worked out with Brady in the offseason. So why Jones? He didn’t have to have the bell cow role to still be an RB3. I also don’t expect the Bucs to pound the ball in most games. 

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, NO – August ADP: 175.75

2019 Stats: 17 games (2 teams), 97 targets, 66 rec, 869 yds, 5 TDs

Manny Sanders is a player in redraft leagues I have targeted a lot. He is an older veteran, but playing with Michael Thomas on the field with him should give him a lot of one-on-one matchups. Add in playing indoors a majority of the games and Drew Brees and you have a recipe for a successful season. Sanders should easily match what he put up last season if not exceed it. 

Ian Thomas, TE, CAR – August ADP: 317.50

2019 Stats: 16 games, 30 targets, 16 rec, 136 yds, 1 TD

Greg Olsen has moved onto Seattle. Ian Thomas in Olsen’s absence has had some relevance in the fantasy world. All I’m saying is he’ll finish in the top 36. Which isn’t a hard accomplishment. There are a lot of pieces on this offense and it will depend a lot on how comfortable Teddy Bridgewater gets with his teammates. Thomas could get 400 yards and 6 TDs and I think everybody would be happy with that production.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, TB – August ADP: 83.25

Gronkowski did not play in 2019. He reports that he is feeling good and the time off has helped his ailing back. Once the games start being played I can see Gronk missing time. There’s also the real possibility that Cameron Brate leads the tight end group in all categories. Gronk’s output will depend on snap counts and games played. I can see him being a red zone target for Brady as the two have history in case you have been living under a rock. 

Fantasy Depth Players with Potential – NFC South Tier 4 

Curtis Samuel, WR, CAR – August ADP: 260.25

2019 Stats: 16 games, 105 targets, 54 rec, 627 yds, 6 TDs, 19 rush, 130 yds, 1 TD

If Samuel can convert more of his target share into completions he could easily be right up there with D.J. Moore. The addition of the next guy on this list Robby Anderson I think will prevent Samuel from reaching over 100 targets again, but Samuel still has a WR2/3 ceiling. Injuries and other circumstances could open up some targets or rushing attempts for Samuel which would help his fantasy output. He’s not a weekly smash starter though for me. 

Robby Anderson, WR, CAR – August ADP: 255.75

2019 Stats: 16 games, 96 targets, 52 rec, 779 yds, 5 TDs

Anderson signed as a free agent this offseason to give the Panthers a stretch the field option on the outside. My concern is the number of deep shots that he may see and the other talents in the Carolina offense. Anderson was a boom-bust option for me the last couple seasons and a best ball favorite of mine. I’m not expecting a career year out of Anderson but could end up a WR3. 

O.J. Howard, TE, TB – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 14 games, 53 targets, 34 rec, 459 yds, 1 TD

I still have faith that Howard can break out. I think that will probably happen on another team. Howard may be too good as a protector to run routes. Now with a crowded tight end room, Howard probably needs an injury to be relevant. 

Cameron Brate, TE, TB – August ADP: NR

2019 Stats: 16 games, 55 targets, 36 rec, 311 yds, 4 TDs

The touchdowns mean more to a tight end than yards, though both are nice to have. The finished the 2019 season neck and neck, but similar to Howard, Brate is going to need an injury to gain more relevance than a bye week or injury starter. 

Buy

Ronald Jones, RB, TB (NFC South Tier 3)August ADP: 89.00

I mentioned Jones earlier and am doubling down on him here. Many people don’t want him on their teams and will take a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him. The time to strike was probably after the LeSean McCoy news, but if you own Jones, he’s a hold. Peyton Barber was his biggest threat last season and he is gone. I mentioned earlier, McCoy isn’t a threat and Vaughn is overhyped. Buy!

Sell

Rob Gronkowski, TE, TB (NFC South Possible Tier 3/4)August ADP: 83.25

In dynasty especially this guy was free or a waiver add. Maybe you held onto him just in case, well in the offseason or his first boom game sell! He’s not going to be a full-time player and he doesn’t want to be. He and Brady will pick their spots and if you can swindle a 2nd out of somebody for Gronk, take it!

Sleepers – NFC South Tier 3 or below

P.J. Walker, QB, CAR – August ADP: NR

I’m not a Teddy B believer. This could very well be Will Grier, but I decided to be bold. Walker was one of the bright spots from the XFL and Carolina scooped him up when he became available. I point to Walker simply because Matt Rhule didn’t draft Will Grier and has no ties to him. Walker,  he did bring in and could run a college-style offense to use Walker’s strengths. The same could be said for Grier, but I was never a huge fan of him making the pro transition. 

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, TB – August ADP: 95.00

Some may see this as hedging my bets, but Vaughn is probably in the locker room’s eyes as the 4th RB option on the team behind Jones, McCoy, and Ogunbowale. If he emerges from this group towards the end of the season he could be a league winner. I don’t see an early season role for him and most of his high draft fantasy capital came right after the draft. His ADP has dropped since then into the 2nd round instead of the late 1st it was in May. 

Laquon Treadwell, WR, ATL – August ADP: NR

“I just can’t quit you.” Maybe a change of scenery can resurrect Treadwell’s career. Behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, there isn’t much depth. Russell Gage, Christian Blake, and Olamide Zaccheaus are his top competitors for playing time. Not scary competition. There are worse dart throws to get behind out there. I mean people are still holding onto Josh Doctson too. 

 

Check out our offensive player tiers on IDP Guys here.


Thanks for reading my NFC South tiers as I get to talk about some offense for once. If you hated it or loved it let me know @seahawksdan8 on Twitter. Here’s the NFC South IDP article if you play in IDP. You can check out my defensive writing at IDPGuys.org. You can find me on the IDP Lounge, IDP Nation, and Devy IDP Grind podcasts on the Reiter Digest Network and podcast catcher of your choice.