As the great Darius Rucker once said, “Headin’ down south to the land of the pines/I’m thumbin’ my way into North Caroline”. That’s where I’m heading for the sixth installment of the Divisional ADP Breakdown series! In true fantasy football fashion, I am headed in a snake type pattern as I wade my way through this series. I started with the AFC East, then went North, South, West, before turning to the NFC West, now South, and will finish up with the NFC North and East. Have to save that great division for last. No time to waste, let’s get right down to it!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The South was thought to be up for grabs in 2022 for the whole 17 minutes Tom Brady was retired. Now it’s the Buccaneers’ to lose once again. They lost Bruce Arians but should keep continuity with Todd Bowles elevating from defensive coordinator to head coach and Byron Leftwich staying on as offensive coordinator. There might be some small question marks heading into the season with Bowles’ career coaching record of 26-41. But those Dolphins and Jets teams were nowhere near as talented as this Tampa Team.
Chris Godwin (64th Overall, WR25)
This is the go-to fantasy football injury site so did you really think I was going to lead the “negative section” off with anyone else from this team? He tore his ACL and sprained his MCL in Week 15 last season. It is amazing that he’s practicing, even if it is just individual drills. At just 38 weeks post-injury by Week 1, it’s just a little too soon to trust him to be a starter for my team on opening weekend. Joe and Tom covered it on the podcast about a week ago, but I tend to agree with a lot of their analysis.
If you’d like to read more about how an ACL tear affects players in their return to the field, Sam gives an in-depth breakdown here. It pains me to say, especially since Godwin is one of my favorite players to watch and have on my teams. However, until he falls a couple of rounds, I will have to pass at his current draft price.
Cameron Brate (185th Overall, TE20)
This selection is for those of you who play in leagues where your several of your counterparts draft multiple tight ends. Couldn’t be me. Brate is free and there’s good reasons for it. He wasn’t necessarily good when Gronk missed time last season. He averaged just three targets and 3.8 fantasy points per game in those contests. But he is now the number 1 tight end on a Tom Brady-led offense. He’s one of the few familiar faces on offense for Brady this season. Both of these have to count for something.
The signing of Kyle Rudolph muddies the waters a bit, but Brate is a draft and drop candidate anyway. If he looks like a big part of the offense, great! If he doesn’t, drop him and move on to the wasteland that is the tight end waiver wire.
New Orleans Saints
The Drew Brees era ended last season and it was not pretty. Now the Sean Payton era has ended. Dennis Allen was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach this offseason. Sensing a theme with the teams in this division…. Continuity shouldn’t be too much of an issue, especially on defense. Allen has been coaching many of these guys for years now. But for fantasy, we mostly care about the offense. How will that look this season?
Jarvis Landry (128th Overall, WR50)
I’m assuming the only people drafting Landry are those who still use fantasy magazines published in July as their guide for their draft. I can’t think of another reason why he’s being drafted at all. At this late in the draft you should be drafting someone with upside, or a tight end or quarterback if you neglected those positions. Not a guy who hasn’t been fantasy relevant since pre-Covid. That’s right, his last top-35 season at WR came in 2019 when he finished WR13. During those four years leading up to then he was great! Finishing at WR10, WR15, WR8, and WR19 from 2015-2018. But those days are long behind him.
He’s logged just seven top-24 weeks at wide receiver in the last two seasons. Good luck knowing when those were coming. He is also known as a short to intermediate type possession receiver. Which is where newly healthy Michael Thomas and reception hog Alvin Kamara live. Also, they may try to reign him in a bit, but Jameis is a gunslinger through and through, so how many short targets do we think are up for grabs? I am happy that Landry is playing in his home state of Louisiana again, but I can’t bring myself to draft him this year.
Alvin Kamara (19th Overall, RB11)
This may seem like cheating, but if Alvin Kamara isn’t suspended as recent reports suggest, this ADP is stealing. His ADP has risen over the last couple of months as the news looks to be more positive. By the time most drafts kick off he could rise even higher. Kamara has never finished worse than RB12, no matter how many games he’s played in. Last season, in just 13 games played, he was the RB8 overall. You know he’s going to be involved heavily again this season, especially looking at the other running backs on the depth chart. I mean, Mark Ingram is the back up?
2021 was the first time in his career he didn’t catch at least 81 passes. While he could fail to reach that number again in 2022, his rushing touchdowns should go way up. He logged just four last season, a career worst. If he is suspended for any amount of time, obviously take that into consideration. But if he isn’t, he instantly becomes a top-10 pick.
Hard to believe this is the team that came in third in the NFC South last season. But here we are. With Marcus Mariota replacing Matt Ryan, the fantasy assets on this team take a hit. Or do they?
Cordarrelle Patterson (87th Overall, RB33)
The waiver wire darling of 2021 seems to have gotten no respect from the fantasy community. Last year’s RB9 being drafted as an RB3?!? I tend to agree with this assessment. If you’re new here, Patterson wasn’t always a running back. No, he entered the league as a wide receiver/kick returner. Other than his rookie season, he had never finished inside the top 70 at his position. This despite playing basically every game.
Last season came out of absolutely nowhere on a team devoid of any real talent. Calvin Ridley missed most of the season. Kyle Pitts was a rookie who showed some flashes. Mike Davis looked washed up. There was no one else in Atlanta you felt you had to manufacture touches for quite like Arthur Smith did for Patterson. And that worked great until the end of the season. With RB finishes of 56, 31, 37, and 70 in his final four weeks, Patterson left a lot of question marks in the heads of fantasy managers. Did he burn too brightly? Were 205 touches last season too much for the 31-year-old? I tend to think so. Patterson could wind up proving us all wrong again, but I doubt it.
Kyle Pitts (35th Overall, TE3)
I’m buying into the hype. As mentioned above, the Falcons turned to a 31-year-old journeyman wide receiver/kick returner turned running back as the focal point of their offense last season. I think that experiment worked nicely for a little bit, but it’s time to look to the future. And that future is Kyle Pitts. If you’ve read this entire series so far, you’ve seen me down on the idea of taking a tight end early in drafts. While Pitts technically has been assigned the position of tight end, the majority of his receiving production came when he was lined up as a wide receiver.
At just 21 years old, Pitts put up the second-most receiving yards for a rookie tight end in league history, trailing only Mike Ditka. The issue for fantasy was he only scored once (against the Jets of course). Expect that TD number to bump up even slightly and the yardage to remain the same. Pitts has a legit shot to finish the season as the TE1.
Since 2019, the Panthers have started the following quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater (15 games), Kyle Allen (12 games), Sam Darnold (11 games), aging Cam Newton (7 games), Will Grier (2 games), and P.J. Walker (2 games). Is Baker Mayfield an upgrade over all of those players? Yes. But will it keep the Panthers out of the basement of the NFC South again? We’re not concerned with that for fantasy football. But he does make the offense better, which we do care about!
In On Everyone at Their ADP
This is an impossible team to be down on anyone. Yeah, McCaffrey has injury concerns, but if you draft him you are willing to take that risk. His role in the offense shouldn’t change, so if he stays healthy, he’s a top-5 back easily.
DJ Moore at WR17 is right in line with where I think he will finish. He is a great real-life wide receiver but has been frustrating for fantasy since he can’t seem to score more than four touchdowns in a season. Baker should change that as his career passing TD% is the highest of any QB Moore has played with.
Robby, sorry ROBBIE Anderson at WR71 is perplexing to me. He is still only 29 and just had a top-20 finish in 2020. He would be the last pick in your drafts and is worth the high upside since Baker likes to throw it deep. If he can figure out how to connect with Robbie, you’ve hit gold.
Baker Mayfield at QB24 should be a pretty good streamer when you need him. Plus he plays the Browns in Week 1, so you know he’s going to be out there with something to prove.
D’Onta Foreman & Chuba Hubbard – You know, just in case…