Several factors go into building a better winning ball team. One of those factors is identifying which players will let your team down and go bankrupt. Another is which players have the league-winning advantage, especially in the later rounds. To help you build an elite list of the best balls, I’ll identify the most likely contender and potential league winner for every NFL team.
Today, I detail the teams of the AFC South: the Texans of Houston, the Colts of Indianapolis, the Jaguars of Jacksonville and the Titans of Tennessee.
The Average Draft Position (ADP) used for this article is from Underdog Fantasy.
Marlon Mack (RB – HOU): ADP 175.6
Given Houston’s lack of proven offensive players, it’s hard to find a clear candidate. However, Mack is someone I refuse to recruit. He’s only played seven games in the past two years because of a torn Achilles and several healthy inactive scratches on game day. Moreover, he has only averaged more than 12.5 fantastic points per game once in his career. More importantly, Mack won’t have a starring role in the backfield with Rex Burkhead and rookie Dameon Pierce on the roster. If you’re targeting late-round running backs with an advantage, look for Mark Ingram, Brian Robinson or Sony Michel instead. All three have a later ADP than Mack.
Matt Ryan (QB–IND): ADP 153.5
Trading for Ryan was a good move by the Colts. However, this will not change its fantasy value much. The former Atlanta star has averaged under 18 fantastic points per game four of the past five years despite playing with elite receivers like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Although Michael Pittman is an emerging star, he is not yet an elite receiver. More importantly, Ryan was never a high touchdown producer. He has thrown fewer than 30 touchdowns in 11 of his 14 seasons. Additionally, Ryan offers zero rushing production, averaging just 104.9 rushing yards per year during his career. Instead of drafting Ryan, target a quarterback with more upside like Zach Wilson.
Evan Engram (TE – JAC): ADP 178.3
Like the Texans, the Jaguars lack proven offensive players. Thus, it is difficult to find a clear bust candidate. However, you should avoid drafting Engram with any of your later choices. He’s averaged under 9.5 fantastic points in all but one year of his career. Additionally, Engram had six touchdowns as a rookie with a 20% target share. More importantly, he’s only received 10 touchdowns over the past four years while playing in 77% of games. He also had a career-low 408 yards last season despite the rest of New York’s receiving core struggling with injuries. Engram will have to earn its snaps in Jacksonville with Dan Arnold already on the roster. There are several better late-round options on tight end, including Hayden Hurst.
Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN): ADP 178.1
Two years ago, Tannehill posted career highs in fantasy points per game (21.5) and passing touchdowns (33). Unfortunately, he regressed last year, averaging a fantastic 15.8 points per game while throwing just 21 touchdowns. Any hope of a Tannehill rebound this season ended when the Titans traded AJ Brown in the NFL Draft. Now Tannehill has a pair of rookie wide receivers and Robert Woods coming off a torn ACL. The only thing in Tannehill’s favor is his ability to rush. He has scored seven rushing touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. While the rapid rise is appealing, it’s not enough to overcome the lack of proven weapons in the passing game. I would take a chance on Deshaun Watson before I draft Tannehill.
Potential league winners
Brevin Jordan (TE – HOU): ADP 208.8
Jordan is one of my favorite late-round tight ends. He was TE29 on a points-per-game basis last year, averaging a fantastic 5.1 points per game. However, Jordan has produced for fantasy teams when targeted. He averaged 1.64 fantasy points per target last year. Additionally, Jordan averaged a fantastic 7.9 points per game over the four games with four or more targets. More importantly, the Texans relied on Jordan in the red zone. Although they only saw 28 targets last year, 14.3% of them entered the red zone, resulting in three touchdowns. Houston’s offense lacks proven weapons other than Brandin Cooks, so Jordan has a path to a sophomore breakout.
Nyheim Hines (WR – IND): ADP 137.1
The Colts had only one player with 40+ receptions last year. That player was Pittman with 88. Zach Pascal and TY Hilton were the only other wide receivers on the team with more than 13 receptions last year. Pascal signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, while Hilton remains unsigned. Also, the only addition the Colts made this year was using a second-round pick on Alec Pierce. The lack of new additions is good news for Hines. Last year, he was second on the team with 40 receptions. Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of hype around Hines and a bigger role this season. With Ryan’s lack of mobility, expect an increase in offload goals for Hines this year.
Christian Kirk (WR – JAC): ADP 89.1
Last year, Kirk had arguably the best year of his career with 77 receptions for 982 yards and 169.12 total fantasy points, all career highs. He had a target share of 18.1% last season but is expected to have an even bigger share this season. The Jaguars have made Kirk their prize addition this offseason and believe he can be Trevor Lawrence’s No. 1 weapon in the passing game. Kirk averaged 1.64 fantasy points per target last year. By comparison, he averaged a fantastic 1.41 points per target for the rest of his career. The Jaguars will be in a negative game scenario for much of this season. If Lawrence can jump sophomore, Kirk has the top 20 upside down.
Kyle Philips (WR – TEN): ADP 215.9
Don’t discount your last-round pick just because it’s the last pick. Anyone who threw a dart at Cordarrelle Patterson with their last-round pick probably won their league last year. With Treylon Burks garnering all the attention as a replacement for Brown, don’t sleep on the fifth-round pick. The former UCLA star has a realistic chance of earning meaningful snaps as a rookie. Woods is coming off a torn ACL and recently turned 30, while Burks struggled to stay on the court during camp. During the pre-draft process, some compared Philips to Hunter Renfrow. If he makes a connection with Tannehill during training camp, Philips will become the flight of the draft with your final pick.
Mike Fanelli is a featured writer for FantasyPros. To learn more about Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Mike_NFL2.