By Ryan Weisse
Before we even dive into this article…have you seen what Club Fantasy is doing for the month of August? Talk about something to watch for! Our shows are being hosted by the amazingly talented duo of Lauren Carpenter and Faith Enes as we are celebrating the Women of Fantasy Football! Check. It. Out!
Now back to your regularly scheduled program.
With about a month until the NFL season kicks off, we have passed the halfway point in our “What To Watch For” series. If you missed our East – NFC| AFC or North – NFC | AFC, click those links after you see what the AFC South has in store for you.
I’d venture to guess that no division in the NFL will run the ball as much as the AFC South will in 2020. I won’t be surprised if none of these teams hits 500 passing attempts on the season. Here’s one thing worth keeping your eyes on for each team in the AFC South.
Is there any hope for Corey Davis?
My guess is that you’ve already answered this question in your head with a resounding “NO!,” but let me tell you why you are probably right. All of the excitement regarding the Titans offense stems from the absolute tear that Ryan Tannehill ended on in 2019. Tannehill was the QB3 over the last three months of the year, but that benefited AJ Brown far more than Corey Davis.
While AJ Brown ended the year as the WR21, you’d have to scroll a bit further to find Davis…like down to the 60s. Davis went from being 2018’s WR28 to WR62 in 2019. Things did not improve in the games with Tannehill, as Davis was the WR63 in the ten games they played together. The run-first (and second, and probably third) nature of this offense means it will be tough for any WR2 to have much fantasy value. Davis had just two weeks last year where he was better than the WR47, and while both of those weeks were WR9 finishes, only one came with Tannehill at quarterback. One good game out of ten is not the lottery ticket you’re looking for at the end of your draft. The emergence of Brown likely means that Davis will barely outplay his WR73 ADP.
Mike Williams 2.0: Michael Pittman Jr.
This was a point I briefly touched on in our IND preview show, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper. For all intents and purposes, Michael Pittman Jr. is Mike Williams. Pittman weighs in at 6’4″ and 223 pounds. Mike Williams is 6’4″ 220 pounds. College Stats: 177/2727/21 for Williams. 171/2519/19 for Pittman. Combine: Both ran their 40-yard-dash around 4.5, both broad jumped 121 inches. Even their bench press was only two reps apart. Now Pittman enters his rookie year with Williams’ former QB Philip Rivers.
The only real question is will Pittman be 2019 Williams or rookie year Williams. In 2017, Williams only played ten games, reeling in just 11 balls on 23 targets. Last year, he hit 1,001 yards on 49 receptions (20.4 YPC). If Rivers thinks Pittman is just another rookie wide receiver, he will be an afterthought in 2020. If he thinks Pittman can match his former favorite deep target, he could be a steal in fantasy drafts.
Do not sleep on Deshaun Watson’s rushing ability.
Much has been of the loss of DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, and rightfully so. Anytime you lose one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, people will start to worry about the quarterback to which he was previously attached. While we can debate for days over who will be the WR1 on this team (Josh wrote an article about it), they simply won’t live up to what Deshaun Watson is losing in Hopkins…but it may not matter much.
In fantasy football, a quarterback that can run is a virtual cheat code — and Watson can run. In three NFL seasons, Watson has amassed 1,233 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. While this doesn’t put him on Lamar Jackson’s level, it still puts him ahead of most quarterbacks. In 2020, on plays where he would normally toss it up to Hopkins, he may instead pull down and run with the ball — and that is going to lead to more fantasy points. Hopkins only accounted for five of Watson’s 26 passing touchdowns last year. If three of those find their way to his rushing total, Watson could score 10 touchdowns on the ground next year — something no quarterback has done since Cam Newton’s overall QB1 year in 2015.
Captain America, Gardner Minshew, has sleeper top-10 QB upside.
The love affair around Gardner Minshew is just as strong as it was last year, but it has not affected his ADP a bit. The guy scared away COVID and he is still being drafted as the QB28, if he’s drafted at all. Minshew was the QB19 in just 14 games last year and has potential to crack the top-10 in 2020.
While no one exactly loves Jay Gruden, he was able to turn Kirk Cousins into a top-10 fantasy QB multiple times in Washington. Cousins averaged almost 4,400 passing yards under Gruden from 2015-2017, and his average fantasy finish was as the QB6. While Minshew may not be as accurate as Cousins, he brings something to the table that Cousins did not — rushing ability. I feel like you may have heard this before, but the ability to run is like a cheat code for fantasy quarterbacks. Minshew is not Deshaun Watson, but while Cousins totaled just 323 yards in those QB1 years, Minshew had 344 while missing two games last season. If Minshew totals 400+ next year and sees a rise in his passing stats due to Gruden, he is going to lead a lot of teams to the fantasy playoffs in 2020.