The Fantasy Points staff recently welcomed NFL Insider Adam Caplan to talk about the AFC South as part of our Virtual Town Hall Series. We highly encourage you to check out the entire conversation by accessing our Fantasy Points YouTube page and the Fantasy Points podcast feed.
Adam joined John Hansen and company to break down the AFC South from front to back to help us get a deeper understanding of every roster heading into the summer. John has been holding these closed-door meetings with Adam for the last 15+ years. The Fantasy Points staff is proud to let the public peek behind the curtain during these exclusive meetings! Here are the notes we compiled from the AFC South conversation.
Brett Whitefield (BW): John Metchie profiles as a guy who can play inside and outside. Nico Collins is an outside receiver, Robert Woods is an inside guy at this point in his career, and the same with Tank Dell. Bobby Slowik has his work cut out for him in figuring out how to piece this offense together.
Adam Caplan (AC): Woods clearly wasn’t ready coming off his injury last year. He doesn’t run that well anymore. The money that they’re paying Woods suggests he’s going to be a factor.
AC: Devin Singletary showed that he couldn’t handle the load in the fourth quarter for the Bills last year.
Graham Barfield (GB): Singletary is a replacement level back, but he’s a massive upgrade over Rex Burkhead. Singletary is going to work his way into the mix. Dameon Pierce’s touches could vary a little more after being a bell-cow back for stretches as a rookie.
BW: I’m more concerned about Pierce’s passing-down work. Singletary worked in a pass-heavy offense and has a proven track record of doing it.
AC: When Anthony Richardson will be ready to start is the big question for the Colts. They’re not going to rush him, and Gardner Minshew chose to sign with Indy to have a chance to start. Richardson will play early if he has the right attitude and works well with the staff. I’m expecting this to be an aggressive passing game. That’s what Shane Steichen believes in, and that’s what he did in his previous stops.
BW: Richardson landing with Steichen is a match made in heaven. Steichen will throw early in a sensible way with him. They’ll use RPOs and play-action to get him throwing on the move. I loved Alec Pierce coming out. He was a borderline first-round pick in my eyes. Downs is a perfect fit as the slot receiver between the two towers (Michael Pittman and Pierce) on the outside. Richardson’s landing spot is better than most for rookie QBs being selected early in the draft.
BW: Tank Bigsby is a three-down back, and he could be a bell-cow back eventually. He was criminally underused as a receiver, and he can be a mismatch receiver against linebackers. He could make his first impact as a receiver, and he could dig into Travis Etienne’s carries. I loved Etienne coming out of college, but he wasn’t great as a receiver in his final year at Clemson despite Dabo Swinney featuring him in the passing game. Etienne played a lot like Kenneth Walker last year as a boom-or-bust runner. The Doug Pederson-Trent Baalke regime didn’t pick him.
GB: I still think Etienne is a perfect fit for this pass-heavy scheme. They’re going to spread teams out and run the ball against light boxes. He’s not the receiver he was billed to be coming out of Clemson. They don’t want him getting 24+ carries again like he did at times last season, which is why they brought in Bigsby. He’s still a great fit in this offense.
GB: How good will this offense become with a real threat on the outside in Calvin Ridley? He’ll keep Christian Kirk strictly in the slot. Both Ridley and Kirk can be top-24 WRs in a pass-heavy offense with a defense that’s going to give up points.
BW: I love Treylon Burks for fantasy this year because they have no other options at receiver. They run a heavy play-action scheme that hides some of Burks’ deficiencies. He can catch and run in those situations. I loved Kyle Phillips coming out of UCLA. He’s not getting drafted anywhere in fantasy, but he could be involved as the #2 WR. Chig Okonkwo has a lot of Jonnu Smith in him, but Chig can actually run routes.
AC: Chig is a smaller guy and more of a slot TE. He needs to build his body up but he’s explosive with the ball in his hands. They were trying to come up with ways to get the ball in his hands as a rookie. They’ve done next to nothing at receiver.
GB: They’re going to have to throw it a little more just because their defense might stink. Burks is going to walk into 110+ targets. He got unlucky with a nasty turf toe injury and a concussion.
AC: Mike Vrabel wants to be more forward-thinking with the offense. I’d expect the pass attempts to go up a little bit this season. Tim Kelly is a good OC, and he brought him over from Houston. I just wish they had better talent at receiver.