The Fantasy Points staff recently welcomed NFL Insider Adam Caplan to talk about the NFC 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 NFC 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 NFC South conversation.
Adam Caplan (AC): Arthur Smith is telling everyone what they want to do by drafting Bijan Robinson. Tyler Allgeier could be used a bit as a closer late in games. They want to hide Desmond Ridder as much as possible. They didn’t draft a receiver. Mack Hollins is going into the season as a starter. They traded for Jonnu Smith and they want to use 12 personnel a ton. Smith has no excuse for Bijan not to reach 50+ catches. He’s elite outside of the backfield. Bijan is a unicorn, and they’d waste his ability as a receiver if they don’t use him as a true dual-threat back (Brett adds that he ran legit receiver routes at Texas).
Brett Whitefield (BW): Kyle Pitts is always open and is a dynamic route runner. Marcus Mariota missed him way too much, but some of the blame is on Smith’s shoulders, too, for not drawing up enough targets for him. In theory, Pitts can only go up even if Ridder takes just a small step forward.
Graham Barfield (GB): The #1 Pitts’ doubter on staff to this point but jumping in this year. Pitts was wide open all the time, and he could’ve had some monster games if Mariota had played better.
AC: I haven’t heard any Ryan Tannehill to the Falcons talks yet. The Titans need to get Will Levis right first with his injuries and his leadership questions first before they trade Tannehill.
BW: Frank Reich likes QBs who play in rhythm, and Bryce Young didn’t play that way at Alabama. Jonathan Mingo gives the Panthers a guy who can help Young to get into a rhythm, and he could be a deep threat eventually.
AC: Miles Sanders has a very good chance to be a three-down back, and he’s back with Duce Staley. The Eagles didn’t see Sanders that way at all. He was explosive in the passing game a few years ago, and they’re looking to unlock that potential again. Chuba Hubbard will be a factor in some passing situations.
GB: Sanders is a great off-tackle runner, and he should be a good fit in Reich’s run scheme.
AC: They think D.J. Chark’s ankle is finally right after his latest surgery, but Adam Thielen is the favorite to lead them in receptions.
New Orleans Saints
AC: There’s nothing definitive with the Alvin Kamara situation. The big question is can Michael Thomas stay on the field? They love Chris Olave. He’s been better than they thought he’d be. He’s ahead of schedule. They think Rashid Shaheed could be more than what he showed last year. They love Juwan Johnson. They paid him well and traded away Adam Trautman.
BW: Shaheed came out of nowhere. He was even off my radar, and I watched over 300 players. Both Shaheed and Olave rank highly in our separation charting. They found two guys who can easily separate.
GB: Olave beat all receivers in yards per route run against man coverage as a rookie. He got a little unlikely in the touchdown department. Olave has the draft capital as well. Shaheed is a good player but isn’t a target hound. He wasn’t super elite in targets per route run.
BW: It can’t be understated how big of a QB upgrade Olave and these receivers are getting with Derek Carr. They had Olave running a lot of go routes early last season, and his route tree started to open up as the season went along.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
AC: Downgrade all of their receivers. They targeted Baker Mayfield at the combine when he was coming out, but he’s not the player he once was. Kyle Trask has a strong arm but can’t move very well.
BW: They brought back a lot of their free agents and drafted for need in the draft. They had a really strange application of resources this off-season.
BW: Rachaad White’s efficiency metrics were awful, but it’s tough to grade with their offensive line issues last season. He can only really go up as a runner, but they are looking at Ezekiel Elliott or another back behind him. White has great hands and is a natural receiver.