The Fantasy Points staff recently welcomed NFL Films legend Greg Cosell and NFL Insider Adam Caplan to talk about the AFC South as part of our Virtual Pow-wow Series. I highly encourage you to check out the entire conversation by accessing our Livestream archives.
Greg and 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 Greg and Adam for the last 15+ years. The Fantasy Points staff is proud to let the public peek behind the curtain during these exclusive Livestreams! Here are the notes I compiled from the AFC South meeting, and I included my biggest fantasy takeaways for each team.
Adam said there are so many ways this Deshaun Watson situation could play out in 2020, but he’s assuming he won’t be the starter to open the season.
With Watson in the fold, Greg thinks they have a good QB room, a deep RB corps, some quality WRs, and an O-line that has improved in recent seasons. They also have a few quality defensive players. He doesn’t look at this roster and think they’re going to be lucky to win a game.
Greg said the Texans’ offense will have elements of the Ravens’ offense if Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback. The offensive line is a strength for this roster.
Adam said David Johnson will be the lead back but they’re going to use some sort of committee with the likes of Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, and Rex Burkhead behind him. Greg thought Johnson was much more effective last season than he was at the end of his time in Arizona.
Adam said David Culley has been one of the best receiver coaches in the league so he could have an impact on these receivers. It’s going Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb leading this group followed by Keke Coutee, Chris Conley, and third-round pick Nico Collins. The Texans traded up to get Collins because of his size-speed profile, and he has the length to be a prototypical X receiver.
Graham said Cooks is the only player on this roster that interests him at his price in the eighth/ninth round. They should have an above-average pass rate since they should be trailing in a lot of games this season.
Greg thought Davis Mills should’ve stayed at Stanford for another season. He knows some coaches on Stanford’s staff and they thought he could have helped his draft status by coming back for another year. He’s not a second-reaction quarterback and he needs to work on his accuracy and his progression reading, but he has a lot of traits to be a good quarterback. This is not a great situation for him, though, if they’re going to be throwing it 40+ times a game while playing from behind most weeks.
TE Brevin Jordan is more talented than a fifth-round pick but Greg heard he interviewed poorly in the pre-draft process.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- I don’t really have any groundbreaking takes when it comes to the tire fire that is the Texans. I’ve mostly ignored them in my drafts with Brandin Cooks being the lone exception when falls into the eighth round or later. His price is extremely affordable with an ADP of 86.5 (WR38) over the last month, and consistent 1000-yard receivers aren’t exactly growing on trees at that point of the draft — he posted 1000+ yards and 65+ catches in five of his last six seasons. His quarterback situation with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills is frightening, but he at least has a solid chance to average 8+ targets per game in this offense.
Carson Wentz played lost last season. He couldn’t process what he was seeing from opposing defenses and he was also trying to do his own thing, and Greg said you could see it in his feet. Wentz needs to get a clear mind and do what the coaches want to have any chance to get back to his old form. He’s very close with HC Frank Reich and the Colts have a good offensive coaching staff to help him.
Greg said his arm strength is still there but he lost it mentally at some point. Josh McCown told Greg that Wentz is one of the smartest guys he’s played with so it’s in him somewhere.
Adam said Wentz has a tendency to lock on to his guys as he did with Zach Ertz. It’s hard to say who will be his favorite target as he’s being rebuilt.
Greg said Parris Campbell is the wild card in this passing attack since he’s talented but hasn’t played much. Michael Pittman is big, physical, and talented and he’s coming off a solid rookie season. They’re going to move Campbell, Pittman, and T.Y. Hilton all around the formation.
Adam believes the Colts have the potential to be a top-10 offense if Wentz can get back to a serviceable level.
Greg said this offense is going to start with the running game, especially early in the year while they ease Wentz into the mix. Jonathan Taylor played like a true feature back at the end of his rookie season, but they have a deep stable of running backs.
Graham said Jonathan Taylor has a top-three fantasy ceiling, but his situation is a lot like Nick Chubb’s in Cleveland. Nyheim Hines is well in the mix in passing situations and the loss of Philip Rivers and his checkdown passes is big for these backs. To this point in his career, Wentz has hated to check it down because he’s always trying to make a play.
Adam said Sam Tevi could open the season as the starter at left tackle since it will be around nine months since Eric Fisher suffered his Achilles tear.
Fourth-round pick Kylen Granson will line up all over the field and he’s more of an offensive weapon. He should fill a bit of the void left behind by Trey Burton.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- Michael Pittman was one of my favorite late-round receivers as a rookie last season, but I admittedly haven’t drafted him much as he’s launched into the top-100 picks this season. He certainly flashed some last season but I didn’t see enough from him to suggest he’ll be the surefire top option in this passing attack this season. I’ve found myself landing more T.Y. Hilton than I expected with his ADP sitting at an extremely friendly 137.5 (WR56). Hilton ranked as the WR10 with 17.8 FPG in the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 12-16 last season, and the Colts gave him the same money that JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8 million) got from the Steelers, which suggests the Colts still have big plans for him this season. We’ll see if Carson Wentz locks in on a receiver here, but I’ll be taking the cheaper options in Hilton and Parris Campbell (173.3, WR68) until we get some intel in August.
Adam said James Robinson is going to be the primary early-down runner, but they’ll mix in Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde into the mix. OC Darrell Bevell wants to run the ball and they don’t want Trevor Lawrence throwing it 40+ times a game. It doesn’t hurt that their O-line is still intact.
Greg said Etienne is a better player than Robinson and they drafted him in the first round. He needs to be the primary back eventually but he doesn’t know what their plan is for him. Etienne can run some routes but he’s not Alvin Kamara right now. Graham said Etienne had some technique issues and he got overpowered at times in pass protection.
Joe initially liked Laviska Shenault since he had some similarities to Percy Harvin but Urban Meyer said he wanted to draft Kadarius Toney and they selected Etienne to use him as an offensive weapon. He wonders what a new coaching staff thinks about an inherited player like Shenault. Adam added that they need to figure out how to use Shenault and that Bevell isn’t the most creative play-caller.
Graham loves Chark this year with significantly improved quarterback play coming from Lawrence. This is a big year for Chark since he’s in the final year of his rookie contract, and he’s out to prove 2019 wasn’t a fluke. Chark will primarily play the boundary X with Marvin Jones playing the Z.
Greg said fifth-round pick Luke Farrell is a gifted tight end who got underused at Ohio State.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- I’ve been out on both Travis Etienne (42.6, RB22) and James Robinson (43.3, RB23) at their mid-fourth round prices. I see them and Carlos Hyde cannibalizing each other this season and I’m much more comfortable taking one of the WR2 options available in that stretch of my drafts. I’m also not picking up great vibes around Laviska Shenault, who is also likely to factor into Urban Meyer’s rushing attack. Like Joe, I’ve started to sour a bit on Shenault, especially at his top-100 ADP. I’ve pivoted to more shares of Marvin Jones with his ADP sitting at 127.5 (WR51), especially when I’ve drafted Trevor Lawrence a round earlier in the 10th frame.
Adam called this receiving corps weak. Josh Reynolds is a very good backup, but he’ll start as the Z. Chester Rogers will be the slot and they’ll cross-train fourth-round Dez Fitzpatrick, whom Greg liked coming out of Louisville.
Greg disagrees a bit about Reynolds. He doesn’t think he’s a star but he fits what the Titans want at their Z receiver with his length and vertical ability. The Titans see him as a guy that can create some big plays, and they’d love it if he’s a 55-catch guy who averages 15.0 YPR.
Greg said the Titans really like Anthony Firkser as their receiving tight end and Geoff Swaim as their inline blocker. Firkser will play in 12 personnel next to Swaim and in 11 personnel when they’re in passing situations.
Graham likes Ryan Tannehill again this season. He could regress a bit after being one of the most efficient quarterbacks the last couple of seasons, but they could be forced to throw a bit more this season to make up for it.
Greg said Taylor Lewan’s injury limited their passing game a bit last season because they had to help their struggling tackles.
Adam said they like Darrynton Evans as a changeup option to Derrick Henry, but injuries derailed his rookie campaign. He wonders if Henry will be more involved in the passing game now that Arthur Smith is gone. That was the talk last season and it never materialized.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- I’ve been aggressively drafting the Titans’ top three receivers since they’re being a bit undervalued with Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis leaving in free agency and vacating 11.2 targets per game. A.J. Brown could challenge for the largest target share in the league and he’s starting to be drafted appropriately as the WR5 (20.0 ADP) in the last month. Josh Reynolds (202.7, WR74) and Anthony Firkser (170.9, TE22) have been two of my favorite late-round dart throws since they should have large roles behind Brown. I also like their potential for a couple of blow-up games because of their movement skills, which is all I’m looking for from low-end players.