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NFL Free Agent Frenzy: The NFC South

by Photo of Jake Langbecker

A look at the fantasy impact of the moves in the NFC South

NFL Free Agent Frenzy: The NFC South

And just like that it's part 7 of our 8 part series on the fantasy impact of the recent NFL free agent frenzy. Today is all about the NFC South, one of the better fantasy divisions, featuring the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

We will update the post as new moves are made but as of now rosters are current as of August 10th. We will list player additions and subtractions if we feel they have a fantasy impact. Offensive linemen might get listed because of their influence on position players and defensive players will be listed if we think the team defense is worth drafting. Let's get to it.

Atlanta Falcons

Record Last Season - 13-3

Key Additions: Julio Jones

Key Losses: Jerious Norwood

Fantasy Impact: The Falcons return most of their offensive players from last year's explosive team. Roddy White is the #1 fantasy receiver, if you are planning to be the first person to take a receiver, make sure it is Roddy White. Michael Turner is a top 10 fantasy running back, and the loss of Jerious Norwood should mean even more carries for the Falcons' workhorse. 

Matt Ryan is not a top tier fantasy quarterback but would definitely make a nice starting QB if you miss out on the top 6. Tony Gonzales is getting old but has shown he can still produce, consider him as an option at tight end if you miss out on the top tier there.

Sleeper: Julio Jones. Rookie receivers rarely make a big impact but the early reports out of training camp are that his kid is a freak. Tony Gonzales said he was the best rookie receiver he's ever seen and is expecting him to contribute right away. Think about Jones as a late round sleeper to keep on your bench as a receiver.

Carolina Panthers

Record Last Season - 3-13

Key Additions/Re-signings: DeAngelo Williams, Greg Olsen, Cam Newton

Key Losses: Matt Moore

Fantasy Impact: Questions at the quarterback position and a split backfield are stopping the Panthers from boasting some quality fantasy talent. The Panthers brought back Williams which is a headache for fantasy owners that were hoping Jonathan Stewart would get a shot at being the feature back. Williams will be the starter but with the number of carries he will lose to Stewart he shouldn't be considered more than a second running back on your fantasy team.

Matt Moore is gone, which leaves the starting QB job between Jimmy Clausen and Cam Newton. Steve Smith's fantasy numbers have fallen victim to poor quarterback play and that will probably happen again. Smith should no longer be considered a viable option as a starting fantasy receiver. 

Tight end Greg Olsen, who was one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets in Chicago, will probably become a favorite target for whomever wins the starting job. Keep an eye on him in the later rounds as a starting tight end option.

Sleeper: Jonathan Stewart. Sure, DeAngelo just signed a big contract but injuries have always been a concern and should he go down again Stewart will take over. Stewart is more valuable than your average handcuff running back and consider taking him in the middle rounds and stashing him on your bench just in case.

New Orleans Saints

Record Last Season - 11-5

Key Additions/Re-signings: Mark Ingram, Lance Moore, Darren Sproles

Key Losses: N/A

Fantasy Impact: Drew Brees, all he does is throw touchdowns, draft him as he is a surefire top 5 fantasy quarterback. The rest of the fantasy picture is an issue of too many cooks in the kitchen. There's no doubt the Saints will score lots of points but who will be getting the touches and who will be making the catches.

Marques Colston is your best fantasy option of the wide receiving corps. Colston can be your number one receiver and would be much better value as your number two. He can have those feat or famine sorts of weeks because of Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachem. That trio is more or less a toss-up but definitely worth drafting as part of your bench and seeing how things shake out.

The running back picture is equally murky. It looks like the Saints are going with a three-headed monster consisting of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles. It is definitely a battle worth keeping an eye on in training camp. Thomas should be the starter and has some value as a third running back. Sproles also has value, motly in PPR leagues because of his effectiveness catching passes out of the backfield. Until this picture is more clear, none of the running backs should be considered as starters on your fantasy team.

Sleeper: Mark Ingram. For some reason I have a feeling Ingram will be the running back to emerge and take the starting job. It might take part of the NFL season but he is someone worth drafting and stashing on your bench for later in the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers   

Record Last Season - 10-6

Key Additions/Re-signings: Adrian Clayborn, De'Quan Bowers

Key Losses: Carnell Williams

Fantasy Impact: The Bucs were a surprise team last year and are a trendy sleeper pick this year to make the playoffs. From a fantasy perspective you might as well call them the team of lost souls.

LeGarrette Blount and Mike Williams both ended their college careers with plenty of drama, suspensions and in Williams case by quitting the team. The Bucs didn't care and were willing to take a chance on both and boy did it pan out. Blount had 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns in only seven starts. Blount should be the feature back which means more carries, more yards and more touchdowns. Blount is a top 15 fantasy running back. He's a great value as your second back and wouldn't be a bad first running back if you draft late and there's a run on RBs early. 

Williams went for 900 yards and 11 touchdowns during his rookie campaign. That alone makes him worthy of being the second receiver on your fantasy team and those numbers should go up with a full year of NFL experience as him and QB Josh Freeman continue to mature together.

The Bucs defense was top 10 in the NFL last season and only got stronger with the additions of Clayborn and Bowers on the defensive line. The Bucs boast one of the best d-lines in football which should lead to plenty of sacks, fumbles, and hurried throws resulting in interceptions. I have the Bucs as a top 5 fantasy defense this year.

Sleeper: Arellious Benn. He did not have a spectacular rookie campaign but I'm anticipating a breakout year for Benn. Opposite Williams he should see some soft coverage and get some opportunities. I remember him from his days at Illinois and he always seemed to have great hands and a nose for the ball. Most of the time it takes 3 years for a receiver to have a fantasy impact but I'm predicting it will only take two for Benn. Consider him a deep late round sleeper to stash on your bench or someone to monitor on the waiver wire.

Check back tomorrow for our final preview, on the AFC South and be sure to check Charged.fm for all your NFL ticket needs.


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