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7 Critical Fantasy Football Questions: AFC South - Footballguys

Examining the critical fantasy football questions for each NFL team heading into the 2018 season

Each NFL team is its own fantasy football organism. Will they thrive or die in 2018? This series outlines the critical questions for each team across their skill position depth charts. In this edition: AFC South

Is Deshaun Watson worthy of his ADP?

Watson is being drafted as the No. 2 overall quarterback in late July ADP on myfantasyleague.com.

Verdict: Watson was one of the breakout fantasy stars early in 2017. However, it was a partial season and built upon a ridiculous touchdown rate. Regression attacks all players and Watson is one of the glaring names to know for 2018 touchdown regression. There is no upside and plenty of downside connected to Watson at his high ADP stature. Also considering the depth of quarterback this year, passing on a high-level running back or wide receiver for an early quarterback is a quick way to set an owner behind in 2018 drafts.

Is Andrew Luck worth the risk?

Andrew Luck has been rising in ADP of late, up to QB9 in late July.

Verdict: Luck avoided the PUP list to start camp as he continues to trend in the right direction for Week 1. His risk-reward ratio was far more palatable when buried in upside QB2 territory of the ADP. However, his upside for top-5 production is greater than most quarterbacks around him in positional ADP like Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, and Patrick Mahomes. The worrisome bet is over the long-term profiles of Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford in the QB8-12 range. Also, the assumption, like Josh Gordon, is a binary elite production or he is not playing outcome spectrum for Luck. Considering the lack of any wide receiver of note beyond T.Y. Hilton and uncertainty at running back, Luck has one of the weaker sets of ancillary weapons in the NFL.

Who is the No. 1 receiver for Jacksonville?

None of the Jaguars wide receivers have an ADP inside the top-50 of the position with Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Donte Moncrief all in the WR55 to WR80 ADP zone.

Verdict: One problem with investing in any Jacksonville passing game player is the sheer lack of volume. Jacksonville was 23rd in the NFL in passing attempts last season and Blake Bortles was one of the worst quarterbacks in terms of efficiency and success rate. In three of the last four seasons (Allen Robinson's garbage time-infused breakout season the lone exception), Jacksonville has not produced a top-36 fantasy receiver in PPG. Historically, the average finish for the No.1 receiver in this level of passing game should be in the WR30 range. Currently, the Footballguys projections are tepid on any Jacksonville receiver breaking into the top-40 with Marqise Lee the highest, averaging a modest 9.5 PPR PPG. Lee offers minimal upside but is the best bet to be the leader in targets for the team.

Is Lamar Miller the key to successful fantasy drafts in 2018?

Lamar Miller is being drafted outside RB25 in late July.

Verdict: Lamar Miller was night-and-day when Deshaun Watson was in the lineup or out in 2017. Miller's touchdown output doubled and his per-game fantasy production was up 50% with a healthy Watson. One of the big things to monitor leading up to the season is the recovery progress of D'Onta Foreman after a late-season ACL tear in 2017. Foreman was pushing Miller for touches in the closing weeks, but a slow start stakes Miller to profit-building production. Considering Miller resides in a draft range where he can be had as a low-cost RB2 if adding one or two strong wide receivers (or a stud tight end) in the early rounds, Miller is one of the key target running backs in 2018 drafts.

Should fantasy owners be interested in the starting tight ends for Houston or Jacksonville?

Ryan Griffin barely has an ADP (in the 250 overall range) while Austin Seferian-Jenkins resides in the TE16-20 zone.

Verdict: The ceiling is limited for both situations. In Jacksonville, the offensive DNA is through the defense and the run game. Also, Seferian-Jenkins is on his last legs in terms of NFL opportunities considering his off-field issues and lack of production to-date. After a promising 2015 season with four touchdowns in seven games for Tampa Bay, Seferian-Jenkins has devolved with a lost 2016 season and then a sluggish 7.1 yards-per-catch last year where he appeared to have lost a step. Combined with a mid-TE2 ADP and Seferian-Jenkins is not worthy of consideration on draft day. For Houston, the limitation is more the upside equation of a strong quarterback and an offense void of strong wide receivers for fantasy tight ends historically. Also, Ryan Griffin has a concussion history and the next one could be career ending. On the plus side, Griffin had a 50-catch season in his lone year playing more than nine games (2016). Reserve Griffin for deeper league consideration (start-two-tight-end, best ball with deeper rosters) and pass in stock formats and depths.

Where does Derrick Henry fit into a draft plan?

Derrick Henry is around RB20 in the latest ADP, in the Round 4-5 zone.

Verdict: Dion Lewis was a surprise big free agent contract for Tennessee this offseason, but the Titans were barren at running back beyond Derrick Henry on their depth chart. While Lewis remained healthy for the Patriots in 2017, the rest of his NFL career has been filled with missed games, playing in just 41 games over six seasons previously. Lewis' durability is a major question mark. Henry is one of the few high-RB1 upside backs available for RB2+ prices this year. Even with a projected committee with Lewis, Henry is an RB2 with RB1 upside given his size and athleticism combination. Tennessee also was one of the disappointing offenses overall last season and one of the bounce-back teams for 2018 with a system reboot and Mariota Marcus and Corey Davis as key pieces on the rise. The good news with Henry is he can be drafted in the RB3 slot for teams in the Round 4-5 zone, where the pressure to be an auto-start early in the season is minimal.

Is Marlon Mack a no-brainer draft pick or one to avoid?

Marlon Mack is being drafted outside RB30 and is slated as the Week 1 starter for the Colts.

Verdict: Mack is one of the cheapest potential Week 1 starters in the fantasy landscape with an RB33 ADP in Round 7-8. The only cheaper options for the same early projection are Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Williams, Isaiah Crowell, and Devontae Booker. Recent reports also point to Mack playing the entire 2017 with a shoulder injury. One issue is Mack was an inefficient runner last year, relying on a boom-bust profile to seek the big play and struggle to be effective between the tackles to take available yards. The risk is rookie dynamo Nyheim Hines will be a more explosive space-based weapon than Mack, forcing Mack to rely on interior touches for his production. One point of optimism is the 'rising tide' effect if Andrew Luck returns to health for the season. The Colts were No. 30 in the NFL in fantasy points from the quarterback position last season compared to consistent top-12 rankings with Andrew Luck in the lineup previous seasons.