AFC South Fantasy Football Breakdown

Using metrics from our Average Weekly Value analysis, we highlight offseason positional and coaching changes that are expected to make an impact this upcoming season. Today we’re breaking down the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans.

Quarterback
Additions: DeShaun Watson
Departures: Brock Osweiler

A battle is brewing between Tom Savage and 2017 first-rounder DeShaun Watson. DeAndre Hopkins has already spoken out in favor of Tom Savage, but Bill O’Brien didn’t use a first-round pick on DeShaun Watson to just hand the job over to Savage because of one man’s endorsement. Regardless, either should likely be an upgrade over Osweiler. However, neither QB is expected to sling it around like the ghost of Brett Favre. Houston has not ranked in the top half of the league in passing attempts in any of the last three years.

Bottom Line
Houston has a few weapons to play with, but neither QB will be heavily relied upon.

ADP: 
Watson (119.6), Savage (170+)


Running backs
Additions: D’Onta Foreman
Departures: None

Lamar Miller (-1.39) is likely to remain the feature back. With a total of 299 touches in 2017, Miller is a rare commodity in fantasy football. Only 6 running backs touched the ball as much or more than Lamar. Going into this year, Alfred Blue and third-round pick D’Onta Foreman look to compete for the backup spot. Foreman comes with some off-field drama, but Houston feels he might be the answer in the red zone, and he could potentially eat into Miller’s touches if he proves he can be efficient.

Bottom Line
Houston hopes Miller returns to 2015-level efficiency, the potential touches are there, but Foreman may pose a threat to red zone carries if he can be an effective playmaker in an offense desperate to improve scoring in 2017.

ADP: 
Miller (26.5), Foreman (170+)


Wide Receivers
Additions: None
Departures: None

Will Fuller is expected to be on the DL for months with a broken collarbone. That leaves WR2 duties to either Braxton Miller or Jaelen Strong. DeAndre Hopkins (-1.54) is firmly planted in the WR1 role with the Texans and guaranteed a large target share. But that was the same story last year. The question isn’t targets, it’s quarterback play. If the QB position improves to just mediocrity then Hopkins will likely improve on a disappointing 2016 campaign.

Bottom Line
Hopkins will garner a very healthy amount of targets, while Miller and Strong push for the second spot on the depth chart.

ADP
Hopkins (29.2), Miller (170+), Strong (170+)


Tight Ends
Additions: None
Departures: None

C.J. Fiedorowicz (-0.05) surprised in 2016. He is likely to retain the starting role for the Texans. But don’t count out Ryan Griffin, who accounted for 50 catches compared to Fiedorowicz’s 54 receptions in 2016. Second year tight end Stephen Anderson is also expected to compete, but the job remains Fiedorowicz’s to lose. The tight end position will be busy in Houston, with over 100 passes completed to tight ends in 2016.

Bottom Line
Houston utilizes their tight ends, if Fiedorowicz wrestles away most of the target share from his backups, he could contend for a top 12 finish in 2017.

ADP
Fiedorowicz (143.0), Griffin (170+)


Coaches (HC/OC)
Additions: None
Departures: George Godsey (OC)

Houston’s offense was pretty brutal last year. So, George Godsey is out, and Bill O’Brien is in. O’Brien, offensive coordinator for the Pats in 2011, will assume control of the offense in 2017.


Quarterbacks
Additions: None
Departures: None

2016 was, well, another year of punishment for Andrew Luck (-0.81). For years it has been torturous to be behind Indy’s o-line. Luck has had a string of injuries that have caused him to miss 10 games in 2 years. This offseason, Indy finally invested in offensive lineman in the hope that it would mean protection for their franchise quarterback. It’s about time, right? When Luck has been on the field, he’s been wildly productive — finishing outside of the top 5 in QB fantasy points scored only once since 2013. If Luck remains healthy for all 16 games this season, he should again be an elite QB1 option.

Bottom Line
A pass-friendly offense coupled with a healthy season for Luck, and his receiving options, will lead to a big year for the Stanford alumnus — but that healthy season is a big if. Luck is already on the DL with an undetermined time table for return.

ADP
Luck (63.9)


Running backs
Additions: Marlon Mack
Departures: Jordan Todman

Frank Gore (-0.74) is football’s Morgan Freeman — have either aged in the last 15 years? As long as Gore keeps beating away Father Time, there’s no reason he can’t hold on to his lead role. Beyond Gore, Indy has three other backs vying for playing time. Both Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson saw some action last year, but only to spell the 33-year-old Gore. The addition of rookie Marlon Mack means Indy will have plenty of options behind Gore.

Bottom Line: 
Gore is Indy’s RB1 until he, or his body, says so. It appears to be RBBC if that day comes. Workload alone keeps Gore firmly planted in fantasy’s RB2 territory.

ADP
Gore (71.5), everyone else (170+)


Wide Receivers
Additions: Kamar Aiken
Departures: None

T.Y. Hilton (+3.81) remains Indy’s WR1 and Luck’s favorite target. Over the last three years, Hilton has consistently produced a positive average weekly value vs. starters at his position. As long as Luck is healthy, that trend should continue. Hopefully, Donte Moncrief (-1.01) can find Frank Gore’s secret sauce. Unlike Gore, Moncrief has been nagged by injuries throughout his career. Philip Dorsett rounds out the Colts top three wide receivers. Neither Moncrief or Dorsett have reached the potential Indy saw in them. So, the Colts went out and contracted the services of former-Baltimore WR Kamar Aiken. If you remember when Steve Smith went down with injury in 2015, Aiken filled in with a -0.95 average weekly value vs WR1’s in that span. That means the WR2 spot on the colts is turning into a three-horse race.

Bottom Line
Hilton will continue to eat as Luck’s number one. As of now, Moncrief is the team’s WR2, and whoever assumes that role on this team, given the pass-heavy nature of the offense, could produce WR2 numbers in fantasy.

ADP
Hilton (15.4), Moncrief (83.8), Dorsett (170+), Aiken (170+)


Tight Ends
Additions: Mo Alie-Cox
Departures: Dwayne Allen

Indianapolis thought it was best to ship Dwayne Allen off to New England and hand the keys to Jack Doyle (-2.28). It will be interesting to see how Doyle does as the Colts starting tight end. For the first time in a long time, the Colts might rely on a single tight end to carry the load. That looks to be the case since the only two tight ends behind Allen are Erik Swoope and Mo Alie-Cox, who attended the Antonio Gates School of Tight End. Swoope and Alie-Cox are both former-basketball players with great height and athleticism. Swoope appears to have the edge on Alie-Cox for the second tight end depth spot. Luck loves his tight ends, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Doyle to prove himself. If he can’t be effective in a larger role, it might turn back into a Tight End By Committee.

Bottom Line
Jack Doyle will be the starting tight end in Indy and, unlike his predecessors, he might have the role all to himself.

ADP
Doyle (131.6)


Coaches (HC/OC)
Additions: None
Departures: None


Quarterbacks
Additions: None
Departures: None

Marcus Mariota (+1.88) showed improvement in 2016 after posting a -0.29 points per game versus other fantasy QB’s in 2015. Last year, Mariota finished as the fifth QB according to our average weekly value metric. Now, Mariota looks to take a step forward in 2017. A team running game that ranked fifth in collective total season value, a rookie first-rounder wide receiver named Corey Davis, and the emergence of Rishard Matthews all bode well for the former-Duck.

Bottom Line
Mariota may have finished outside the top 12 in total season production according to some, but his 2016 season was great by our metrics. He should be even better in 2017 — a possibly legitimate QB1.

ADP
Mariota (118)



Running backs
Additions: None
Departures: None

DeMarco Murray (+6.81) still captains this backfield. Excluding his troublesome year in Philly, DeMarco has finished with a positive average weekly value in 3 out of the last 4 years. Behind Murray is second-year man Derrick Henry. As already mentioned, last year Tennessee’s backfield finished fifth in collective total season value. In short, they like to run the football. DeMarco should be in for another hefty carry total. If injuries do jump up on the 29-year-old Murray (he’s already sitting out with a hammy issue), then Henry should have an easy path to RB1-level touches.

Bottom Line
Murray is still the workhouse and legit RB1, Henry will play second-fiddle unless an injury occurs ahead of him. Lack of touches limits Henry’s upside.

ADP
Murray (18.5), Henry (128.2)


Wide Receivers
Additions: Corey Davis, Eric Decker, Taywan Taylor
Departures: Kendall Wright

This position seems wide open for the Titans — in terms of target share. Last season, Rishard Matthews (+4.02) pulled an Andy Dufresne—emerging as the team’s WR1 allowed Matthews to post a breakout year that few expected. Many expected the rookie Tajae Sharpe (-6.96) to take control of that role, but the targets never came. Sharpe is already on the PUP list with a foot injury, so that leaves new-comers Eric Decker, Corey Davis, and Taywan Taylor will be left to fight for targets. The veteran, Eric Decker, is coming off a string of hip and shoulder injuries that robbed him of his 2016 campaign. Decker is getting a little long in the tooth, but he did produce a +2.56 points per game versus other starting WR’s in 2015 as a member of the Jets. Another veteran, Harry Douglas, returns to the fold and could be a threat for targets. But rookie Corey Davis wasn’t selected fifth overall in the latest NFL draft to sit behind two aging wide receivers. If Davis lives up to his billing, he will secure the WR2 role in Tennessee, and possibly push Matthews for the team’s largest target share.

Bottom Line
Tennessee’s wide receiving corp is crowded. Matthews is the only returning wide receiver expected to remain an integral part of the passing attack. Decker and Davis will have it out for WR2 duties, and might even push for the team’s WR1 spot if Matthews falters.

ADP
Matthews (98.1), Decker (100.0), Davis (111.2)


Tight Ends
Additions: Jonnu Smith
Departures: Anthony Fasano

Fasano is gone, meaning the second spot on the depth chart is up for grabs. While Tennessee has run a lot of two-tight end sets recently, that might change with the new blood the Titans infused into the WR position. Look for Delanie Walker to continue being a beast, even at the age of 33. Walker will still command a lot of targets — especially, with the chemistry him and Mariota have established over the years. Rookie Jonnu Smith is the likely candidate to fill the TE2 spot. Smith has already drawn praise from Delanie Walker himself.

Bottom Line
Walker is in the top tier of TE1’s — that shouldn’t change in 2017.

ADP
Walker (63.6), Smith (170+)


Coaches (HC/OC)
Additions: None
Departures: None


Quarterbacks
Additions: None
Departures: None

Blake Bortles (-1.59) is a peculiar one. He draws constant criticism from experts pertaining to his real on-field performance, but his fantasy performances haven’t been nearly as bad. A lot of his fantasy production can be chalked up to playing behind in games (volume) and the lack of a running game (more volume). In 12-team, or even 10-team, Bortles has been a consistent top 10 QB in total season points scored — who woulda thunk it? Because of the negative press his game has gotten recently, Bortles’ fantasy impact might be getting overlooked. Then again, his late-game fantasy production magic might be coming to an end with an emerging defense and a run-first approach set to take flight in 2017.

Bottom Line: 
A better running game in 2017 might decrease Bortles’ attempts, but increase his real-world efficiency — how that effects his fantasy prowess is yet to be determined, but tread lightly.

ADP:
Bortles (170+)


Running backs
Additions: Leonard Fournette
Departures: Denard Robinson

Leonard Fournette was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fournette has been on everyone’s radar since he stepped foot in Baton Rouge. Returning players, T.J. Yeldon (-5.15) and Chris Ivory (-7.18), did not do much last season to inspire confidence. Given Fournette’s talent, and the investment Jacksonville made in him when they selected him fourth overall, he should easily take over the lead role in the backfield. Expect Ivory to take some goal-line work (… if healthy) and Yeldon to work as a more of a change-of-pace back.

Bottom Line
Fournette is the back to own in Jacksonville, Yeldon and Ivory might steal enough work to keep Fournette from true RB1 status.

ADP:
Fournette (20), Yeldon (170+), Ivory (170+)


Wide Receivers
Additions: Dede Westbrook
Departures: None

Allen Robinson (-0.89), Allen Hurns (-4.96), and Marqise Lee all saw extensive action in 2016, and all of them return to the receiving corp in 2017. Robinson is the crown jewel of the group, despite taking a step back from his 2015-form (+5.33). Robinson’s target share remained nearly identical from 2015 to 2016, his lack of fantasy production can be attributed to Bortles’ struggles down the field and Robinson’s TD decline. Targets should still be there for Robinson in 2017, but efficiency and a more potent rushing attack are red flags for the fourth-year wideout. Hurns and Lee should continue battling for the second spot on the depth chart. Lee carved out a much greater role in 2016 — impeding Hurns’s production in the process. Newly-drafted, and often-troubled, Dede Westbrook might steal some work from both Hurns and Lee.

Bottom Line
The pecking order is established in Jacksonville. Robinson is the team’s clear WR1 — but a changing team philosophy and underwhelming down field production might negate Robinson’s targets.

ADP: Robinson (52.6), Hurns (170+), Lee (170+), Westbrook (170+)


Tight Ends
Additions: Mychal Rivera
Departures: Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas (-2.59), after two less-than-stellar years in Jacksonville, was traded to Miami this off-season. The Jags proceeded to sign Mychal Rivera to add depth behind likely starter, Marcedes Lewis. Jacksonville’s run-first philosophy might have impacted their vantage on the tight end position — opting for less pass catching options and more blocking-styled tight ends.

Bottom Line: No one in this position group projects to be anything more than a desperate bye week fill-in.

ADP: Take a guess… (170+)


Coaches (HC/OC)
Additions: None
Departures: None

Doug Marrone was retained as head coach after being the interim-HC following Gus Bradley’s firing. Marrone is known for a run-first approach — Fournette’s selection is evidence to the team’s mindset.


To get you ready for draft day, we’re publishing the Fantasy Outliers breakdown of each division between now and August 21.


Want more of our content?

(If you are unsure how we calculate value, see a technical description or listen to our podcast on value.)