Fantasy Football: AFC South Divisional Preview, Sleepers, Breakouts, More

Kevin Hanson
Sports Illustrated

This week, I have previewed one AFC and one NFC division from a fantasy football perspective. Check out the the NFC EastAFC EastNFC NorthAFC North, NFC SouthNFC West and AFC West.

Each divisional preview will have a consistent structure—highlighting two each of the following: (1) undervalued players compared to average draft position (ADP), (2) overvalued players compared to ADP, (3) sleepers, (4) breakout candidates and (5) bold predictions.

With that said, let's get to the AFC South divisional preview.

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Undervalued Players

[Note: ADP is based on half-PPR scoring and from FantasyPros and current as of Tuesday, 8/20.]

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 29, RB15)

Fournette has struggled with durability (11 missed games in two seasons) and inefficiency (career 3.7 YPC). But if he can stay healthy, he’s been a true workhorse, averaging nearly 20 carries per game (19.09).

With improved quarterback play, the Jaguars should sustain more drives, which could sustain a floor in the 20-carries-per-game range. In addition, Jacksonville dealt with season-ending injuries to the left side of their line for major chunks last season, but running lanes should be wider with their return to health and the addition of road-grading RT Jawaan Taylor in this year's draft.

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 206, TE23)

After missing 10 games last season, Doyle will likely play more snaps than Eric Ebron when the two are both healthy. Doyle played 332 snaps in six games last season; Ebron played 165 snaps in those same games.

The team begins the year with tougher matchups (at LAC, at TEN and vs. ATL), but then Doyle becomes an outstanding streaming option for those planning ahead. Their next eight games feature opponents that ranked last year among the 10 most generous fantasy defenses to opposing tight ends.

Overvalued Players

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans (ADP: 44, QB2)

There is a lot to like about Watson’s outlook and he’s currently my second-ranked quarterback as well. The reason he finds himself listed here is that it’s hard to cough up a fourth-round pick on a quarterback, even if it’s for one as talented as Watson. I have Aaron Rodgers (QB3) and Andrew Luck (QB4) in the same tier as Watson in terms of fantasy outlook and projections, but I’d rather wait even later for a quarterback.

The players going directly after Watson are running backs David Montgomery (45th), Mark Ingram (46th) and Chris Carson (47th). Getting one of those or comparable backs as my RB2 or flex is better use of fourth-round draft capital.

Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 74, TE8)

Breaking out in his first season with the Colts, Ebron parlayed 110 targets into a career-best 66/750/13 line. When sorting my projections by position group and team, the Colts tight ends rank first in projected touchdowns compared to any other team's group of tight ends.

That said, there are two concerns with Ebron. When both Doyle and Ebron were active, Doyle played more than twice as many snaps as Ebron. Either way, touchdown regression was likely for Ebron, but the addition of big-bodied Devin Funchess to the receiving corps adds a player likely to steal red-zone targets from Ebron and the tight ends.

Sleepers

Note: For our purposes, a sleeper is defined as a player with a current ADP of Round 10 or later.

Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans (ADP: 151, RB51)

Once the Browns signed suspended running back Kareem Hunt, Johnson wanted out of Cleveland and he got his wish. Now in Houston, Johnson’s fantasy outlook gets a shot in the arm as he assumes a change-of-pace role to Lamar Miller.

One of the league’s better receiving backs, Johnson has 235 receptions over the past four seasons to go along with 3,456 scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns. And while Miller was more efficient in 2018 than the earlier part of his Texans’ tenure, Johnson has the ability to steal some early-down work from Miller as opposed to being just a pure change-of-pace back.

D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 283, WR97)

It’s not easy to get excited about Jacksonville’s passing game, but last year’s second-round pick is a value for owners in deeper leagues. A size-speed freak (6'4" and 4.34 forty), Chark earned his first MVP (of training camp). ESPN’s Mike DiRocco called Chark the “most impressive receiver” at Jacksonville’s training camp.

Breakout Candidates

Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans

Playing in just seven regular-season and postseason games combined last season, Coutee ended his season (11/110/1 on 14 targets) similar to how he started it (11/109 on 15 targets)—both games against the Colts. Health will be key for Coutee, but if he’s able to stay healthy, there will be an opportunity for him to break out in his second season.

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans

Like with Coutee, Fuller needs to stay healthy as he has played in just 14, 10 and seven games, respectively, in his first three NFL seasons. Deshaun Watson was under center in only 11 games of Fuller’s 31 career games, but the duo was electric when both were active. Fuller has 45 catches for 782 yards (17.4 Y/R) and 11 touchdowns in those 11 games.

Bold Predictions

Note: Perhaps it will take a best-case scenario for these predictions to become reality, but if that weren't the case, they wouldn't be bold.

Jack Doyle will score more fantasy points than Eric Ebron.

As noted earlier, Doyle played more than double the amount of snaps as Ebron in their shared games played. As Ebron’s touchdown rate regresses, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ebron underperforms compared to his ADP and Doyle outperforms his. If so, the duo may not be too far apart in terms of fantasy production with Doyle having a shot to outperform his teammate.

Derrick Henry will lead the NFL in rushing.

As much as Henry disappointed for the majority of 2018, he was nothing short of dominant down the stretch. Over the final four games, Henry amassed 585 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and scored the most fantasy points among running backs during that span.

Going into 2019, the Titans will surely ride Henry and I have him projected currently for the third-most carries in the league. While he may not be the favorite to win the rushing title, it’s certainly within reach for Tennessee’s workhorse. 

Good luck in your league(s) and stay tuned for more divisional previews!

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