Fantasy Football Outlook: NFC South Pre-Draft

 It is never too early to start game planning for the next fantasy football season. That being said, the NFL Draft is less than 3 weeks away, so now is the perfect time to start analyzing the fantasy-relevant needs of teams across the NFL. We will continue with the NFC North. 

Atlanta Falcons

2023 Draft Picks- 1.08, 2.44, 3.75, 4.110, 4.113, 5.159, 7.224, 7.225, and 7.245

    The Falcons certainly have needs on both sides of the ball, especially some glaring ones on the offensive side. I would not be so sure that they would attack these positions with their first-round pick though. The QB position for the Falcons could surely use an upgrade. They currently have Desmond Ridder behind center, but it is hard to have confidence in him going forward. They also signed Taylor Heinicke, who should be seen as a solid backup but nothing more. If the Falcons choose to go into the season with Ridder as their starter, he would be nothing more than a low-end QB2 in fantasy. He offers a low floor and ceiling even with some decent playmakers on the team. The RB position for the Falcons is neither great nor bad. The current RBs on the roster are Tyler Allgeir, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Caleb Huntley. Allgeier looked great at the end of last season but it is unclear if the Falcons intend to add another RB early in the draft. RB is certainly a need that I could see them using a 2nd or 3rd round pick on. If they did not use a high-value pick on an RB, then Allgeier should be a high-end flex with upside going into 2023. The WR position is certainly a need for the Falcons but not as much as the two previous positions that were mentioned. The Falcons currently have Drake London, Mack Hollins, and Scotty Miller as their top wideouts. The only fantasy-relevant player out of that group is London. Even with poor QB play, London should still be able to produce as the #1 / 2 target on the team. London is currently my WR28 and therefore a high-end flex going into the season. It is very possible that they add another WR in the draft, but that does not cause me to be any more or less excited due to their current QB situation. The Atlanta Falcons have one of the best TEs in the league but they sure haven’t been able to utilize him as they should. Kyle Pitts is coming off of a season-ending knee injury but should be back in time for training camp. Pitts should compete with Drake London for the #1 receiving role on the Falcons. He has as high of a ceiling as possible at the TE position and should easily be a top 5 TE this upcoming season. Pitts is currently my TE 5. 

Carolina Panthers

 2023 Draft Picks- 1.01, 2.39, 3.93, 4.114, 4.132, and 5.145

    The Panthers should have plenty of fun in the 2023 draft, as they should finally have their starting QB of the future. It isn’t 100% clear as to which rookie QB they will be choosing, but it is narrowed down between C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. Both QBs offer a safe floor and a high ceiling from a fantasy standpoint. Regardless of who they select, they would automatically fall into the middle QB2 tier with an upside in 2023. The Panthers decided to attack the running back position in free agency by paying Miles Sanders a hefty contract of $25,400,000 for 4 years. Sanders never really got the chance to show what he could do in Philadelphia, as he had always been part of a running back committee. Although Sanders has dealt with his fair share of injuries, I have a lot of confidence in him with him being on the Panthers. With a rookie QB under center, I expect the Panthers to utilize the run game heavily in 2023. There is nobody behind Sanders that I would be worried about taking away from his production either. Sanders is a low-end RB2 with an upside this upcoming season. He is currently my RB21. The WR position for the Panthers is a little less clear, as they traded away their WR1 to the Bears to move up for the 1st pick in the draft. The remaining WR group consists of Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, and Terrace Marshall Jr. Out of that group of WRs, the only one I would want in the later rounds of the draft is DJ Chark. All three of the WRs listed are flex plays, but I believe that Chark offers the most upside in the group. The tight end position for the Panthers is not all that exciting either. That is not meant to disrespect  Hayden Hayden, but I do believe we have seen his ceiling during his time in Cincinnati. Rookie QBs do rely upon their tight ends, but that doesn’t make me any more excited about Hurst’s potential. The Panthers could use a middle-round pick on a tight end, but it is highly unlikely that it will be a top 5 TE prospect. Therefore the tight end position for the Panthers is better off not being on your roster come September. Hurst is nothing more than a low-end TE2 in 2023. 

New Orleans Saints

2023 Draft Picks- 1.29, 2.40, 3.71, 4.115, 5.146, 5.165, 7.227, and 7.257

    The New Orleans Saints look a lot better right now than they did at this same time last year. They have finally secured their QB of the near future and have added some component pieces that should give them more confidence in their offense this year. Derek Carr is now the starting QB for the Saints, with Jameis Winston as his backup. Carr isn’t a massive upgrade, but he should give the Saints fantasy options more consistency and upside than they had last year. Carr is not a top-tier QB in fantasy but he should be able to offer a safe floor and a decent ceiling depending on the matchup due to the talent surrounding him. Carr is my QB20 heading into the season and should be looked at as a low-end QB2 with an upside. The RB situation in New Orleans is definitely going to be interesting in 2023. If you didn’t know, Alvin Kamara is currently dealing with a legal case that doesn’t have a trial until the end of July. This means that we won’t know what is going to happen until right before the season begins. Even if Kamara is found innocent, he could still be reprimanded by the league. So there are ultimately a lot of question marks surrounding Kamara. For the time being, I will not be giving my current rank on Kamara, as I truly don’t know how many games he is going to play, if any this season. The good news is that the Saints signed Jamaal Williams this offseason and he can certainly fill the lead role if Kamara were to be suspended. The Saints could also be a candidate to add a rookie running back but I suspect they wouldn’t use their 1st or 2nd round picks on the position. This means that the addition of a rookie shouldn’t impact Williams upside in 2023. We have probably seen Williams’ best season last year in Detroit, but he should offer plenty of upside in New Orleans. Williams is currently my RB26 and therefore a high-end flex with upside, especially in full PPR leagues. The WR Group for the Saints is finally looking up heading into 2023. Chris Olave is exactly what we had thought he was heading into the season and is the clear-cut WR1 for the team. The Saints should hopefully get a healthy Michael Thomas back this year and he should still have enough left in the tank to be a solid WR2 for the team. The WR3 for the Saints is Rasheed Shaheed, who is great at stretching the field and offers boom/ bust potential. Olave is currently my WR14 and Thomas is my WR35 heading into the season. The tight end position for the Saints looks to be set for the 2023 season, as the Saints signed Juwan Johnson to a 2-year deal worth up to 12 million dollars. Johnson is not a top-tier TE talent but he sure does have the ability to find his way into the endzone, having scored 7 touchdowns last year. Those 7 touchdowns had him finishing as the TE 11. Now I am not projecting the same amount of touchdowns for Johnson but I do expect similar usage this year with Carr behind center. Johnson is the perfect late-round TE to target in this year’s upcoming drafts. Johnson is my TE 16 heading into the draft. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2023 Draft Picks- 1.19, 2.50, 3.82, 5.153, 5.175, 6.181, 6.196, 7.230, and 7.252

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to look a lot different this year. Tom Brady has finally retired, which has given the Bucs a giant hole at the QB position. The current QBs on the roster include Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. Both of these do not give fans or fantasy managers too much confidence. The Bucs could very well acquire a rookie QB in the draft. I could either see them trading up for one, or taking one at 19 overall if one were to slide. For the time being I will act as though they did not draft a rookie QB. I guess I would be a little more excited for Mayfield as the QB for the Bucs than I would for Trask. At least in the sense that I think Mayfield could give Mike Evans and Chris Godwin enough targets to be worthy of being drafted at their current ADPs. I am not overly excited for either QB for fantasy reasons though. They are both low-end QB2s with limited upside in 2023. The RB position for the Bucs has an upside that is already on the roster but could be changed drastically in the draft. The current RBs are Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. White is easily the best running back in the group. He has the ability to be able to handle a heavy workload and can be utilized in the passing game as well. My concern is that the Bucs are going to draft a running back with one of their first 3 picks, which would have an impact on White’s upside going forward. If they don’t, I like White in 2023. He is currently a high-end flex with an RB2 upside. He is currently my RB30. The WR position for the Bucs is definitely not a concern for at least this year. They have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage under contract for the 2023 season. I currently have Godwin ranked as a low-end WR2, Evans as a high-end flex, and Gage as a low-end flex play with upside if either of the two previous players were to get injured. The TE position for the Bucs has certainly been cleaned up since last season, as Cade Otton is the only relevant tight end left standing. I like Otton as a prospect but being the #3-4 receiving option in the current offense doesn’t look like it is going to offer much upside. The Bucs could also add a rookie tight end in the draft which would completely cut off any upside that Otton offers. If they do not add a rookie, Otton should be a low-end TE2 with limited upside in 2023.

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