Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: NFC South

Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the NFC South.

Falcons

Rising

Matt Ryan, QB—He regressed last season, as I predicted, but a second year with his offensive coordinator should help Ryan and the Falcons improve on offense. Ryan threw a touchdown pass on 3.8 percent of his throws last year. That was a big drop from 7.1 in 2016. His career average is 4.6 percent, so I expect him to get closer to that number this year. Ryan is getting drafted after the likes of Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford. He looks like a value pick in the ninth round.

Falling

Mohamed Sanu, WR—Taylor Gabriel is no longer a Falcon, but Atlanta drafted a solid wide receiver in Calvin Ridley. That could affect Sanu’s value. He should still be the second best receiver for the Falcons, but his value depends on how much the rookie can take from the veteran. I don’t think 700 yards and five scores would make me happy if he was my second WR.

One to watch

Calvin Ridley, WR—Though I think Ridley probably ends up better than Sanu, I don’t know if he’s a candidate to be your WR2. I think the two receivers combine to make for a good season for Ryan, but it’s hard to say if one is worthy of a start on your team. Ridley is being drafted in the 10th so you might be able to take him after you’ve solidified your starters.

 

Buccaneers

Rising

Ronald Jones II, RB—Jones is the sixth rookie running back getting drafted, which is a bit surprising to me given that he’s virtually guaranteed to start for the Bucs. His fifth-round price might be a little high for an unproven commodity, but he’s got every opportunity to make an impact. He doesn’t have to worry about Doug Martin, who left for Oakland, and he should beat out Peyton Barber for touches.

Falling

Jameis Winston, QB—Winston will miss the first three games of the season and probably wasn’t going to be a QB1 anyway. His play has somewhat regressed recently. Winston only threw 19 touchdowns last season and has thrown no less than 11 interceptions in each of his first three years.

One to watch

O.J. Howard, TE—The second-year tight end is still getting drafted behind teammate Cameron Brate, but it will be interesting to see how he performs in the first three weeks with Ryan Fitzpatrick calling signals. The veteran QB is good at connecting with tight ends. Howard will be cheap in drafts so he may be worth taking a flier on late.

Panthers

Rising

Christian McCaffrey, RB—McCaffrey should be a solid RB1 this season if he at least matches his first season production. He gained 1,086 yards from scrimmage and caught a whopping 80 passes. McCaffrey rushed just 117 times last year so it’s likely that number increases with Jonathan Stewart now with the Giants.

Falling

C.J. Anderson, RB—One factor that could keep McCaffrey from taking the next step is the presence of Anderson. Last season with the Broncos, Anderson actually rushed for 1,007 yards, but he scored just four overall touchdowns. He’d likely have to earn the goal line role in order to become a RB2 option. Problem is Cam Newton can often serve as the Panthers goal line back. I see Anderson as falling in terms of value since he is being drafted too high with a lot of questions surrounding his productivity.

One to watch

D.J. Moore, WR—The rookie wide receiver enters a nice situation, looking to compete for the No. 1 spot as a wideout. Kelvin Benjamin is in Buffalo now so that helps Moore’s value. Devin Funchess is still in Carolina and Greg Olsen is a favorite target of Newton, so you’ll have to see how Moore competes in the preseason.

Saints

Rising

Michael Thomas, WR—Thomas was expected to improve last season and he did, catching 12 more passes and gaining 108 more yards in his second year. His targets also increased to 149 from 121 in his rookie season. The only question is if Drew Brees can continue to keep slinging the ball around like he’s done year after year. It will be interesting to see how Thomas starts the season since the Saints are likely to throw a little more given that they’ll be without Mark Ingram.

Falling

Mark Ingram, RB—I was wrong about him last season, of course, that was when Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara were supposed to share the backfield with him. Peterson left and Ingram and Kamara turned into one of the best 1-2 punches we’ve seen in a while. That said, Ingram is set to miss four games due to suspension. That’s not a good way to start the first quarter of your fantasy season, especially with him being drafted in the fifth round.

One to watch

Cameron Meredith, WR—The third-year receiver is a possible sleeper candidate as he missed all of last season with a torn ACL. But he has to start practicing soon if that’s going to happen. Meredith is expected to be healthy enough to start the season, though. He had a good 2016, catching 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Imagine what he could do with Brees tossing him the ball instead of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: NFC South

As we speak, NFL teams are gearing up for training camp, if they haven’t reported already. Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to bookmark this page for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch. Here’s a look at the NFC South.

Falcons

Rising

Julio Jones, WR—Tough to pick a rising player on this potent offense, but we’ll go with Jones since he’ll likely improve on last season’s six touchdowns.

Falling

Matt Ryan, QB—He should still end up with QB1 status, but we’re betting he regresses a bit after losing offensive guru Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers.

One to watch

Taylor Gabriel, WR—The highly efficient, however undersized, receiver could turn into the second option on the outside.

Buccaneers

Rising

Jameis Winston, QB—If Winston is going to solidify his QB1 status, he’s got a great opportunity with his new weapons (DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard) and the reliable Mike Evans.

Falling

Doug Martin, RB—Mock drafts may say otherwise, but the up-and-down career of Martin is too risky to play with early in drafts.

One to watch

Cameron Brate, TE—He’s a better value over Howard since rookie tight ends hardly make a big impact early.

Panthers

Rising

Christian McCaffrey, RB—The rookie can do it all and he could end up taking a lot of pressure off Cam Newton.

Falling

Jonathan Stewart, RB—He’s not likely to score nine touchdowns again this season with McCaffrey likely to take away a lot of touches.

One to watch

Curtis Samuel, WR—If the Panthers find multiple ways to get the versatile player the ball, it could put defenses on their heels.

Saints

Rising

Michael Thomas, WR—He practically supplanted Brandin Cooks as the No. 1 receiver last year and the Saints were confident enough in Thomas to let Cooks go.

Falling

Mark Ingram, RB—Sean Payton gave Tim Hightower a lot of touches last season so you have to figure Adrian Peterson eats into Ingram’s opportunities.

One to watch

Ted Ginn Jr., WR—When a speedy wide receiver joins a team led by Drew Brees you have to take note. He should be cheap as well.

Divisions:

NFC North

NFC South

AFC North

AFC South

NFC East

NFC West

AFC East

AFC West