NFC South Divisional Dive

by Jason Allwine · NFL

The NFL Draft is over, most free agents have been signed, and trades have been made. Barring any more major trades, we now know what each team will be working with in 2022. Before we move completely onto the next year, it is important to remember what players and teams found success in 2021. After all, a player’s fantasy success is largely tied to their team’s success. This series will serve to function as a reminder of last year’s performances and also take a look at who may breakout in 2022. Each division will have its teams dissected and I will find a player who should be a more valuable asset in 2022 than they were in 2021. Every relevant player leaving, every relevant player coming, and every draft pick is here. So without further ado, let’s take the NFC South Divisional Dive.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2021 Record: 13-4

Offense: Points For – No. 2, Yards For – No. 2

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 5, Yards Allowed – No. 13

Top Fantasy Players

1. Tom Brady, QB – 374.74 points

2. Mike Evans, WR – 262.5 points

3. Leonard Fournette, RB – 255.6 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Ronald Jones, RB – Chiefs

2. O.J. Howard, TE – Bills

3. Rob Gronkowski, TE* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Russell Gage, WR

Draft Results

R2: Logan Hall, DE, Houston / Luke Goedeke, G, Central Michigan

R3: Rachaad White, RB, Arizona State

R4: Cade Otton, TE, Washington / Jake Camarda, P, UGA

R5: Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State

R6: Kole Kieft, TE, Minnesota

R7: Andre Anthony, LB, LSU

Potential Breakouts

Russell Gage, WR

Russell Gage has averaged 11.0 Fantasy Points Per Game in back to back seasons with the Falcons and now will join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. He will be the WR3 on the offense, but that’s still great fantasy potential. Antonio Brown averaged about 9.0 targets per game in 2021. Gage probably won’t demand that many, but even five targets per game from Brady is enough to get excited about.

Chris Godwin will also be coming back from an ACL and MCL reconstruction surgery, and hasn’t played a full season since 2018. There will be weeks where Gage is the WR2 on the Buccaneers offense, which provides a much higher ceiling than what he achieved as the WR1 on the Falcons. Brady even personally recruited him.

New Orleans Saints

2021 Record: 9-8

Offense: Points For – No. 19, Yards For – No. 28

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 4, Yards Allowed – No. 7

Top Fantasy Players

1. Alvin Kamara, RB – 234.7 points

2. Marquez Callaway, WR – 151.8 points

3. Taysom Hill, QB – 121.72 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Trevor Siemian, QB – Bears

2. Ty Montgomery, RB – Patriots

3. Kenny Stills, WR* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions


Draft Results

R1: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State / Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

R2: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee

R5: D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State

R6: Jordan Jackson, DT, Air Force

Potential Breakouts

Chris Olave, WR

The 2021 Saints offense rarely found success outside of Alvin Kamara. In 2022, they will hope for more consistency with a healthy Jameis Winston and the return of Michael Thomas. In the first round of the draft, the Saints traded up for their next franchise WR: Ohio State WR Chris Olave.

Olave’s Best Comp is Stefon Diggs, but he’s also faster. He’s a great route runner who will benefit from Winston’s gun-slinging mentality. With Thomas coming back, Olave shouldn’t receive CB1 coverage, at least to start. He averaged at least 14 yards per reception every year at Ohio State, proving his efficiency. The Saints bet big on him in the draft, and it should work out.

Atlanta Falcons

2021 Record: 7-10

Offense: Points For – No. 26, Yards For – No. 29

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 29, Yards Allowed – No. 26

Top Fantasy Players

1. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB – 234.6 points

2. Kyle Pitts, TE – 176.6 points

3. Mike Davis, RB – 138.2 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Matt Ryan, QB – Colts

2. Russell Gage, WR – Buccaneers

3. Calvin Ridley, WR – suspended

4. Tajae Sharpe, WR* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Marcus Mariota, QB

2. Damien Williams, RB

3. Damiere Byrd, WR

4. Auden Tate, WR

Draft Results

R1: Drake London, WR, USC

R2: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State / Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State

R3: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati / DeAngelo Malone, EDGE, Western Kentucky

R5: Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU

R6: Justin Shaffer, G, UGA / John FitzPatrick, TE, UGA

Potential Breakouts

Drake London, WR

Drake London found little success in a crowded USC receiving room, competing with Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown for targets. In his senior year, he logged 88 catches, 1,084 yards, and 7 TDs in eight games. He averaged 10-plus targets, 100-plus yards, and nearly 1 TD per game in that span. Now the Falcons hope he’ll take the production to the next level. London was the first receiver off the board at No. 8, so the hopes are high. With virtually no competition for the WR1 spot, he’ll have tons of opportunity. Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts also won’t be constantly double covered. If London remains explosive, the Falcons offense will take a significant step forward.

Marcus Mariota, QB

With Atlanta drafting Desmond Ridder in round three, Marcus Mariota‘s dynasty value took a hit. However, he figures to be the starter in 2022 and it will be his job to lose. Ridder is a project and won’t start right away. Mariota is a former first round pick who’s spent the last two years on the Raiders watching Derek Carr play. He should’ve learned a lot that he can implement into his game going forward.

I ranked Mariota as the fourth-best free agent going somewhere new. In Tennessee, his worst season was the year he didn’t have Delanie Walker. In the Walker years, he averaged at least 15.0 Fantasy Points Per Game. The Falcons roster now is better than the Titans roster was. Kyle Pitts is better than Walker. Drake London is better than Rishard Matthews. Cordarrelle Patterson is Cordarrelle Patterson. Mariota has all the weapons he needs to succeed, with a head coach who believes in him. His mobility and veteran leadership should guide him to a solid fantasy season.

Carolina Panthers

2021 Record: 5-12

Offense: Points For – No. 29, Yards For – No. 30

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 21, Yards Allowed – No. 2

Top Fantasy Players

1. D.J. Moore, WR – 237.5 points

2. Sam Darnold, QB – 157.28 points

3. Robby Anderson, WR – 138.5 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Cam Newton, QB* (still a free agent)

2. Ameer Abdullah, RB – Raiders

3. Ian Thomas, TE* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. D’Onta Foreman, RB

2. Rashard Higgins, WR

Draft Results

R1: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

R3: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

R4: Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State

R6: Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech / Cade Mays, G, Tennessee

R7: Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor

Potential Breakouts

Matt Corral, QB

The Panthers took their sweet time drafting a QB this weekend, but got their guy Matt Corral in the third round. Similar to Kenny Pickett, Corral should start for the Panthers at some point in 2022. I’d also take the sooner rather than later side of that argument. He could very easily win the starting job over Sam Darnold this offseason and be the only rookie QB starting on Week 1.

Corral presents a ton of upside a this current value as his dynasty ranking is below Pickett, Malik Willis, and Desmond Ridder. Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore are also extremely athletic targets who will take some of the stress off of Corral if he does get the start. Their YAC abilities are some of the best in the league, providing an excellent arsenal for the rookie QB. In his last year with Ole Miss, Corral had zero multi interception games and demonstrated dual-threat capabilities by rushing for over 600 yards. He also threw for 3,349 yards and 20 TDs in his 13 games.