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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Bold Fantasy Football Predictions: NFC South

It’s not much of a bold prediction to say the Buccaneers will win the NFC South. This is Tom Brady’s division and everyone else is just playing in it. Since signing with Tampa Bay, Brady and the Bucs are back-to-back divisional champions. They’ve won a Super Bowl and continue to produce elite fantasy performances. There is still plenty of fantasy football goodness to tap into, especially on the other three teams in the NFC South.

Each week, I will continue to highlight one bold prediction from each team, division by division, until the start of the 2022 NFL season. These predictions will hopefully get the gears in your head turning. Most are positive while others may be negative. The likeliness that every single one of these predictions hits is certainly not 100%.  However, they should generate some buzz or cause you to think twice about each player. Just be confident in your feelings when you’re on the clock. Be sure to check out www.FantraxHQ.com for bold predictions from the other divisions all summer long!

A Fantasy Football Bold Prediction for Each NFC South Team

Atlanta Falcons

McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Tyler Allgeier finishes 2022 as the top rookie running back

Tyler Allgeier is a fifth-round rookie running back out of BYU. Though he was the 12th running back off of the board in the 2022 NFL draft, I believe he’s landed in one of, if not the, best situation ahead of this season. Allgeier should be targeted in every dynasty draft, but my bold prediction is that he breaks out in a big way in 2022. That makes him a target in redraft leagues.

The Atlanta Falcons have a ton of new personnel on offense in comparison to Week 1 of last season. Ahead of Allgeier on the depth chart at running back are 30-year-old Damien Williams and 31-year-old Cordarelle Patterson. Though Patterson’s RB eligibility is advantageous for fantasy football, it’s because of his role as a receiver. While Patterson is considered the “lead back” from last season, he only had 153 carries, which is just 15 more than former teammate, Mike Davis. Additionally, Mike Davis had just one less (5) double-digit carry game than Patterson. Meanwhile, Damien Williams, who is a career fill-in, has just 418 total carries in seven NFL seasons, including playoffs.

Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith, is entering his second year in Atlanta. His prior job, as the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020, is responsible for two back-to-back rushing titles from Derrick Henry. I’m not saying Allgeier is the next King Henry. It’s conceivable, though, that Smith would prefer a workhorse back in this Falcons offense. Allgeier’s 304 touches for 1,805 all-purpose yards and 23 rushing touchdowns at BYU last season should interest Smith greatly.

The Falcons host the New Orleans Saints then travel to L.A. against the Super Bowl champion Rams to start the 2022 season. Those are two top run defenses from last year. So, it may not be an immediate impact from Allgeier or any Atlanta player on the ground to kick things off. However, look for Allgeier to turn heads in Seattle in their Week 3 matchup with the Seahawks. I think he commands the job from that point forward and is one of the bigger surprises from this rookie class.

Carolina Panthers

McTamany’s Bold Prediction: D.J. Moore scores as many touchdowns in 2022 as he has total in his four-year career

D.J. Moore is the only wide receiver to total at least 1,200 scrimmage yards in each of the last three seasons. Yet, in 47 total games during that span, his fantasy PPR points per game average is an underwhelming 14.45. That’s because he’s scored exactly four touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. Counting the two from his rookie year, that brings Moore’s career receiving touchdown total up to just 14.  A total of 60 players caught more receiving touchdowns in 2021 than Moore did. That list even includes teammate, wide receiver, Robbie Anderson (5) who had 40 less receptions!

Baker Mayfield is likely to win the starting quarterback job in Carolina. Regardless of how you feel about Baker, he is an upgrade from just about every quarterback that’s thrown D.J. Moore’s way. His presence alone should result in a more efficient offense. A more efficient offense gets into the red zone more. That’s where Moore will shine. My bold prediction is that he matches his career receiving touchdown total (14) over the course of the 2022 season.

While Moore and the Panthers don’t have much to show in the red zone last season, he still ranks eighth in percentage of team targets (26.5%) when the Panthers were inside the 20-yard line. Even better, he ties for fourth in percentage of team targets (34.6%) inside the 10-yard line. With a more confident, accurate, and consistent passer like Baker, to that of Sam Darnold especially, Moore should put up better numbers with that sort of attention near and in the end zone.

A healthy Christian McCaffrey does naturally threaten Moore’s target share. However, Moore is an off-season winner having earned a three-year $61.884 million extension. He will be the most targeted wide receiver in this offense by far. The opportunities, specifically in the red zone, should boost D.J. Moore to a long-awaited fantasy WR1 finish.

New Orleans Saints

McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Adam Trautman is this year’s Dawson Knox

Dawson Knox is one of the biggest waiver wire pickups from the 2021 fantasy football season. His career-highs in receptions (49), receiving yards (587), and receiving touchdowns (9) paved the way for a TE9 finish on a points-per-game basis. Knox’s production on the Buffalo Bills is that much more impressive battling for targets against Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and others along the way. That said, I believe Knox is fool’s gold in 2022. Nearly 20% of his receptions resulted in a touchdown. It will be hard to maintain that level of efficiency.

There are a lot of similarities between Saints tight end, Adam Trautman, and Knox. They are both third-round draft picks; Knox in 2019 and Trautman in 2020. Both players are 6’4″, or taller, weighing in around 250 pounds. Neither had more than 28 receptions, 388 yards, or three touchdowns prior to their third NFL season. My bold prediction is that Trautman, like Knox, will break out in his third NFL season this year.

Though Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 8 last season, Trautman saw six targets in two games with Winston under center. In Winston’s last full season as a starter, 2019 in Tampa Bay, two tight ends, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, each saw at least 54 targets on an offense with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

The 2022 Saints group of pass catchers is arguably the best of Winston’s career. If Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Chris Olave, and Alvin Kamara are all on the field, defenses will have their hands full. That should open plenty of one-on-one matchups for Trautman, especially in the end zone. Again, a similar situation to Knox in a crowded Bills offense last season. My bold prediction may fall a bit short as Winston is not Josh Allen. However, I think Trautman breaks out with career-high receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He likely goes undrafted in most leagues, but could end up being a hot waiver wire add this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Mike Evans scores the most receiving touchdowns across the league in 2022

In two seasons with Tom Brady in Tampa, Mike Evans continues to break his career-high touchdown totals. In 2020, he found the end zone 13 times. Last season, 14. My bold prediction for Evans this season is that he not only does it again but scores the most of any player in the league.

Looking at last season specifically, Tom Brady, in 17 games, attempted a career and league-high 719 pass attempts. Tampa Bay with Brady is one of the pass-heaviest teams in the NFL. They ranked seventh in 2020 with 38.2 attempts per game and first last year with 43.3 per game.

Brady’s third-most targeted player from last year, Rob Gronkowski, is now retired. His most-targeted player, Chris Godwin, is working his way back from a 2021 late-season ACL tear. That leaves Mike Evans as the likely top target in this offense, especially if the Bucs are to remain one of the top-scoring offenses in the league.

When it comes to Evans’ 2022 fantasy outlook, his touchdown ceiling is what makes him a projected WR1. Since 2019, he has the most total receiving touchdowns across the NFL. He ranked 16th in targets (18) inside the 20-yard line last season while teammate, Chris Godwin, ranked fourth with 25. However, inside the 10-yard line, Evans is tied for fifth with 12 targets. When the Buccaneers get into scoring position, Brady will continue to look Evans’ way, especially from 10 yards and in, as a trustworthy target. At 6’5″ 230 pounds, he is a mismatch and should see more targets inside the 20 this season with Godwin returning from injury.

With all that said, I foresee Evans scoring north of 15 touchdowns, which should be enough to challenge anyone for most in the league. It’s worth noting Cooper Kupp led the league with 16 last season and Davante Adams, with 18, in 2020.

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