As we lead up to redraft season, it’s always a good idea to reflect back on some of the veterans that have changed teams to see what that might mean, both for them and their new teammates. Last time I looked at the AFC/NFC East, and today, we’re diving into the AFC/NFC South rosters to see what familiar faces are suiting up in new places, and what that could mean for their fantasy value in 2020.
AFC/NFC South Rosters: Some fantasy faces in new places
Quarterback – Philip Rivers, Tom Brady
Two of the biggest quarterback changes came in the South division of each respective conference: Philip Rivers to the Indianapolis Colts and Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both veteran signal-callers now get to suit up for new teams and try to revive their careers with a new surrounding cast.
Rivers comes from a hot and cold Los Angeles Chargers team who won a playoff game after the 2018 regular season but struggled outside of that. Rivers himself was also pretty hot and cold from a fantasy perspective and hasn’t really been a true QB1 option for a couple of years. Odds are he’ll get drafted by someone who likes drafting bench QBs, but he’s not really worth a late-round flier, in my opinion.
Brady, on the other hand, could easily be a top-five QB given his own talent and the talent around him. Brady was definitely dominant as an NFL quarterback and didn’t do terribly as a fantasy producer either, but now that he’s on a much higher-powered offense, he will definitely be drafted in almost every redraft league. The real question is when. For me, I don’t mind waiting on QB and grabbing Brady late if he’s still there, but I wouldn’t reach for him until we see how it works out.
Running Back – Todd Gurley, David Johnson
Arguably the two biggest names in all of fantasy that changed teams were both running backs in the South division of each conference: Todd Gurley to the Atlanta Falcons and David Johnson to the Houston Texans. Each of these running backs has a history of being a number one or two overall pick in redraft leagues, but are no longer valued that way.
Gurley comes from the Los Angeles Rams, where he was a perfect fit for that offense until he wasn’t anymore. His knee injuries scare most owners, as they should, but he’s still got plenty left in the tank for his new team to lean on. Pairing Gurley with Matt Ryan could be a stellar move that might bring Gurley back to RB1 greatness, but he’s also a single knee injury away from fading into the background forever. A risky pick, but still worth a second or third-round selection in most leagues.
The new Texans starting running back is a slightly different picture. Johnson was traded to the Texans from the Arizona Cardinals, who are moving on to Kenyan Drake full time this year. Most people felt that the Texans got fleeced in their trade where they sent back perennial stud DeAndre Hopkins. But, Johnson isn’t chopped liver just yet. He should be a solid RB2 option as long as he stays healthy and could outproduce that if the offense moves the ball well.
Wide Receiver – Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson
Another new NFC South roster addition is Johnson’s new teammate in Houston, WR Brandin Cooks. Cooks was traded to the Texans from the Rams in a trade that involved some rookie picks, and he is widely seen in the fantasy community as a potential dud in waiting, due to him always changing teams.
Yes, that can be seen as a red flag, but Cooks is one of the few receivers who seems to be able to produce wherever he goes when he stays healthy. Pairing him with Deshaun Watson could prove huge for his stats this year, which in turn would make him a perfect late-round bench option in your redraft league. He’s got some risk, but he’s also got a lot of reward potential.
The other main receiver change is in the NFC South was with the Carolina Panthers signing of former New York Jets WR Robby Anderson. The Panthers hired a new head coach, released their franchise QB in Cam Newton, and are making a lot of moves this year to take that next step. It’s clear that they think Anderson is a vital part of that journey. Playing alongside D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel means Anderson should find space to perform. He is another terrific late-round target in redraft fantasy leagues.
Tight End – Rob Gronkowski
A huge change to an NFC South roster is the addition of Rob Gronkowski to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’m not going to lie, Gronkowski scares me, both on the field and off. After retiring a year ago and walking into the sunset following a Super Bowl victory, Gronkowski is back and set to play alongside his best friend Tom Brady again. But everyone’s asking the same question: Which Gronkowski will we see this year? Will it be the “top 5 at his position” version, or the “injury-riddled and weaker” option that we last saw leave the field?
Gronkowski is another high risk, high reward option, making him a pass for me in redraft leagues. Odds are someone will draft him and drop him by Week 5 when he starts to struggle. If you want him, the time to grab him is when his price is at its lowest. Don’t put your entire team on his back, though. It’s clear that his back just can’t take that kind of pressure any longer.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.