The Deep State series continues with an examination of fantasy studs and duds in each NFL division to help you better prepare for your 2019 fantasy football season. The formula? A proprietary blend of statistics, trends, player tendencies, and three decades of fantasy knowledge.
Previously, we revealed studs and duds from the NFC North. Next up in the series, the AFC South.
AFC South Studs and Duds
Stud: Jack Doyle, tight end
Jack Doyle is not a household name by any stretch of the means. What he is, however, is a target hog when he’s on the field. In the annals of random football trivia, the answer to the question “Who was second in targets for the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 and 2017?” is Doyle. In six games last season…you guessed it, second in targets. The resurrection of Eric Ebron may have stolen all the headlines last season, but Doyle is the bargain player to get your hands on in 2019.
Dud: Eric Ebron, tight end
On the flip side of the coin, there is bound to be some regression for Ebron this year. The Colts offense is in a bit of a transition as Marlon Mack looks to become a bell-cow back, Devin Funchess and rookie Parris Campbell join a dynamic receiving group, and Doyle is back from injury.
Ebron scored 14 total touchdowns last season (13 receiving, one rushing). That’s a ridiculous number when you compare it to the 12 total TD’s he scored in the previous four seasons combined in Detroit. Let others in your league overdraft Ebron and grab a bargain TE in the later rounds.
Stud: Dede Westbrook, wide receiver
Dede Westbrook enters his third season on the heels of a successful 2018 campaign and with an upgrade at quarterback. Yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a run-first team, but Westbrook is the top option for targets with little competition around him. He’ll easily improve on the 717 yards and 5 touchdowns on 101 targets from last season. Westbrook is in position to offer one of the highest return on investment of any player in fantasy football this year. He’s a great value with a mid-August ADP hovering around the end of the eighth round.
Dud: Marqise Lee, wide receiver
You get the sense that it’s a tale of ascending and descending starting receivers in Jacksonville. Marqise Lee put up pedestrian numbers in 2017, his first season as a regular starter. His entire 2018 campaign was wiped out after a torn ACL in the preseason. Lee is finally recovered and just came off the PUP list to return to practice.
Lee’s absence last season opened the door for Westbrook, who led the Jaguars in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Westbrook has also been turning heads in training camp this year. Lee may be listed as a starter on the depth chart, but his stock is trending down.
Stud: Keke Coutee, wide receiver
Last season it was clear that when healthy, Coutee was one of Deshaun Watson’s favorite targets. In his first game as a pro, he caught 11 balls for 109 yards on 15 targets. Coutee ended the year the way he started it, with 11 receptions for 110 yards and a TD in a playoff loss to the Colts.
He’s a high risk/reward pick, as injuries limited Coutee to six regular-season games. He’s already missing time in the preseason with an ankle injury, which could work in your favor if other owners are gun shy on draft day. Coutee makes for a high upside WR3 if you can stomach the injury risk.
Dud: Lamar Miller, running back
Lamar Miller was already a fringe RB2 heading into the season, with many expecting D’Onta Foreman to be in the mix for a heavy workload. The real threat to Miller was lurking near the shores of Lake Erie. Earlier this month, the Houston Texans waived Foreman and traded for Cleveland’s Duke Johnson.
Miller has only topped the 1,000-yard mark twice in his career and only once in Houston. He’s averaged 31 receptions per year as a Texan, but you can expect a strong regression with the arrival of the pass-catching Johnson. Even though Miller is the starting tailback on a high-powered offense, his potential is more tantalizing than his actual production.
Stud: Delanie Walker, tight end
If Delanie Walker had a nickname, it would be “Old Reliable.” From 2014 to 2017, Walker topped 800 yards each year, averaging 71 receptions and 6 touchdowns per season. The only reason he didn’t match those numbers in 2018 was a disastrous week one play vs. the Miami Dolphins where Walker broke his ankle and suffered ligament damage. The injury cost him the entire 2018 season. Now healthy, Walker is primed to return to his rightful spot as a top option of the second tier of fantasy football tight ends.
Dud: Corey Davis, wide receiver
The fun thing about fantasy football is that it teaches the casual fan a lot about the game of football. For example, it introduces players to terms such as “catch rate.” Simply put, it is the percentage of passes completed to a receiver. The NFL catch rate leader in 2018 was New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas at 85.03%. Davis’ career catch rate is less than 60%.
Davis’ other stats aren’t pretty, either. He has just four touchdowns in his career and only two games with more than 100 yards. Davis heads into this third season on a run-first team with a struggling quarterback. Even if he is expected to be the top option in the passing game, it’s just not an appealing situation.