Links to similar discussions of other divisions:
Not that much is going to happen around NFL circles for the next month, save for a few trades and some third-wave free agent signings. That means it’s time to build up your drafting chops with best-ball drafts! What does each offense offer? I’ll break it down division by division. Let’s start with the AFC South, which will be welcoming Julio Jones and perhaps saying goodbye to Deshaun Watson.
Offensive Outlook: Bleak. Deshaun Watson is highly unlikely to play 17 games for the Texans this year, and he might play zero. Alternatively, if Watson is suspended for some part of the season and then returns to play half or more of the games, Texans picks have a great potential for profit because the best ball world is already treating this offense like a fantasy morgue. The offensive coordinator (Tim Kelly) is back for continuity, and the only major loss on offense (other than Watson’s outlook getting murky) was Will Fuller V. This offense should be playing in catch-up mode for most of the year while the defense rebuilds without JJ Watt and installs a new scheme. A lot of this year will be new general manager Nick Caserio seeing who fits in the blueprint and who doesn’t.
Depending on your team build, Watson is almost an ideal pick for best ball at his late-round ADP. Even if he plays zero games, most picks that late contribute little to nothing to your best ball bottom line. The best ball format allows you to build a team that doesn’t have to count on Watson playing some or all of this year, but would be greatly aided if he does. If you take three quarterbacks outside of the top 12-15, Watson should be in your draft plans. Superflex best-ball leagues and very deep drafts could find value in Mills and Taylor. Mills is more likely to start if Watson is traded or sits the whole season, Taylor is likely to be the Week 1 starter and he has already demonstrated a high weekly floor on his running ability. If you have to throw a dart at a Texans quarterback who isn’t Watson, Taylor is your man.
Johnson is probably going to lead this backfield in touches, but who knows if he will get goal-line carries or the passing game usage he merits. Lindsay is a better pure runner at this point, but will the Texans embrace him as a receiver after the Broncos didn’t? Will Mark Ingram II even make the team? If he does, will he be a dedicated goal line back? The reality is that this backfield will produce some scores, receptions, and yards no matter how bad the team is, but no Texans back is going to be a big-time overachiever. Running back is a tough position to fill, so Johnson and Lindsay are both worthy picks at ADP, but only if you have enough upside built into your running back group already and just prefer guaranteed touches over the theoretical ceiling for the spot(s) they take. Getting both isn’t a terrible plan to use your RB4 and RB5 picks to create a Frankenstein player that will give you an RB2/RB3 result most weeks and build in some injury upside. This is the cheapest backfield in drafts for a reason.
Cooks looks like a value here even if you expect zero games played for the Texans by Watson this year. The targets have to go *somewhere*. Whatever Cooks loses by being in a bad offense with subpar quarterback play is probably made up by having one of the largest target shares in the league. His value has been durable across teams and situations, but he has generally had the benefit of offensive competence around him and good quarterback play. Collins and Cobb present different late-round propositions. Collins is a rookie the team loves and only has to beat out Chris Conley to get significant snaps. He’s a ceiling play. Cobb might not stay on the field, but he’ll be a prominent target as long as he’s on the field. Last year, Cobb was above 10 PPR points in four of the first six games and above 15 in two of the first six. Can he be relevant on volume without Watson? If your wide receiver build has some rookies or players coming back from injury, Cobb could help you avoid a slow start.
There’s no Texans tight end worth drafting in typical best-ball leagues. I’m not even sure I’d take Jordan Akins in a 28-round FFPC best ball draft.
Bottom Line: Deshaun Watson’s ADP is too low and overweights the possibility of him playing zero games this year. There could be some “reports of the death of this offense have been greatly exaggerated” values here, but overall ADP is correctly on the pessimistic side here, so the gains won’t be that great from the hits if there are any.
Offensive Outlook: This offense will have three big changes from last year: offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni is now the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz is now the quarterback for the Colts, and left tackle Anthony Castonzo has retired. Wentz will add a mobility dimension that Philip Rivers didn’t, but last we saw him, he was playing the worst football of his career. Head coach Frank Reich was a big part of Wentz’s career year, so the team hopes they can revive that quality of play and boost an already productive offense. There are hopes for Parris Campbell to finally stay healthy this year and T.Y. Hilton to have a larger impact with the deep ball back in play.
Carson Wentz - 13th-14th round ADP
If you buy into the Wentz redemption with Reich -- the Eagles-fell-apart-around-him argument -- then Wentz is greatly undervalued. Even if you don’t, Wentz’s boom/bust style of play should make him a fine QB2 in best ball league because most if not all of us will have a high floor/high ceiling QB1 anyway, which makes ceiling more important than floor in your QB2.
If you draw a pick in the 7-10 range of the first round, your choices will be Taylor, Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and maybe Aaron Jones, Cam Akers, Austin Ekeler, or Nick Chubb if you value getting your RB1 over getting a top wide receiver or tight end. Taylor certainly finished strong and even without Anthony Castonzo, he’s in a good offensive situation. I would go with Kelce, but Taylor is a valid pick as high as #6. How much of Hines value sprung forth from Philip Rivers? Hines is a baller and he’s easily worth a double-digit round pick, but we’ll be lucky to get one multi-touchdown game from him, forget the three he notched last year. The Colts made decisions that indicate lots of optimism about the ability of players to recover from Achilles injuries in the year 2021. If they are right about Mack, he’ll be one of the best backups in the league this year and potentially frustrate folks who built their teams around Taylor.
There’s a lot of potential for value here because no Colts receiver is being taken in the Top 40 at the position. Pittman was coming on at the end of the year and should return reasonable production for his modest cost, but there’s no reason to think that he will outpace the rest of the group by the margin his ADP suggests he will. The team is paying Hilton (1 year, 8 million) like the core piece of the offense he has been for his whole career, and Hilton is excited to be playing with Wentz, who can push the downfield better than Rivers could. He’s the top priority here, but don’t forget Campbell, who always creates a buzz in the summer, but can’t stay healthy in the fall. He can make your best ball draft, but the nature of the format means that he won’t hurt your team much if he goes down again because of his bargain-basement cost. If you do think Hilton is washed up or Campbell is destined to get hurt again, Pascal proved more than capable last year and he could be a spot contributor at a very cheap cost in deep best ball drafts.
The Colts love to use the tight end and Carson Wentz loves to throw to the tight end. Seems simple enough, but signs point to this team using three tight ends. Alie-Cox has shown a penchant for the big play, but he has to stay healthy. If he can, it could be a breakout year. He’s the only Colts tight end worth targeting in typical best ball drafts. Doyle has been a fantasy contributor in the past but appears to be stuck in more of a blocking/dirty work role. Granson is fascinating because Reich lobbied for him in the draft, general manager Chris Ballard obliged by taking him in the fourth, and Granson is a pure receiving tight end. He should be on your radar late in 28-round FFPC best ball drafts.
Bottom Line: If you think that Carson Wentz is going to bounce back with Frank Reich, taking him as your QB2 and stacking a wide receiver or two, one of which being T.Y. Hilton, should be part of your draft plan.
Offensive Outlook: Some signs point to Urban Meyer trying to reproduce his college offenses. It is possible that he’ll be like Chip Kelly, an offensive success, but failure as a head coach. Even if we project the offense to be a success overall, the distribution of opportunity and production is still a mystery. Chances are a name from this offense will be a big hit, but there are good arguments for four or five players to be that guy.
Trevor Lawrence - 10th-11th round ADP
It’s not outlandish to project a rookie quarterback who can run on a team that will be playing from behind to deliver on a modestly priced ADP. The biggest variable is whether Tim Tebow is going to play a Taysom Hill role to blunt the edge of Lawrence’s weekly upside. Based on Urban Meyer’s recent decisions, I’d say bet the over on Tebow touches and perhaps look elsewhere for your QB2.
Etienne could be a hit if he is deployed in the Meyer H-back role that Curtis Samuel and Percy Harvin played to a tee, but it’s also possible that Meyer is realizing that he already had a terrific H-back in Laviska Shenault Jr. Etienne could get forced into backfield touches over James Robinson, but Meyer could also realize that Robinson is better for short-yardage and heavier boxes. Whether you take Etienne should just come down to your belief in him. Robinson is tougher because where he is going you can still get quality performers at the other three positions, and we already have reason to believe he’ll get the short end of the stick in workload distribution. Betting on his demonstrated talent to transcend situational obstacles is reasonable, but not something I would do.
There’s optimism about the Jaguars passing game here. Not many offenses have three wide receivers in the Top 125 picks - other teams on that list are Cincinnati, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Miami (Miami?). Chark is the best big-play guy although Urban Meyer’s comments about his play last year weren’t positive. Shenault is only a round or so cheaper, but he has the moment coming out of the spring and Meyer gushed about him recently. Jones knows Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, but is this truly Schottenheimer’s offense? The veteran member of this group was productive enough last year to merit taking him at ADP if you think this offense will impress.
Tim Tebow - 15+ round ADP
Don’t laugh. It was impossible that we were even going to talk about Tim Tebow, tight end or Tim Tebow, NFL player a few months ago, so Tim Tebow the new Taysom Hill isn’t that crazy. Keep him in mind in 28-round FPPC best ball drafts if you need another late dart at tight end.
Bottom Line: The Jaguars offense has the potential to be a big overachiever. It’s not a bad idea to take a shot or two at your favorite pieces, but continue to monitor the team coverage to learn which way the wind is blowing.
Offensive Outlook: Buckle up. An already highly efficient offense added Julio Jones. They did lose Arthur Smith to Atlanta, so Todd Downing will be the play-caller now, but hopefully, Downing learned something from Smith and Kevin Stefanski, when Downing worked with him on Minnesota’s staff in 2018. This offense should be fun to watch and have strongly represented on your rosters.
Ryan Tannehill - 9th-10th round ADP
Tannehill’s ADP is already up a round on the Julio Jones trade. Is that enough? He would have to overtake Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady to climb higher on the ADP mountain, so his ADP is about right. Tannehill is viable to stack with either of his receivers and he is set up for a career year.
Derrick Henry - 3rd overall ADP
Henry is moving into the #3 spot by himself and there’s an argument to take him #2 now that Julio Jones is his teammate. Boxes will be light, or teams will pay. Either way, Henry should have more drives and wins to finish and he’ll be in the best offense of his career.
Brown’s ADP only went down slightly and it will still cost a second-round pick to get him. That’s appropriate and could still be a winning proposition. Jones' presence will help Brown avoid double teams and extra attention, and he’s more likely to stay healthy and be the first option in the red zone passing game. Jones ADP also only moved slightly, which is appropriate because even though he will be a lower volume pass offense, he’ll still get a large share of targets and they are likely to be more efficient/valuable targets. Reynolds is falling off of the radar quickly, but if you think Jones is brittle now, he’s an injury upside play in deep drafts.
Anthony Firkser - 12th-13th round ADP
Firkser’s ADP is sliding, but probably not enough. The team is still in the market for a tight end and a lot of his projected volume was by default since the team only had one proven wide receiver. He could still be a modest success at a slightly reduced price, but the Patriots' tight ends and Blake Jarwin offer a lot more upside, which is more important in your TE2 than floor.
Bottom Line: This offense could set new standards for efficiency if Todd Downing manages it well, yet the ADP of the key Titans pieces has only moved up modestly since Julio Jones was acquired. Depending on Derrick Henry or stacking Ryan Tannehill with one of his top two receivers is a good cornerstone in your team build.