2020 Dynasty Owner Regular Season Awards

By: Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL)

Do you remember back in June wondering if there would even be a 2020 NFL season? Well, the NFL did it with surprisingly minimal hiccups. We saw plenty of game time changes, game date changes, player and personnel changes, no preseason, and so many more little altercations from the norm, but all that said it was still a fantastic football season. The most extreme case we all witnessed in 2020 was the Denver Broncos quarterback situation, other than that the NFL must be thrilled with the way this season played out. While the NFL season is not finished yet, the Dynasty Owner season is and with that can only mean two things, the offseason, and the end of season awards.

With the offseason now upon us it is a very crucial time for our owners compared to other formats. In the coming months you will need to handle your roster, contracts, preparing for the rookie draft, and much more. If you would like to stay ahead of the field be sure to keep an eye out for future articles and videos by the Dynasty Owner team, but enough talk about the coming months, it is time for the awards.

These awards will have silly names just as the midseason awards did, with different winners of course. I take immense pride in being able to bring you all these awards as it is something, I always enjoy reading each year from all the different analysts around fantasy football. My favorite part about awards in sports are the great debates and opinions that come with them, so if any of you would like to debate some of these please feel free to message me on twitter.

The “Why Did I Draft Him” Award

  • Winner- Michael Thomas – 5 years – $19,250,000/ $229,439 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – T.Y. Hilton – 1 year – $13,000,000/ $79,172 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – A player who was a headache for owners.

Thomas – The classic why did I draft this player dilemma is never a fun place to be. Michael Thomas is the winner here and while he was injured for a portion of the season, he also was punching his teammates at practice and causing issues according to reports. Talent will never be the question with a player of Thomas’ caliber but off the field issues may be, and while I am not saying it is a foregone conclusion that he is the next Antonio Brown, it is not a fantastic looking pattern of behavior either. Owners had to pay Thomas over $19 million this season and got virtually nothing in return aside from 3 decent games (by Thomas standards).

Hilton – Interestingly I decided to put the runner-up Hilton in 2 awards that contraindicate each other (as you will see later) but that is the beauty of Dynasty Owner, Hiltons contract is the sole reason he is the runner-up.

Midseason Winner – T.Y. Hilton

The “I Am So Glad I Drafted Him” Award

  • Winner – Josh Allen – 2 years, $5,295,760/ $10,261 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Calvin Ridley – 3 years, $2,725,178/ $9,715
  • Award Meaning – The most surprising player with a low $DD/PT.

Allen – This is one of the best awards to have one of your players win in my opinion. If you had Allen this season you drafted him extremely high, which let us face it, it was a risk at the time. Allen has tremendous rushing upside near the goal line which is one of the main reasons Owners drafted him so high. What owners did not expect is the level of top end consistency in the passing game that this kid was able to produce this season. Allen finished as the QB-2 overall with 2 games scoring 50 points or more and a total of 6 games with 40 points or more scored. He had over 4500 yards passing with 37 touchdowns in 2020 making the future in Buffalo brighter than it has been in decades.

Ridley – The runner-up Ridley finally had his breakout season we all expected. He finished with almost 1400 yards receiving and missing double digit touchdowns for the 2nd time in his career by just 1. Ridley was also able to display that he is more than capable of being the number one guy when Julio leaves town, which means great news for his owners.

Midseason Winner – Gardner Minshew

The “I Really Want Him Moving Forward” Award

  • Winner – Justin Jefferson – 4 years, $3,280,071/ $12,008 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Jonathan Taylor – 4 years, $1,957,287/ $7,476 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – The best dynasty asset moving forward.

Jefferson – I am not sure there is much I can tell you about the winner of this award that you have not already seen or heard. The LSU product undeniably exploded onto the scene in week 3 and then never looked back, shattering records along the way. As a rookie he was able to amass 85 catches for 1400 yards and 7 touchdowns, finishing as the number 7 wide receiver for the year. The fact Jefferson was able to do all of this with extremely limited mini camps, OTA’S, and zero preseason makes what he accomplished even scarier than it originally looked. If you were one of the lucky owners who drafted or acquired Jefferson consider yourself blessed, because you should have a starting slot on your roster filled for quite some time.

Taylor – The runner up Taylor started the year off in a bad way and looked horrible while doing it. He was constantly missing holes, running into blockers, and getting outperformed by teammates on a weekly basis, until week 10 that is. Taylor finished as strong as I can ever remember a rookie finishing and looks poised to be the next great back in fantasy.

Midseason Winner – DK Metcalf

The “Juggler” Award

  • Winner – D.J. Chark, 2 years – $1,111,807/ $7,238 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Leonard Fournette – 1 year, $2,000,000/ $14,925 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – A player who was very inconsistent.

Chark – One of my favorite overall awards in this entire article is this award, and that is because drafting a talented player who you never want to play due to inconsistency happens to every owner at some point, no matter how good you are. What I mean by that is every owner that plays not just dynasty owner, but fantasy football has drafted a headache at some point. While Chark did not have a horrible season, he also did not get anywhere close to what was expected of him from fantasy owners. After starting the 2020 season on fire Chark fell off dramatically after week 4 posting just one week over 20 points and just 3 games with 10 points or more after week 6.

Fournette – Fournette, the runner up was chosen for many of the same reasons as Chark. Fournette was drafted high in all leagues only to be cut from the Jaguars shortly after. He then showed signs of promise in week 2 with a massive game leading to false hope for his owners.

Midseason Winner – Dionte Johnson

The “Best Jay Suggestion” Award

  • Winner – Mike Davis – 1 year – $3,000,000/ $14,599 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Nelson Agholor – $1,047,500/ $5,644 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – The best free agent of 2020.

Davis – The best free agent in 2020 is hands down Mike Davis. The way Davis was able to step in and give you close to 3/4ths the production of CMC is superhuman if you think of the context behind it. CMC is the greatest fantasy player since Tomlinson, and Davis is a journeyman back who has never stuck with a team. Davis was able to manage 642 yards rushing on just 165 carries, while adding an additional 373 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. We will see if this turns into a shot somewhere for Davis or another backup role, but either way he played well enough to win this award in 2020.

Agholor – The runner up Agholor is another veteran no one expected to have a good season yet here we are talking about him. Agholor had a great connection with Derek Carr and that paid off to the tune of just under 900 yards and 8 touchdowns. If Agholor ends up back in Vegas, he may be a sneaky weapon next season.

Midseason Winner – Travis Fulgham

The “Best Young Gun” Award

  • Winner – Justin Herbert – 4 years $6,644,688/ $15,392 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Joe Burrow – 4 years $9,047,534/ $40,517 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – The best rookie quarterback.

Herbert – The fact that Burrow was injured really stinks for the sake of this award, and for Burrow himself as well. These two rookie signal callers did nothing but put on a clinic this past season. Herbert broke the rookie record for touchdowns finishing with 31 passing, and 5 rushing. 36 total touchdowns for a kid few seemed sold on back in April/May. It is safe to say the Herbert owners should have a significant advantage moving forward with Herbert gaining more experience at such a cheap salary. Herbert was the quarterback 9 for the season with a low salary that is locked in for years to come.

Burrow – The runner-up was having a record-breaking season himself before a season ending injury ruined those plans. He has great leadership as well as a Jordan type drive, so he should be back fully healthy in no time. The fact he was able to put those types of numbers up while having one of the worst offensive lines in the league is impressive.

Midseason Winner – Joe Burrow

The “Kitchens to Stefanski” Award

  • Winner – Jonathon Taylor – 4 years, $1,957,287/ $7,476 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – T.Y. Hilton – 1 year, $13,000,000/ $79,172 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – Trash to treasure, or most improved.

Taylor – The midseason award I did for this I chose the player most improved from the previous season. The end of season award will go to a player everyone wrote off during the season but turned it around. Taylor is the most deserving of this award with such a frustrating start to his season. As I mentioned above it was not pretty for Taylor but in week 10, he finally got enough carries to get going and then he never looked back. Taylor capped his run with a 253-yard performance against Jacksonville in week 17, along with 2 touchdowns.

Hilton – The runner up is oddly enough Taylor’s teammate T.Y. Hilton whom started terribly slow as well turning it around shortly after Taylor did, yet oddly enough the offense ran ok before and after.

Midseason Winner – Corey Davis

The “Reminds Me of Watching the Jets” Award

  • Winner – Todd Gurley – 1 year, $6,000,000/ $35,885 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Ezekiel Elliott – 6 years $15,000,000/ $ 67,658 ($DD/PT)
  • Award meaning – The player you drafted that you cannot stand to watch.

Gurley – Was there a stranger story in football this season than Todd Gurley? The guy started out as an absolute touchdown machine with 9 in the first 9 games, only to not find the endzone the rest of the season, finishing with 9 total touchdowns. When you just look at the paper aspect of Gurley’s outlandish season it makes no sense, the fact that he was so efficient in the RedZone, yet the team was so bad and as soon as the team starts winning, he falls of a cliff.

Elliott – The runner-up Zeke did have a productive season finishing as the Rb9 overall, but when watching him he did not look like Zeke. In 2020 Elliot was flat out bad in the RedZone, had minimal explosive plays, had one game above 25 points, and had 6 games with 10 points or fewer. I am not saying he was not startable it just was not like watching the Zeke we are used too.

Midseason Winner – Ezekiel Elliott

The “JaMarcus Russel to David Blaine” Award

  • Winner – Jalen Reagor – 4 years, $3,317,669/ $37,872 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Michael Pittman – 4 years $2,153,212/ $21,771 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – The rookie that tends to disappear from games

Reagor – While this award pains me to the fullest extent for personal reasons, I still must write about it. I have both Reagor and Pittman on my team and am really counting on both in the coming years. The winner, Reagor has had a monumentally bad season compared to who the Eagles could have had in Justin Jefferson who went shortly after Reagor in the NFL draft. Reagor was hurt early in the season but even when healthy he failed to produce with his highest yardage total for a game being 55 yards, and that came on one catch. The TCU product also failed to catch more than 5 passes in any game this season, while some of that may have been on his quarterbacks, he is going to need to make a significant jump next season or Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson may be out the door.

Pittman – The runner up had a remarkably similar season to our winner except for Pittman’s big game against the Titans where he had 7 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Pittman is a promising prospect who was drafted early in the 2nd round so I expect him to bounce back.

Midseason Winner – Cam Akers

The “Atlanta Falcons” Award

  • Winner – Curtis Samuel – 1 year, $1,613,421/ $7,642 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Jonathon Taylor – 4 years, $1,957,287/ $7,476 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – A player who finished the season strong.

Samuel – You will find I have made a slight twist in this award from when it was the midseason award due to the Falcon’s recent play, in return the midseason winner will be left off. Curtis Samuel was quietly one of the most reliable fantasy receivers from week 7 on with 6 games over 17 points scored and only failing to score double digits twice. The most impressive part about Samuel’s run is that he was able to do it while only scoring 3 touchdowns meaning he was extremely involved in the game plan. If Samuel ends up leaving Carolina next season he could end up as a great dynasty asset for the future, as well as a great off season trade chip. I am not as high on Samuel returning to the Panthers with the team set to welcome fantasy superstar CMC back into the mix.

Taylor – The runner-up here got a lot of consideration to win the award for his strong finish, but Samuel was able to do it a few extra weeks as well as Samuel was not expected to be a every week starter this season as Taylor was.

The “2020 G.O.A.T.” Award

  • Winner – Davante Adams – 2 years – $14,500,000/ $40,570 ($DD/PT)
  • Runner Up – Alvin Kamara- 1 year – $964,443/ $2,538 ($DD/PT)
  • Award Meaning – The M.V.P.

Kamara – The runner-up Kamara had himself a season to brag about as well with 932 rushing yards 756 receiving yards and a massive 21 total touchdowns. Kamra popped off with a 6-touchdown performance for owners in the championship game which single handedly won him the 2020 G.O.A.T. award. Owners of Kamara also found themselves with an extreme bargain because of his cheap contract.

Adams – I do not know if there is enough time in the day to write about how dominant Adams truly is, even with an all-time great at quarterback. The teams Adams face know he is getting the ball especially in the red zone, yet no one has been able to stop him. Adams put together some extravagant numbers this season with 115 catches almost 1400 yards and 18 touchdowns and I will say it again teams knew he was the only receiver getting the ball. I really hope as football fans we get to see Adams and Rodgers for at least a few more seasons together they just keep getting better.

Midseason Winner – Russell Wilson

The “Butt Fumble” Award

  • Winner – Daniel Jones tripping himself instead of scoring
  • Runner Up – There can only be one!
  • Award Meaning – See 2020 Dynasty Owner Awards video.
Full video breakdown to article

Conclusion I hope everyone enjoys reading/watching these awards as much as I do enjoy writing them, it really is a lot of fun. I want to touch on something briefly before finishing and that is If you had fun with Dynasty Owner this season or the season before and you know people who would enjoy this format too please invite them and if you do not have the time to teach whoever it is please send them our way and we will be glad to help. The more Dynasty Owner grows the better it can become for all of us. I hope you all stay safe and good luck on your 2021 Chase for the Ring!

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner

Roster Roundup – Round Four: NFC South

Taking A Dive Into The Rosters From Around The League

Author: Chris Wolf

This time of year is typically the time when teams, trainers and agents hype up their players. We know how the world has changed in recent months and the NFL is no different in its approach to returning to “normalcy”. With the news of NFL staff and players testing positive for the Coronavirus, fantasy news is taking a backseat. As a result, fantasy players are missing out on the typical hyperbole surrounding pre-season roster news and notes.

In this series we’ll take a look at who’s who on rosters and how that may help in your drafts and early waivers.

Each week we’ll examine a division’s skill position current roster and predictive depth chart heading into training camp to see how that relates to their fantasy outlook.

Atlanta Falcons

HC: Dan Quinn

OC: Dirk Koetter

QB: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling

RB: Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison, Ito Smith, Craig Reynolds, Mikey Daniel, Keith Smith

WR: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russel Gage, Laquon Treadwell, Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheus, Devin Gray, Brandon Powell, Jalen McCleskey, Juwan Green, Chris Rowland

TE: Hayden Hurst, Khari Lee, Jaeden Graham, Carson Meier, Jared Pinkney, Caleb Repp

Matt Ryan is as reliable as they come. He has only missed one game in the last 10 years and unfortunately, is often overlooked. In the last decade, he has only one season where he hasn’t topped 4,000 yards. Ryan has also eclipsed 300+ yards in the 64 games he’s played. That is an insane rate of production for the 35-year-old out of Boston College. Ryan has a ton of targets in the passing game and should find his way back into the top 12 in QB scoring. The rest of the QB depth chart is very underwhelming with veteran Matt Schaub as the #2. Former LSU QB turned WR turned QB, Danny Etling is also present but has an uphill battle to make the team.

Todd Gurley is on a one-year contract valued at $5.5 million. He and his hefty contract were dumped by the Rams and one day later, Atlanta scooped him up to replace Devonta Freeman. Gurley is incredible when healthy and he is a true every down back when healthy. Health is a major concern when considering rostering Gurley. His arthritic right knee coupled with a history of an ACL tear, turf toe, and ankle sprains all are reasons for concern for Gurley. But, when he’s good, he’s really good. He is a natural pass catcher with an average of 9.6 yards per catch during his five-year career, he has also posted gaudy (again, when healthy) yards per carry averages of 4.8, 3.2, 4.7, 4.9, 3.8. Yards per carry is an overblown metric but it does tell a story here that he is elite when his body allows him to be. Still just 25 years old, he is hopeful to put together a solid season that extends his life in his home of Georgia.

Behind Gurley, there is little to be excited about. Ito Smith may be the first one up before Brian Hill, but both had their chance when Freeman went down last year. Smith is the shiftier of the two with better receiving chops and Brian Hill is between the 20’s guy to move the chains. The problem is…neither were effective when given the opportunity last year. Hill left all fantasy owners in the dust that took a chance on him in 2019 with 1.83 YPC in his two starts. Qadree Ollison is their goal line banger but is too one dimensional for much more.

Julio Jones is the best receiver in the NFL. There doesn’t need to be a debate, he wins. Yes, Michael Thomas had an extremely impressive season, but nobody does it better than Julio. He has 57 career TD’s, 55 games with at least 100+ yards and has amassed an incredible 12,125 yards. Just for perspective, Julio Jones’ 12,125 career yards is the equivalent of running from New Jersey to California 5 times over. He’s a beast and he’s primed for another solid campaign in 2020. As good as Jones is, he is the highest priced receiver around at $22 million per year. Calvin Ridley is a special talent and everyone with a voice is comparing his upcoming season to a Chris Godwin-like breakout. Ridley has already made an impact on this team in his first two seasons. So far, he has been targeted over 90 times, has over 60 receptions, went over 800 yards and has 17 touchdowns in two years. Those efficiency numbers are crazy for 90ish targets a year. In order for him to “breakout”, he will have to assume some of the 133 vacated targets from Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu. Russel Gage is an undervalued player in fantasy that could be in for an expanded role from his 69 targets in 2019. He trumps Ridley in reception percentage, drop rate, and yards after catch. That doesn’t mean Gage is in any way a better receiver, it means he operates on different parts of the field and route tree. Keep an eye on him when filling out the end of your bench. The Falcons have brought in former 1st rounder Laquon Treadwell and will attempt to get some value out of him as their 4th/5th receiver.

Austin Hooper was a target vacuum operating as Matt Ryan’s safety valve. He was lost in free agency to Cleveland, so the Falcons went out and traded 2nd and 4th round picks for Hayden Hurst in March. Hurst is a capable athlete and moves well for his size (6’4”/250lbs) and will fill in nicely as the intermediate pass target. A former minor league baseball player in the Pirates organization, Hurst walked on to South Carolina and set school records as a tight end in just his second year. He is 27 years old next month and is set to become a big part of this high-octane passing game. Hurst is a fantastic value at $2.8 with this year and next left on his contract.  Graham and Lee will be his direct backups and barring injury, will have a hard time with fantasy production.

Carolina Panthers

HC: Matt Rhule

OC: Joe Brady

QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Will Grier, PJ Walker

RB: Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, Jordan Scarlett, Mike Davis, Rodney Smith, Alex Armah

WR: DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, Pharoh Cooper, Seth Roberts, DeAndrew White, Brandon Zylstra, Ishmael Hyman, Omar Bayless, Damion Jeanpeire JR, Keith Kirkwood, TreVontae Hights

TE: Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Temarrick Hemmingway, Colin Thompson, Giovanni Ricci, Cam Sutton

Rookie head coach Matt Rhule is known for turning college programs around. He has his work cut out for him with the team that he inherited in Carolina though. With an abysmal 2019 defensive showing, the Panthers used every one of this year’s draft picks on defensive players. This team is in search of a new identity since the departure of 9-year head coach Ron Rivera, and franchise cornerstones Greg Olsen, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly.

Rhule isn’t alone in the team’s rebuild, they also brought in new OC Joe Brady who served as the passing game coordinator for the National Champions LSU. The Panthers certainly have talent at the skill positions with fantasy star Christian McCaffrey, 2020 breakout WR DJ Moore, and newly acquired Robby Anderson. There should be plenty of opportunities for new QB Teddy Bridgewater to hike the ball in comeback mode. Bridgewater is a competent QB on a team friendly salary ($21 million/3 years) without much competition behind him. Will Grier got thrown into the fire last year as a rookie and did not perform well. It appeared it was too much too soon for the young Grier. Hopefully better days are ahead for him, but he will have to fight off XFL standout P.J. Walker for the NO.2 spot behind Bridgewater. Walker reunites with college coach Rhule after serving as the face of the XFL. He is a dual threat in both the pass and run game and is an intriguing player to add to the watch list especially since Bridgewater has only played a full 16 games once in 5 seasons in the NFL.

Christian McCaffrey is one of those players that you can build a team around in both real life and fantasy football. He is loved by his teammates and coaches for his incredible work ethic and he is just plain fun to watch. With him you get a RB1 and a WR1 in the same package. In his three seasons in the league, his rushing and receiving yards have gone up each year as well as his touchdowns, rush attempts, targets, yards per game and yards per catch. He is a fantasy owner’s dream with these incredible stats, and he is one of the last bellow backs playing over 92% of the snaps over the past two seasons. If you are comfortable with his $16 million per year salary, get this guy on your team. His backup predicts to be Reggie Bonnafon but apparently veteran journeyman, Mike Davis is also in the mix for the role of fantasy’s least used reserve running back.

The receiving group is led by 2019 breakout D.J. Moore. Moore’s target total was good for 10th in the league while having Will Grier and Kyle Allen under center. With what should be a pass heavy offense, Moore is sure to improve on his 87/1,175/4 line from 2020. Moore ($2.8 million/3 years) is a prime example of top talent meets low cost in Dynasty Owner. Joining Moore is former Jet Robby Anderson. Anderson was also coached by Rhule in his days at Temple University. Anderson’s 15 YPC are elite in NFL terms but he doesn’t quite mesh with Bridgewater’s style of play. Teddy B is not known for his downfield throwing prowess but hopefully that all changes this year. The often-overlooked Curtis Samuel rounds out the starting Panthers’ receivers and we can only hope this coaching staff can tap into Samuel’s potential. He is a dynamic playmaker that just seemed to play out of position the last few seasons. He is uniquely capable of being a sure-handed possession type receiver as well as going down field. It is now Ian Thomas time. Greg Olsen had a fantastic career as a Panther. He has since moved on to the Las Vegas Raiders, opening the door for the freakishly athletic Ian Thomas. Thomas was drawing attention as early as his rookie year training camp. Entering his third year, the former fourth round pick is poised to take a big leap as a full time starter after filling in admirably for the oft injured Olsen.

New Orleans Saints

HC: Sean Payton

OC: Pete Carmichael

QB: Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston, Tommy Stevens

RB: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery, Dwayne Washington, Taquan Mizzell, Ricky Ortiz, Tony Jones Jr, Mike Burton

WR: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Austin Carr, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Juwan Johnson, Marquez Callaway, Krishawn Hogan, Emmanuel Butler, Tommylee Lewis, Maurice Harris

TE: Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Adam Trautman, Garrett Griffin, Jason Vander Laan, Cole Wick

The Saints may just have the best overall team on paper. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and are a favorite to go deep into the playoffs. Sean Payton has done an incredible job as head coach and play caller in his 13 seasons as head coach. The Saints are perceived to be in win now mode and they just might have the roster to award Payton with his second Lombardi trophy.  The team’s heart and soul reside with the player that wears #9. Drew Brees is iconic and has done more for the Saints organization than any other player in their history. His rapidly declining arm strength is a problem since that was always a big part of his game, but Payton adjusted accordingly the last two years and it has worked out well so far.

Brees is a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde when it comes to home/road splits. When he is home playing in a dome, he’s a must start in fantasy. When they are away is when things get dicey. He scores nearly four less fantasy points when he is away. Things may even out a bit in 2020 considering that he may not be taking so many deep shots by design. Brees’ salary is mid-range at $25 million and is in the range of Brady, Carr, Rivers. A big downer for Brees is Taysom Hill’s presence in Red Zone packages. Used more as a runner/receiver than a passer, Hill is a serious threat when the ball touches his hands. He more closely resembles a TE than a rushing QB, Hill is a gritty player that has a high price tag for a sub package QB. Rounding out the mentionable QBs is Jameis Winston. The former Buccaneer has a notorious 2019 season and was handed his walking papers by Bruce Arians and co. He signed an extremely modest deal to learn under Payton and Brees and hopes to turn his career around in 2021.

The running game again figures to be the focal point of the Saint’s offense. Kamara is a game changer but was hampered by back, knee and ankle injuries last year limiting him to just 14 games. Not only does he get the starter’s share of carries, he also averages 6 catches per game in his career. Expecting a return to form, Kamara is expected to return to top 3-5 RB status and offers a great one-year rental rate of less than $1 million this year. Latavius Murray was the number one back in fantasy when he was covering for Kamara in his 3 missed games last year. When given a chance, he could be a monster back behind this beast of an offensive line. The problem is; this offense hasn’t generated enough touches for Murray to be a viable start with a healthy Kamara in the lineup. Yes, Kamara and Mark Ingram were both top 6 fantasy back in 2017 but they also didn’t have a mature Michael Thomas soaking up 149 receptions. Ty Mongomery expects to be Alvin Kamara’s direct handcuff for 2020. Montgomery is a fun player to watch because he has the natural hands of a receiver but the running ability of a running back. Now liberated from Adam Gase’s rule, Montgomery might just niche himself a nice role in an offense led by a coach that may actually know how to use him.

This passing attack goes through one man. Michael Thomas has set an NFL record for most receptions (470) and receiving yards (5,512) in the first four years of his career. He is a true target monster that hauled in an incredible 149 receptions for 1,725 yards on an insane 80.5% catch rate. All of those metrics were NFL bests in 2019 and his receptions were good for an NFL best all-time! He figures to pick up where he left off last season but now, he has legitimate help across from him. Emmanuel Sanders proved many wrong last year as he quickly rebounded from a 2018 Achilies injury to produce a line of 66/869/5 while kicking in three 100-yard games during his stay with Denver and then San Francisco. Sanders is a spry 33-year-old that is sitting on a 2 year $16 million and is a low ceiling yet viable option in this Saints highly efficient offense. Tre’Quan Smith figures in as their WR 3-4 and the Saints are still holding out hope that he begins to put it together. Once touted as their answer to their WR2 search, Smith is long on athleticism but has yet to find all of the pieces to complete the puzzle. Often appearing lost and running the wrong routes, Smith will need to do more to make an impact in 2020. An intriguing prospect is Juwan Johnson out of Oregon by way of Penn State. At 6’4” and 230lbs, Johnson is a jump ball leaper with crazy good hands but unpolished route running. If he can clean up his game, he is someone to keep one eye on.

Jared Cook is on his 5th team in 11 NFL seasons. He eclipsed his career best 6 TD’s by scoring 9 times last year. He is a much needed big-bodied red zone threat in this offense but is somewhat limited between the 20’s with the chain-moving targets going to Thomas (188) and Kamara (104). Cook will continue his role in 2020 as a reliable red zone target and should see minimal competition from fellow TE’s Josh Hill (35 targets in 2019) and rookie Adam Trautman. Trautman is a future No.1 tight end in the NFL that may not need too long to acclimate to pro football life. PFF has graded him out as the #1 receiving talent in this year’s TE class and 2018’s as well. With training camp restrictions and no pre-season, it may be difficult for Trautman (or any rookie) to see an expanded early season role, especially in the receiving game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

HC: Bruce Arians

OC: Byron Leftwich

QB: Thomas Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin, Reid Sinnett

RB: Ronald Jones II, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Dare Ogunbowale, LeSean McCoy, Raymond Calais, TJ Logan, Aca’Cedric Ware

WR: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, Justin Watson, Tyler Johnson, Spencer Schnell, Jaydon Mickens, Travis Jonsen, Codey McElroy, Cyril Grayson, John Hurst, Bryant Mitchell, Josh Pearson

TE: Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Tanner Hudson, Anthony Auclair, Jordan Leggett

If there is an NFL team that is built to win now, it’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the surface, the Buccaneers are racing against father time to win the second Super Bowl in franchise history. Tom Brady appears to have two years (at $25 million) left before hitting the links and Bruce Arians and Rob Gronkowski are sure to be right behind him. The coaching staff appears to have worthy successors but the QB room does not. Ryan Griffin is a locker room favorite that has shined in the preseason over the years, but he has never been elevated to No.2 on the depth chart, except for injury. Blaine Gabbert’s claim to fame was the unseating of Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco right before “the kneel”. He was a former Rivals.com 5-star recruit before landing in Missouri and has since bounced around between five NFL teams while owning a 48-47 TD to INT ratio. Brady is the GOAT and is sure to want to silence critics by winning yet another championship, this time without Bill Belichick. He has an enormous amount of talent surrounding but an even greater source of experience to draw from. As I tweeted back in April:

That is an insane number of trips to the endzone for these starters.

The running back position is a bit murky, but they do have a capable group. Ronald Jones bounced back nicely last year after a forgetful rookie season. He was held to a committee role with Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale last year but that just may be what he is cut out for. When given the chance, he brought the juice to Barber’s molasses and gave the offense a shot in the arm with his big playmaking ability. Coming out of USC in 2018 he was criminally compared by some scouts and tauts to Jamaal Charles. Charles was a natural pass catcher and Jones was not. The breakaway speed is comparable, but the similarities end there. Jones did progress in the passing game last year when given the opportunity but the 3rd down role was owned by Ogunbowale.

Vaughn was most likely not the ideal pick at RB for Arians but it’s who they went with. He was an every down back at Vanderbilt and he can do a fine job in the run, pass and pass protection categories but he is a master of none. He’s not a punisher like Jonathan Taylor nor is he a pass catching specialist like CEH or Swift and he doesn’t have the playmaking ability of Cam Akers. Although, he just might have what it takes for this offense and that’s becoming a role player, not a superstar. This team is full of household names but that might not be needed when lining up behind Brady. Brady loves checking down and passing to his backs but what he loves more is keeping a clean jersey. Late edition, LeSean McCoy may help out here but is no lock to make this team after signing at the vet minimum for 1 year $1 million. Whichever back steps up in that department will certainly get their fair portion of the snaps.

The strength of this offense has been the receivers since Mike Evans ($16.5 million/4 years) came aboard in 2014. The strength continues in 2020 with his fellow Pro Bowl teammate Chris Godwin and up and coming talent like Scotty Miller, Justin Watson and Tyler Johnson. This is very good depth with Evans and Godwin obviously leading the way. Godwin is extremely versatile and can play inside or outside. He is equally tough playing off ball with his blocking as he is with the ball in his hands. He is working on a very attractive salary in 2020 at $821,000 and should be one of the first receivers off the board in drafts. Miller is an electric player with crazy straight-line speed, but he is being typecast as strictly a slot receiver by those outside of the organization. He and big slot Justin Watson figure to duke it out for WR3 honors while possible steal of the draft Tyler Johnson gets up to speed. Johnson was rated with PFF’s highest receiving grade in college football in 2018 and 2019. His college efficiency was off the charts improving every year leading to an impressive senior year where he averaged over 100yds and a TD a game while posting a 71.1 catch rate. He was overlooked in the pre-draft process allegedly for a falling out with a coach(s) but he has proclaimed that he will outperform everyone’s expectations.

On paper, this tight end group just isn’t fair. They have enough talent and experience for two NFL teams. The Bucs like to keep 6 receivers but may be forced to keep 5 if Calais wins the return job, they may not need to keep a sixth WR and instead use the roster spot on another TE. Gronk is the only lock but Howard and Brate don’t look like they are going anywhere anytime soon. Auclair is the long snapper, occasional FB and in-line blocker as well as locker room favorite. Hudson is a coach’s favorite that played very well in preseason last year and the coaching staff already said that he would have a role on this team. That would be five tight ends on the roster making the Chicago Bears very jealous.

That is the NFC South! We hope you enjoyed the read. Check back soon! We will continue with the AFC East next week.

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