Fantasy football analyst Matt Harmon hands out grades to every NFL team based on their fantasy juice for 2023. Check out the AFC South grades below — go here for his full AFC rundown.
The Texans finally have a real quarterback solution in town with C.J. Stroud. It’s refreshing for a team that’s been lost at sea for multiple seasons. Rookie quarterbacks may struggle to post above-average stats but he gives them a chance to actually evaluate their players.
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Dameon Pierce showed himself to be a strong rusher as a rookie. He wore down a bit but the presence of Devin Singletary will help matters while still giving Pierce enough leash to run the show. Nico Collins is the most interesting breakout bet on this offense. He has all the prototypical X-receiver traits and gets open with great flexibility on in-breaking routes. The rest of the receiver corps is mostly role players but Dalton Schultz at tight end should provide a nice safety blanket for Stroud.
The Titans’ grade would have been even less favorable had they not signed DeAndre Hopkins. While he’s not the player he was at his peak, Hopkins can still function as the top receiver on an offense, can get open short and has the same old vice-grip hands. The rest of the receivers are a huge question mark. Treylon Burks is a limited player but fits better as a No. 2 for now. Chigoziem Okonkwo has breakout potential at tight end after some flashes as a rookie. Neither is an established player and the rest of the roster doesn’t offer much juice.
The main holdovers will reprise their same old roles in Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. The Titans have obviously been actively looking for Tannehill’s replacement but he remains a solid starting quarterback, albeit with durability concerns.
Henry is a tricky case. He’s at the axis of age and career workload where we worry about running backs. But he’s quite literally built different than any other back.
Overall, this offense is more interesting with Hopkins in the fold but the ceiling is still low unless Henry breaks the age model to a striking degree.
Full disclosure: I am so high on the Colts skill position players as future bets. I could see them being in the B+ territory by next year but I wanted to remain realistic for now.
The receiver room is one of the most slept-on units in the NFL. Michael Pittman is a true No. 1 receiver and separates with ease on crucial short to intermediate routes. He just needs a quarterback to unlock him. Alec Pierce is a nice vertical option and rookie Josh Downs is a perfect fit between those two hulking wideouts in the slot.
Jonathan Taylor got banged up last year but is still a very effective runner and focal point of this attack. Unfortunately, he’s now mired in a contract dispute; the Colts are reportedly considering him a candidate for the NFI list with a “back injury” — an injury Taylor himself is apparently surprised about. The recent Zack Moss injury will undoubtedly make things even more spicy — fantasy managers have to watch this situation closely.
The tight end room is the only one I consider truly “light,” but Jelani Woods is a massive athlete who can change that perspective.
It all comes down to Anthony Richardson. He is a rare athlete and can attack defenses in the vertical game. I think he will start all year but it may take time for him to get comfortable in the offense. He’s in a position to succeed with this underrated set of skill-position players but an inexperienced rookie quarterback puts a ceiling on your grade.
The Jaguars are one of, if not the most, exciting up-and-coming unit in the NFL. It starts with Trevor Lawrence. He showed off top-10 quarterback ability in spurts last year and is ready to make the leap into the top tier of passers. Jacksonville beefed up the pass-catching corps with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram last year; all quality players in the right roles. Now they’ll add Calvin Ridley to the mix. It’s been a minute since we’ve seen him but at his best he was a No. 1 wideout who could beat press and man coverage at a high rate. That’s exactly what they needed.
The running game should be a heavy dose of Travis Etienne Jr. with a sprinkling of Tank Bigsby. Etienne may not be the pass catcher some fantasy folks forecasted but he’s an explosive runner.
Jacksonville could be a top-five offense this year. The talent is there at every level.