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NFC South Player Analysis
Matt Wilson, FantasySharks.com, Staff Writer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs Atlanta Falcons)

QB Josh McCown: In his first two starts for the Buccaneers, McCown has averaged a very soft 181 passing yards and one touchdown toss per game. Although he draws a great Thursday night matchup against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has allowed 328.5 passing yards and 2.0 touchdown passes per contest, it's hard to trust McCown as anything more than a low-end fantasy QB2. ( 216 yds pass with 1.04 TDs; 7 yds rush )

QB Mike Glennon: ( 63 yds pass; 1 yd rush )

RB Doug Martin: UPDATE 9/18/14: Martin (knee) is INACTIVE for Thursday Night Football. Bobby Rainey is expected to start in his place.

RB Bobby Rainey: UPDATE 9/18/14: Doug Martin (knee) is INACTIVE for Thursday Night Football. Rainey is expected to start in his place. Consider Rainey a strong play as a high-end fantasy RB2 against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. ( 68 yds rush; 2.03 catches for 11 yds )

RB Mike James: ( 21 yds rush; 1.24 catches for 8 yds )

WR Vincent Jackson: Josh McCown's disappointing play continues to drag down Jackson's production. However, fantasy owners should start him as a fantasy WR3 with upside versus an Atlanta Falcons defense that has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Last season Jackson scored and amassed 100-plus receiving yards in both of his matchups against the Falcons. ( 6.1 catches for 90 yds )

WR Mike Evans: Although the rookie first-rounder has shown some occasional flashes, Evans hasn't topped five catches or 50 receiving yards in a game so far this season. Don't blame it all on Evans' lack of NFL experience. Josh McCown has been a disappointment. Could Evans break out against a sagging Atlanta Falcons defense that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to enemy wideouts? Since rookie receivers are usually inconsistent from week to week, it's hard to say. Consider Evans a risky play as a fantasy WR4. ( 4.56 catches for 49 yds )

WR Robert Herron: ( 1 yd rush; 1.73 catches for 16 yds )

WR Chris Owusu: ( for 9 yds )

WR Louis Murphy: ( for 1 yd )

WR Russell Shepard: ( )

TE Brandon Myers: Although Myers is Tampa Bay's starter right now, his usage has been inconsistent. Myers was targeted eight times in Week 1, but he received only two looks in Week 2. Fantasy owners shouldn't trust him as anything more than a desperation fantasy TE2. ( 4.63 catches for 48 yds )

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: UPDATE 9/17/14: Seferian-Jenkins (foot/ankle) has been ruled OUT for Week 3. The rookie will miss his second straight game.

TE Luke Stocker: ( for 8 yds )

PK Patrick Murray: Until the Buccaneers offense shows some improvement, you should leave Murray in your free-agent pool. ( 1.95 XPs, 1.17 FGs )

Def Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Playing on their home field last week, the Buccaneers didn't rack up many fantasy points against a struggling St. Louis Rams offense (two sacks and one takeaway), so there is no reason why fantasy owners shouldn't trust this unit as a starting option right now. (, 1.46 sacks )



New Orleans Saints (vs Minnesota Vikings)

QB Drew Brees: Brees is a must-start. New Orleans is desperate to avoid an embarrassing 0-3 start, so look for him to light it up at the Superdome. ( 345 yds pass with 1.96 TDs; 2 yds rush )

RB Pierre Thomas: With Mark Ingram (broken hand) sidelined, Thomas will continue to operate as New Orleans' top pass-catching back and likely will receive a few more carries than usual. Consider him a solid play as a flex option or fantasy RB2 against a Minnesota Vikings defense that ranks 17th in fantasy points allowed to opposing runners. The Vikings allowed 150 rushing yards and one rushing score to the New England Patriots last week. ( 35 yds rush; 4.94 catches for 38 yds )

RB Mark Ingram: Ingram (broken hand) is expected to miss at least one month.

RB Khiry Robinson: He is expected to replace the injured Mark Ingram (broken hand) as the Saints' early-down runner and goal-line back. Consider Robinson a solid play as a flex or fantasy RB3 with upside against a Minnesota Vikings defense that surrendered 150 rushing yards and one rushing score to the New England Patriots in Week 2. ( 25 yds rush; 2.43 catches for 15 yds )

RB Travaris Cadet: ( 18 yds rush; for 7 yds )

WR Marques Colston: Don't hold a grudge and bench Colston because he posted a goose egg last week. He's healthy. The Cleveland Browns defense did a great job of shutting down Drew Brees' top wideout. Colston should rebound during the Saints' home opener against a soft Minnesota Vikings secondary. ( 6.98 catches for 85 yds )

WR Kenny Stills: After sitting out Week 1 with a thigh injury, Stills returned to the starting lineup in Week 2. He managed just three catches for 25 yards against the Cleveland Browns. As the fourth option at best in a Saints' aerial attack that has plenty of mouths to feed, Stills is a boom-or-bust fantasy WR5. ( 4.06 catches for 63 yds )

WR Brandin Cooks: The return of a healthy Kenny Stills - he is an extra mouth to feed in the passing attack - unfortunately makes Cooks a riskier play. Even though rookie wideouts can be hit-or-miss, the electric Cooks has some intriguing upside as a what-the-heck flex option in his first game on the fast track of the Superdome. The Saints are desperate for a victory to avoid starting 0-3, and they likely will try to dial him up for a few big plays. ( 4 yds rush; 4.08 catches for 39 yds )

WR Joseph Morgan: ( for 12 yds )

WR Nick Toon: ( for 9 yds )

TE Jimmy Graham: Drew Brees' favorite target is a must-play as always. ( 8.12 catches for 103 yds )

TE Ben Watson: ( 1.9 catches for 18 yds )

TE Josh Hill: ( for 5 yds )

PK Shayne Graham: Graham looks like a solid play this week. The Saints likely will rout the Minnesota Vikings at the Superdome, which will provide him with plenty of scoring chances. The Vikings have yielded the 10th-most fantasy points to the kicker position. ( 2.51 XPs, 1.39 FGs )

Def New Orleans Saints: The New Orleans defense has been a huge disappointment so far. The Saints rank 30th overall and 31st in points allowed (31.5 per game). New Orleans also has compiled just two sacks and one takeaway. However, if your league doesn't penalize for points allowed, the Saints look like a low-end plug-and-play option. They are playing at home and should rack up some sacks and turnovers against a bumbling Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota Vikings offense that allowed six sacks and turned the ball over four times against the New England Patriots last week. ( 2.04 sacks )



Atlanta Falcons (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

QB Matt Ryan: Don't overreact and bench Ryan after his dud Week 2 outing against a formidable Cincinnati Bengals defense. The Falcons triggerman currently leads the NFL in passing yards (679). Ryan also ranks second (tie) in attempts (87) and fourth in touchdown passes (four). He will bounce back against a depleted Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that was picked apart by Derek Anderson (Panthers) in Week 1. Even if Roddy White (hamstring) sits, Ryan still has plenty of capable targets at his disposal. ( 300 yds pass with 1.4 TDs; 8 yds rush )

QB T.J. Yates: ( 13 yds pass )

RB Steven Jackson: Jackson leads the Falcons' four-headed committee backfield in combo touches (12.5 per game) by a wide margin, but he hasn't scored and hasn't been used heavily as a receiver (just two catches). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has yielded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. It's hard to trust Jackson as anything more than a touchdown-dependent low-end flex option. ( 56 yds rush; 2.88 catches for 20 yds )

RB Jacquizz Rodgers: Averaging just six combo touches per game, Rodgers is currently locked in as Steven Jackson's backup and offers just handcuff value. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the running back position. ( 29 yds rush; 2.96 catches for 22 yds )

RB Devonta Freeman: The rookie deserves a bigger role in the Falcons offense, but the coaches apparently don't think he's ready for it. Freeman has averaged three total touches per game. ( 8 yds rush; 1.66 catches for 14 yds )

RB Antone Smith: Smith has touched the ball just five times so far in 2014, and he remains buried on the depth chart behind Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman. ( 2 yds rush; for 4 yds )

WR Julio Jones: Atlanta's most productive receiver is a must-start as always. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense ranks 15th in fantasy points allowed to enemy wideouts. ( 1 yd rush; 8.06 catches for 98 yds )

WR Roddy White: UPDATE 9/18/14: Roddy White (hamstring) is officially INACTIVE for Thursday Night Football.

WR Harry Douglas: Although Douglas (10-107-0) is operating as Atlanta's No. 3 wideout, he is almost neck and neck with Roddy White (10-114-1) statistically. Since the Falcons are throwing the ball a lot nowadays, Douglas has middling flex value in PPR leagues. If White (hamstring) sits out Thursday night, Douglas should see more targets coming his way as a fantasy WR3 with upside. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense ranks 15th in fantasy points surrendered to enemy wideouts. UPDATE 9/18/14: Roddy White (hamstring) is INACTIVE for Thursday Night Football. ( 6.61 catches for 70 yds )

WR Devin Hester: ( 2.85 catches for 33 yds )

WR Eric Weems: ( for 9 yds )

TE Levine Toilolo: Toilolo has averaged just 4.5 targets, 2.5 receptions, 16 receiving yards and 0.5 touchdown grabs per game. Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has yielded the 10th-most fantasy points to the tight end position, don't expect the Falcons to feed the ball to Toilolo. He remains a touchdown-dependent low-end fantasy TE2. ( 2.4 catches for 21 yds )

TE Bear Pascoe: ( for 5 yds )

PK Matt Bryant: The Falcons offense should get back on track this week after a poor outing against the Cincinnati Bengals. Bryant is a solid play against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to kickers. ( 2.67 XPs, 1.96 FGs )

Def Atlanta Falcons: Seriously? Heading into Week 3, Atlanta ranks last in total defense and 27th in points allowed. The Falcons also have notched just two takeaways and haven't recorded a sack. Atlanta could pile up a few fantasy points at home against the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 27th-ranked offense (15.5 points per game), but you should have a much safer team defense option available. (, 1.1 sacks )



Carolina Panthers (vs Pittsburgh Steelers)

QB Cam Newton: Assuming Newton has suffered no major setbacks with his cracked ribs or surgically repaired ankle, he is a solid play Sunday night against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that has allowed 289 passing yards and one touchdown toss per game. As long as Newton is dinged up, he likely won't be running the ball as much as he could. ( 229 yds pass with 1.02 TDs; 38 yds rush )

QB Derek Anderson: ( 1 yd pass )

RB DeAngelo Williams: Williams (thigh) was inactive last week. Assuming he gets through full practices without a setback, Williams is expected to play Sunday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has surrendered the ninth-most fantasy points to the running back position. However, Williams' unpredictable early-down runner role in a three-headed backfield gives him only high-end fantasy RB4 value. ( 49 yds rush; 1.26 catches for 21 yds )

RB Jonathan Stewart: He started in place of the injured DeAngelo Williams (thigh) last week. Although Stewart found the end zone, he averaged just 2.5 yards per carry against a tough Detroit Lions front seven. Williams is expected to return to his starting gig, so Stewart will slide back into his change-of-pace duties. Although the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has ceded the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing runners, Stewart's role in Carolina's unpredictable committee backfield limits him to weak fantasy RB4 value. ( 34 yds rush; 2.13 catches for 18 yds )

RB Mike Tolbert: Carolina's touchdown-dependant change-of-pace/goal-line specialist has averaged eight total touches and 22 combo yards per outing. Tolbert rates as a weak fantasy RB5 play in the Panthers' unpredictable three-headed committee backfield. ( 16 yds rush; 1.43 catches for 10 yds )

WR Kelvin Benjamin: After impressing with a 6-92-1 stat line in Week 1, Benjamin reminded us that rookie receivers can be inconsistent by compiling a disappointing 2-46-0 stat line (three dropped passes) in Week 2. Will Benjamin rebound and perform well in the national spotlight on Sunday Night Football? We say yes. Start him as a flex option or fantasy WR3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers' soft secondary. ( 1 yd rush; 3.78 catches for 49 yds )

WR Jerricho Cotchery: It looks like Cotchery, who starts opposite of rookie Kelvin Benjamin, is developing into the third option in the Carolina passing attack behind Greg Olsen and Benjamin. However, fantasy owners shouldn't expect anything more than middling fantasy WR4 production from Cotchery right now. ( 3.09 catches for 32 yds )

WR Jason Avant: Slot receiver Avant found the end zone last week, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect consistent production from the fourth option in the Panthers passing attack. He lacks fantasy appeal. ( 2.3 catches for 22 yds )

WR Brenton Bersin: ( for 2 yds )

TE Greg Olsen: The top option in the Panthers passing attack is a must-start. Olsen looks like a strong play against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that has surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to the tight end position. ( 6.13 catches for 70 yds )

TE Ed Dickson: ( for 10 yds )

PK Graham Gano: The struggling Pittsburgh Steelers defense has yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers, so Gano looks like a solid play this week. ( 2.15 XPs, 1.53 FGs )

Def Carolina Panthers: The elite Carolina defense is a must-start. The Panthers rank second in points allowed per game (10.5). They also have amassed an impressive seven sacks and six takeaways. The struggling Pittsburgh Steelers offense has gone six straight quarters without scoring a touchdown. The Steelers also have allowed five sacks and committed four turnovers. (, 3.55 sacks )



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