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2006 NFC South Review

 

Atlanta Falcons

 2005 Record 8-8, Third in NFC South
Bye Week: 5

 

Moves that matter: Welcome aboard

 

John Abraham was an instant solution in an attempt to bolster a defense that gave up nearly 129 yards rushing per game. Atlanta acquired Abraham from the NY Jets in a draft pick heavy three team trade. He racked up 58 tackles and 10.5 sacks last season and is a huge addition to the Falcons front line.

 

Chris Crocker, defensive back, 81 total tackles, 2 sacks and 2 Interceptions last season, was picked up from Cleveland for a fourth round draft pick. He seems to be working well with Lawyer Milloy and could be an IDP sleeper.

 

Wayne Gandy, Offensive Tackle, was brought in from New Orleans to replace Kevin Shaffer on the left side of the line. Though Gandy is only quick fix to filling the hole left behind by Shaffer on the left side of the line, he is a quality pass protector with 13 years of service under his belt.

 
Lawyer Milloy was sent packing by Buffalo and Atlanta was quick to offer him a new home. This gritty, hard hitting, defensive back is still good for 100+ tackles and few interceptions to boot. He may be getting up there in years and he may not even be that flashy but he is consistent and will make more then his fair share of wide receivers drop the ball if they should stray across the middle.

 

Quarterback


Michael Vick has crazy potential with a cannon arm, speed, and scrambling ability but his poor decision making always frustrates the hell out of his fantasy owners. Couple that with an offensive line with questionable pass blocking skills and young iffy wide receivers and you get a back up fantasy QB.

 

Note: Vick yanked his hammy and is sidelined (Probably nothing serious but keep an eye on it). On a more positive note, the rumor mill is a buzz about a possible trade with Denver or Oakland for Lelie or Porter. If it happens, it would give Vick a quality veteran deep threat and greatly improve his WR corps.

 

Clipboard Jockeys


Matt Schaub is possibly one of the most talented guys totting a clip board on game day. Schaub was a hot product during the off season but Atlanta decided to hold on to him even though the Vikings offered them a second round pick. The kid is smart, quick, and has a hell of an arm. Standing 6’ 5” doesn’t hurt either! If you got the Michael “run around” Vick then Schaub is a handcuff must. If you’re in a keeper league, snag him up because he is a free agent after this season!


Bryan Randall and D.J. Shockley are riding pine and hold no fantasy value.

 

Running Backs

 
Warrick Dunn is a yardage machine and even though he is 31 years old he racked up 1400+ yards last season. He is elusive and can catch the rock out of the backfield but with most of the short yardage duties falling on T.J. Duckett Dunn’s touchdown totals are weak to say the least. Their O-line can block, they will still run the hell out of ball, and Dunn has been durable so he isn’t a bad #2 or #3  RB option, not great but not bad either.

 

T.J. Duckett is their short yardage warrior and will steal most of the pay dirt visits from Dunn. He has great speed for a big man and he took it too the house 8 times last season. But though he is good handcuff for Dunn owners and a possible flex position starter, he lacks consistency. His value is limited to short yardage TD’s and the possibility of Dunn finally running out of gas.


Jerious Norwood is a dark horse sleeper in some people’s eyes. With the same skill sets are Dunn, he appears to be the heir to Dunn’s kingdom but unless Dunn goes down Jerious will have to wait. His value really lies in the years to come so taking a late round risk on this guy in keeper leagues isn’t a bad move at all especially considering their love of the rushing attack.

  
DeAndra Cobb has no fantasy value.

 

Wide Receivers


Roddy White is expected by many to have breakout season this year. After spending the off season working out with Atlanta’s field general, Michael Vick, the two have apparently gotten on the same page. Though he should produce solid #2 or #3 fantasy wide receiver stats, the fact that he is only in his second year, playing for a run first offense, and trying to catch the rock from a QB with erratic performance tendencies should be noted.

 

Michael Jenkins was the number one option in Atlanta last season and now he is being demoted to the deep sleeper category. Though this third year WR has great size and talent, he isn’t reliable and, like Roddy White, is stuck on a team that loves the run and has a QB that is inconsistent. There is nothing more then a late round flier for a potential #3 fantasy WR here.


Brian Finneran was slated as the #3 receiver for the Falcons but blew out his ACL early in camp is out of the season.

 

Jerome Pathon was fighting for a roster spot but with Finneran going down early in camp with a torn ACL he now has the chance to earn the #3 spot. Pathon has only caught 1 pass since coming to Atlanta but has a slight edge over rookie Adam Jennings for the #3 spot due to experience in the league. But don’t go expect a break out season and don’t bother wasting a draft pick.


Adam Jennings is a rookie, he is short, and he has a 9 year veteran battling him for the #3 spot. Save your pick.

 
Kevin Youngblood and Cedric Bonner have no fantasy value.

 

Tight End


Alge Crumpler is the #1 target, and sometimes only target, for Vick and has produced as such for the last three seasons. Though he has only missed two games in his career, he has had knee issues and did have shoulder surgery after the Pro Bowl. Even so, his size, speed, and great hands cause match up mayhem for the defenses and he should once again produce solid #1 fantasy TE numbers for your team.


Dwayne Blakley has no fantasy value.

 

Kicker

Tony Yelk and Zac Derr are battling it out for the place kicker position though both have reportedly been unimpressive thus far. Sit tight and wait on this one. Once the starter is announced and all the other kickers in the league get knocked out by a bad batch of chicken wings from Hooter’s then you should start thinking about picking up one of these guys. 

 

Carolina Panthers

2005 Record 11-5, Second in NFL South
Bye Week: 9

 

Moves that matter: Welcome aboard

 

Keyshawn Johnson is by far the biggest name brought into Carolina this off season but don’t get sucked too far in by all the hype. Though he has some red zone value and produced fair numbers in Dallas he is still a secondary receiving option for Delhomme. Remember he was brought in to prevent defenses from ganging up on the main man, Steve Smith. Look for him to cut into Smiths numbers only slightly and offer Delhomme another quality red zone option. His value lies somewhere in the middle rounds and as a fair #2 but better off as a #3 WR on your squad.

 
Maake Kemoeatu is great addition to a defensive line that has seen better days. The guy is a friggin’ house at 6’5” and 350 lbs. and will take up a ton of room in the trenches which is what they needed after cutting loose a disappointing Brentson Buckner.

Quarterback


Jake Delhomme is one of the most consistent quarterbacks out there but damn this guy is boring. He doesn’t really possess any real amazing talents yet he goes out there and produces quality fantasy numbers year in and year out. Though this fantasy starter has averaged 3600+ yards and 27 TDs over the past two seasons and recently added possession receiver Keyshawn Johnson to his arsenal, he will be passed up on draft day and should be a steal in the middle to late rounds.

 

Clipboard Jockey


Chris Weinke will serve as the #2 QB on the Panthers depth chart once again. Barring any significant injury to Delhomme, Weinke holds no fantasy value. Should something happen to Delhomme and Weinke were to take over I would still stay away as we are talking about a guy that has only thrown 24 passes since 2002. Pray Delhomme stays upright.

 

Stefan LeFors and Brett Basanez have no fantasy value what so ever.

Running Back


DeShaun Foster is a frustrating fantasy RB because he has all the talent and heart to propel himself up into the upper tier but this guy is forever injured. This season marks the first time he is the absolute starter so it’s an opportunity for him to really shine. Unfortunately, the only question is not if he is going to get injured but when and for how long. Foster is still a quality back and though I personally wouldn’t take him as a #1 fantasy back I do think that he is a solid #2 with marketable upside.

 

DeAngelo Williams is a superb running back and he will get his fair share of the carries as they prep the rookie to take over for the current starter and IR Junkie DeShaun Foster. With Fosters track record being what it is I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams start at least 3 to 4 games this season. Williams is a handcuff must for Foster owners and he carries a ton of value in keeper leagues so expect him to go earlier in those drafts.

 

Eric Shelton spent all last season nursing a foot injury and now getting consideration as the goal line back for the Panthers. The good news is that with Carolina’s impressive passing attack they should be spending a lot of time deep inside the red zone which would increase his value. The bad news is that even though he was “impressive” during their last scrimmage his draft value is only as a later round flier. With Foster as a lock to start and Williams clearly going to be their #2, it looks as if Shelton will end up being their short yardage pounder and even still he may split those duties with Nick Goings.

 

Nick Goings is going to be utilized as a full back and reserve running back so don’t bother wasting a pick on him.


Jamal Robertson is fighting for a roster spot right now and seeing as there are still 3 to 4 people ahead of him on the depth charts I wouldn’t bother with him.

 

Wide Receiver


Steve Smith is only 5’ 9”, has questions of durability swirling around his head, and plays for a team that lacks any other definitive offensive weapons. Oh and one more thing….the man is a fantasy points WR machine! His 103 receptions, 1563 yards, and 12 TDs put to rest any doubt that he is the best fantasy WR out there. Top tier and cream of crop, he should be the first WR off the draft board in the early second round.

 

Keyshawn Johnson: See above


Keary Colbert has fallen to third on the depth charts after the arrival of Keyshawn and Colbert poor performance as the team’s #2 WR last season. One thing I do like about the kid is that he makes no excuses for last years slide. That doesn’t change the fact that his value has plummeted and his job is at risk with Drew Carter breathing down his neck. A late round pick and a prayer that Keyshawn goes down is all that can be justified with Colbert.

 

Drew Carter is expected to be a reserve WR for Carolina but he has bulked up a bit during the off season, showed flashes of potential last season, and is putting the pressure on Colbert for that third spot. At 6’ 3” and 200 lbs he has the size to be a solid red zone threat and though he still isn’t worth a draft pick just yet I would keep an eye on him during the off season.


Efrem Hill, Karl Hankton, Jovon Bouknight, and Matt Cherry offer no fantasy value at this point.

 

Tight End


Kris Mangum is expected to be the #1 tight end when the regular season rolls around, not that this news should have you jumping for joy. His meager numbers and the fact that Carolina doesn’t utilize their tight end much should keep you away on draft day. Mangum isn’t worth a draft pick at this point.

Michael Gaines, Mike Seidman, and Jeff King carry even less value then Mangum.  

 

Kicker

John Kasay is still the man in Carolina even though he had a bit of a slump last season. He is also getting up there in the age category. With that said, he is part of a high octane offense that will spend a lot of time inside enemy territory and within his range. Kasay will be still produce solid numbers and is still worthy of a starting spot on your roster.

  

New Orleans Saints

2005 Record 3-13, Fourth in NFC South
Bye Week: Week 7

 

Moves that matter: Welcome aboard

 

Drew Brees was a huge addition for the Saints and a definite upgrade from Aaron Brooks but more importantly he is coming off off-season shoulder surgery on his throwing arm. Brees had a great season in San Diego where he netted 3576 yards passing and 24 TDs and so far all looks well with the shoulder but I only question how his shoulder is going to feel when he takes a big hit in a real game. And believe me, with this offensive line, he is going to take a licking back there. Brees isn’t in San Diego anymore and that isn’t LT behind him. Though he may be worth a middle round pick, I wouldn’t recommend starting him unless you absolutely have too or until he proves that he is worthy. 

 

Jeff Faine is a quality center from Cleveland picked up in a draft day trade. Though he isn’t a big guy by NFL standards (only 291 lbs.), he is smart and quick so he should be one ray of hope in an offensive line that stinks to all high heaven.


Scott Fujita was in Dallas with new Saints head coach Sean Payton so its no wonder he landed in the big sleazy. He is a quality LB that should fit in well to the Saints 4-3 scheme and post solid numbers. All indications are that he will be starting at strong side linebacker but I wouldn’t spend an IDP pick on him yet, just keep an eye on him.

Bryan Scott is a productive safety that should fair well in New Orleans. He has netted 205 total tackles (176 solo) and 4 Interceptions in his three years with Atlanta. Rumor has it that he wasn’t well liked in Atlanta so this new home with offer him a fresh start. A middle round IDP pick is warranted as he will produce solid numbers starting in New Orleans.

 

Quarterback


Drew Brees: See above

 

Clipboard Jockey


Jamie Martin was brought in from St. Louis and appears to be the front runner for the back up position to Brees. Other then offering a little bit of handcuff value to Brees, Martin has little to value in your draft.


Todd Bouman, Adrian McPherson and Bruce Eugene are all battling for the #3 spot and offer no fantasy value.

 

Note: Adrian McPherson just got run over by a mascot in a golf cart as he came out of the tunnel for the second half of the game. The only thing funnier then that would be someone actually drafting him in your league!

 

Running Back


Deuce McAllister is still the man to beat in New Orleans but his tenure may be coming to a close as the Saints nabbed Reggie Bush in the draft this year. That coupled with the fact that Deuce is coming off a severe knee injury last season means that he better post solid numbers cause he is more then likely going to be on the market sooner rather then later. Though they are saying that Deuce isn’t in jeopardy of losing his starting job, he hasn’t taken part in any contact drills yet and sat out Saturday’s preseason game. At a bare minimum he will share carries with Bush during the season and will see a drastic decrease in his numbers. Personally I would stay away if at all possible, especially considering their offensive line woes, but if you absolutely have to pick him up then don’t spend more then a mid to late round pick on the Deuce. 

 
Reggie Bush is being all hyped up in and around the league but that doesn’t mean you should jump on the band wagon and snag him up. I know that he pulled a Marcus Allen type run on Saturday and scampered for 44 yards but we are talking preseason here. He is a rookie in a faster paced game, playing on a team with a weak offensive line, with a QB coming off shoulder surgery, and he starts the season as the #2 RB behind a guy that had his knee turned inside out last season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get 4 to 5 starts this season because of McAllister’s injury and more then likely Bush will get his clock cleaned. Don’t spend more then a mid round pick on Bush, let some chump buy into the hype.


Aaron Stecker was a SUPER sleeper in my book until a high ankle sprain took him out on Saturday. The guy is solid rushing and catching the rock and since they dealt Michael Bennett to KC he has moved up to the #3 spot with only a feeble starter and a rookie ahead of him. The only problem now is that ankle. High ankle sprains tend to linger and cause problems so don’t bother drafting him but keep an eye on the RB situation in New Orleans and if it merits you can snag him off the wire.

 
Fred McAfee is fourth on the charts and has no fantasy value as of now.

Wide Receiver


Joe Horn is an interesting pick this season as the cagey veteran seemed to hit the skids last year recording only 654 yards and 1 TD in 13 games. It’s not like anyone can blame the guy as he was busy taking care of things that really mattered like helping those in need after Hurricane Katrina. Still, most people will discount him because of last season’s stats and let him slide on the draft board. But let’s not forget that he is one year removed from 1399 yards and 11 TDs. He is going to benefit in a big way from the arrival of Brees and Bush so expect his numbers to qualify him as a damn solid #2 fantasy WR.

 

Donte Stallworth has got talent but this kid just can not stay healthy. Last season he had career bests in receptions (70) and yards (945) with 7 visits to pay as the teams best WR but this season is a different story as his position as the #2 receiver is being challenged by Devery Henderson. Stallworth’s numbers have been on a steady rise since 2003 but he has yet to play a complete season. Already fighting a groin injury, it doesn’t appear that things are going to be any different in ’06 but his potential warrants a late mid round selection.


Devery Henderson is a burner with some sleeper value especially considering the fact that when Horn pulled out that cell phone against the Giants last year he should have been calling the Medicare hotline (that means he is getting old) and the Saints front office recently submitted Donte Stallworth to MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” (that means he is always hurt). Even so, Henderson is still to inconsistent to warrant a draft pick as he appears to need another year or two to develop. Do put him on your players to watch list though because if Horn or Stallworth do go down Henderson’s value will definitely go up.

 

Mike Hass, Chris Horn, Nate Poole, Michael Lewis, Derrius Thompson, Chase Lyman, Lance Moore and Levon Thomas have no fantasy value as of now.

 

Tight End


Ernie Conwell has been productive in the past and as of right now is the starter but his recent decline and health issues have opened the door for Zach Hilton to take his spot. Conwell hasn’t played a complete 16 game schedule since 1997, which was his second year in the league, and hasn’t caught more the 200 yards or 1 TD in the last two years. Conwell is starting the ’06 season off in typical fashion, injured, so stay clear come draft day.

 

Zachary Hilton has some SUPER sleeper potential as the 6’ 8” tight end out produced the incumbent starter, Ernie Conwell, last season. Hilton doubled Conwell’s yardage production, matched his pay dirt visits, and is 6 inches taller and 8 years younger. Conwell is already limping and Brees would feel more comfortable with a solid pass catching tight end as a quick outlet. Though Hilton might not start when week one rolls around it won’t be long till he takes over for Old Man Ernie.


Mark Campbell and Nate Lawrie have no fantasy value.

 

Kicker


John Carney converted 25 of 32 in 2005 and made all his extra point attempts but even still you should stay away come draft day. Sure he is consistent but he is playing for a team with a ton of question marks and the man is 42 years old. Better to pick him up off the wire then to waste a pick on him.

  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2005 Record 11-5, First in NFC South
Bye Week: Week 4

 

Moves that matter: Welcome aboard

 

Toniu Fonoti is with his third team in as main years. Though Fonoti is a respectable offensive guard he will be competing for playing time against an offensive line that is returning all of its starters from last year. He does provide some valuable depth at the guard position lessening the worry of Cadillac owners should Dan Buenning or Sean Mahan turn up lame.

 

Torrin Tucker provides the same quality depth that Fonoti does only at the tackle position. This is a good sign for Williams owners as the addition of depth at the offensive line position usually means that they will pounding the hell out ball and working their O-line to death.

 

Jamie Winborn was brought in to take care of a lack of depth at the LB position. Though he has had significant setbacks because of injuries over the last few seasons, Winborn is a quality linebacker and should be in the mix if he can remain healthy.

 

Jerald Sowell is another sign that this offensive will revolve around Mr. Williams. Sowell is a quality FB brought in from New York (the Jets) to make very big holes for Carnell to run through. Alstott and Sowell will be plowing the path for what appears to great season for Carnell.

 

Quarterback

 

Chris Simms is coming of age and according to Head Coach Jon “Chucky” Gruden he has made some great strides. This doesn’t mean that you want him as your starting fantasy QB though. The kid has all the tools to produce some great stats and the Bucs are likely to pass more this season but even so  this is a run first, grind it out team with a tough schedule to boot. He is still just a second year QB and though I am positive he will improve on his yardage and touchdown stats, I can’t condone spending more then a late round pick on him. Look for some solid #2 fantasy QB numbers as a spot starter on your team.

 

Clipboard Jockey


Luke McCown and Jay Fiedler were suppose to be competing for the back up job but instead they both sit on the
physically unable to perform list. McCown hasn’t got much experience and Fiedler’s best years are behind him so neither is worth drafting anyway.


Tim Rattay should be looking to move up in the depth charts and secure a position as the back up to Simms but with a 1 for 4 performance on Friday against the Jets the only thing he did was put his position at risk to Gradkowski.

 

Bruce Gradkowski is a rookie and shouldn’t get much seasonal playing time but with McCown and Fiedler banged up and Rattay playing poorly he could move up the depth charts in a hurry, especially if Simms should go down.

 

Running Back

Carnell “Cadillac” Williams is going the centerpiece of the Bucs offense this season and will see a ton of touches. Even though Williams got banged up last season and missed two games he produced some very solid numbers and all signs point to fantasy stardom. Bottom-line: this kid is machine and a surefire 1st round Fantasy starter so expect him to be off the board by the end of the first round or beginning of the second round at that latest.


Michael Pittman has been demoted and will serve as a versatile back up to Cadillac. Pittman’s only value is as a handcuff for those that land Williams. If you got Williams and are worried about some of last season’s ailments making a comeback then spend a late round flyer on Pittman as insurance.


Earnest Graham and Derek Watson are to be deployed only in extreme emergency and should be avoided at all costs during your draft.

Wide Receiver


Michael Clayton has got to prove that last season’s various injuries and poor output are a thing of the past. Coming into his third year, the year that fantasy lore says most young studs break out, he has all the talent and tools he needs to do just that. The only real question is “Will he step up?” Even though Carnell and Galloway will steal a lot of looks I think Clayton has a ton to offer and will be fired up this season. Expect good things and spend a late mid round pick on him as a #3 fantasy wide receiver with great upside.

 

Joey Galloway sprung back to life last season and posted career bests in receptions and yards but if you’re expecting a repeat performance be forewarned. Galloway will get you some decent numbers but his age, the healthy return of Clayton, and presence of stud RB Carnell Williams need to weigh heavy on your draft day decision. He is still a solid #2 but he won’t get as many looks as he did last year. A middle round draft pick is justifiable.

 

David Boston was freggin’ HUGE while he played in Arizona. The guy made T.O. look like Urkle. But there is a little bird that just told me to watch this guy. The bird tells me that Boston has lost some of that extra weight and is now idling just above 200 lbs. This is good news to those weak knees of his as the extra weight was only making things worse and actually slowed him down. He will be fighting for the 3rd receiver spot right now but if he can keep his knees healthy and his head right then he could post some solid numbers. Keep an eye on him and if you want to pull the trigger spending a late round pick on him as a sleeper might pay off.


Maurice Stovall is a rookie coming out of Notre Dame (HELL YA!) with great size and speed and will more then likely beat out Boston for the #3 spot on the depth charts. Stovall has a ton of potential but won’t likely break out his rookie season so stay clear unless you’re in a keeper league. This kids is smart, has size, speed, and talent that can’t be denied so all he really needs is a little experience to fine tune his game and in a year or two he will be a great fantasy option to have on your keeper league roster.

 

Ike Hilliard, Jonathan Carter, J.R. Russell, Mark Jones and Edell Shepherd don’t deserve to even be listed here. Hell I will be surprised if any of them even sniff playing time this season.

 

Tight End


Alex Smith showed flashes of talent last season but sputtered most the time which is to be expected from a rookie. He has good hands and size so expect him to get some additional red zone looks this season and pick him up as a #2 tight end with potential to move up on depth charts. 

 

Anthony Becht had some value back in the day but with Tampa Bay he is almost strictly a blocking tight end. He will be helping clear the road for Cadillac not hanging in the rock. Don’t bother even putting him on sheet.

 

Dave Moore, T.J. Williams, and Mark Anelli have no fantasy value.

 

Kicker

Matt Bryant produced some solid numbers last season but not enough to make it into the top 12 to 15 and justify a starting spot on your roster. Resigned and facing no real competition for the job it appears he will be the uncontested starter come opening day. Unless you’re planning on wasting a roster spot on an extra kicker he isn’t worth a draft pick.

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