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NFC South Player Analysis

Carolina Panthers

QB Jake Delhomme – Decent stats last year, and should improve in his second year as a starter a but be careful here.  His OL has 3 new starters and will probably have some growing pains in 2004.  He has not been asked to throw often, but has had a few big games (like the superbowl) passing the ball.

QB Other –  Rodney Peete is very comfortable in the backup role and should not see the field this season.  In the event of an injury to Jake,  Chris Weinke will be given a shot to replace him.  I would not pick him up if I had another QB to play, since the last time he was the starter they finished 1-15.

RB Stephen Davis –  Will not produce as much as last year.  At least not until Foster gets hurt.   The good news is that he probably won’t wear down as much as the season progresses.  Still a top 10 RB in the league, draft appropriately.

RB Deshaun Foster –  John Fox says that Deshaun Foster is going to get some carries, so he is going to get some carries.   He has show flashes of speed and ability, but also has shown a somewhat fragile nature.  He resembles that expression that Rob Schare always overuses, “I’ll take a late round flyer on him”

RB Other – Brad Hoover and Nick Going are the fullbacks who both played RB before Davis.  I have a hard time seeing them get many carries in.  Davis is a goal line machine, so the FB position is more of a blocking position in Carolina’s offense.

WR Steve Smith – A smallish WR (5’9″ 185 lbs.) who put up big numbers as the go to guy in the passing game.  He was able to avoid the muggings of Ty Law in the superbowl (Marvin Harrison wishes he was that lucky).  He has the ability to separate  and find the open area.  With 2 rookie WRs drafted, there is a chance he won’t be triple teamed this year.

WR Muhsin Muhammad – A very solid receiver, 800+ yards and 3 TDs.  Not as flash as Smith, nor much of a threat around the goal line, but I would draft him as my last WR in the hopes that this offense becomes a little more pass happy.

WR Ricky Proehl – Another solid received who won’t put up a lot of yards or TDs.  The prototypical possession receiver.   I would not recommend him for you.

WR Other – Karl Hankton. Drew Carter.  Any of these names ring a bell?  Nope, not for me either.  Do not go looking  for stars at the 4-5-6 WR spots on a primarily run first team

TE Kris Mangum – He will be lucky if he catches 20 passes and scores a TD this year.  One hell of a blocker though, not sure if your fantasy league gives points for pancake blocks. 

K  John Kasay – 85% accuracy rate, in no danger of losing his job, and gets a lot of FG chances (38 last year).  What more do you want from a Kicker? Passing TDs?

New Orleans Saints

QB  Aaron Brooks – 24 TD and 8 Ints last year.  Perhaps he is maturing into a reliable QB.  By reliable, I mean a guy who throws 1-2 TD ever week, even in the fantasy playoffs.

QB Other –  Todd Bouman is the backup.   Run away, Run away.

RB Deuce McAllister – A top 5 RB with 2000+ overall yards and 10 TDs last year.  Expect something similar.  One downside to Ricky Williams retiring because of the pounding of the NFL is that 300+ carries backs may become a rarity.  Expect his total carries to decrease a little.  Sam Gash’s blocking will help keep Deuce around 1600 yards rushing.

RB – Other – Aaron Stecker, Lamar Smith, Ki-Jana Carter are all standing on the sideline right now.  I think Aaron is the primary backup, but the other 2 have a lot of talent to spend all of their time on the bench.

WR Joe Horn – I seem his totals similar to last year, perhaps a few less roaming minutes in the end zone this year. 

WR Donte’ Stallorth – Entering his third year, much is expected of him.  I think he will improve on his numbers, but not to make him pro bowl material.

WR Jerome Pathon –  The primary beneficiary of Donte’s non-emergence.  He will continue to get time as long as Donte’ does not become the elite receiver he was predicted to become.

WR Other – Michael “Beer Man” Lewis and Devery Henderson are probably the fastest 4th and 5th WR in the league, bar none.  In the NFL, speed does not always mean playing time so don’t get your hopes up with either of these guys.

TE Boo Williams – Did I scare you?  Sorry.  Boo might be a top 5 TE this year with a repeat of last years numbers, 40-440-5.  Ernie Conwell is no threat to unseat him from the starting spot.

TE Rob Schare – I just added this to see if our “editor-in-chief” actually edits articles or is just a delivery guy.
Editor’s note:  Uhhh….yes Don I do!

K  John Carney – Down year last year with 73% FG made.  He is still a solid kicker on a good offensive team. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB  Brad Johnson –  The Old Man threw a lot of Ints last year (21).  With one more year in the Gruden offense, that number should go down.  Much of the year, TB was playing from behind and Brad seemed to be pressing a little too hard.  Expect another solid season from Brad.

QB Other – Brian Griese and Chris Simms are the backups.  As of now, Simms seems to be the lead candidate for the #2 role, similar to how Tom Brady got his start 2 years ago.

RB Charlie Garner – How long did it take Gruden to actually get Garner to go to TB?  Must have been less than 1 hour.  Anyhow, Charlie lands in a similar situation in TB.  He will play a lot, get a lot of yards, but expect 2-3 TDs maximum from him this year.  (See Alstott for an explanation)

RB Michael Pittman – He will get his carries and share the load similar to last year with T. Jones, except now that C. Garner is the other featured back. The only thing keeping him from rushing for 700 yards again would be the Florida Penal System.

RB Mike Alstott – Recovered from a neck injury in 2003 and is ready to be your goal line back in 2004.  Could be very effective in the Zach Crockett type of role that Gruden loves.  Maybe 8-10 TDs are on the horizon, possibly more.

RB Other – Jamal White is the odd man out here.  He has good speed and catches the ball well.  So does Garner and Pittman.  How does he fit in?  Probably not well.

WR Joey Galloway –  At the top of his game, he was worth the 2 #1 picks that Dallas traded for him.  Unfortunately, the top of his game was played in Seattle before going to Dallas.  Gruden will be able to get at least 800+ yards out of him this year.

WR Michael Clayton – If you believe the hype out of camp, he is “The Next Randy Moss”.   Camp hype is like a helium balloon, after a few weeks, it floats back to earth.  He has all the skills, but I am not convinced that any rookie WR will have a huge year.

WR Tim Brown – Wow, what a shocker to seem him released.  I can’t imagine Gruden signing him if he didn’t plan on using him in the offense.  That said, I don’t see him having a big year either, 400-500 yards maybe.

WR  Other –  This is bit of a mess for TB.  Charles Lee has played well in spot roles last year. D’Wayne Bates could not nail down the #2 WR spot in MIN last year.  Oh, and someone tell Keenan McCardell that his job has been taken and thanks for last year.

TE Other – Ken Dilger, Rickey Dudley, Dave Moore will all see time. None will stand out as a good fantasy option and should be avoided.

K Martin Grammatica – Coming off his worst year as a pro 61% FG made), he might be a very good kicker to pick up in the last round of the draft.  Has leg strength and plays in warm weather.

Atlanta Falcons

QB  Michael Vick –  Always an interesting player, he is healthy again and is looking to tear up the NFL as promised last year.  His greatest strength is his arm strength and his ability to run.   His weaknesses are his impatience in the pocket and short to medium pass routes.  He has announced that he will become more of a pocket passer this year.  When asked if he won’t run, he smiled and said there is no reason to totally abandon his strength.  I am unsure where he ranks in the QB list.  If he runs like in past years (could be 100 yards), he is a top 5 fantasy QB. If he spends a lot of time developing his pocket skills, he may not be in the top 15 QB.  We shall see.

QB Other – Ty Detmer is not the answer here.  He has the arm strength of Rob Schare and half the charisma.

RB Warrick Dunn – The #1 guy who should have a lot of yards and  catches (if Vick learns how to dump off the ball).  Not a great option in TD leagues or mixed leagues because of Duckett.

RB TJ Duckett – The goal line man even with Vick at QB.  Typically, a Running QB steals a lot of touchdowns at the goal line, but not so in this case.  When you only need a yard or two, why not use the tank instead of the Ferrari.  He has also slimmed down a bit and has shown us some decent running ability when Dunn is out.  Not a top 30 back, but has a lot of upside if Dunn gets hurt.

RB – Other – James Fenderson is the only backup of note, a footnote at best.  The chances of both top RBs to get hurt is slim.

WR Peerless Price – Look for Vick to pass more and the #1 recipient of that is Price.  Has not reproduced the magic he had in Buffalo with Moulds on the other side of the field, but is still a very good fantasy option.

WR Dez White – Georgia Tech standout returns to Georgia as the #2 WR.  Can he draw attention away from Price?  Can he keep Jenkins in the #3 spot all year?   I am not sure.  He has a ton of ability and came from a Chicago team that was stacked at WR, so the potential is there for him to break out this season.

WR Michael Jenkins – Price’s best chance to draw defenses away from him.  A big (6′ 3″), fast receiver that needs to learn the pro game and should be able to excel when that happens.  We expect big things from him in the next 2-3 years, not so much this year.  We shall see.

WR – Other  Brian Finneran seems to be the odd man out, all 6’5″ of him.  He is a decent WR, good hands, lots of size, just no place to put him.  If White falters, look for him and Jenkins to see time together.

TE Algae Crumpler – A top 10 TE who plays often. Not sure how much the  emergence of Vick the Passer will affect his stats, but it could only increase his value.

K Jay Feeley –  Solid.  Very solid.  Enough said.

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