The NFC South struggled last season in the fantasy football department. There were only six players that finished the 2014 season (Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Greg Olsen) ranked in the top 10 for their positions overall. Drew Brees took a small step back and was the sixth ranked quarterback with 302.98 fantasy points. Greg Olsen had a great year and was the 4th ranked tight end. The biggest surprise was the positive impact of rookie wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin, and Mike Evans.
Now that the NFL Draft is over which NFC South rookies will have the biggest fantasy football impact?
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - QB Jameis Winston
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Winston with the number one pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Having Winston behind center is a huge improvement over last year’s starters Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. They only combined for a total of 216.52 fantasy points and that would have them ranked 20th in the league. Jameis Winston should have a solid rookie season because he will be throwing the ball to his big and physical receivers named Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
2. Carolina Panthers - WR Devin Funchess
I know that I have talked about Devin Funchess twice already, but why not bring him up again? He is a rookie and he will have a positive impact on the Carolina Panthers offense this coming season. Funchess is a big target that can help the Panthers improve their red zone game. Some of the players that had the most targets within the 20 yard line last season included: Demaryius Thomas (39), Antonio Brown (34), and Jordy Nelson (28). Guess what? They all finished within the top 10 for receiving touchdowns. Players with the most red zone opportunities, have more chances to score!
3. Atlanta Falcons - RB Tevin Coleman
Have you heard of running back Tevin Coleman out of Indiana University? I recently wrote an article about Coleman being a sleeper this season. The Atlanta Falcons will most likely do running back by committee to start the season. But if Coleman eventually wins the starting job for the Falcons, I see him having an impact on your fantasy football team. Coleman is fast, has breakout speed, and is fearless. He is capable of producing touchdown runs that are more than 20 yards.
4. Carolina Panthers - RB Cameron Artis-Payne
Why is Cameron Artis-Payne on my list if Jonathan Stewart is the starting running back? Well Artis-Payne is on this list because Stewart is injury prone, and I believe that he will the number two running back on the depth chart to start the season. Cameron Artis-Payne is capable of splitting carries or taking over for Stewart if needed. He is a tough down-hill runner with 4.53 speed that played in the SEC. Artis-Payne should be a solid sleeper this season. The Carolina Panthers might of found their new “Smash and Dash” duo.
5. Atlanta Falcons - WR Justin Hardy
Purple! Gold! I was not happy when the Atlanta Falcons drafted Justin Hardy. I graduated from East Carolina University and I wanted Hardy to be a Panther. But I am still glad that I get to see Hardy twice a season when the Panthers play the Falcons. The Falcons have a lot of depth at wide receiver position with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester, and Eric Weems. The addition of Justin Hardy only makes this wide receiving group stronger. Justin Hardy will start the season either as the number three or four receiver. If you get towards the end of your fantasy draft and realize you need help at the wide receiver position, pick Justin Hardy. Roddy White is on his way out the door, and I see Hardy stepping up to fill the void. He has sure hands and will be a reliable option for Matt Ryan.
If you had to pick only one, which NFC South rookie are you drafting?
By, Justin Raymond
Follow Me On Twitter @JayRay19