Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: NFC South Bold Predictions

Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: NFC South Bold Predictions

by July 5, 2022 0 comments

While the 2022 NFL season is still months away, it is never too early to prepare for the fantasy season. Whether it’s research, mock drafts, or going with your gut, everyone has a way to prepare for their fantasy drafts. However, this isn’t another article to help you prepare for the fantasy season. Today I give a bold prediction for every team in the NFC South: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All stats are base on PPR scoring.

Be sure to check out all of Fanelli’s Fantasy Bold Predictions.

Desmond Ridder is a Top-15 Quarterback

Many around the NFL believe Marcus Mariota will begin the year as the starter. However, we still have two months till the start of the season, and plenty can change during training camp. Even if Mariota begins the season as the starting quarterback, Ridder will see the field sooner than later. The rookie quarterback has plenty of college experience, starting 50 games at Cincinnati. The Falcons will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season and will be in a negative game script most of the time. Thus, Ridder will be chasing points and not handing the ball off. Between his rushing ability and two young elite receivers, Ridder has the tools and weapons to end the year as a top-15 quarterback.

Christian McCaffrey Returns to his Old Self

It’s too bad we can’t turn injuries off in real life like we can in Madden. McCaffrey has played only 10 games the past two years because of various injuries. However, he has remained a fantasy force when on the field. After averaging 24.1 fantasy points per game in 2018 and 29.4 fantasy points per game in 2019, McCaffrey has averaged 21.8 fantasy points per game over the past 10 contests. However, removing the two games where he played under 40 percent of the snaps, McCaffrey has averaged 26.1 fantasy points per game over the past two years. Thankfully, McCaffrey hasn’t dealt with a reoccurring knee or back issue. Instead, his injuries have been a string of bad luck. McCaffrey stays healthy this year and returns to his elite form.

Michael Thomas Finishes Outside the Top-36 Wide Receivers

The last time Thomas was healthy for an entire season was in 2019. He has played only seven of the past 33 games because of an ankle injury. Furthermore, the last time Thomas played in a game was Week 14 of the 2020 season. In the seven games he played in 2020, Thomas averaged only 12 fantasy points per game, failing to find the end zone despite a 27.1 percent target share. Since Thomas last played a game, the Saints added Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave to their wide receiver room. The new additions will impact Thomas’ target share and fantasy production. More importantly, Thomas is still not 100 percent recovered from the ankle injury. Do not draft him at his current ADP.

Russell Gage is a Top-20 Wide Receiver

After averaging a career-high 11.6 fantasy points per game last season, Gage signed with the Buccaneers in free agency and has gotten talked up by Tom Brady. He will replace Antonio Brown as the Buccaneers’ No. 3 wide receiver. However, Gage will earn extra targets early in the year as Chris Godwin recovers from a torn ACL. Last year, Gage averaged 17.4 fantasy points per game in the seven games he saw seven or more targets. More importantly, the Buccaneers had the most pass attempts in the NFL last season with 731. With Godwin likely sidelined the first several weeks of the year and Rob Gronkowski retiring, Gage will quickly become a go-to target for Brady. Expect a career year from the former Falcon receiver.


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Mike Fanelli is the Editor in Chief and fantasy football expert for Prime Time Sports Talk since 2018. He is a featured writer for FantasyPros. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_NFL2 and reach out anytime with any fantasy football questions.

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