Another one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL, the NFC South has three potential playoff teams if the Panthers can improve like many people think they can behind the leadership of Cam Newton. Unfortunately again there wasn't a ton of free agent movement in this division, as the offseason was dominated by BountyGate and the New Orleans Saints. However, there are two or three players that could have a good effect on your fantasy teams. There is only one more free agent article after this one, so before you go through withdrawal, enjoy the NFC South.
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Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is one of the players that I will be watching more than any this year as Jackson has often been either injured or unhappy during his tenure in San Diego. He does get a fresh start in Tampa Bay, but the Bucs will be less competitive than the Chargers were, plus his quarterback play won’t be as consistent with Josh Freeman as it was with Philip Rivers. Jackson is ultra talented, and if he is also motivated he has a chance to be a top 15 fantasy wide receiver. He could also be a colossal bust, but I do think that he will be a solid WR2 in fantasy leagues this season.
Dallas Clark, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You know how they say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Well tight ends are a young, inexperienced quarterback’s best friend, and I still classify Josh Freeman as one of those quarterbacks. Clark got the hell out of Indianapolis at just the right time, and when he has been healthy in his career he has been a very effective pass catcher. Unfortunately for him though, Tampa Bay doesn’t run the same offense as Indianapolis and he certainly won’t have Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. The Bucs don’t throw the ball a hell of a lot, but Clark could be an effective target for Freeman to find. He is fully healthy heading into 2012 and could have a solid 60-75 catches this season if everything breaks right for him, but everything rarely breaks right for people. As much as he is a name that you know from the past few years, I wouldn’t want Clark to be my starting tight end this season.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Carolina Panthers. Tolbert has had back to back impressive seasons, at least as far as touchdowns are concerned in San Diego and now he ends up in Carolina behind both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. He is just 26 years old, and at 5’9” and 245 pounds, he is a bull to bring to the ground. Unfortunately, I don’t see him vulturing many touchdowns from those two guys so his value is limited unless injuries befall both guys. The good news for Tolbert is that neither Stewart or Williams are exactly the picture of health, so he could be third string runner that has some value later in the season. I wouldn’t worry about him on draft day, but if one of those guys goes down, I would definitely think of adding him in deeper leagues. Especially if it is Stewart that gets hurt, I’m not sure that DeAngelo Williams can carry the ball 20+ times a game and stay healthy himself.
Asante Samuel, CB, Atlanta Falcons. Once one of the more feared corners in the NFL, Samuel’s stats have been declining the past few seasons. He was great in his first year in Philly with nine picks, but that number went down to seven in 2010, and only three last year. He doesn’t get many tackles at all, so you aren’t getting points from him if he isn’t forcing turnovers. Depending on how many defensive players have to be on your roster, you probably don’t even want to consider Samuel. The big name corners don’t usually mean fantasy success since the opposing quarterback is hesitant to throw their way. I don’t know if Samuel fits that category anymore, so I expect him to get back to about five to six interceptions.
Carolina Panthers--The Panthers decided that getting Cam Newton last year was enough and really didn’t make any other changes to their team outside of Tolbert. Why didn’t they go after a big name receiver to help give the face of their franchise more weapons? Beats me!
New Orleans Saints—It was a tumultuous offseason to say the least in New Orleans, but they still did a few things to change up personnel, even if they were minor. They signed Luke McCown to back up Drew Brees, which doesn’t sound noteworthy, but he has proven to be a decent second stringer so if something were to happen to Brees, McCown would probably put up decent enough numbers given that offense and the weapons around him. Chase Daniel is still in New Orleans too, so it is unlikely he will get on the field. Daniel Graham is now a member of the Saints as well. He obviously isn’t the starting tight end with Jimmy Graham in town, but he was a reasonably productive guy in New England. It’s not likely, but under certain circumstances he could end up on a few fantasy teams but certainly don’t think of drafting him. New Orleans also brought back a big piece of their puzzle when they resigned Marques Colston. Their top receiver will again be a top 20 wide receiver in fantasy leagues. John Kasay was also brought back as he will battle again with Garrett Hartley for the job.
Atlanta Falcons—They did some things to help their defense this offseason, but other than the resigning of Harry Douglas, who is their third receiver, there was nothing noteworthy free agent-wise out of Atlanta.
Tampa Bay—Bringing in Clark to try to replace Kellen Winslow was a good move, but other than that the Bucs were quiet in free agency offensively. They did resign LaGarrette Blount to battle with rookie Doug Martin, but didn’t bring in any new faces from the outside that you need to be concerned about during your draft.
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