Fantasy Football in Review: The NFC South

Before the season I did long series of predictions of every team and every important player that we knew about at the time. Here is how I did, starting with the NFC West:

Check out all 32 articles here to make sure I'm not lying. The link to my articles for each team is linked to the team name headers...

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees

What I Said: Brees threw a career high 22 interceptions last season, but also had a career high in attempts, completions and led the NFL in completion percentage. He had a very similar season in 2007, then followed that up with a 5,000 yard season in 2008. Don't put it past Brees to put up MVP-caliber numbers if his wide receivers and favorite tight end can stay healthy all season

What He Did: Brees set career-highs in yards, completion percentage, completions, touchdowns, and QB rating. His 5,476 yards were an NFL record. If it wasn't for Aaron Rodgers having an incredible season while the Packers went 15-1, Brees would be a lock for the MVP and even then it wouldn't be a huge upset if Brees took it home.

Mark Ingram

What I Said: It's a risk to make him your RB2, but the reward could be that he's a RB1 right out of the gates. Many running backs to peak early. I'll put him at around 1,000 yards and 6 scores. He does have PPR value as well.

What He Did: Ingram led the Saints in attempts despite only playing in 10 games, but he only gained 474 yards and caught only 11 passes with 5 TDs. The Saints had quite the committee going on in the backfield and Sproles ended up doing the most damage. Ingram only averaged 3.9 yards per carry, but he could be a nice sleeper next season.

Pierre Thomas

What I Said: Thomas has a knack for putting up big games, especially in PPR leagues, but at this time he's not reliable as an every week starter. Especially with Ingram in the fold. He'll get his carries, but you have to pick your spots with Thomas.

What He Did: He was much more effective than Ingram and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, ran for 562 yards, and caught a career-high 50 passes. He also scored six touchdowns.

Darren Sproles

What I Said: Don't be fooled by the fact that Sproles really is one of the most exciting players in the NFL. He can break it off at any moment. But at 5'6, he won't get as many moments as your average NFL running back. He's got more value in return leagues and PPR leagues, but only in deep leagues.

What He Did: Well, Sproles ended up making me the fool. He only carried the ball 87 times but he ran for 603 yards and caught 86 passes for 710 yards and 7 TDs. He average 27 yards per kick return and 10.1 yards per punt return. He just put up the most all-purpose yards ever with 2,696.

Marques Colston

What I Said: If healthy, he's a consistent fantasy stud, but the question is how many games he'll actually play in. He's a solid WR2, but wouldn't rely on him as your number one option.

What He Did: Colston stayed healthy and had a classic Colston season: 80 catches for 1,143 yards and 8 TDs.

Lance Moore

What I Said: He got his first major opportunity to contribute in 2008 and ended the season with 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 TDs. If he's the solid #2 option in New Orleans, that makes him a great late round steal in fantasy.

What He Did: Moore ended with 52 catches for 627 yards and 8 TDs. He's hard to start every week but he's a solid spot start and he might end up scoring a TD for you.

Jimmy Graham

What I Said: There are a LOT of passing options in New Orleans, but that won't stop Brees from leading the league in attempts this year. I don't like to overpay for Graham, but I'd take him if he was the best TE available after I filled out my WR and RB spots, but I wouldn't use anything higher than an 8th round pick on him.

What He Did: Well, he was better than an eighth round pick. Graham caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 TDs. Him and Rob Gronkowski just had two of the best seasons for a tight end ever, if not the two best (which they were in terms of yardage) and if you owned Brees/Graham, then you were a happy camper.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton

What I Said: Expect the Panthers to run the ball and use a lot of short routes, dump-offs, and heavy utilization of the tight end spot. Cam may show some flashes of greatness, but on a week to week basis, he's going to have some really underwhelming games as he adjusts to the NFL. Just say no unless you're in a dynasty league.

What He Did: Make me look like an idiot. That is all.

DeAngelo Williams

What I Said: He's now 28-years-old, in a ball-share with Jonathon Stewart, and played just 6 games last season, none of which did he top 100 yards. Three years ago he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 TDs and he topped 5 yards per carry for three straight seasons. But in the NFL, running backs come and go and they come and go quick. Very rarely do you peak twice in your career.

What He Did: Williams averaged 5.4 yards per carry, but because of how much he has to share the ball, he gained only 836 yards and scored 7 TDs. Good numbers but not a "fantasy starter."

Jonathan Stewart

What I Said: I don't love Stewart but I also don't rate him any worse than Williams. If anything happens to one or the other, then the value of each skyrockets, especially if its Stewart that gets the bulk of the workload.

What He Did: Stewart had 761 yards, 4 TDs, and 47 catches. Flex starter in a PPR league.

Steve Smith

What I Said: Smith is still getting drafted in fantasy based on what he once did, and past elite WRs did have success into their mid-30s, but how do we know how Smith will react to his worst season in years?

What He Did: Silly me didn't think Smith would ever make a comeback and he put up 79 catches for 1,394 yards and 7 TDs. The future Hall of Famer had one of his best seasons but how many years does he have left? I'll probably be too scared to draft Smith up until he retires.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman

What I Said: I believe he's worth taking as a QB1 if you want to draft a QB after drafting your RBs and WRs. He should be a solid player, though I don't think he'll be spectacular/elite in 2011. Perhaps a few more TDs but definitely a few more INTs.

What He Did: Let's get this disaster show over with. Freeman threw 16 TDs and 22 INTs with a 74.6 QB rating while everyone in Tampa went into the toilet. His career is far from over but he'll need to turn it around in 2012.

LeGarrette Blount

What I Said: I have my doubts, but he's definitely a high-end RB2 otherwise. 1,200 yards and 10 TDs is my prediction. He does take a downgrade in PPR leagues, as he doesn't catch anything. Maybe because Blount has spent his whole life trying not to get caught.

What He Did: Blount really suffered when the Bucs started losing and abandoned the running game early and often. If he was a better receiver, they could leave him in more often, but he's helpless unless the Bucs are winning, which they rarely did. He had one amazing Beast Mode-type run but finished with 781 yards and 5 TDs.

Mike Williams

What I Said: But Williams is not Michael Clayton, so what can you expect? I believe 1,100 yards and 8 scores is within reason, but he might outdo that.. I'm still just worried (and burned previously) about one-year wonders.

What He Did: I had my concerns with every player in Tampa because the Bucs rarely find a player that can duplicated success. Lots of one-year wonders. Mike Williams was no exception. 771 yards and 3 scores. He'll be an interesting sleeper next season if the Bucs can rebound.

Kellen Winslow Jr.

What I Said: He's a good option to be the 7th or 8th TE off the board and maybe this season he catches more than 5 TDs.

What He Did: 763 yards and 2 TDs.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan

What I Said: Ryan is expected to improve upon last years career year. I buy that and Ryan could top 4,000 yards and 30 TDs and the Falcons could become like New Orleans-lite. I'd rate him solidly at the top of the 2nd tier of QB's. Grab him in the 5th or 6th round if you're lucky.

What He Did: Ryan threw for 4,177 yards and 29 TDs with 12 INTs. Not spectacular but a career-year and he didn't regress like Freeman or Joe Flacco. He's a solid QB.

Michael Turner

What I Said: Turner probably has 1-2 more years left as a number one running back. I'd feel safe taking him as a RB1 in non-PPR and a RB2 in PPR. Expect 1,200 yards and 12 TDs at a minimum.

What He Did: 1,340 yards and 11 TDs. Another 300 carries for Turner, does he have more than one year left?

Roddy White

What I Said: White has said that the addition of the rookie will affect his "fantasy numbers" because he'll go back to being an 80-catch guy, but have no worries. It should never hurt for a player to be in a better offense than what he was before. White should be open more often and hopefully be able to do more with each catch and score plenty of touchdowns. He's an elite WR1.

What He Did: Julio Jones affected him early but then Jones got hurt and White stepped up again to reach 100 catches for 1,296 yards and eight scores. He turns 31 this year, so it's time to start wondering when he's going to decline. Probably not in the next couple of years though.

Julio Jones

What I Said: Set your expectation levels on "reasonable" for his rookie year however. 60 catches for 800 yards would be a huge success for the Falcons this year, but is a back-end WR3 for your fantasy team.

What He Did: Jones was the man early but injuries derailed him somewhat. I loved Jones in college and I like his pro prospects. He had 54 catches for 959 yards and eight scores in thirteen games. I like where he's going.

Tony Gonzalez

What I Said: He's not a bad fantasy option, because in this offense he might have enough left in the tank to be a back-end TE1 at worst, and a 60 catch, 700 yards, 10 TD TE at best. I got him as the 15th TE off the board in one of my drafts and that's amazing value to get Gonzalez. I'd rate him about the same as Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez.

What He Did: Gonzalez had a very solid 80 catches for 875 yards and seven scores. Will he ever decline? Maybe he's not elite anymore, but he's amazing when you consider his age compared to Graham and Gronkowski.

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