NFC South: Each team’s rookie that might help your team at some point this year

Written by Matt Huntebrinker, NFC South beat writer and goes by @charethcutestory on the Fantasy Life App

Keyarris Garrett looking to prove to the Carolina Panthers that he will be a "steal"

Keyarris Garrett looking to prove to the Carolina Panthers that he will be a "steal"

Carolina Panthers

The Super Bowl runner-ups decided not to address the offensive skill positions via the draft, so we have to delve a little deeper for this one. Not long after Mr. Irrelevant enjoyed his brief moment, they inked a deal with Tulsa wide receiver Keyarris Garrett. He possesses the size that makes scouts’ pupils dilate at 6’3 220, but despite being known as a downfield threat from his days with the Drillers, turned in a lackluster 4.53 40 time at the combine. Despite Devin
Funchess claiming otherwise, the Panthers’ receiving corps is far from a complete package.

If Garrett can flash his deep ball skills (2nd most in the FBS last season with 725 receiving yards on throws over 20 yards) it is perfectly feasible that he could surpass anyone behind the first three on the depth chart (a group that includes the likes of Philly Brown, Stephen Hill, and
Brenton Bersin). Throw in the fact that he only had 3 drops as well and Ted Ginn Jr. might want
to look over his shoulder for more than just Cam’s bombs. This team has said they are going to
spread the ball around and if that is the case, then a big wide out that can get past defenders…and actually catch the ball is worth keeping an eye on.


New Orleans Saints

By far the easiest call of this bunch, Michael Thomas is worthy of a roster spot in any fantasy
format, but how much stock should you place in the first year receiver? His current ADP is
around the 11th round, but that will certainly be climbing after his 4 for 67 and a touchdown
performance in his first preseason game.

Michael Thomas working out during OTAs

Michael Thomas working out during OTAs

With Brandin Cooks keeping defensive coordinators guessing as he moves all over the place and Willie Snead stretching the field, the Ohio State product should fit nicely into the role vacated by Marques Colston and not just because he has the size to do it. They tried that with big Brandon Coleman and the results were mixed at best. The Saints took Thomas in the second round because he has the ball skills necessary as well. Even with the addition of Coby Fleener, there are plenty of balls to go in the Big Easy, so even if that draft slot ends up a few rounds higher, Thomas could still end up being a steal.

 
Austin Hooper coming down with a reception during his college days at Stanford

Austin Hooper coming down with a reception during his college days at Stanford

Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper is the obvious choice here. The Birds spent a third rounder to nab the tight end
from Stanford and have had a gaping void at the position ever since Tony Gonzalez retired, so he has a ready-made role in a solid offense. He also has the necessary size and pass catching ability to step right in, but the problem is that rookie tight ends historically rarely have much fantasy value. It seems that they are too busy learning NFL blocking schemes to catch many passes. Jacob Tamme still has just enough ability left to get the job done, so the receptions will be split between the two at best.

Outside of dynasty formats or 2 TE leagues (I’m sure they exist somewhere) Hooper is best left
on the waiver wire. A deeper sleeper is Brandon Wilds. The Gamecock running back went
undrafted, but at 220 pounds he has the size to be the bruiser that Atlanta lacks. Second year
man Terron Ward is being given every opportunity to win the 3rd spot, but Wilds ran hard in his absence during the first preseason game and scored a TD. He had trouble staying on the field in college, but if he stays healthy and wins the job he immediately has value. If Devonta Freeman continues to run at the 3 yards per carry clip from the second half of last season and Tevin Coleman keeps putting the ball on the turf or forgets to wear his helmet in the shower that value will skyrocket.

 
Roberto Aguayo perfecting his art form

Roberto Aguayo perfecting his art form

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Like the defending division champs, the Bucs decided not to spend a draft pick on an offens…wait, they what?!?!? They took a kicker in the second round? As a great sports announcer once said, “It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ‘em”. Roberto Aguayo was unarguably the best kicker in the draft and probably the greatest in quite some time, but I think even his mother was a tad surprised to hear his name called that early. He promptly rewarded their decision by blowing his first extra point attempt after never missing one at Florida State.

I know they are a little bit farther away and I’m sure he was nervous, but that’s not a good way to get off on the right foot (pun completely intended). Things are going to get better for the kid because the talent is there and he should get opportunities in what looks to be an improved offense in Jameis Winston’s second go-round, but you have to expect a level of inconsistency. If you are in a rookie only league then maybe you could reach for him in the second too, but other than that keep him in mind only if you stream your kicker or need a bye week fill in.