The NFC South does not excite me, Sean Payton and Drew Brees are brilliant together in New Orleans, Atlanta features Matty Ice, the prototypical New NFL QB in Carolina’s Cam Newton, and finally Tampa Bay where Lovie Smith gets another shot at being head coach. It’s intriguing enough.
New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton, Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, a healthy Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, first round selection Brandin Cooks, Pierre Thomas, and a healthy Mark Ingram and this offense will not miss the departure of Darren Sproles in the slightest. A defense ranking 4th overall will be improved with the addition of Jairius Byrd. How many of these guys can I realistically get on my fantasy football team in 2014? 11-5
In 2013, the Falcons lost game changing receiver Julio Jones who posted a ridiculous 41/580/2 in 5 games of action last season. The Falcons were 1-4 in those games, losing the 4 games by a combined 15 points. Combined with injuries to an aging Roddy White and RB Steven Jackson, Ryan taking the mosts sacks of his career (44), the resurgence of Carolina as division winner sending 10 win New Orleans into the 2013 NFC Playoffs, and the Falcons stood no chance. In 2014, they added OT Jake Matthews from Texas A & M and also signed Jon Asamoah away from Philadelphia, Ryan’s protection takes a huge upgrade. 2014 4th round pick Davonta Adams and serviceable back Jacquizz Rodgers coupled with the emergence of WR Harry Douglas, a healthy Jones, White and Jackson, more than compensates for the retirement of TE Tony Gonzalez and the defense can’t be much worse, finishing 27th overall in 2013. Games @ Green Bay, @ Baltimore, Pittsburgh, plus 2 games against New Orleans has this team struggling to stay .500 all season. 8-8
They should run some form of the triple option like the Air Force Academy with QB Cam Newton and RBs DeAngelo Williams / Jonathan Stewart because 2014 Cam Newton is like 2013 Tom Brady. Cam Newton had 292 completions in 2013, 149 of those receptions are gone with 2014 departures including Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, about 50%. Replaced by 2014 first round draft pick, late in the draft because Carolina won the division, WR Kelvin Benjamin, aging WRs Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, “stolen away” from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia respectively.