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Superstars of the NFC South – Offense

The NFC South is stacked with talent. Since 2014 where all four teams finished the season with a losing record (the Panthers won the division with an 7-8-1 record) the four contenders have loaded themselves up both through the draft and through Free Agency to produce one of the top divisions in today’s NFL.

In part one, we will look at the superstars on the offensive side of the ball and where else is there to start than the throwers of the pigskin.

Quarterbacks

With the 2015 MVP, the 2016 MVP, the QB with the most 5000 passing yard seasons and one of the most exciting young QBs in the league, the NFC South can lay claim to the top QB division in the NFL.

Matt Ryan: Ryan was unstoppable during the 2016 season. The inconsistency which had plagued his career was gone as he tore through the league as the focal point of Kyle Shanahans Offense in Atlanta. Shanahan has moved on to pastures new so will Ryan return to his old self? With an embarrassment of weapons supporting him, it’s likely he will still be near the top of the charts come the end of the season but much depends on how well Matty Ice has got over the Super Bowl hangover.

Cam Newton: SuperCam may have struggled last season but with the addition of Christian McCaffrey in the backfield, Newton should be able to avoid the pounding his body (and head) received last year. It is easy to forget just how brilliant Cam was in 2015 when he carried the team to the Super Bowl, however, doubts remain with regards to his shoulder injury which has limited his pre-season appearance but with Cam’s talents, the former 1st overall pick should again be the beating heart of the PantherNation.

Drew Brees: What is there to say about Drew Brees that hasn’t already been said? Seemingly written off year after year, Brees keeps producing the goods. The list of injuries keeps growing but the Saints are always in contention with Brees behind the wheel. With the prospect of breaking Brett Favre’s long standing completions record, there should be very let up in Brees ability to air it out this year. The addition of a strong running game should help extend one of the NFL’s all round nice guys career.

Jameis Winston: Famous Jameis has ‘IT’. A leader on and off the field, as can be seen from this years Hard Knocks, Winston has transformed the locker room with his never say die attitude. The losing culture which had hung over the Raymond James Stadium for the best part of a decade is a thing of the past as the top pick of the 2105 draft has become the face of the franchise. 2017 may be a season to soon but it won’t be long before Winston joins the ranks of MVP’s in the NFC South.

 

Running Backs

Devonta Freeman: Fresh from signing a lucrative long term deal with the Falcons making him the top paid Running Back in the NFL, Freeman will continue to wreak havoc on the ground as well as through the air due to his pass-catching abilities. The scorer of the first Touchdown in Super Bowl LI, the Georgia native will be looking for his third successive 1000+ yard season and to improve on his impressive 11 touchdowns a season average.

Christian McCaffery: The only rookie on this list. It may be a year to early to call him a Superstar but McCaffrey has the ability to revolutionise this Panthers Offense. With the luxury of being able to be lined up all over the field, McCaffrey is a running Back with the pass-catching ability of a Wide Receiver (assuming he takes this ability from his dad’s side), the Panthers have added a dynamic dimension to their offence. McCaffery won’t even have to touch the ball to improve the Panthers as his appearance on the field will surely open up more space for his QB to take advantage of.

Adrian Peterson: Injuries, suspensions, loss of form have all resulted in the end of the former NFL MVP days in Minnesota as he suits up in 2017 for his new team in New Orleans. There is no doubt that Peterson’s best days are behind him but he must be determined to finish his career on a high with the Saints. The hunger to succeed and the incentive of performing for a new team may prove to be the boost he needs for the latter stages of his career. Peterson will more than likely see less playing time in New Orleans which should only help the veteran Running Back.

Doug Martin: The 2013, 2014 and 2016 Doug Martin would appear nowhere near this list. However, Martin’s 2012 and 2015 seasons cannot be overlooked when he was virtually unstoppable. The Bucs Running Back still has to serve three of his four match suspension for substance abuse, but after a period in rehab, he is looking rejuvenated in training and pre-season, and having to cool his heels on the touchline for almost the first quarter of the season, expect The Douggernaut to come bursting out of the blocks against the Giants in week 4.

 

Wide Receivers

There are 5-off elite Wide Receivers in the NFL. In no particular order; Antonio Brown, OBJ, AJ Green and the following 2-off studs playing in the NFC South

Julio Jones: Quite possibly, the ultimate Wide Receiver in today’s NFL. Jones has it all; strength, speed, jump-ability, catch-ability, no one quite does it all like Julio. Toe injuries have hampered his last couple of seasons but his touchline, toe-tapping catch towards the end of the Super Bowl (which should have won the Falcons the trophy) shows what this guy is all about. The Falcons went ‘all-in’ to get Jones in the 2011 Draft and there cant be many who would argue that Atlanta did not get their money’s worth.

Mike Evans: James Winston’s favourite target and owner of the 2106 catch of the year (against the Falcons), Evans has been ridiculing the NFL’s Cornerbacks for three years now. Despite a season of drops in year two and being doubled team for a large part of year three, the Texas native still has three successive 1000 yard seasons under his belt. With the addition of DeSean Jackson in Tampa, the days of the opposition double teaming Evans are over.

DeSean Jackson: DJax is the reason why the Buccaneers are going to end their play-off drought. Having witnessed Jackson first hand in 2013 when he ripped the Buccaneers D to pieces when playing for the Eagles, he has lost none of his explosiveness. The one piece missing from the Bucs air attack was a true deep ball threat. Despite the former Redskin being the wrong side of 30, he is still one of the premier speedsters in the NFL and will make opposing defences respect the deep ball when playing the Bucs.

Michael Thomas: Despite only having played one season in the NFL, Thomas is already classed as a premier Wide Receiver. Brandon Cooks may well have taken the headlines for splash plays on New Orleans in 2016 but Thomas was a constant threat throughout the entire season and was the main factor in why the Saints decided to let Cooks go. Regularly coming down with balls which he has no right catching, Thomas will be looking to join the elite group of Wide Receivers dining at the top table of the NFL.

 

Tight Ends

Greg Olsen: Cam Newton’s security blanket, Olsen is one of the top Tight Ends who can do it all. Blocking, route running, catching, Greg is Newton’s best mate on the field. Over the past three seasons, Olsen has three 1000 plus yards seasons and averages over 80 receptions a season which is impressive for a Wide Receiver but absolutely ridiculous for a Tight End. The Panthers running game may well hurt Olsen’s production this year but he’ll still be Mr Reliable for Carolina.

Cameron Brate: This undrafted FA was the NFL’s top scoring Tight End last year with a mightily impressive eight touchdowns in 15 games. Signed by the Bucs in 2014, then released in 2015 to be signed by the Saints and then resigned by the Bucs a week later, Brate has been the number one Tight End in Tampa since returning. Where Brate struggles slightly is in blocking but there are very few players at his position who can catch as well as he can. The Bucs have obviously added Tight End OJ Howard in to the mix but expect him to compliment Brate in a two Tight End set-up as opposed to replacing the Harvard graduate.

So there you have it. An embarrassment of talent on the offensive side of the ball who should all be stalwarts in your Fantasy Football teams although I wouldn’t necessarily pick all four QBs in your starting line up…………

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