In the second installment of our eight-part series outlining sleepers players for fantasy football in 2012, we are reviewing the NFC South. The New Orleans Saints are coming off a tumultuous offseason with all of the issues raised by Bounty-gate. The Carolina Panthers are looking to build on the strong rookie season of QB Cam Newton last year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new coaching staff in place and have added several new offensive pieces. The Atlanta Falcons are simply trying to get over the hump and finally record a playoff victory under head coach Mike Smith.
The Falcons have announced that they are going to reduce the workload of veteran RB Michael Turner. I am looking at second-year RB Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling. Rodgers should be very active in catching passes out of the backfield. Snelling was retained by the Falcons this offseason, landing a new three-year contract in March. Watch the Falcons this preseason, I think Snelling has the nod as being the first back in after Turner exits, but Rodgers could play a large role in the new Falcons offense which promises to feature a lot of screens.
The tight end position in the NFL is exceptionally deep currently, but I like TE Greg Olsen to see significantly increased production on the field in 2012. Jeremy Shockey is gone and Olsen should post some large numbers this season. QB Cam Newton has a better feel of the offense and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Olsen put up career numbers this season. (60-612-8 in 2009 with Chicago). Olsen will likely fall through the cracks in several drafts with bigger names going off the board before him. Olsen could win up being a terrific value this year.
New Orleans Saints-
The Saints backfield might be congested with Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles, but I look for Mark Ingram to put up much better numbers this season. After dealing with injuries in the 2011 campaign, he won’t have to do much to significantly improve on last years numbers. The Saints didn’t move back into the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft in order to rotate Ingram at the running back position. I look for him to become the leading rusher for New Orleans this year and the ball carrier at the goal line. 800 yards and 7-8 scores is not unreasonable.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-
The Buccaneers came out and immediately made a splash in free agency this year with the signing of WR Vincent Jackson. Jackson will be the Buccaneers leading receiver this year, but keep your eye on two other receivers currently on the roster. Tampa Bay gave WR Preston Parker a two-year deal in May. He has been impressive in offseason workouts with several reports suggesting that he might unseat Mike Williams as the team’s number two receiver. As I write this, Williams has just left the practice field for the Buccaneers after colliding with CB Aqib Talib, remaining on the field for several minutes before getting up. Parker is a very slippery receiver and I believe he’ll improve over his three touchdowns last year.
Another receiver to watch on the roster is Tiquan Underwood. Underwood was on the Patriots roster last year and is famously known as the player dropped off their roster just prior to the Super Bowl. Underwood played for rookie head coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Given the fact that Tampa released Dezmon Briscoe, Arrelious Benn has sustained another knee injury and is scheduled to miss the next four weeks, keep an eye on Underwood.
Tagged with: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Fantasy Football, fantasy football sleepers, Greg Olsen, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, Preston Parker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tiquan Underwood