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NFC South: Strength of Schedule Analysis & Players to Target or Avoid

We’ve previously published an article series analyzing and grading all the NFL defenses, division by division. Now we’re going to look at the strength of schedules of each NFL team, division by division, to help you identify players with the best matchups vs. the league’s weakest defenses.

Today we provide NFC South strength of schedule analysis. For each team, we will identify players that we like and don’t like. You will see four categories: players to target, players to avoid, players to buy and players to sell. Let’s get to it.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to read more about fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) analysis, broken down by division and team, to prepare for your drafts and dominate your leagues. 


NFC South – Strength of Schedule Breakdown

NFC South Opponents in 2015: NFC South, NFC East, AFC South


Atlanta Falcons - Players to Target and Avoid

The Falcons can put up points with stud receiver Julio Jones and second receiver, Roddy White. The Falcons get to play half of their games in a dome, which will definitely help boost the fantasy point totals, especially for quarterback Matt Ryan. Having one of the easiest overall schedules in the league can't hurt either.

The Falcons open up their season with a trio of NFC East team’s, at home versus the Eagles on Monday night and follow that up with games at the Giants and Cowboys. All teams look to be high scoring and low to mediocre in defensive resistance.

Atlanta might see the easiest playoff stretch in the league though. Starting with week 14 the Falcons play at Carolina, then at Jacksonville, and in week 16 they return home to face the Panthers. Those are some of the leagues weakest secondaries and pass rushers, with the only true saving grace for those defenses being that Jacksonville isn't horrible against the run.

Players to Reach For

Devonta Freeman is falling low in the draft for a guy who's likely going to be starting for his team. A better fit for the Kyle Shanahan scheme than Tevin Coleman (who hasn't been able to impress in preseason) and on a potentially high powered offense, Freeman could be a great value.

Players to Avoid

Roddy White is turning 34 in November and has already seen his share of injuries and downturns. Although last year was a bit of  a resurgence for White, the easy schedule might not help a player on the final stretch of his career.

Players to Look to Buy Low

It doesn't look like the Falcons have a schedule that will result in anyone being a buy low.

Players to Look to Sell High

Matt Ryan starts off playing against high powered offenses with mediocre defenses. It's a great combination that could easily turn into Ryan coming into week 4 as a top 3 scoring QB. If that's the case, you should see what the market thinks of him.


Carolina Panthers - Players to Target and Avoid

Cam Newton didn’t have anyone to throw the ball to besides Kelvin Benjamin last season, and this year he'll have pretty much no one to throw to except Devin Funchess. Oh and the timeless Greg Olsen. With the unfortunate news of Benjamin tearing his ACL, Newton will have to lean on the two of them to carry the weight this season. Meanwhile, Jonathan Stewart has the backfield all to himself (DeAngelo Williams left to Pittsburgh) as long as he can stay healthy, which has been an issue for him over his career.

Carolina has four easy games to kick off its season before their week 5 bye. The Panthers begin in Jacksonville, return home to face Houston and New Orleans, and then play in Tampa. The Texans can be a tough matchup, but that is Carolina’s first home game so look for them to bring 110 percent.

The fantasy playoffs have the Panthers playing the Falcons twice with a game against the Giants in New York sandwiched inbetween.

Players to Reach For

I would take the chance that Jonathan Stewart stays healthy and has a career year playing one of the weakest schedules and with a QB who once peppered him with 47 catches in the one season he remained healthy.

Players to Avoid

Cam Newton becomes a potential avoid if his price remains high. Losing Benjamin can only hurt his value.

Players to Look to Buy Low

Jacksonville and Houston both have strong run defenses that could lower the price of Jonathan Stewart. He could be a quick buy-low early in the year.

Players to Look to Sell High

Any receiver that starts off strong. The Panthers will rely heavily on the run game and their tight ends.


New Orleans Saints - Players to Target and Avoid

The Saints will be looking to run more behind their newly acquired center from Seattle, Max Unger, and their first round pick, offensive lineman Andrus Peat. That will not bode well for Brees’ high volume numbers, and a drop-off should be expected. Mark Ingram will likely be the number one back, but the Saints also brought in C.J. Spiller so who knows how Sean Payton will handle the workload distribution. The Saints have never had trouble bringing two RBs to value though. Brandin Cooks could be in for a good year with the amount of opportunities he's bound to have.

The Saints open in Arizona, a tough matchup, followed by their home opener against the Bucs. They then head to face Carolina in what's been some very surprising scores most recently.

The Saints go to Tampa in week 14, return home for Monday Night Football against the Lions, and then get Jacksonville at home in week 16. It's a pretty good playoff run for this team.

Players to Reach For

Brandin Cooks was lost to injury last year, but now with the loss of Jimmy Graham- he's at the forefront of the target totem pole in New Orleans.

Players to Avoid

Every player on this team is realistically priced and worth taking a flier on.

Players to Look to Buy Low

All three of the Saints season openers have strong front 7's in talent with varying degrees of success. With at least two new pieces on the starting O-line for the Saints, the run game could see an early struggle making either or both of Ingram and Spiller cheap buys.

Players to Look to Sell High

On the flip side, Ingram and Spiller also have the chance to becoming hugely unreliable as the backfield switches around and constantly has unreliable usage. If someone breaks out early on it might be better to see if you can move them for a more reliable player along with a buy-low option.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Players to Target and Avoid

Number one overall pick, Jameis Winston, has been getting rave reviews at training camp. Winston has several big weapons to throw to, from Vincent Jackson, to Mike Evans, and Austin Seferian- Jenkins. Even Doug Martin can get in on the action.

The Bucs open their season at home facing Marcus Mariota and the Titans, a game that everyones hoping turns into a rookie shootout. Weeks 2 and 3 sees the Bucs hit the road to take on the Saints and Texans. Week 2 could be a high scoring one also, but the Texans defense should be a real challenge for the Tampa Bay offense.

The Bucs take on the Saints at home in week 14 which again, should result in another high scoring game. On a quick three days rest, the Bucs travel to St. Louis for a Thursday night game, which is going to be a difficult test on a short week. The Bucs will have a hard time putting up points in that one. To wrap up the fantasy football playoffs the Bucs get the Bears at home, who look like they'll be amongst the bottom feeding defenses this year.

Players to Reach For

Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson finally have a real quarterback in Tampa Bay to throw to them.

Players to Avoid

Jameis Winston will throw a ton of interceptions this season. Additionally, why draft a rookie quarterback when there are much better options? Don’t try to be the cool sly guy drafting the number one overall pick.

Players to Look to Buy Low

This is an offense that can only get higher. Almost everyone on this team comes at a cheap price minus Mike Evans, and it's doubtful that the schedule keeps him from performing.

Players to Look to Sell High

It's hard to imagine someone's willing to buy on any of the players here if their stock rises.


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