NFL

One Bust and One Sleeper for Every NFL Team: AFC South

Houston Texans

Sleeper: D’onta Foreman- RB

I think it’s safe to say that RB Lamar Miller’s best days are behind him. While Miller isn’t a bad back at all, It may be time to realize that Miller is not the answer if the Texans want to be serious contenders.

The answer, however, may be on the roster. Coming out of a stacked 2017 rookie RB class, the Texas back, D’onta Foreman has the potential to be a great sidekick to second-year QB Deshaun Watson.

On paper, Foreman is a monster. He’s a 6’0”, 233 pound back, with a 4.45 40 yard dash. Along with this he has great vision and makes very clean cuts. Foreman’s season was cut short last year due to injury, but with more opportunities this year, Foreman could play a pivotal role for this young Texans team.

Honorable Mention: LB Whitney Mercilus, S Justin Reid

Bust- Tyrann Mathieu, S

If we are talking about controversial careers, Mathieu has definitely had a rocky journey to the NFL. In 2012, the Heisman finalist Safety was kicked off of the LSU football team for (as Stephen A Smith would put it, “the weeeeeeduh”) Mathieu, however still went second round to the Cardinals.

People were quick to find out that the “Honey Badger” was electric. He hit hard, had great ball skills, and instantly became a fan favorite across the league.

Although it could be credited to Mathieu’s injuries or the fact that the Cardinals haven’t been very good recently, Mathieu somewhat fell off the map. He played his first complete season in 2017, and while statistically, it was pretty solid, he did not live up to his superstar potential.

Mathieu will be playing with a new team in Houston this year, but I really don’t think much will change. I think we’ve seen the best of Tyrann Mathieu, and while I don’t think he will be a terrible option at safety, I’m not sure if he will ever return to what he was.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Sleeper- Austin Seferian-Jenkins

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Similar to Mathieu, Seferian-Jenkins has had a rocky start to his NFL career. While off to a promising start in Tampa Bay, however, during the 2016 season he was cut after some off the field incidents. ASJ then got picked up by the Jets, and while continuing to look promising, has yet to break out.

Seferian-Jenkins stands at 6’5”, 262 lbs, and has some solid speed as well. Jenkins will be put on a Jacksonville offense that will rely heavily on the run, and has a rather weak receiving core. He could easily become the #1 target for Bortles, as Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief are his main competition.

Jacksonville is poised for a huge year, and if Austin Seferian-Jenkins can become a safety valve or even more for Blake Bortles, he could help the Jags do huge things.

Honorable Mention- Blake Bortles

Bust- All Wide Receivers

If we’re basing this off of individual performance, this could be a rough year for the Jags receivers. It’s honestly a solid core, with a decent amount of depth. The only problem is there’s no one that really stands out among the pack. Keelan Cole and Marqise Lee led the core last year, with 748 and 702 yards respectively. Now add Donte Moncrief, who was a promising red-zone threat with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.

Unless someone really breaks out, there’s no clear star on this core, and while this could be seen as a good thing, there needs to be a guy who can take over the game in important situations.

Again, this is not a bad receiving core, but I don’t think any of these guys will have a great individual statistical season.

Honorable Mention- None

Indianapolis Colts

Sleeper- Marlon Mack

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For the last two seasons, the Colts may have been the least exciting team in the NFL. Now with Luck back, they could finally at least have a decent offense. While Andrew Luck will lead the passing game, a decent ground attack will need to exist as well.

With Frank Gore gone, it’s Sophomore running back Marlon Mack’s time to shine. Mack had a decent 2017 campaign, with 583 all-purpose yards, along with 4 TDs, behind a mediocre line on an offense with no passing game. Now add the threat of Luck, and 6th overall pick OG Quenton Nelson, and Mack has a pretty solid system to thrive in.

With his shiftiness and his speed, Mack could give Indy their first solid run game in years.

Bust- TY Hilton, WR

Every year, I say TY Hilton is overrated, and every year he has a solid statistical season to make me look stupid. Even after his 5 straight years of 950+ yards, I still think Hilton is one of the most overrated players in the NFL.

Hilton is a speedy deep play threat. To me, that’s really all he is. According to NBC Sports, Hilton had the 7th most catches of 25+ yards in the league (11), however, he also ranked 10th in targets not caught (52). Hilton’s stats will always look solid. He will get the big plays and his yardage will always be up there with the star receivers.

However, a guy that catches 52 passes in a season, even with a mediocre quarterback, is no star. Hilton looks good because he is in the perfect system for a statistical WR. He’s the only viable target in an offense that passes a ton. So while he gets plenty of targets and his fair share of deep balls, he struggles with consistency in the play-to-play necessary passes, especially when it comes to drops.

With Luck back, Hilton will probably have another season with 130+ targets, and on paper, he may have a decent season, but at the end of the day, Hilton is just a product of his quarterback.

Tennessee Titans

Sleeper- Wesley Woodyard, MLB

This is another guy who shouldn’t still be a sleeper. For years, MLB Wesley Woodyard has performed at a Pro Bowl level, yet hasn’t received the attention he’s deserved from the NFL community.

Woodyard is certainly no spring chicken. He’s a 32-year-old MLB entering his 4th seasons with the Titans, after 6 with Denver. He started to blossom with the Broncos, recording 214 combined tackles in 2 seasons. However, he’s only gotten better, he’s become much more versatile in the last couple seasons, especially becoming a leader of the underrated Titans D.

I don’t think Woodyard’s production will really change that much. But due to his lack of recognition (0x pro bowler), I still consider him a sleeper. It’s no coincidence that the Titans are always a top run defense.

Bust- Kevin Byard, S

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Byard sort of randomly came on the scene this year after emerging as the interceptions leader of the 2018 NFL season (8). However, it seems people got a little obsessed with the number, and Byard ended up as both a pro-bowler and an all-pro safety.

When talking about Byard, his stats kind of say it all. He’s a ballhawk. He has good ball skills, but the quarterbacks he intercepted in the 2017 season include Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer (2), Cody Kessler, Joe Flacco (2), and Blake Bortles (2). Do with those facts what you want, but this entire season may have just been a fluke for Kevin Byard.

Adding to this, there’s more to a safety than just ball skills. Byard is nothing special in the run game, he’s a solid tackler, but he’s nowhere near the All-Pro talent. Byard may have had his one solid statistical season, but stats don’t tell the whole story.

 

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