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2023 Fantasy Football: AFC South Player Predictions

An NFL projections model offers valuable insights, helping fantasy football enthusiasts analyze team outcomes based on data-driven analysis. You can think of these projections as a guide. Yes, Ryan Tannehill is my QB27, but why? If you feel Tannehill will throw for 4,000 yards, you may adjust his pass catchers up several tiers. If you think Dameon Pierce tops 1,000 receiving yards, he’s likely in the RB1 category for you.

These projections look to provide a median output for all players without considering an entire range of outcomes. For example, what if Anthony Richardson puts together the best offense that the Colts have seen in the past decade? Suddenly, we’d think of Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce as top 36 wide receivers. It’s certainly in the world of possibilities, but not captured by this model.

Note on methodology: The above projections are built using machine learning (ML) algorithms in Python. Using historical player, team, and league stats/tendencies, an ML model can predict likely outcomes for NFL players. 

It’s nearly impossible to model with 100 percent accuracy. Injuries, breakouts, and surprises happen in many shapes and forms every season. Each player is modeled as if the team stays healthy for 17 straight games. Of course, this is a pipedream. 

All scoring below is in .5 PPR

AFC South Projections

A close-up image of C.J. Stroud throwing the football

Houston Texans

C.J. Stroud, 231 fantasy points (13.6 PPG, QB29): 

547 attempts, 333 completions, 3,600 yards, 18.7 TDs

46 rushes, 262 yards, 1.7  TDs

There’s not much to get excited about in the Houston Texans’ offense, leaving C.J. Stroud as nothing but a lottery ticket.

Dameon Pierce, 179 fantasy points (10.5 PPG, RB3):

212 rushes, 906 yards, 6.6 TDs

57 targets, 36 receptions, 319 yards, 0.8 TD

Dameon Pierce averaged double-digit fantasy points to start the season before posting just seven PPG from Week 10 onward. Even though Pierce has shown rushing talent, it’s hard to believe Devin Singletary is JUST a thorn in his side.

Devin Singletary, 123 fantasy points (7.3 PPG, RB42):

124 rushes, 575 yards, 3.2 TDs

41 targets, 29 receptions, 267 yards, 1.6 TDs

Singletary was efficient with the Buffalo Bills, posting 4.6 yards per carry (15th among RBs) and 7.4 yards per rush (12th). He figures to eat into Pierce’s workload, especially with a $3 million contract.

Nico Collins, 137 fantasy points (8.1 PPG, WR23):

128 targets, 81 receptions, 1,011 yards, 6.2 TDs

The average finish among last season’s wide receivers who lead their teams in target share was WR26. Unfortunately, Nico Collins isn’t much of a home run at ADP in this offense if Stroud isn’t the real deal. Collins has a safe floor at WR57 ADP but no clear path to a WR2 finish.

Dalton Schultz, 102 fantasy points (6.0 PPG, TE4):

114 targets, 73 receptions, 913 yards, 5.7 TDs

Dalton Schultz is likely to command a ton of red zone work — if Houston is able to make it there.

Indianapolis Colts

Anthony Richardson, 242 fantasy points (14.2 PPG, QB24): 

451 attempts, 271 completions, 2,929 yards, 14.8 TDs

99 rushes, 680 yards, 3.5 TDs

Even with 100 rush attempts, Anthony Richardson is a projected weak passer. The Indianapolis Colts project as the rush-heaviest team with 564 rush attempts. If Richardson is an elite passer, the volume still isn’t quite there for his skill players.

Michael Pittman Jr., 154 fantasy points (9.0 PPG, WR35):

109 targets, 68 receptions, 879 yards, 3.9 TDs

Michael Pittman Jr. could be a dynasty stash for Richardson’s sophomore season, but otherwise, he’s a wide receiver with absolutely no ceiling. If he couldn’t be a star wideout with Matt Ryan, Pittman Jr. won’t be one in this extremely rush-heavy offense.

Alec Pierce, 99 fantasy points (5.9 PPG, WR60):

79 targets, 44 receptions, 644 yards, 2.6 TDs

Alec Pierce is a good get at his WR70 price tag. He projects better than that, and if he becomes Richardson’s No. 1 receiver, Pierce’s ceiling is high as a weekly flex option.

Zack Moss, 110 fantasy points (6.5 PPG, RB45):

151 rushes, 712 yards, 3.5 TDs

20 targets, 14 receptions, 107 yards, 0.4 TD

Deon Jackson, 96 fantasy points (5.7 PPG, RB51):

128 rushes, 460 yards, 2.9 TDs

34 targets, 24 receptions, 200 yards, 0.4 TD

Evan Hull, 91 fantasy points (5.4 PPG, RB52):

118 rushes, 496 yards, 3.0 TDs

25 targets, 18 receptions, 145 yards, 0.4 TD

Without Jonathan Taylor (who had been projected as a top-10 running back), the Colts’ running back room is a mess. Moss is the projected starter, but a three-headed running back by committee looms in Indianapolis.

This offense projects to be highly rush-dependent and inefficient. With no bell cow running back (other than Richardson, potentially), it’s hard to get excited about this team. The Colts are projected for the fourth-fewest touchdowns this season and the second-fewest passing yards ahead of just the Arizona Cardinals’ mystery quarterback. 

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence throwing the ball in his team's teal-and-white uniform

Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, 324 fantasy points (19.1 PPG, QB8): 

641 attempts, 433 completions, 4,666 yards, 27 TDs

51 rushes, 292 yards, 4.1 TDs

Trevor Lawrence has MVP, top-three quarterback upside. Without a ton of rushing volume, he projects as an average QB1.

Calvin Ridley, 220 fantasy points (13.0 PPG, WR11):

153 targets, 105 receptions, 1,315 yards, 6.7 TDs

Last we saw Calvin Ridley he was the WR4. If Ridley can still play (even if he has to shake off some rust), he’s a surefire WR1 this season.

Christian Kirk, 177 fantasy points (10.4 PPG, WR22):

126 targets, 84 receptions, 952 yards, 5.9 TDs

Christian Kirk’s career 2022-23 season was stellar for him, but with Ridley in town, Kirk projects no better than a low-end WR2; we still don’t know if Kirk will be the WR1 over Ridley. Kirk has a ton of upside at WR30 because he has a path to a WR1 finish.

Travis Etienne, 209 fantasy points (12.3 PPG, RB8):

220 rushes, 932 yards, 6.4 TDs

67 targets, 53 receptions, 438 yards, 2.1 TDs

Travis Etienne looks better on paper than in reality. He figures to be a workhorse back, and if he is, an RB1 season is locked in. 

Tank Bigsby, 86 fantasy points (5.0 PPG, RB53):

86 rushes, 383 yards, 2.5 TDs

30 targets, 21 receptions, 172 yards, 1.1 TDs

Rookie RB Tank Bigsby is nothing other than a speculative add, but it sounds like he should see a meaningful workload. He projects for just north of 100 touches.

Evan Engram, 127 fantasy points (7.5 PPG, TE8):

103 targets, 70 receptions, 628 yards, 5.2 TDs

With too many mouths for Lawrence to feed, Evan Engram isn’t likely to finish as high as TE6 as he did last season. Still, a pass-heavy offense with 43 projected touchdowns bodes well for him.

Zay Jones, 129 fantasy points (7.6 PPG, RB43):

103 targets, 63 receptions, 663 yards, 4.3 TDs

Zay Jones’ numbers are relevant enough to include him here. He’s a sneaky wide receiver option in deeper leagues.

Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill, 230 fantasy points (13.6 PPG, QB27): 

476 attempts, 312 completions, 3,617 yards, 23.2 TDs

33 rushes, 95 yards, 2.2 TDs

Ryan Tannehill is a quarterback who produces solid numbers for those around him. His QB27 projection is admittedly too low, but he’s returning from a serious injury and hasn’t posted QB1 numbers for a few seasons.

Derrick Henry, 273 fantasy points (16.1 PPG, RB2):

341 rushes, 1,434 yards, 11.9 TDs

48 targets, 40 receptions, 357 yards, 1.1 TDs

Derrick Henry is going far too low in fantasy drafts. He’s the NFL’s version of Father Time, and while the big concern is his age, the adage should be: “Death, Taxes and Derrick Henry.”

DeAndre Hopkins, 180 fantasy points (10.6 PPG, WR21):

127 targets, 76 receptions, 976 yards, 7.7  TDs

DeAndre Hopkins is seemingly the Titans’ No. 1 target earner, but Treylon Burks could be in for a big year, and Tennessee is where aging wideouts go to die (sorry, Julio Jones). 

Treylon Burks, 152 fantasy points (8.9 PPG, RB35):

104 targets, 61 receptions, 770 yards, 6.6 TDs

At cost, Burks is preferable to Hopkins. If Burks is this team’s top wideout, he’s due for a top-24 season. Seemingly, he’s already recovered from his injury and should suit up in Week 1. 

Chigoziem Okonkwo, 90 fantasy points (5.3 PPG, TE23):

72 targets, 45 receptions, 496 yards, 3.3 TDs

Chigoziem Okonkwo’s all-around metrics look stellar, but with so many offensive options, he looks to be mostly an afterthought this season. 

Tennessee should be fine to challenge Jacksonville as the division winner this season with 41 projected touchdowns (just three fewer than the Jaguars). Tannehill may no longer be a sexy option at quarterback, but he’s much better on the NFL field than he is in fantasy lineups. Henry, Hopkins and Burks are worth rostering, with Okonkwo on the outside looking in.

Other Projections

AFC: East | West | North

NFC: East | North| South

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