07 Aug NFC South: Wins Total Futures
The football season is less than two months away. This means fantasy drafts are starting, and it is time to make some money!
This series will look at each division to see what teams we should, and should not bet, on based on the Las Vegas numbers for Over/Under Futures. You will also notice there is not a ton of talk about numbers from last season. This is for good reason. Not only was last season an anomaly, but we also turn the page on a new chapter of NFL football in 2021. One which sees us with a 17-game schedule. We will be using the numbers from FanDuel Sportsbook for this exercise, and as we know, these numbers can change depending on what happens before the season.
Last Season NFC South O/U Futures Record: 3-1
NFC South: Wins Total Futures
Atlanta Falcons | Over/Under 7.5 Wins
The Atlanta Falcons need a new quarterback. They are going to draft Justin Fields. This is all we heard heading into the draft. So, what happened? They drafted Kyle Pitts as the highest drafted tight end of all-time.
You can say all you want that Pitts is more than a tight end. So was Evan Engram. Hype is a wonderful thing. But it does not always pan out the way we think it will. For the sake of the Falcons, this one better.
Matt Ryan is a good quarterback. With weapons around him, he could be great. But the Falcons have no run game to speak of with only Mike Davis in the back field. On top of this, they traded perhaps the best player in franchise history, Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans due to severe salary mismanagement. These two factors do not lead to a ton of optimism for the upcoming season.
Add to this the fact that the Buccaneers brought back all 22 starters from last year’s Super Bowl winning team, and the Saints should still be solid, and the Falcons are going to have a tough time making it past third in this division. And that is assuming the Panthers do not make a massive improvement in their second season under Matt Rhule and Joe Brady. Something which has historically happened for Rhule in college.
Over the past two seasons, Matt Ryan has the most completions and attempts in the NFL. With Jones gone, the team will have to get more from a lackluster run game. If they are unable to do so, this will be an extremely long season for new head coach Arthur Smith, who coming from Tennessee, knows the importance of a run game.
The Defense was bad last season, and it does not appear to be much better after this off season. In a division with great weapons like Mike Evans, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey, this could mean a world of hurt is in store for the Falcons.
While the 7.5 number is certainly reasonable, it is going to be a difficult number to attain with such questions all over the team. They have not gone over this number in either of the past two seasons and even with an extra game, I do not see it here. Bet: Under 7.5
Carolina Panthers | Over/Under 7.5 Wins
The Panthers should be better in 2021. They are in their second season with Coach Matt Rhule and the defense, which was extremely young last season, should be more experienced this year. Despite the talk about whether Sam Darnold is an upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater, the real key to this team will continue to be Christian McCaffrey.
After missing most of last season due to injury, McCaffrey is back and healthy coming into the season. This means the best running back in the game is coming back to an offense which severely missed him in 2020.
Although the Panthers lost receiver Curtis Samuel this off season, they bring back their other two receivers in D..J. Moore and Robbie Anderson, both of whom went for more than 1,000 yards. This duo will provide Darnold with more weapons than he had in New York and will allow him to hopefully show his full potential under Joe Brady this season. If not, the Panthers will have no where to turn with Bridgewater now in Denver and their next best option being P.J. Walker who played for Rhule in college at Temple.
With both the offense and defense likely to be much better this season, I am surprised to see the Carolina Panthers with the same over/under as the Atlanta Falcons. While the Falcons seem to being flying south, the Panthers, on the other hand, look to be heading in the other direction. It should start in 2021. I do not think they will threaten the Buccaneers for the division, but I do think they could challenge the Saints with all the uncertainty surrounding them. Therefore, I like this number of 7.5 a lot and I would take the over. Bet: Over 7.5
New Orleans Saints | Over/Under 9 Wins
This bet was almost a lock, until the news that Michael Thomas would miss up to half of the season after ankle surgery. With this news, along with the uncertainty at the quarterback position, it has become an extremely difficult number indeed.
The key factor for the New Orleans Saints in 2021 will be which quarterback Sean Peyton goes with and how they perform. The last time we saw Jameis Winston he was becoming the only member of the 30/30 club with more than 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. On the other hand, Taysom Hill does not have trouble with interceptions. This is mainly due to the fact that he does not throw the ball enough to get in trouble. But he does like to run. A lot. A lot of times to the detriment of the offense as he takes the ball out of the hand of weapons like Alvin Kamara. If he gets the starting nod and the Saints want to be competitive, this is a skill he will need to learn.
With Thomas on the shelf, it will come down to how well Kamara fits into the offensive scheme of the quarterback. He is a great player with at least 81 receptions in each of his four seasons, he is a true threat from the back field. Behind a stellar offensive line, Peyton will have to continue to use him to the fullest advantage.
The defense was legitimately great in 2020. Top five ranks in scoring, rush yards and pass yards are nothing to sneeze at. But after some attrition this off season due to salary cap constraints, it could take a step backwards. With the offense also likely to take a step back, the team does not look likely to threaten the Buccaneers for the division.
If I could say push in this case, I would. I think the number is perfect. But for the sake of argument and due to my fandom, I will lean positive. Bet: Over 9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Over/Under 11.5 Wins
It seems strange to say, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the class of the NFC South. Quite possibly the NFC as well.
Tom Brady came into Florida and brought a whole new dynamic to this team in 2020. After a shaky start to the season, Brady and the Buccaneers rolled off win after win to get to and win the Super Bowl. After bringing back every member of their starting lineup for 2021, they should be and indeed are, the favorites to get back to the big game out of the NFC.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown make for a talented wide receiver’s room. Perhaps the best in the NFL this season. On top of this, the offensive line, a struggle in recent years, was vastly improved after the addition of rookie Tristan Wirfs. The offense is talented. There is no doubt about it.
So, the key to hitting this number could lie with the defense. A defense which was also good in 2020.
As with the offense, the defense is also fully intact this season. Whether out of loyalty or a hope to repeat, all the free agents decided to play on team friendly deals. For one year at least. With stud rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. anchoring the secondary and veterans like Jason Pierre-Paul up front, this unit will again be one of the leagues best.
Trying to find holes in this team is a difficult proposition. Doing so means you have a hatred for the team and are exaggerating, or you are misinformed. In a solid but not great division, Tampa Bay is the head of the class. Although they did not win the division last season, they will in 2021. So do not bet against them, or Tom Brady. Bet: Over 11.5
Dominick is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area. Playing fantasy football for more than 20 years and writing for more than five, he has a vast knowledge of both the NFL and fantasy football. Despite his being blind, Dominick is a consistent ranker amongst FantasyPros experts, and always strives to be better than last season. Follow him on Twitter @EnvisionFF and read his weekly Best Bets articles during the season.