8 Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidates: NFC South (2022 Fantasy Football)
Several factors go into building a winning best ball team. One of those factors is identifying which players will let your team down and bust. Another is knowing which players have league-winning upside, especially in the later rounds. To help you build an elite best ball roster, I will identify the most likely bust candidate and potential league winner for every NFL team.
Today I breakdown the NFC South teams: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The average draft position (ADP) used for this article comes from Underdog Fantasy.
- Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidate: AFC East
- Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidate: AFC North
- Best Ball Busts & League Winner Candidates: AFC South
- Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidates: AFC West
- Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidate: NFC East
- Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidates: NFC North
Potential Bust Candidates
Cordarrelle Patterson (RB – ATL): ADP 109.3
While he should have another productive year in 2022, Patterson is the most likely Falcons player to bust at his current ADP. Over the final four games last season, Patterson averaged only 0.5 fantasy points per touch and 4.8 fantasy points per game. He struggled to hold up for an entire season at running back, and the Falcons had to go back to Mike Davis. While they released Davis earlier this offseason, fifth-round rookie Tyler Allgeier will fill his role. Patterson isn’t an awful pick at his ADP, but he lacks the upside of other running backs in this range, including James Cook and Ronald Jones.
Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR): ADP 2.3
When he is on the field, McCaffrey is arguably the best running back in the NFL. He averaged over 20 fantasy points per game in 2018 and 2019. However, McCaffrey has played only 10 of the last 33 games because of injuries. In those 10 games, he has averaged 19.1 fantasy points per game. While McCaffrey remains one of the top running backs in the NFL, the injuries over the past two years can’t be ignored. If he stays healthy, McCaffrey is worth a top-three pick. However, what are the odds of that happening in 2022? Instead, fantasy players should pick either Cooper Kupp or Justin Jefferson with their top-three selection. Both wide receivers offer similar upside to McCaffrey but come with less downside.
Michael Thomas (WR – NO): ADP 80.9
The last time we saw Thomas on the field, Drew Brees was still playing. Thomas has missed the past 1.5 seasons because of an ankle injury. Furthermore, he recently was played on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start training camp. More importantly, Thomas had a 27.9% target share in 2020 and a 33.2% target share in 2019. The Saints’ No. 2 wide receiver those two years were Emmanuel Sanders and Ted Ginn Jr. That wouldn’t be the case after the Saints drafted Chris Olave and signed Jarvis Landry this offseason. Even if Thomas is ready for Week 1, will he play all 17 games? Even if he does, his target share and fantasy production won’t be anywhere near what it was a few years ago.
Leonard Fournette (RB – TB): ADP 21.7
Last year Fournette was the RB7, averaging 15.8 fantasy points per game. It was his highest average since his rookie season. Furthermore, he averaged a career-high 0.89 fantasy points per touch in 2022. However, Fournette is reportedly up to 260 pounds, and the coaching staff isn’t happy about it. While he has rebutted those reports, it’s still a concern. More importantly, the Buccaneers used a third-round pick on Rachaad White. He will have a role on third down and in the passing game. Last year, Fournette had 69 receptions for 454 receiving yards and a career-high two receiving touchdowns. If he loses touches to White on early downs, Fournette will bust at his current ADP.
Potential League Winners
Desmond Ridder (QB – ATL): ADP 215.7
While rookie quarterbacks rarely turn into fantasy stars, Ridder has the potential to achieve that feat. The rookie quarterback was a four-year starter at Cincinnati, winning the third-most games in college football history. On top of that, he has two elite athletic freaks to throw to in Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Ridder is also a capable runner and could have 350 or more rushing yards if he starts most of the year. More importantly, the Falcons will be in negative game script most of the season. Even if Marcus Mariota begins the year as the starter, it’s only a matter of time until Ridder takes the job. If he can develop a connection with Pitts and London early in the season, Ridder could sneak into the top 12 as a rookie.
D’Onta Foreman (RB – CAR): ADP 199.3
Unfortunately, McCaffrey has played only 10 games the past two years because of injuries. While Davis and Chuba Hubbard failed to fill McCaffrey’s shoes, Foreman is a better handcuff. Last year, he averaged 4.3 yards per rushing attempt and 9.9 fantasy points per game, filling in for Derrick Henry. However, Foreman ended the year strong after becoming the lead guy after Henry’s injury. He averaged 12.7 fantasy points per game over the final five games of the year, scoring 13 or more fantasy points three times. If McCaffrey misses significant time again, Foreman will turn into a top-24 running back as his replacement.
Jameis Winston (QB – NO): ADP 153.1
Despite a lack of weapons, Winston had 14 passing touchdowns and only three interceptions in seven games last year before tearing his ACL. He scored over 25 fantasy points in two of those contests. Instead of drafting a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks, the Saints used the draft capital on Trevor Penning and Olave, giving Winston help on offense. Furthermore, they signed Landry after the draft and are hopeful Thomas will be 100% for the start of the season. Winston was the QB14 on a points-per-game basis last year. He has top 10 upside this season, thanks to his set of weapons.
Russell Gage (WR – TB): ADP 69.2
After averaging a career-high 9.3 fantasy points per game last season, Gage signed with the Buccaneers in free agency and has gotten talked up by Tom Brady. He will replace Antonio Brown as the Buccaneers’ No. 3 wide receiver. However, Gage will earn extra targets early in the year as Chris Godwin recovers from a torn ACL. Last year, Gage averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game in the seven games he saw seven or more targets. More importantly, the Buccaneers had the most pass attempts in the NFL last season with 731. With Godwin likely sidelined the first several weeks of the year and Rob Gronkowski retiring, Gage will quickly become a go-to target for Brady.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.