ATL: Can Marcus Mariota resurrect his career?
Mariota was given a new lease on life, given the keys to Falcons – part of the fallout of pursuing Deshaun Watson. We haven’t seen him start a game since 2019 and a lot of the Falcons players around him are question marks.
Can Cordarrelle Patterson do it again? How big of an impact will Drake London make as a rookie and can he fill the lofty expectations of being the Falcons No. 1 receiver? Can fellow former Raider Bryan Edwards make something for himself in Atlanta? Can Tyler Allgeier, Desmond Ridder and preseason warrior Jared Bernhardt crack the lineup as rookies?
It’s a big risk to add any Falcons’ player to your fantasy roster, but keep them on the watch list because they could surprise us all.
CAR: How much difference can Baker Mayfield make?
Love him or hate him, Mayfield is an upgrade over Sam Darnold. How big of an upgrade is up to Mayfield to improve on what went wrong in Cleveland. Mayfield will play with a chip on his shoulder and that can be good for the Panthers, as long as he lets his play do the talking.
Mayfield has similar talent that he had in Cleveland, without the depth at offensive line. So he’ll have to prove he can catch receivers in stride, be more accurate, and roll it back to the Baker of 2020 that made him a dangerous quarterback.
Him clicking in Carolina makes Christian McCaffery better, D.J. Moore more effective, and maybe Robbie Anderson more appealing. Maybe Mayfield can pull the best out of Laviska Shenault, Terrace Marshall, or his old teammate Rashard Higgins. The Panthers’ defense had the makings of a great season in 2021 but was on the field too long. Mayfield’s play would impact them too.
NOR: Are the Saints a sleeping dragon about to wake?
As good as the Bucs are, they’re older and banged up to start the season. There are a handful of things that need to go right for the Saints, including Dennis Allen making an immediate and positive impact as the head coach.
Based on his ADP, everyone is counting on Alvin Kamara to have a bounce back season. And why wouldn’t he? As a dual threat running back who can handle the ball 30 times per game, he is an elite points producer. Mark Ingram will spell Kamara relief and be a leader on the sidelines.
But just imagine if Jameis Winston plays smart football and minimizes his turnovers. What if Jarvis Landry can make a difference on one more team and mentors Chris Olave into being a polished NFL receiver? Then just fantasize about this offense if Michael Thomas can return to 100 percent.
TAM: Can the offensive line hold it together?
Normally, a team led by Tom Brady, we’d be concerned with his receivers and tight ends. I mean, how well will Chris Godwin bounce back, or can Russell Gage reinvent himself? Does Julio Jones have anything left? Who is the alpha tight end between Cam Rate, Kyle Rudolph or Cade Otton? These are important questions to ask but the biggest one is the state of the offensive line.
Former Bucs guards Ali Marpet retired and Alex Cappa fled Tampa in free agency. Aaron Stinnie was supposed to fill Marpet’s hole at guard but he tore his left ACL and MCL in preseason. Shaq Mason was acquired to plug one hole at guard, but it is thin behind him. C Robert Hainsey, G Luke Goedeke, G/C Nick Leverett have two seasons combined experience in the NFL, two of which, will start in Week 1.
Oh yeah, and Tristan Wirfs is nursing an oblique injury. Offensive line depth is not a luxury afforded to the Bucs. This could all go downhill fast early in the season if the backups don’t step up. It’s a problem most NFL teams have.