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NFL Fantasy Exit Interviews: AFC South

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AFC South


Houston Texans (10-6)

2019 Team Offensive Ranks Total offense: 14th Passing: 15th Rushing: 9th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Deshaun Watson -- 3,852 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT (QB4)
Rushing: Carlos Hyde -- 1,070 rush yards, 6 TD (RB30)
Receiving: DeAndre Hopkins -- 104 rec., 1,165 yards, 7 TD (WR5)

What went right: After a fairly slow start to the season, DeAndre Hopkins turned it on and finished strong to justify being the first receiver off the board in many leagues. Depending on how you spun things with Deshaun Watson, things were either pretty good or just "meh". The Texans signal-caller finished as the QB4 overall and was second in fantasy points per game at the position. That's the upside. The downside is the wide range of variance he displayed on a week-to-week basis. Forty point games are nice. They're even nicer when they aren't followed up by 11-point outings. A late summer trade for Carlos Hyde initially confused a lot of fantasy managers as to what Houston's backfield plan would be. Now that the season's over, I'm not sure we still have the greatest idea of what just happened, but Hyde did post his first 1,000-yard rushing season and was an occasional RB2/flex play. Can we count that as a win?

What went wrong: For anyone thinking that the backfield would feature a heavy dose of Duke Johnson after Lamar Miller was hit with an ACL injury in the preseason, well ... not so much. Johnson reprised the Swiss Army Knife role he played in Cleveland. It continues to be a nice option for actual football teams, but it's still inadequate for fantasy squads. We're also still on the lookout for a consistent receiving threat in Houston opposite Hopkins. Those hopes are continually pinned on Will Fuller, if only he could stay healthy. After missing five games this season with multiple lower body injuries, Fuller has still yet to play in more than 14 games in a campaign. Nonetheless, he still set career-highs in receptions and receiving yards. Maybe next year is finally the year.

What needs to improve: Plenty of people will point to the play of the offensive line, which is understandable. Over the past three seasons, only Russell Wilson has been sacked more than Deshaun Watson. Some of that is owed to a pair of quarterbacks who hold the ball longer than normal because their scrambling abilities allow them to extend plays in the pocket. However that doesn't excuse Houston's mediocre run blocking. If we could grant the gift of good health to anyone, it would be Fuller. Either that or just make Keke Coutee a thing in 2020. Whatever.

Indianapolis Colts (7-9)

2019 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 17th
Passing: 30th
Rushing: 7th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Jacoby Brissett -- 2,942 yards, 18 TD, 6 INT (QB23)
Rushing: Marlon Mack -- 1,091 yards, 8 TD (RB22)
Receiving: Zach Pascal -- 41 rec., 607 yards, 5 TD (WR52)

What went right: I entered the 2019 season expecting Marlon Mack to have a true breakout year. He did turn out to be arguably the most consistent fantasy option in the Colts lineup, yet that production was not what I'd hoped it would be entering the year.

What went wrong: Before the Colts played a regular season snap, they were hit with an unexpected bombshell in the form of Andrew Luck's surprise retirement. That thrust Jacoby Brissett into the starter's role. This go-round as Indy's signal-caller was marginally better than his run as the starter in 2017. In 2019, however, Brissett had the excuse that his wide receiver corps was essentially vaporized before his eyes. Indy had just three receivers play 10 or more games this season, with only Zach Pascal appearing in all 16 contests. Oh, and for anyone who thought Eric Ebron wasn't going to duplicate the career season he had in 2018 ... you were correct.

What needs to improve: The Colts are trying to determine if Brissett is "the guy" long-term in Indianapolis. Chances are he's not but there aren't any obvious answers in the short run. It might also be nice to see what Brissett might be able to do with a healthy complement of wideouts for a full season before passing final judgment.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)

2019 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 26th
Passing: 16th
Rushing: 17th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Gardner Minshew -- 3,271 yards, 21 TD, 6 INT (QB19)
Rushing: Leonard Fournette -- 1,152 yards, 3 TD (RB7)
Receiving: D.J. Chark -- 73 rec., 1,008 yards, 8 TD (WR17)

What went right: Leonard Fournette fell into the third round in some drafts because fantasy managers were wary of a frequently injured running back in a middling offense that didn't catch passes. Except -- surprise! -- he stayed healthy and caught a ton of passes. Because we can't have everything we want in fantasy football, Fournette scored a season-low three touchdowns. Alas, Fournette still exceeded plenty of expectations.

Speaking of exceeding expectations, D.J. Chark was running away with Breakout Player of the Year honors after the first few weeks of the season. While his overall production slowed down later in the year, the young wideout proved to be a go-to option in the Jaguars passing game. He was definitely a favorite target for Gardner Minshew, who took the league (and fantasy football) by storm early in the year. The rookie was pressed into service after starting quarterback Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone in Week 1 and acquitted himself well enough that it's very likely Jacksonville moves on from Foles this offseason and installs Minshew as the full-time starter in 2020.

What went wrong: If you want to be a party pooper, you can complain about Fournette's lack of touchdowns. If you were really excited about Nick Foles (that's probably a small club) then you were disappointed in his injury and Minshew's subsequent rise to the level of internet icon. Perhaps one of the true frustrations from the Jaguars' offense was the inconsistent production from Dede Westbrook. But the upside is that it opened the door for a late season emergence from Chris Conley. Now we get to figure out if there's a Jacksonville secondary receiver to target next season. Oh joy.

What needs to improve: Yes, touchdowns are fickle beasts, but can we get Leonard Fournette some more TDs in 2020? The next step would be to establish some other consistent pass-catchers beyond Chark -- although Chark being able to duplicate (or even surpass) 2019's numbers would also be very welcome. Yet with a change coming at offensive coordinator after John DeFilippo was let go, we'll have to re-evaluate plenty of things in this offense.

Tennessee Titans (9-7)

2019 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 10th
Passing: 21st
Rushing: 3rd

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Ryan Tannehill -- 2,742 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT (QB22)
Rushing: Derrick Henry -- 1,540 yards, 16 TD (RB5)
Receiving: A.J. Brown -- 52 rec., 1,051 yards, 8 TD (WR13)

What went right: Late in the 2018 season, the Titans decided to feature Derrick Henry and the results were pretty amazing. That led us fantasy types to ask if Tennessee could pretty please make the Derrick Henry feature a thing for the entirety of the 2019 season. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith obliged and Henry responded by winning the rushing title, scoring 18 total touchdowns and propelling plenty of fantasy managers deep into their respective seasons.

The passing game in Tennessee also provided a few surprises. Well ... two, at least. Rookie A.J. Brown lived up to his billing as one of the top players in the draft by bursting onto the fantasy scene as a top 15 wideout. Brown was particularly effective late in the season, racking up a 25/605/5 stat line from Weeks 12-17. That was part of the reason Ryan Tannehill turned out to be a surprise league-winner at quarterback. The former Miami Dolphin took over the starting job from an ineffective Marcus Mariota and averaged the fourth-most fantasy points per game from Week 7 until the end of the regular season. That has likely ended Mariota's stay in Music City and has revived Tannehill's flagging career. The only question is: Where do we draft Tannehill next season?

What went wrong: Admittedly, there weren't high expectations for the Titans fantasy options overall this season. With Henry and Brown exceeding what many thought might be possible for them, the only true underperformer was Mariota. Even still, his projections weren't that great to begin with so it's hard to be totally broken up about what you got (or didn't get) from him.

What needs to improve: As we saw during the NFL playoffs, this is an offense on the rise. If the Titans can lock in Tannehill for another season, that elevates the draft value of A.J. Brown and any other pass-catchers who could possibly flash next season (looking at you, Corey Davis). I'm not sure there's any real way for Derrick Henry to improve unless Tennessee wants to get him more involved in the passing game. In which case, he might vault to being the top overall fantasy draft pick in 2020.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who is ready to do a little binge-watching. Send him your aspirations to apathy via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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