With the NFC North wrapped up, I thought it would only be fitting to do the AFC South next. The South is home to the Titans, Colts, Texans and Jaguars, and the 49ers play each opponent in 2009. The division has a pretty good stable of fantasy players, and starting with the Titans seems appropriate.
The Titans boast running back attack that can be frustrating for fantasy owners in most cases. However, in Tennessee, the team very rarely relies on the passing game (leading receiver in '08: 651 yards). With both backs able to convert first downs, and churn out yardage, its appropriate a guy like Kerry Collins is QB. Setting up the run, and opening up the vertical pass game is something Tennessee can do. The running backs are so good, they rarely have to. Let's look at the results.
Titans of note:
- Chris Johnson RB - Avg. Selection* 14; 100% drafted
- LenDale White RB - Avg. Selection 77; 100% drafted
- Rob Bironas K - Avg. Selection 85; 100% drafted
- Tenn. Team DEF - Avg. Selection 78; 100% drafted
- Nate Washington WR - Avg. Selection 128; 30% drafted
*-100th selection = 10th pick round 10 (10 man); 6th pick round 9 (12 man); 3rd pick round 8 (14 man)
After the jump, I take a look at the 2-headed monster at RB, and value the Titans D minus Angry Albert...
The Titans of the South
Johnson's rookie season was very impressive in 2008; he totalled just under 1500 yards and scored 10 TDs. Most impressive of this, Johnson only carried the ball 20+ times once in 2008. The East Carolina product also snatched at least 2 receptions in every game he started; as an all-purpose back, Johnson certainly has potential. The big question for Johnson, is can he improve upon his 11th finish amongst RBs in fantasy scoring? The Titans like to run Chris Johnson, but in order to improve his 2008 totals, he'll need more looks. It would be a bonus if Johnson can improve upon his 4 100-yard games, but nearly reproducing 2008 will suffice. If you're looking for a solid fantasy RB, Johnson can be had around pick 14. His weekly stats don't necessarily "wow" anyone, but the consistency is welcome (12 games with 60 or more rushing yards in 15 games). Fantasy Forecast: 1450 total yards, 9 Total TDs
White is probably the most frustrating player in fantasy football. In 2008, he totalled 15 TDs and 773 rushing yards (pretty good, right?). The problem with White, like Johnson, is the committee in Tennessee. White had just 20+ carries twice in 2008; the Titans distributed carries very evenly with 251 to Johnson and 200 to White. From a fantasy standpoint, White was a roller-coaster in 2008. He had just 2 100-yard games, and 4 total games with 70+ yards rushing (counting the 2 100-yard games). White also had four multi-TD contests; of those contests, 2 he finished with less than 50 yards rushing. In other words, banking on White to be a week-to-week fantasy starter is risky. However, drafting him, and starting him at the opportune time can pay off big. Fantasy Forecast: 700 total yards, 13 Total TDs
The hot-shot kicker for the Titans finished 4th in fantasy scoring in 2008 and 2nd in 2007, amongst kickers. Bironas drilled home 29 FGM in 2008, and 35 in 2007. A great stat to keep in mind: Bironas was 16-20 last year beyond 40+ yards; that can mean a lot of fantasy points in leagues that award 4 pts for 40+ yard FGs. One negative about Bironas is that in 2008, he had three games with 0 FGM. With an ADP of 85, again, its a matter of philosophy when you want to draft a kicker. Bironas should provide plenty of fantasy FGs in 2009. Fantasy Forecast: 31 FGM, 38 XPM
Tennessee Team DEF
The Titans finsihed 4th in fantasy scoring amongst Team DEF in 2008, and 9th in 2007. This season, the team is minus Albert Haynesworth (lured to Washington with a Brinks truck), but don't rule them out in 2009. The unit should still provide plenty of scoring for your roster. However, I do not recommend picking the unit in the 70s. In the first six weeks of the season, the Titans play 4 road contests with two coming in Pittsburgh and New England. The second portion of the season promises to better for the team's D, they play all games vs. the NFC West after week 8. Fantasy Forecast: 40 Sacks; 22 INTs; 10 FR; 3 TDs, 1 Blk Kick.
Music City Miracle?
The Titans went out in the offseason and signed former Pittsburgh receiver Nate Washington. The move, while quiet, can certainly be signficant. Justin Gage led the Titans in receiving yards and TDs in 2008. Justin Gage has the size to be the team's possession receiver (at 6'4, 210), and I envision Washington being the big play guy in 2009. Of the two, I definitely like Washington's potential more; he had 20 less receiving yards as PIttsburgh's third WR than Gage did as Tennessee's number 1. Washington was only selected 9 times in the 30 mock drafts, so consider him a hidden gem. Fantasy Forecast: 800 total yards, 6 total TDs
Ask the Nation
If the moon were made of BBQ spare ribs, would you eat it? The answer is no, LenDale White would beat you to it.
(all fantasy stats are based on 2007-2008 Yahoo! Standard Public league scoring)