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AFC South Player Analysis

Houston Texans

 

Pleased with their offensive output of the prior season, the Texans looked to sure up their defense with the annual draft. A smart move with two high-powered offenses in their division. But, will it be enough to stop Manning and McNair?

 

QB:     David Carr is the present and future for the Texans. A couple of injuries hampered his production last year (he missed four games). The offensive line is in its third season together, and looks to be improved with the addition of veteran Tackle Todd Wade. His targets haven’ change much in the off-season, so comfort is a plus here. Look for Carr’s number to increase slightly as a result. A good option for a starting QB as long as he is healthy. He is willing to run, so that should improve his numbers and his chance of another ankle injury.

QB:     Tony Banks is a very capable QB. He’ll get a chance only if Carr goes down. And if Carr does go down, he’ll put up similar numbers.

QB:     The rest of the pack, right now, is Dave Ragone (his second year in the league) and B.J. Symons (his rookie year). Ragone looks to keep his spot, as third on the depth chart, wily Symons will most likely be on the practice squad. Nothing-worthwhile here.

 

RB:          Dominick Davis is in his second year in the league and his second year with the Titans. He is the running game for Houston. A healthy preseason will see Dominick starting for the Texans. Look for Houston to try and increase his touches, especially in the red zone. Last year in 14 games he had 8 TD’s, expect 4 more out of him this year. Not a big pass receiver, he averaged just under 5 catches per game. A solid second back on your squad.

RB:     Tony Hollings most likely will carry the rushing load if Davis goes down. Otherwise don’t expect much from him.

RB:     Rest of the pack will fight for running and receiving scraps. Nothing worth looking at here.

 

WR:    Andre Johnson is the number one target for Carr. Look for a thousand yards out of him this year and six touchdowns.

WR:    Corey Bradford is the number two target. Not much for yardage or receptions, but a valid second touchdown receiver. Last year he tied Johnson for receiving touchdowns, he’ll probably do the same this year.

WR:    Jabar Gaffney seems like a capable receiver. Two TD’s in sixteen games and 32 catches. That’s it.

WR:    Rest of the pack is worth a look for surprises only. While Gaffney and Armstrong had two and one touchdowns respectively, not much was put up for numbers by these veterans. The others struggling for a spot on the final roster are rookies and a handful of scrub veterans.

 

TE:     Billy Miller is good for a couple of catches a game and a surprise TD or three during the year. He had a catch in every game last year, save one. His playing time may be impacted by the addition of Mark Bruener, late of Pittsburgh.

TE:     Mark Bruener didn’t do much last year in Pittsburgh. If he beats out Miller for the starting job, look for about a catch a week from him.

TE:     The rest of the pack are Texan veterans whose combined yardage doesn’t make for a good rushing game, never mind a weekly Fantasy Receiver.

 

K:       Kris Brown is a solid veteran kicker. With the Texans, he is very good inside 50 yards missing five out of thirty-seven FG kicks. He is perfect on XP’s. With an improved offense, look for more chances in his comfort zone (inside 40 yards).

K:       Todd Sievers is a rookie kicker and Brown’s only competition.

 

D/ST:  The draft brought a lot of young prospects to the Texan’s defense. Last year they gave up a lot of yards and scores. No special teams TD’s. And one INT returned for a TD. Unless first round picks Dunta Robinson (CB) and Jason Babin (DE) perform as hoped, don’t expect much out of this defense for your fantasy squad.

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Their draft was interesting. Looking to shore up perceived trouble spots, they picked a balance of offense and defense. Their key to the Super bowl this year is an improved defense.

 

QB:     Peyton Manning is a top QB for your fantasy team. He knows the system, he knows the players around him. However, the opponents also know him and the players around him. His Offensive line is gelling. Technically, they have only played one year together, but this veteran pack will step up. He will put up MVP numbers, but will this be the Colt’s year?

QB:     The rest of the QB’s are just that. Cory Sauter has played in one NFL game in five years. Last year’s back up Brock Huard is now with the Seahawks. At least they’ll have a great game-day perspective of the Manning Show.

 

RB:          Edgerrin James is still around. Were the trade rumors just rumors to spark James? I think the only spark needed here is the glow of a ring. James is a great compliment to Manning. Look for his number to be at the usual all pro level.

RB:          Dominic Rhodes is mentioned only to remind people that he is the back up to James.

RB:     The rest of the RB corps contains situational players and blockers for James.

 

WR:    Marvin Harrison a solid first receiver who should lead your WR picks. His numbers will increase, as do Mannings. Look for at least the same as last year.

WR:    Reggie Wayne might surprise us and come close to being a 1000-yard receiver this year. It is possible that both he and Harrison have stellar years.

WR:    Troy Walters would make a decent second or third WR on your fantasy team.

WR:    The rest of the pack is filled with rookies and second year guys trying to get on the team. Only Brandon Stokely is worth a mention here. If one of the big three goes down, his numbers should go up and he’ll be a viable replacement on your squad.

 

TE:     Marcus Pollard is an excellent choice for a fantasy TE. However, his numbers may suffer as Clark enters his second year. They may make a great double threat. If that manifests itself, don’t look for great numbers from either.

TE:     Dallas Clark see above, plus, as the number one pick of the Colts in last years draft, you gotta believe that they’ve pegged him as the TE of the future. Look for his numbers to improve greatly as Pollard’s numbers flatten.

TE:     The Rest haven’t played an NFL down and don’t look to be factors except as blockers.

 

K:       Mike Vanderjagt a top five kicker for your fantasy team.

K:       David Kimball drafted by the colts in the 7th round. He may make the practice squad as an insurance policy.

 

D/ST:  Don’t pass against these guys, just run over them was last year’s mantra. I don’t see how they improved much over last year.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Looking to get into a playoff spot, the Jaguars’ draft brought them some talented skilled people and some defensive help. With a top defense, they need to find the offensive click to propel them past the Titans.

 

QB:     Byron Leftwich looks to continue learning and starting. He is entering his second year as a pro and a starting quarterback. Second year coach Del Rio has hitched his star to this QB. I look for Byron’s numbers to improve slightly as he grows into his leadership role. Good back up QB for your roster.

QB:     David Garrard remaining from last year, he starts the pre-season as the number 2 guy. But the addition of Johnson could change that.

QB:     Doug Johnson comes from the Falcons where he played admirably for an injured Vick. Who knows what will happen if Leftwich goes down.

QB:     With roster spots at a premium, of the other QB’s in camp Quinn Gray will end up on the practice squad.

 

RB:     Fred Taylor has lived up to his potential for the last two years. For the offense to produce at a playoff level, Taylor needs to get the ball into the end zone more. He has good hands and will get a couple of tosses each week. A good RB for a fantasy team.

RB:          LaBrandon Toefield a good back who spells Taylor on the field. If Freddy goes down, Toefield should be able to fill his shoes and keep the production up.

RB:     Greg Jones (R) is another big back. He could be a sleeper pick. He will give Toefield a run for his money as the primary back up to Taylor.

RB:     The Rest of the pack features two fullbacks, Marc Edwards and Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala. Worth a mention because they could be called on to score if Fred doesn’t push it in. But don’t expect anything.

 

WR:    Jimmy Smith a solid choice for the sophomore quarterback. He is in his 12th year and is as steady as ever. Not great numbers last year. If he stays healthy and if he stays in Del Rio’s good graces, he should have a 1000-yard year. However, this team is youth based and he may be limited to role playing and teaching.

WR:    Troy Edwards the second receiver, he had just under 500 yards last year. Not a good fantasy player unless you’re desperate.

WR:    Reggie Williams (R) is the Jaguars first pick in the 2004 draft. He is a big receiver, but is a bit slow. Look for him to play a major role in the offense if he can handle the pressure. He came out of college early, so maturity may be a problem. Sleeper.

WR:    Ernest Wilford (R) a fourth round pick. He may be given more time to find his game than Williams. Don’t look for much from him this year, but he will be a factor for the Jaguars in the future. Deep Sleeper.

WR:    The Rest of the receivers contain capable situation players who may have one good fantasy game in them, but there is nothing there to count on.

 

TE:     Kyle Brady had a down season last year. A full yard below his previous yards-per-catch average. They brought in Todd Yoder to compete(?) for the starting position. Either one should make a good TE on a fantasy team as long as they aren’t sharing the duty.

TE:     The Rest features Todd Yoder, a five-year veteran from Tampa Bay with not much in the way of receptions, but a great special teams presence. Nothing below him.

 

K:       Seth Marler is an o.k. kicker. He’s only shooting 60% in the field goal department, with significant misses inside the 40-yard mark. There are better kickers out there for your team.

K:       Jeff Chandler comes to Jacksonville from the 49ers. He only played two games for them last year, but seems to be better than Marler inside the 40-yard mark. The kick off duties may swing the starters job to Chandler.

K:       Josh Scobee (R) drafted in the 4th round will also vie for the kicking duties.

 

D/ST:          Jacksonville has a solid defense and will continue to have one. Nothing flashy. Low yardage games, not giving up a ton of points. A couple of rookie inside linebackers may help them in the turnover department. Don’t expect a ton of scores from them.

 

 

Tennessee Titans

 

I’m wondering how effective the “Air McNair” show will be without the big running back Eddie George. The Titans spent the draft beefing up their defense (no offensive skills positions were taken until the later rounds). The departure of George will affect everyone’s production and test the offensive line. I doubt if they’ll return to the playoffs this year.

 

QB:     Steve McNair will miss Eddie George. How much depends on his line and the performance of the back up running backs that are forced to fill the void. I look for big things out of Steve, not because he can’t, but because he’ll have to. Two years ago, he had almost 500 attempts and over 300 completions. This year, a healthy McNair will hurl the pigskin close to 550 times. A solid fantasy pick.

QB:     The Rest of the QB’s aren’t an impressive bunch. Volek has spent his entire career watching McNair and I think he’ll be happy to do the same this year. Gesser will hold the clipboard this year. If McNair goes down, so does the Titan stock.

 

RB:     Chris Brown will benefit from George’s departure. Only 56 rushes in 11 games last year, he looks to touch the ball about six times more this year. Can he handle the pressure? He’s build like George, so will he produce like George. A good risk pick for your running backs.

RB:          Antowain Smith also benefited from George’s departure. He brings with him two Super bowl rings and experience. He will be Brown’s mentor. He can shoulder the load if he has to, but, look for him to either share the touches with Brown (making both of them late round picks at best) or to be a situational burst to the offense. The latter is a more likely scenario.

RB:     The Rest of the RB’s and Full backs, with the exception of Holcombe, have little to no NFL experience. The rushing yards will come from Brown, Smith and McNair.

 

WR:    Derrick Mason is McNair’s man on the outside. 1300 yards last year and 8 TD’s. With the departure of George, he should get more catches and probably more yards. If the running game is more than an after thought, he’ll have another stellar year. I look for more than 100 receptions and over 10 TD’s. A top WR pick for your fantasy squad.

WR:    Drew Bennett will increase his production, slightly. 500 yards last year, look for 600 this year.

WR:    The Rest are veterans who will have their catches, none of them eclipsing the big two.

 

TE:     Erron Kinney is the reigning TE on the Titans. His production depends on the development of rookie TE Ben Troupe. Kinney is a good TE pick for your fantasy team. Expect much the same as last year.

TE:     Ben Troupe (R) is a standout Tight End with size and then some. He will compete for the starting job and may win it. If he does, then his number will eclipse Kinney’s. Sleeper.

TE:     The Rest of the pack includes journeymen Frank Wycheck and Shad Meier. With the addition of Troupe, their numbers will go down. Wycheck might not make it to the season opener.

 

K:       Joe Nedney is back! After last year’s torn ACL injury, Joe has had an entire year to rehab and get stronger. I expect big things out of him this year. Very big things.

 

D/ST:  The number one rushing defense from the last year will return with a vengeance. Expect solid numbers each week as they keep the opponents’ yard low. Now if they could only score a bit more on defense, they’d be great.

 

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