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Sophomore Slump?

Nobody at this point can argue Vince Young’s talent. Heisman candidate at




. Nearly willed the

Titans into the AFC Playoffs last season, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in the process. Even played in the Pro Bowl as an alternate, replacing Phillip Rivers. Vince passed for 2066 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 528 yards and 7 touchdowns, in the 13 games he started for


. His 67.5 passer rating and 6.2 yards/attempt over that span ranked pretty low among NFL starters. Passing for more interceptions than touchdowns wasn’t particularly impressive, either. But even the most accurate of NFL rookie quarterbacks don’t usually put up passing numbers much better than Young’s in 2006. Nor was there a bevy of Pro Bowl caliber receivers around him



Obviously the rushing numbers one can expect from a quarterback like Vince Young make even average-to-decent passers a good option when it comes to fantasy football. He finished 2006 as around the 12th or 13th best quarterback in many fantasy leagues. Now one might logically figure Vince Young’s numbers will only get better, right? Maybe. (I can see this guy becoming the kind of fantasy weapon that owners enjoyed in Daunte Culpepper’s best couple of seasons.) But progressing to better than the 12th best fantasy quarterback in 2007? I just don’t see Vince Young becoming the sort of quarterback you want to depend on as the starter for your fantasy team … yet.


I grant you that Vince Young may simply take over some games this Fall, rip off 20+ fantasy points for owners brave enough to thrust him into the lineup on these occasions. But consider that


’s two leading receivers in 2006 (in yards and touchdowns) have left via free agency. Who’s Vince going to throw to? Brandon Jones has developed some rapport with Young and led the team in touchdown catches in 2006, his second year in the league. David Givens returns as the only receiver on


’s roster with legitimate starting experience, but probably won’t be a factor in the

offense until well after the start of the regular season due to injury. The

Titans always have quality tight ends that are relied upon heavily in their passing attack, but Ben Troupe has yet to play up to his potential. (Note: receiving tight end Bo Scaife was thrown to often in 2006 and should be looked at as a sleeper in deep leagues that feature a tight end in the starting lineup.) Newly acquired Justin Gage – while a big target – was unproductive as a reserve wideout in


, and third-year receivers Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams are equally unproven. Relying on Brandon Jones as the go-to receiver, though?


might have helped Vince Young out a great deal more by investing a high draft pick in a great receiver, but chose not to.


Last season, Travis Henry emerged to give the

Titans the sort of power running game needed in order to ease the difficulty of Vince Young coming in as a rookie and trying to make things happen with his arm. Well Travis Henry is long gone. LenDale White is back for a second season, joined by rookie running back Chris Henry (he of the 3.3-yard career rushing average at the




) and possibly Chris Brown. How many of you foresee these guys even in a committee approach rivaling Travis Henry’s 2006 production? How is a weak running game going to aid Vince Young’s development as a passer? In the case of a team like the Atlanta Falcons who run the ball really well, it’s difficult for a defensive coordinator to

constantly have speedy linebackers shadow the kind of running quarterback Michael Vick is or call a lot of zone schemes to neutralize the pass. It gets better, though. Glancing at


’s slate of games this season, there’s a rough road ahead (games versus teams who have proven to be challenging to throw against): the Colts and Jaguars (twice apiece), the Raiders, the Panthers. Good luck!


Finally, you need to bear in mind that


’s defense was horrific a year ago. I see some talent among the defensive personnel and Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for over a month certainly had a detrimental effect in 2006, but it’s going to be crucial that the

Titans play much better defense if Vince Young is to have more opportunities to play within Norm Chow’s scheme rather than in desperation. If Vince is having to play the role of SuperMan for the Titans in the second half of a lot of games (and with the aforementioned factors working against him), will that help or hurt his fantasy numbers? In the leagues I’m in, interceptions carry a negative value. Nor does the prospect of

Tennessee losing often seem to bode well for Young’s self-confidence, which is everything for an NFL quarterback. I mean Vince Young is definitely worth early-round consideration in keeper leagues, where his immediate situation is less a factor than his long-term promise. But in re-draft and even leagues where you only keep a player or two, my advice is that you assume Vince Young’s 2007 fantasy production winds up about equal to or a little worse what we saw last season. (Just a hunch.)

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