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State of the Team by Fantasy Position - AFC South
David Dorey
July 13, 2007

This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2007.

Houston Texans
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 72 303 0 469 287 61% 3555 12.4 16 14 16 26
2005 58 306 1 448 270 60% 2661 9.9 15 13 30 29
2006 58 198 2 481 329 68% 3030 9.2 14 13 26 28


Quarterback
- Ends up that it doesn't matter which head coach and offensive system is used, David Carr is just David Carr. For the five years that Carr led the franchise, he never had more than 16 passing touchdowns in any season and only once had more than 2800 passing yards. HC Gary Kubiak opted to keep him last year with a pricey extension but when the exact same sort of season transpired, the Texans are finally going to have a new franchise quarterback besides Carr. Matt Schaub has been a hot property in the NFL for teams looking for a new quarterback despite only having very limited game experience. Houston even tied for 24th in the league in sacks allowed last year which was actually a big upgrade over what normally happened so Schaub should be stepping into a team with an improving line though how much was to blame on the line and how much to blame Carr remains to be seen. Schaub has a top wideout in Andre Johnson but doesn't have much else to work with in the passing game. He's definitely one to watch because Houston has never had any quarterback other than Carr in the past. This is a whole new era.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 396 1527 3.9 16 110 86 78% 724 3 20 16 6
2005 366 1485 4.1 8 91 72 79% 607 5 18 21 23
2006 362 1439 4 11 114 91 80% 574 1 26 21 15


Running Backs
- For some reason, new head coach Gary Kubiak thought he could go into his first year with nobody running backs of Wali Lundy, Ron Dayne and Samkon Gado. They ended up with one of the worst rushing attacks in the league and one that constantly changed primary runners. Dayne's week 16 game of 153 rushing yards and two scores saved the team from falling even farther in the rankings and that required the Colts to visit when they could stop no runner. All running backs return this year but are joined by the prized free agent acquisition of Ahman Green because Kubiak believes that an oft-injured, 30-year old back can upgrade this rushing attack. And he is probably right, but mostly considering what Green will be compared against. Green is worth watching in training camp since he is learning a new system on a new team and will be the starter. What is most interesting is how much Green might be used as a receiver though Kubiak has not been all that big on throwing to backs in the past. Then again, in Denver he had ones that ran well enough that the need was much less.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 44 21 48% 230 11 1 31 32        
2005 43 28 65% 216 7.7 0 29 30        
2006 88 56 64% 537 9.6 7 18 9        


Tight Ends
- The Texans had one of the most productive tight ends in the league last year - for the first half of the season. Owen Daniels was only a rookie but by week eight, he had scored five times already and even had a 99 yard game in Tennessee. But he never scored again and ended the year much like a Houston tight end always has. There's nothing really to observe here unless Matt Schaub rekindles his Atlanta days and pretends Daniels is his new Alge Crumpler. What happened last year is not unusual - a new offensive system is installed and the quarterback leans more heavily on the closest receiver - the tight end. And then when the offense starts to take shape, the tight end use decreases markedly. Daniels only had 167 yards on 16 catches over the final half of the season. This position would be interesting to track only if Schaub comes out in preseason games and zeroes in on Daniels but it would be a surprise.

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 301 176 58% 2588 14.7 12 12 20        
2005 298 170 57% 1838 10.8 10 27 23        
2006 273 182 67% 1918 10.5 6 20 31        


Wide Receivers
- The Texans were never worst at scoring with their wide receivers than they were last year - one very big reason why David Carr is now a Panther. The addition of Eric Moulds meant nothing to the offense since he only managed to gain 557 yards on 57 catches and scored only once. Andre Johnson started out the year with a bang too. He had four games over 100 yards in his first six efforts and scored four times but then tailed off significantly once defenses realized that he was the only wideout of any significance for the Texans. Same thing appears likely this year. Johnson led the NFL with 103 catches in 2006 and that was with a two catch game ending the season. 2007 has Moulds gone but not replaced by any similar veteran. The Texans drafted Jacoby Jones with the 3.09 pick and they did bring in Andre Davis who really doesn't count anymore. This situation is worth tracking because Schaub brings a new variable to the equation and the #2 spot could end up productive at least potentially. Kevin Walter appears most likely to be the #2 but that's hardly a cement grip on the job since his four seasons in the league have only produced a total of 53 catches for 409 yards and he still has never caught an actual touchdown yet. It's a stretch to expect fantasy relevant numbers from the #2 wideout in Houston, but it's not impossible either.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The second season of Kubiak means it should all start working to plan but there's too many new players to assume it all runs well early in the season. With Matt Schaub behind center and Ahman Green in the backfield, this will be a very different offense than in 2006 plus the possibility that a #2 wideout emerges. This could be one of the most changed teams in the league and it's not even a different system from last year. The passing game, the rushing game - everything on the offense needs attention in training camp. While it could obviously all prove a disappointment (again), there could be some opportunities and surprises here. The only similarity to last year is Andre Johnson who led the league in catches because there weren't any other receivers who stepped up. This year there could be - and a new quarterback makes it all even more unknown and rife with upside and risk.

Camp starts July 26th; Preseason Games: 1-CHI, 2-@ARI, 3-DAL, 4-@TB

 

Indianapolis Colts
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 33 33 0 526 353 67% 4732 13.4 51 10 1 1
2005 45 46 0 515 348 68% 4191 12 31 11 4 2
2006 23 36 4 557 362 65% 4397 12.1 31 9 2 1


Quarterback
- The top quarterback from 2006, and realistically from the last five years, returns and there is nothing to track here other than making sure that Manning doesn't ride a motorcycle without a helmet. The defense appears worse than last year and the running game overall may not be as good without Dominic Rhodes. It just means that the best quarterback from 2006 may be even better in 2007.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 392 1821 4.6 10 73 60 82% 543 3 9 11 16
2005 420 1657 3.9 18 72 61 85% 463 1 15 17 5
2006 416 1726 4.1 13 97 76 78% 576 1 13 16 14


Running Backs
- With Dominic Rhodes gone, the starting role safely belongs to Joseph Addai who played well as the season progressed last year. And the Colts have not re-signed James Mungro as of this writing. That means currently that the Colts have only Addai, DeDe Dorsey whose two years in the league has resulted in not a single carry, and a slew of no name undrafted free agents brought into camp. Addai may have shared with Rhodes last year, but all signs are that Addai will be quite alone this year. He could reprise the old Edgerrin James model where he gets 99% of all running back touches for the team. Training camp should help uncover if there will be any other running back besides Addai that will even play and who is back-up will be. Dorsey has two years in the league so he is more "veteran", but currently none of the Colts' running backs outside of Addai have so much as one carry in the NFL.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 90 58 64% 765 13.2 11 10 2        
2005 93 60 65% 757 12.6 9 11 2        
2006 133 85 64% 946 11.1 6 6 12        


Tight Ends
- The Colts went to a two tight end formation last year and that was mainly to serve as blockers. They ranked well enough in total yardage but that was spread out over Dallas Clark (30-367), Bryan Fletcher (18-202) and Ben Utecht (37-377). Clark had the lion's share of touchdowns but that only meant he scored four times. While the team did add Anthony Gonzalez to groom for a slot role which would limit the two tight end sets, the Colts did just win a super bowl so any changes here will be minimal. At most, Clark has an incremental increase since he missed four games last year.

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 379 235 62% 3424 14.6 37 2 1        
2005 352 227 64% 2971 13.1 21 4 2        
2006 325 200 62% 2873 14.4 23 6 2        


Wide Receivers
- While the Colts "only" ranked 6th in wide receiver yardage last year, those statistics came almost entirely from Marvin Harrison (95-1366) and Reggie Wayne (86-1310). The interesting watch for training camp will be how well the rookie Anthony Gonzalez is coming along and if he will be a part of the passing scheme this year. The Colts drafted him with their 1.32 draft pick and there's every intention of Gonzalez stepping up into a starting role but with Harrison and Wayne there, the best that will likely happen is Gonzalez shows up for a few games and then has no fantasy value in most. But on one of the top passing teams that once made the slot count for 1077 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2004 with Brandon Stokley, Gonzalez naturally and rightfully deserves attention in training camp.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The two notable changes here are the apparent lack of any credible back-up for Joseph Addai and the development of rookie wideout Anthony Gonzalez. DeDe Dorsey seems likely to get the job unless Mungro returns, but it may mean nothing if the Colts ignore the RBBC of last year and revert to the every down style they had for so long with Edgerrin James. Gonzalez is the most interesting one here for this year and especially for a long-term dynasty league since Marvin Harrison is already 35 years old and can only defy aging for so long (cue the Jerry Rice montage).

Camp starts July 29th; Preseason Games: 1-@DAL, 2-CHI, 3-DET, 4-@CIN

 

Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 51 224 3 513 305 59% 3315 10.9 17 11 21 24
2005 65 240 5 484 281 58% 3340 11.9 21 6 21 15
2006 74 317 4 447 267 60% 3059 11.5 17 14 24 24


Quarterback
- The Jaguars spent their first round pick on Byron Leftwich in 2003 and now after four seasons are still waiting to see what Leftwich can do if only he could last an entire season without getting injured. Last year was the worst for Leftwich who missed ten games with an ankle injury so bad it required surgery. This is Leftwich's make or break year because if he fails - at all - the Jaguars will undoubtedly dump him and look elsewhere for a starter. There's nothing to track in training camp about this other than ensuring that he makes it out of August still healthy.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 393 1624 4.1 6 121 80 66% 577 2 17 18 31
2005 423 1665 3.9 13 86 63 73% 431 0 14 20 12
2006 424 2206 5.2 19 106 75 71% 713 3 2 3 3


Running Backs
- This was one of the league's best rushing attacks last year and the #1 unit over the last half of the season. Fred Taylor remained largely healthy all year (he was bothered by a hamstring strain later in the year) and Maurice Jones-Drew turned in shockingly great numbers - he scored 15 touchdowns to rank 6th best among all running backs. Add in Fred Taylor's six scored and only Tomlinson was better than the 21 touchdowns produced by Jones-Drew and Taylor. This year has Greg Jones returning from an ACL tear late last August which robbed him of a season where he was expected to be the goal line guy (and which was amply replaced by Jones-Drew). Taylor signed a three-year extension and will once again share with Jones-Drew but Greg Jones could potentially serve to lower numbers for the other two if he is used. Hard to imagine that the Jaguars would want to limit a guy that scored 15 times last year though. Training camp will at least show if Jones is healthy and could give some clues as to whether he will have any role this year or if Jones-Drew pulled the Wally Pipp on him.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 79 44 56% 416 9.5 3 25 27        
2005 59 34 58% 326 9.6 3 26 19        
2006 93 57 61% 516 9.1 4 21 19        


Tight Ends
- The Jaguars drafted Marcedes Lewis with their first round pick last year but that only ended up worth 13 catches for 126 yards in a season where he only played for nine games. George Wrighster served as the primary tight end but only had 353 yards and three scores. The Jaguars did bring in the aging Jermaine Wiggins but this offense has never used tight ends much and since the rushing game seems capable of scoring touchdowns near the goal line, the role as an end zone receiver barely exists here either. The only notable for August here is if Lewis can step up but even if he does - what does that mean really in this offense?

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 321 180 56% 2329 12.9 12 18 22        
2005 343 185 54% 2596 14 18 8 7        
2006 250 135 54% 1830 13.6 10 24 22        


Wide Receivers
- There's no change here other than the addition of diminutive Dennis Northcutt who will serve as a slot receiver at best. The surprise retirement of Jimmy Smith last summer was never really compensated for and the Jaguars are sticking with the same slate of Matt Jones ( 41-643) and Reggie Williams (53-615). Jones enters his third season and could be due a breakout but that requires Leftwich to remain healthy all year. If news comes out of camp that either Jones or Williams are looking particularly sharp in camp, either could have a breakout season with a quarterback that really needs to shine this year. Then again, with such a powerful rushing game there may not be a huge need to pass this year anyway.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Most interesting will be if either Jones or Williams look like they are about to take the final step up into being a replacement for Jimmy Smith. Marginal attention should be paid to Greg Jones health and status this year since he could reduce Taylor and Jones-Drew production if he gets any playing time at all. Lastly, Lewis enters his second season and he is a highly drafted tight end but this offense has never much used the position in the passing game anyway.

Camp starts July 27th; Preseason Games: 1-@MIA, 2-TB, 3-@GB, 4-WAS

 

Tennessee Titans
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 34 178 2 584 353 60% 3896 11 26 19 9 10
2005 40 181 1 591 357 60% 3771 10.6 20 14 10 17
2006 82 553 7 446 226 51% 2748 12.2 13 19 31 30


Quarterback
- Vince Young was the 1.03 pick of the 2007 NFL draft and then won Offensive Rookie of the Year. No question here who the starter will be this year. But Young's success came mostly with his running and eight rushing touchdowns because the passing attack was easily one of the worst last year in virtually every category. And this season the Titans are going without Drew Bennett or Bobby Wade. That leaves Young to use training camp to get on the same page with Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, Justin Gage and the rookie Paul Williams. David Givens is not expected to be healthy by training camp, so Young likely has the worst starting cast of wideouts in the NFL - and certainly the least experienced. Young will be game planned by every defense to stop his rushing so Young must step up on his passing numbers - if only the Titans would actually give him some help in that area.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 381 1678 4.4 10 106 72 68% 540 2 15 17 17
2005 351 1323 3.8 7 85 57 67% 557 3 26 27 27
2006 379 1632 4.3 7 74 49 66% 280 0 20 26 27


Running Backs
- Travis Henry was a nice surprise last year but even with him, the Titans had one of the worst ten rushing attacks in the NFL. They enter this year trying to decide who the starter will be. LenDale "Pudge" White should be since he was drafted last year but he showed very little in 2006. The Titans used their second round pick to take Chris Henry who will definitely be in the running though his selection was a surprise since he did very little in college to warrant such a high draft pick. The Titans evidently became aware of their less than sparkling backfield and re-signed Chris Brown. Training camp will be critical here to see which runner will be the starter but just because one person will take a primary role in week one doesn't mean they will hold it all year. This backfield smacks of never-ending change this year but training camp could make the depth chart clearer.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 124 83 67% 649 7.8 6 15 15        
2005 215 149 69% 1359 9.1 8 1 4        
2006 103 51 50% 602 11.8 4 15 18        


Tight Ends
- With less than stellar wideouts, Vince Young opted to use his tight ends last year and while they did not rank more than average against all other teams, they rated much higher on a team that didn't throw much to any player last year. Ben Troupe's climb up the ladder was derailed when he only played in ten games and had just 13 catches for 150 yards before fracturing his ankle and missing the rest of the season. Fellow UT-alum Bo Scaife meshed the best with Young when he had 29 catches for 370 yards and two scores. With the questions regarding the wideouts this year, the tight ends could end up being even more important in 2007. Troupe is expected to return this year and could play a bigger role since he was the starter entering 2006. Young will need all the help he can get and both Scaife and Troupe will likely need to contribute.

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 351 200 57% 2744 13.7 19 7 6        
2005 283 150 53% 1862 12.4 9 26 26        
2006 265 123 46% 1835 14.9 9 23 25        


Wide Receivers
- This is a mess but it merits attention during training camp because two clear starters will be playing this year. The Titans allowed both Bennett and Wade to leave in the offseason and with them went the two most productive wideouts the Titans had last year. Now Young has to figure out which of the remaining players will fill the starting roles. Brandon Jones is a lock to start since he is the only wideout here with more than 125 yards last year (Jones gained 384 yards and scored a team high four receiving touchdowns last year) but after him, the opportunity is there for someone to step up. David Givens is still recuperating from a torn ACL last year and isn't expected to be ready in time for camp. That leaves a rather inexperienced crew left to take the #2 and #3 roles. Justin Gage has the most experience but perhaps the least upside since he has never proven to be worthy of much playing time. Roydell Williams seems much more like an occasional slot guy and Paul Williams is just a rookie taken with the 3.17 pick of the draft after 15 other wideouts had been taken. Someone will emerge because someone has to line up every play. It's worth watching but limit expectations.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Outside of Vince Young, this team desperately needs training camp to determine what their depth chart will look like for running back, tight end and wide receiver. Obviously the winner of the tailback race has fantasy value even if none of the three guys foster much excitement. Troupe will return and battle Scaife and the wide receivers may end up a pre-game coin flip outside of Brandon Jones. Preseason games will matter more for the Titans than perhaps any other team.

Camp starts July 27th; Preseason Games: 1-WAS, 2-@NE, 3-@BUF, 4-GB

Related Articles

State of the AFC East
State of the AFC North
State of the AFC South
State of the AFC West
State of the NFC East
State of the NFC North
State of the NFC South
State of the NFC West
a d v e r t i s e m e n t