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State of the Team by Fantasy Position - AFC South
David Dorey
July 23, 2008
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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.
Team Menu
ARI ATL BAL BUF CAR CHI
CIN CLE DAL DEN DET GBP
HOU IND JAC KCC MIA MIN
NEP NOS NYG NYJ OAK PHI
PIT SDC SEA SFO STL TBB
TEN WAS        

Houston Texans
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 38 103 1 529 346 65% 3925 11.3 24 21 11 13

Quarterback - The passing game in Houston came together for franchise marks but it happened with a split between Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels. Both quarterbacks meshed with the new offense and this year new OC Kyle Shanahan will be running the same scheme anyway. What has to happen is Schaub has to remain healthy this season and not give Rosenfels any more chances to play. The coaching staff have no qualms about turning to Rosenfels after he won four of his five starts last year. Schaub was plenty effective when healthy in 2007, he just has to string together 16 games without heading to the sideline. This area is a team strength.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 372 1493 4.0 10 105 81 77% 486 2 23 26 18

Running Backs - No matter how you spin it, this is not a team strength. The Texans opted to get a veteran running back last year and paid the big bucks for a 30-year old Ahman Green. He last for only six games before being injured as he has done every season for years. Green returns as a healthy 31-year old running back who will try to prove that he did not hit the wall on durability long before the Texans picked him up. To hedge their bets, the Texans got another veteran running back in Chris Brown who may have an even lengthier injury history than Green has (and in half the time no less). Chris Taylor missed most of last year with a knee injury and will be in the mix. They also drafted the small and fast Steve Slaton who will mix in as a third time back and a receiver out of the backfield. He has speed that no other back has.

As with any Kubiak backfield, training camp will largely exist to get you to believe the wrong thing about the running backs. Green won't be pushed because he is too brittle and Brown may not get a ton of playing time as well. It could end up to appear that Slaton is the main contributor in preseason games but that won't happen in the regular season unless or until the other backs are injured. Like last year.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 298 170 57% 1838 10.8 10 27 23
2006 273 182 67% 1918 10.5 6 20 31
2007 297 186 63% 2529 13.6 16 11 13

Wide Receivers - The wide receivers really stepped up last year and that was with Andre Johnson missing half the season. Kevin Walter returns as the #2 and his 800 yards on 65 catches with four scores were solid. The biggest find from last year was Andre Davis who had 583 yards and three scores largely replacing Johnson but still had some nice catches from the slot later in the year. The trio are as strong a group as the Texans have ever had and if Johnson can remain healthy - and there is no reason to expect otherwise - then this group is not only strong but plays well with or without Matt Schaub or Johnson. Training camp can help Jacoby Jones get more chances to show the coaches that he is worthy of playing time but he'll be hard pressed to get ahead of the three starters. The change to Schaub (and Rosenfels) had a dramatic effect on this group. Then again, maybe all that was needed was the absence of David Carr.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 43 28 65% 216 7.7 0 29 30
2006 88 56 64% 537 9.6 7 18 9
2007 111 73 66% 862 11.8 6 9 13

Tight Ends
- Like the wideouts, the switch away from Carr left the tight ends with franchise best numbers in yardage. Owen Daniels had virtually all his best games with Schaub last year but they also happened while Andre Johnson was out. No changes here and reasons to believe that Daniels has already hit his ceiling barring injuries to the wideouts.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Really the only notable change that can come out of training camp is a better picture of how the running backs will be used. Sadly, about the only real clarity is if a few of them are injured and force the Texans to only rely on one or two guys. Expect to see Chris Brown some in preseason games but mostly Slaton and Taylor will get the dangerous work. Ahman Green would do well to remain healthy by watching practice from a second-story window.

Indianapolis Colts
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 26 -9 3 551 355 64% 4172 11.8 32 14 8 5

Quarterback - The interesting fact about Peyton Manning this season is that he had almost the exact same season as he did in 2006 but instead of ranking #2 in yards and #1 in touchdowns, he was only 8th and 5th respectively. No change in Manning, just magic good years by several other quarterbacks. Manning remains the premier quarterback in the league.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 447 1746 3.9 17 94 62 66% 500 5 9 14 2

Running Backs - Joseph Addai turned into a scoring machine last year. But while Dominic Rhodes was gone in 2007, Addai still shared the ball and Kenton Keith ended up with 121 carries for 533 yards and three scores. That wasn't nearly as obtrusive as Rhodes who carried 233 times for 641 yards and five scores during Addai's rookie season. But now both Rhodes and Keith are on the team. Training camp should help determine the pecking order behind Addai and Keith may be released after falling from grace thanks to an arrest record. The Colts also drafted Mike Hart who could do himself some favors in preseason games with a nice showing. Otherwise it will all but certainly be Rhodes job again this year though with less work than in 2006.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 352 227 64% 2971 13.1 21 4 2
2006 325 200 62% 2873 14.4 23 6 2
2007 299 188 63% 2564 13.6 15 9 14

Wide Receivers - The loss of Marvin Harrison didn't really have a major effect overall on this unit other than the touchdowns scored dropped dramatically in a season where most teams had much bigger production. Reggie Wayne stepped up in a big way and set personal bests in receptions (104) and yardage (1510). Anthony Gonzalez managed 576 yards on 37 catches with three scores while missing three full games as well. Harrison has been cleared to return to practice and is expected to be in training camp but after undergoing offseason knee-surgery and only playing in three healthy games last year, expect the Colts to take it easy with Harrison. It would be great to see him healthy and making plays in preseason games, but that is unlikely to happen. Gonzalez will move back to the slot for now at least.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 93 60 65% 757 12.6 9 11 2
2006 133 85 64% 946 11.1 6 6 12
2007 164 107 65% 1123 10.5 12 4 1

Tight Ends
- Dallas Clark led all NFL tight ends last year when he scored 11 touchdowns. It was a career year for him with 58 catches for 616 yards but the oddity was that he had seven games with less than 25 yards. He either had a great game or a very low point game. Clark remains a big part of the offense but the return of Harrison - potentially anyway - and even Rhodes could work against Clark repeating 2007.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - There isn't a lot that is going to come out of training camp that would change fantasy wisdom about players other than the health of Harrison (as best that can be determined) and if Keith gets released or otherwise clears the path for Rhodes to be the primary back-up. Pretty standard camp for the Colts other than the Harrison watch.

Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 68 242 1 469 288 61% 3495 12.1 28 8 20 10

Quarterback - David Garrard gets to knowingly go through his first training camp as the starter and while the decision to dump Leftwich may have seemed hasty last year, it certainly looks like the right decision was made. Completions, pass yards and touchdowns all were up. Garrard needs to work with new receivers Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson but Porter will miss camp with a partially torn hamstring and there is no guarantee that Williamson has learned to catch yet. Garrard has a chance for an even better second year as a starter though it may take a few weeks in to take shape. More than anything, he just needs to remain healthy this year since that was the biggest knock against the departed Byron Leftwich.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 445 2116 4.8 17 89 61 69% 568 2 2 3 4

Running Backs - Since the Jaguars spent their 2.28 pick in 2006 on Maurice Jones-Drew, the offense has never been the same - in a very good way. For the last two seasons, Fred Taylor has been extending his career and remaining fresh late in the season and the Jaguars have ranked #3 in running back rushing yards and no worse than #4 in rushing touchdowns from the unit. This is one of the most formidable rushing attacks in the NFL and training camp is just there to keep them fresh enough to head into the season already warmed up.

The Jaguars will be determining on the depth chart for tailbacks since LaBrandon Toefield is gone and will see if Montell Owens or the rookie Chauncey Washington will be first in line in case of an injury to one of the starters.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 343 185 54% 2596 14 18 8 7
2006 250 135 54% 1830 13.6 10 24 22
2007 270 155 57% 2191 14.1 22 21 6

Wide Receivers - The switch to David Garrard had two main effects. First he was outstanding at limiting turnovers unlike Leftwich. Secondly, he managed to make the wideouts become a constant source of touchdowns each week. Training camp is worth watching here but the problem is that Jerry Porter was expected to assume the #1 role but is recuperating from a torn hamstring and won't be back until around the start of the season. Losing out on a chance to gain chemistry between Porter and Garrard is very unfortunate. The Jaguars also acquired Troy Williamson from the Vikings in the hopes that he can become a speedy slot receiver and the new surroundings may somehow help him actually catch the ball. Reggie Williams will be the other starter thanks to catching ten touchdowns last year including six of the final seven games.

Legal woes for Matt Jones may sink his already listing career and Dennis Northcutt is always hanging around. Training camp will be useful to get Garrard some work with the crew but the absence of Porter hurts. It would be nice to see Williamson catch a few long passes in preseason games. Be kind of new too.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 59 34 58% 326 9.6 3 26 19
2006 93 57 61% 516 9.1 4 21 19
2007 108 72 67% 736 10.2 4 11 21

Tight Ends
- The Jaguars actually relied on their tight ends more last season but the reality was that it used five different players to generate those apparently average rankings. Marcedes Lewis led all tight ends but still only managed 37 catches for 391 yards and two scores - nothing with much fantasy significance. The presence of new wideouts may bring tight end numbers down even further.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - There isn't a lot to accomplish this year with the offense entering its second season in the current scheme. Jerry Porter should be working with Garrard but will miss camp so outside of Reggie Williams, there will be competition for the #2 in camp which then disappears when the pricey Porter is ready to return. The Jaguars are poised for a very nice year and training camp just needs to warm them up for the season.

Tennessee Titans
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
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
2007 96 392 3 464 288 62% 3077 10.7 9 17 27 32

Quarterback - Vince Young enters his third season but he took a step backwards in 2007 when he ranked only 27th in passing yards and then the Titans ended up dead last in passing touchdowns. Even the rushing totals fell from seven to only three last year. Of course that drop is typical for rushing quarterbacks and Young is getting better in the passing game even if the Titans seem hell bent on denying him any talented receivers. Last year was led by Justin Gage who only had 55 catches for 750 yards and two scores. Justin McCareins does return to the Titans and while he has played with returning OC Mike Heimerdinger, he has never played with Vince Young. The Titans did pick up Falcons cast-off Alge Crumpler as well but Young still has a sub-par group to work with. It would be very encouraging if Young can shine in preseason games as a passer. It might be a bit unexpected though.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
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
2007 437 1699 3.9 14 73 54 74% 355 0 10 23 14

Running Backs - This should be an interesting area. The Titans return LenDale White who rushed for 1110 yards and seven scores last year despite playing with a torn meniscus (since fixed). And they also drafted Chris Johnson which should create a tremendous thunder and lightning" duo with White. Johnson is a bit under-sized but a true burner who can run a sub-4.3/40. No doubt that White gets all the goal line and inside work but Johnson can be used anywhere. The Titans will toy around with him being a relief runner, a third down receiver out of the backfield and even potentially splitting him out wide to get a good match-up. If that works it could benefit Vince Young's passing and ratchet the entire offense up a notch. It is definitely worth watching with the caveat that Johnson needs to show up against opponent's first team defenses and not just second half scrubs.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 283 150 53% 1862 12.4 9 26 26
2006 265 123 46% 1835 14.9 9 23 25
2007 322 183 57% 2283 12.5 8 18 25

Wide Receivers - No real change here - it is still a mess. Justin Gage worked his way into being a starter in 2007 and looked great compared to the rest of this crew but in reality only had 55 catches for 750 yards. Justin McCareins returns and will likely become the #2 wideout but there is still Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, Lavelle Hawkins, Mike Williams and a smattering of other wideouts trying to make the team. Roydell is returning from ankle surgery and has already been passed up. The passing numbers are anemic in Tennessee and the touchdowns were the worst in the league last year. This unit either must see Young take a very visible step up and form chemistry with Gage and McCareins or this will just be another year of musical chairs for the Titans wideouts.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 215 149 69% 1359 9.1 8 1 4
2006 103 51 50% 602 11.8 4 15 18
2007 106 63 59% 606 9.6 1 16 30

Tight Ends
- The switch to Vince Young has all but killed the fantasy potential of this unit. The return of OC Mike Heimerdinger could help turn the offense back to using the tight end but all that is left is Bo Scaife who only had 46 catches for 421 yards and one score as the primary tight end last year. Alge Crumpler has been acquired but there are questions about his skills eroding. He only posted 42 catches for 444 yards last year without Vick throwing every pass to him. The biggest factor that Crumpler may have here is ruining whatever fantasy value that Scaife had. Crumpler has a name from the past but no longer is in an offense dedicated to making him the primary receiver. It is worth a watch since Crumpler has lost weight and looks to resume his career.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The passing game of the Titans has been a major disappointment since Vince Young took over and he needs to show that 2007 was just a sophomore slump and not a sign that he'll always struggle to be a true NFL passer. Adding Justin McCareins and Alge Crumpler doesn't hurt but how much it helps remains to be seen and mostly relies on Young.

The Titans camp is definitely worth watching if only to see what Chris "all I see is heels" Johnson can do in the NFL. His speed could be deadly weapon for the Titans if they use him correctly and training camp should indicate how quickly he can become a receiver of any measure in the offense. Check on Johnson's stats from preseason games if nothing else.

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