Thursday, August 4, 2011

AFC South Fantasy Preview

AFC South Fantasy Preview

Football is back!!! After 120+ days of hearing nothing but talk and whining from lawyers and players alike, as I write this article we are 8 days away from the first pre-season game. For this article I am going to concentrate on the fantasy status of the AFC South. I am going to break it down by position, ranking the team’s stars against each other and against the NFL (my NFL positional rank will be in brackets after the names).

Quarterbacks The meat and potatoes, bread and butter, insert over said saying here. You don’t win the Super Bowl without a good quarterback (someone please tell Rex Ryan this, he thinks the Baltimore Ravens are the norm, not the exception when Trent Dilfer led the way). The same can be said for Fantasy league championships.

Peyton Manning – IND [4] – I don’t think he needs much explanation. 4000+ Passing yards in 11 out of the last 12 seasons and never fewer than 26 TDs in any season as a pro. He is a top 5 QB and should probably be drafted between the 2nd and 3rd round depending on the league.

Matt Schaub – HOU [8] – Matt Schaub falls into the young gun category. A Full time starter for the last 2 seasons, he has put up 90+ QB rating with 350+ completions, 4000+ yards and a 2:1 TD to INT ratio. His main problem is he gets hit and sacked A LOT behind a porous offensive line. Don’t let that fact discourage you because as long as he has Andre Johnson catching balls and Arian Foster running the rock, he can be a top 10 fantasy QB for years to come.

David Garrard – JAX [18] – Garrard is an average NFL starter with below average wide receivers around him. If he didn’t realize he was on the hot seat, Jacksonville made it clear with their drafting of Blaine Gabbert this past April. Garrard hasn’t been horrible (no matter what Jacksonville fans will say) and still has the mobility to scramble out of some danger (200+ rushes for 900+ yards and 10 TDs over the past 3 seasons), but the writing is on the wall. This is the year he has to pull it all together and play like he did in 2007/08 or he’ll be in the market for a change of address before next season.

Matt Hasselbeck – TEN [27] – Brought in as a temporary fill because of the hold out delaying the premiere of the next hot thing at QB for the Titans, rookie Jake Locker. Matt’s best years are behind him and he should be considered nothing more than a bye week fill in or an injury replacement assuming all other options have been explored. If your team comes down to starting Hasselbeck, you should start planning for 2012 baseball season.

The Rookies : This division sports two highly touted rookie quaterbacks, however with the Titans going out after Hasselbeck, it doesn’t appear that either Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker will be starting day 1 for their teams. That makes them nothing more than a handcuff if you have Garrard or Hasselbeck in re-draft leagues, however in Dynasty leagues, both should creep into your late 1st round or 2nd round draft selections after the RBs and top WRs are off the board.

Running backs 3 of the top 10 RBs in the NFL are in this division so when it comes to grabbing your Top RB, looking at the AFC South isn’t a bad place to start.

Chris Johnson – TEN [2] – This probably goes against a lot of other articles you’ve read that have Arian Foster over C.J., but to me, Foster has 1 season under his belt where C.J. has 3 years of 1200 yards and double digit total TDs in each. My gut tells me you go with the guy with the history, not the possible 1 year wonder. Add that to the fact that Foster has a better QB, CJ is the better option as his team will depend on the running game more often.

Arian Foster – HOU [3]- Coming off a record type of fantasy season that anyone who was lucky enough to grab him in the mid to late rounds probably ended up at least in the playoffs for their league and if the championship was week 17 (180 yards and 2 TDs) they probably fared well. However, it’s a very small sample size and that is what worries me. While Foster has the hands to take advantage of Houston’s prolific passing game, having that kind of passing game can sometimes hinder a strong running game. Plain and simple, if you have a top three pick, you can’t go wrong with Foster if he is there for you.

Maurice Jones-Drew – JAX [8] – If the Jaguars are going to turn the corner, they need a strong performance from MoJo D. He needs to have another 1300 yard season along with 50-60 receptions. If he puts up those numbers, not only will he have Jacksonville looking at a possible playoff birth but hopefully he can help his fantasy owner who probably draft mid to late in the first round to a fantasy playoff birth as well.

Joseph Addai – IND [33] – The Colts don’t lean on their running game like the other three teams in their division, they depend on Manning. There is a reason it took them a while to re-sign Addai. He is often injured and while he is a dependable blocker in the passing game, that is the main reason he was re-signed. He might work as a flex RB or maybe an RB2/3 in REALLY deep leagues and you hope he puts together a season like 2009, but chances are the other backs in Indy make it tough for him to be the bell cow.

The Rookies : Indy has the top rookie RB in the division with Delone Carter out of Syracuse. He’s a strong back who was very dependable in college and the Colts hope he can be a successful backup to Addai this season and even push the envelope for playing time.

Wide Receivers - As there are a lot more of these than QBs or RBs, I am going to lay them out and rank them but only make comments on a few sleepers or ones I am particularly high on.

Andre Johnson [1] – Best WR in the fantasy game

Reggie Wayne [5] – Still Manning’s favorite target

Kenny Britt [24] – Talented and young – could build something with Locker in the future

Austin Collie [25] – Concussions aren’t an admirable trait for a young WR

Mike Thomas [27] – Young WR has a good relationship with Garrard – M.S.W. out of the picture leads to increased # of targets

Pierre Garcon [31] – Yep, three of Manning’s boys in the top 40 WRs.

SLEEPER ALERT :Jason Hill [44] – Is he the #1 or #2 in Jax? No one really knows, but he’ll get a lot of love from D.G. and I have him ranked a good round to 2 rounds ahead of most people

Kevin Walter [72] – 50 catches and 600 yards are decent numbers for a #2 on a team with a prolific pass catching RB

Nate Washington [74] – He is the #2 target for whoever takes snaps and that is frightening.


Cecil Shorts – Deep league sleeper but this quick kid from Mount Union will play himself into the slot WR role with the Jags

Tight Ends

Dallas Clark [3] – Always going to be the #2 guy in Indy with Wayne there, but that isn’t a bad thing

Owen Daniels [5] – When healthy, easily a top 5 talent at TE, problem is he hasn’t been healthy in 2 years

Marcedes Lewis [12] – Last year’s TD numbers were a fluke, the increased targets and yards we not.

Jared Cook [14] – This could be the breakout year with Scaife finally leaving town. Cook is the top dawg at TE and Hasselbeck loves his TEs

Keep your eyes on : Zach Miller (Jax) – Former QB from Neb-Om has had a couple games where he had flashes of brilliance. He might be a year away from really breaking out, but keep you eyes on #86

Stay tuned for my NFC North fantasy picks later this preseason.

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