Writers sockonfl and Consigliere will provide a division-by-division look at NFL Teams leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft. The articles will focus on teams’ strengths, weaknesses and draft needs. Other articles in this series include: NFC North, AFC East and NFC West — Ed.
A look at the AFC South in preparation for the NFL Draft and fantasy implications
Here is a look at how each team in the AFC South currently shapes up prior to the NFL Draft.
Peyton Manning: Manning is probably the most consistent QB you will find in fantasy circles. No need to panic at QB for Indy, although in another 2-3 years they may want to look for someone they would like to groom as his replacement.
Joseph Addai: After being pushed initially by 2009 1st round pick Donald Brown, Addai settled in and completed a decent season for fantasy owners. You can no longer count on him being your RB1, but he makes for a solid RB2 candidate.
Donald Brown: The rookie struggled with the injury bug most of the season and really didn’t make a huge impact for himself statistically. Although as previously stated, I think the Brown acquisition provided some motivation for Addai. From that perspective the move was successful. Brown over time though will continue to eat more into Addai’s playing time in the future.
Reggie Wayne: One of the top receivers in the game. He should still have a few more quality seasons left.
Austin Collie/Pierre Garcon/Anthony Gonzalez: The Colts definitely do not lack in WR talent. All 3 of these players should contribute to the 2010 passing attack and one of the three will be ready to take over the reigns as top dog once Reggie Wayne retires. The big question is which one of these players is best to own. Last year it was Austin Collie. This year could be different.
Dallas Clark: Clark stayed healthy the entire season and posted stellar fantasy numbers at the TE position in 2009. I would look for his production to go down somewhat in 2010 due to the emergence of the aforementioned WR’s.
Indy does not look like it has any needs at this time in the major fantasy offensive stat producing positions. I would imagine they will take best player available at pick 31. The pick will most likely be an offensive lineman or defensive player.
Vince Young: VY looked more like the player that came out and won ROY honors this year than the player that struggled and then rode the bench for the first half of 2009. He keeps many drives alive with his legs and has been a proven winner in the past. VY should be a fixture at QB for the Titans for many years to come.
Chris Johnson: Johnson totally dazzled and amazed the football world and fantasy owners alike in 2009. Although I expect CJ2K to post another respectable season, I would look for a decline in his touches in 2010 as Jeff Fisher tries not to burn him out in only a few seasons.
LenDale White: It looks again like White will be retained to provide backup support for Johnson in 2010. He should benefit and see more carries sent his way to help lighten the overall load in 2010.
Nate Washington: Injuries plagued Washington most of the 2009 season. He did have some nice performances mixed in when he could keep himself on the field. The Titans hope he can develop some more consistency in 2010.
Kenny Britt: 2010 is the year I believe Britt will take a step forward and become the leading receiving target on this team. He is a great target down by the goal line for VY to find.
Bo Scaife/Jared Cook: Scaife was resigned by the Titans and knows the system well. Eventually he will hand over the reigns to Jared Cook as the TE in Titanland.
The Titans appear to be set at all the main offensive fantasy positions. They even have Javon Ringer for added depth at the running back position. The offensive line is also solid. I would look for the Titans to be another team that drafts to meet defensive needs in 2010.
David Garrard: Garrard is a capable NFL QB but is not an elite option at the position by any means. His job could be in jeopardy this season as some of the QB’s available in this year’s draft have been mentioned as possibly landing in Jacksonville. Garrard could turn into a backup come April 22, 23.
Maurice Jones-Drew: You really can’t get anyone much better than MJD at the running back position. He carries the majority of the load and has posted top 10 RB fantasy numbers in his entire career. Look for him to be elite again in 2010.
Rashad Jennings: Jennings is a nice complimentary piece to MJD in the offense and was a great steal last year in the seventh round of the draft. His is the MJD handcuff for 2010.
Mike Sims-Walker: MSW was the leading receiver on the team in 2009. Look for that to continue in 2010. He should be a decent WR3 play especially in PPR leagues.
Mike Thomas: Last year’s rookie will most likely take over the other WR slot vacated by the departure of Torry Holt. He needs to hone his skills more to become a viable fantasy option.
Marcedes Lewis: Lewis has been a decent spot play now and again at TE. He may be challenged a little more though for the position by Zach Miller.
The Jags may look to improve on the offensive side of the ball. Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant could be a possibility at WR in Round 1. They may also decide on Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen in round 1 since Washington met its needs at QB in the Donovan McNabb trade. Jacksonville native and University of Florida’s Tim Tebow could be a possibility in round 2 of the draft if the team decides to go the Dez Bryant route in round 1. I personally feel that for the Jags to compete in this division, they need to nab Clausen in round 1 and build a team around him.
Matt Schaub: Schaub finally had his first full healthy season in the NFL and he proved in 2009 why he is a top 10 talent QB. With the weapons he has in the passing game, there is no reason to expect a decline anytime soon.
Steve Slaton/Ryan Moats/Chris Brown/Arian Foster: When you have 4 RBs that helped contribute at different times of the season, you could say maybe you really don’t have a RB at all. Both the Team Owner and Head Coach have expressed that they would like to make the running back position a “priority” in this year’s draft. To mean priority means round 1 draft pick to me anyway. Look for a different RB to be toting the ball for the Texans in 2010.
Andre Johnson: What else can really be said about Andre Johnson? He is a stud WR in any fantasy format and should continue to be with Matt Schaub at the helm.
Kevin Walter/Jacoby Jones: Walter had a very disappointing 2009 season. He was retained though and should challenge to start opposite Andre. However Jones seems to be developing into quite a solid complimentary player and will probably be given an ample shot during training camp to unseat Walter to start in 2010.
Owen Daniels: Daniels was enjoying the best season of his career in 2009 before it came to an abrupt end with a knee injury. If Daniels regains his pre-injury 2009 form, he could be a formidable force at the TE position in 2010.
As I said previously, Texans management has said the running back position will be addressed. I feel they will be looking for a big, hard-running style RB rather than the finesse type players that they already have on the roster. Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews is a distinct round 1 possibility. Stanford’s Toby Gerhart could be a round 2 option available to them. Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty is a round 3 option. The team really doesn’t have any other major offensive needs outside of the offensive line. The remainder of the draft will probably focus on the defensive side of the ball.