NFL 2011 – AFC South Preview

INDIANAPOLIS – Last year the Colts struggled mightily with injuries, but Peyton Manning still managed to put up 4700 passing yards throwing to guys named Jacob Tamme and Blair White and handing the ball of to Mike Hart and Javarris James. The big question mark going into 2011 is if Peyton will be able to start the first game. If he is not then this prediction goes out the window. Curtis Painter was a good college QB, but he has struggled to a 9.8 QB rating in his career (although that is just 2 games).

A healthy Peyton Manning and Austin Collie makes the Colts the clear favorite in the AFC South. The biggest losses for the Colts in free agency were LT Charlie Johnson and LB Clint Session. First round pick Anthony Castonzo should fill in nicely on Peyton’s blind side and Philip Wheeler/Ernie Sims should be able to handle the weakside duties at LB. The additions of Jamaal Anderson and Tommie Harris could be huge if either player can live up to their potential. I expect the Colts to equal last year’s 10 wins.

Fantasy player I love: In all honesty I don’t really see a breakout candidate in this offense. The breakout player will be whoever Peyton wants it to be. If I had to pick someone I would pick Pierre Garcon to put together a full year this year. He had a couple good games at the end of last year, look for him to put up 1,000 yards and 7 or 8 TDs which would be a lot in an offense with all the receivers the Colts have.

TENNESSEE – The Titans were a dysfunctional mess in 2010 with inconsistency at nearly every offensive position. Vince Young was good when he played, but he started in just 8 games. Chris Johnson was good, but his YPC dropped 1.3 from his 2009 season. WR Kenny Britt put together a couple nice games, but was injured in week 8 and didn’t return to form until week 15.
Fast forward to 2011 and both QBs that played significant minutes from 2010 are gone, their head coach is gone and their best WR was arrested multiple times in the offseason. So, why do I have them finishing 2nd in the division? The additions of Matt Hasselbeck, Akeem Ayers, Barrett Ruud and Jordan Babineaux. Each of those 4 players are a significant upgrade over the players they had in 2010, especially Matt Hasselbeck. I expect the Titans to improve on last year’s 6 win by winning 8 or 9 games this year.

Fantasy player I love: Kenny Britt. It took Britt a while in 2010 to get adjusted to different QB play, but when he was adjusted he was one of the top fantasy WR’s in football. Assuming he doesn’t get suspended for off the field issues Britt can be a solid #2 WR who is currently going in the 7th round

HOUSTON – As always Houston is everyone’s trendy sleeper pick this year, but I still can’t buy into it. Most of their losses in free agency were filled by another player in free agency, but I’m not sure they can put it all together this year. he losses of Zac Diles, Vonta Leach and Amobi Okoye will hurt, but signing Lawrence Vickers, Johnathan Joseph and Daniel Manning will help offset those losses.

The offense is still the biggest question mark to me. Their RB and WR1 may be the best combo in the league, but after that there are consistency and injury concerns. Owen Daniels was great at the end of last season and Kevin Walter had a few really nice games as well, but can they put it together for an entire season? I just can’t buy into it. This team should improve on last year’s 6 wins, but not by much.

Fantasy player I love: Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are already top 5 fantasy players at their position so I have to go with Owen Daniels. He’s currently going as the #6 overall TE, but in the final four games last year he averaged 9.5 fantasy points, the same number Jason Witten averaged for all of last year.

JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville put together a season that no one could believe in 2010 and I’m still not sure how it happened. Rashad Jennings put together a nice year as MJD’s backup and Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis both had breakout years, but none of those players are in the top 20% of their respective positions (Lewis may be close though). The defense was awful surrending more points than all but 4 teams in the AFC last year.
The drafted of Blaine Gabber
t should help them in the future, but if he plays significant minutes in 2011 then the Jaguars will be lucky to win 4 games. The loss of Mike Sims-Walker, although he was very inconsistent is a big one and they didn’t sign anyone to replace him. Jason Hill and Mike Thomas will begin the year as the top 2 WRs.

Fantasy player I love: It has to be Mike Thomas since he is the #1 WR on this team. The Jaguars figure to have one of the worst defenses in football this year so they should be throwing a lot. Marcedes Lewis should have another good year, but a repeat of 2011’s 10 TD’s is unlikely. Look for Thomas to hit 1000 yards win 8 or 9 TDs