AFC South Fact or Fiction: Will Andrew Luck Win Rookie of the Year?
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Welcome to Fact or Fiction, where we separate the hog from the hogwash when it comes to the AFC South.
No. 1: Andrew Luck will win Rookie of the Year.
FICTION: Of all the comparisons that Andrew Luck will have to live down, it won't be Peyton Manning or RG3 that proves the biggest burden. Luck is going to have fits living up to comparisons with Cam Newton's rookie year.
The problem for Luck is that Newton's season was vastly overrated thanks to too many rushing touchdowns for Luck to match. The Colts won't have Luck operate the way the Panthers fed Newton the ball on the goal line. The result will be a season without as much fantasy value or buzz.
I expect Trent Richardson to win the Rookie of the Year award, as it's much easier for a running back to come in and put up impressive numbers right away. Luck will be fine, but don't expect his trophy case to grow just yet.
No. 2: Maurice Jones-Drew will be active for Week 1.
FACT: I know the MJD talks are contentious now, but he really doesn't have much leverage. I expect him to be in camp on time with the same deal he has now. I expect the Jaguars to give him private assurances that they'll treat him fairly, and come September, his OTA absence will be long forgotten.
Jones-Drew is a different kind of player and person from Chris Johnson. He's a leader and focal point of the team. He's making a statement with his holdout, but it's one that doesn't cost him or the team anything.
If he starts missing camp time, things will be ugly, but I'll shocked if it gets that far.
FICTION: There are so many ways for Hasselbeck to lose his job, I just can't see him being a 16-game starter. Obviously, Jake Locker could step up and win the starting job. Hasselbeck could also get hurt like he did last year.
The real problem with Hasselbeck as the full-season starter is that the Titans would have to keep winning with him. The opening schedule is rough, and if they stick with the plan of having him start the year, there's a chance the team could struggle early. If that happens, the pressure to play Locker will mount.
For Hasselbeck to stay the starter, he'll have to play well, stay healthy and the team will have to overachieve. Those are a lot of qualifiers for me to answer this one with FACT. I think Hasselbeck provides a natural ceiling for the Titans. If they plan on breaking through to the playoffs, they'll need Locker to step up and deliver a caliber of play Hasselbeck is no longer capable of.
No. 4 Arian Foster will have the most rushing yards in the AFC South.
FACT: I've already declared Foster to be the best back in the division, but when you look at what he's facing in 2012, it's also just as likely he'll hold the statistical lead at the end of the year.
The Titans and Jaguars are both trying to angle their offenses more toward the pass. The Texans, on the other hand, have questions at receiver after Andre Johnson. By the end of the year, I expect the Texans to have more rushing attempts than the rest of the division.
They run a run-heavy scheme. They have a good team and should play from the lead. Even though Ben Tate is a very good back and will vulture some carries from Foster, he should still tote the rock more than Jones-Drew or Chris Johnson.
The only thing that can stop Foster from having a big year is injuries, and he's no more of a risk than Jones-Drew or Johnson is.
I don't just like Foster to lead the division, he's a threat to win the rushing title for the NFL as well.
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