2009 Fantasy Football Breakout Players in the AFC South

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IApril 29, 2009

HOUSTON - DECEMBER 28:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans reacts to quiet the crowd during a touchdown drive against the Chicago Bears during the second half at the Reliant Stadium December 28, 2008 in Houston, Texas.  The Texans won 31-24.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Every year there are multiple players at each position that have breakout seasons and put their name on the fantasy football map. In 2008 we saw players like Matt Cassel, Aaron Rodgers, Michael Turner, Derrick Ward, Antonio Bryant and Dwayne Bowe put together what is considered breakout season and because of this they will be highly targeted in 2009 fantasy football drafts.

With it never being to early to start planning for your fantasy football draft, the Bruno Boys offer you their opinion on what players will flourish in 2009 and have a breakout season. In our first installment of 2009 Fantasy Football Breakout Players we bring to you the AFC South division.


Indianapolis Colts

During the off-season the Colts parted ways with future hall-of-fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison and it has opened up the door for Anthony Gonzalez to become a an weekly fantasy football contributor. For the first time in his career Gonzalez will not be relegated to just slot duties and this should lead to an increase in targets from quarterback Peyton Manning.

Despite having six games in which he was held to two or less catches, Gonzalez finished last season with 57 receptions for 664 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. The loss of Harrison will put some extra emphasis on Gonzalez, but with the Colts expected to throw the football upwards of 550 times it's safe to predict that his third season in the NFL will be his best. 

Heading into 2009, Gonzalez will be pegged as arguably the biggest breakout candidate at the wide receiver position. You should be able to snag him in your fantasy football draft as a WR3, but the Bruno Boys project that by mid-season he will be playing above his Average-Draft-Position (ADP) and working as a solid WR2 for your squad.

Also Consider: RB Donald Brown, WR Austin Collie


Tennessee Titans

We know the Tennessee Titans win football games by playing good defense and using a heavy dosage of Chris Johnson and LenDale White, but the addition of wide receiver Nate Washington can only help the offense be more versatile.

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With Johnson and White forcing defenses to mark them at all times, it has led to quarterback Kerry Collins having plenty of time in the pocket to find the open wide-out. Nothing will change this season, except for Collins will have another weapon to take advantage of in Washington. 

With with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington played behind Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, but a change of uniform means a starting role and a significant increase in overall targets.

Combine his big play ability (four receptions of 40+ yards in '08) with the fact that teams are going to have to play single coverage on him and you have yourself a receiver who should haul in a handful of long bombs and be a solid bench option for your fantasy football team. 

Target him as a low-end WR4 with upside and use him as a bye-week filler of flex play. Even if the Titans drafted Kenny Britt to be the wide-out for the future, Washington will still see enough of an increase to make a fantasy impact from time to time.
Also Consider: WR Justin Gage (showed signs in '08), WR Kenny Britt


Jacksonville Jaguars

From a breakout standpoint there isn't much to choose from on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster. Quarterback David Garrard has yet to put together a complete season, but with question marks at wide receiver (minus Torry Holt) he might not have the talent surrounding him to breakout.

We know Maurice Jones-Drew is going to get his fantasy points and will be a top five fantasy football pick come August but he already is a start in this league, so even if he puts together a career years it's not considered a breakout season.

Instead of boring you guys with second-rate fantasy options like Dennis Northcutt, Troy Williamson and Chauncy Washington it's time to be blunt and let you know that outside of Garrard, Jones-Drew and Holt there isn't an option on the Jaguars offense that is enticing enough to waste a draft pick on.

Also Consider:  WR Mike Thomas, WR Jarett Dillard (both produced in college but roles are undefined)


Houston Texans

We're calling it a breakout or bust season for Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in 2009. Just two year ago Schaub signed a multi-million dollar contract to revamp the Texans passing games but injuries have forced him to miss 10 games since joining the Texans.

In 11 games last season, Schaub threw for 3,043 yards and his 276.6 passing yards per game trailed only Kurt Warner, Drew Brees and Jay Cutler. Combine these big time numbers with a Texans offense that features two of the games best play-makers in Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton and you have the makings of a stellar season.

Heading into August fantasy football drafts, Schaub will probably be the 10-14th quarterback off the board but if healthy he could work his way into a top 10 performer. Snag him in the 9th-10th round and hope this is the season that the Texans brass had hoped for when they traded for him during the 2007 off-season. Us Bruno Boys think it will be!

Also Consider: WR Owen Daniels (yardage and receptions are there, but TD's will put him over the top)


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