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2009 Fantasy Football Running Back Forecast: AFC South

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IMay 6, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 27:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at  LP Field on October 27, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

With the 2009 NFL Draft having come and gone, it is now time to start focusing more on the most important draft of all in football...YOUR Fantasy Football draft.

And the Bruno Boys can't think of a better way to get in the mood than to start focusing some attention on the running back position.

Now, we are not saying that the running back position is make or break, because we firmly believe that the best way to ensure success is to not only have an extremely well rounded team...but a deep team as well.

But, as Bruno Boys Nation already knows, part of my (Bruno Boys Ziza) responsibilities at the Bruno Boys is critiquing the running back position on a weekly basis throughout the season. 

So, today I am bringing you a rundown of what is happening in the NFL; that way you are not left scratching your head when August rolls around and you are wondering why Edgerrin James is not an Arizona Cardinal anymore.


During the weeks leading up to the season, myself and Bruno Boys Greg will be bringing you periodic updates that will guarantee that you stay one, no...thirty two steps ahead of your competition.

Today, we will be focusing on the teams in the AFC South. Keep on checking back with the Bruno Boys for other divisional running back updates that will help you stomp your way into your leagues' Fantasy Football playoffs.

HOUSTON TEXANS


Bruno Boys Ziza's Take: Steve Slaton
enjoyed a very nice rookie year accumulating a total of 1,659 all-purpose yards as well as 10 touchdowns.

To me, it would be a shocker to see him come close to repeating those numbers.

Last year, Chris Brown missed the entire season because of a back injury. That won't be the case this year as Brown is already participating in off-season team drills, and is expected to take some of the red zone carries away from Slaton.


For fantasy football purposes, expect Slaton to be no more than a RB2 unless Brown gets hurt again. As for Brown, he could sneak into a solid RB3/4 option if the Houston Texans do commit to Brown during goal line situations.


Bruno Boys Greg's Take:
Last year, many fantasy owners who were able to grab Steve Slaton got rewarded with huge performances that led them to fantasy titles. 

Because of that, Slaton won’t be around in many drafts for long this year, as he will be the lead back for Gary Kubiak’s Texans. 

His back-ups are guys who have traveled around the league in Ryan Moats and Chris Brown. Houston decided to pass on finding Slaton a complement back in the draft, which means he will see most of the touches out of the backfield.

No doubt about it, Slaton is an RB1 and should be taken in the first round of every draft. His back-ups should not be considered on a roster.


FANTASY DEPTH CHART:
Steve Slaton and *Chris Brown (Missed 2008 w/back injury) 


2009 SCHEDULE:
 NYJ (1) , @ TEN (2) , JAC (3), OAK (4), @ ARZ (5), @ CIN (6), SF (7), @ BUF (8), @ IND (9), BYE (10), TEN (11), IND (12), @ JAC (13), SEA (14), @ STL (15), @ MIA (16), NE (17)

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS


Bruno Boys Ziza's Take:
2008 was a major head scratcher for Joseph Addai owners as he just could not stay healthy. Even when he could get onto the field, he looked confused and sometimes over matched as he just could not get anything going.

It got so bad at one point that the Indianapolis Colts convinced themselves that they needed help at that position, using their first round draft pick on Donald Brown.

While Addai remains the main back in Indianapolis, don't be surprised if Brown steals some of his all so important fantasy football statistics in yardage and touchdowns.

Watch this situation carefully as it may be time to start considering Addai as a lower-end No. 1 to possibly even dropping him into RB2 range.


Bruno Boys Greg's Take:
After the draft, it now seems evident the Colts are looking to get back to the running game. 

 

Already occupying slots on their roster were incumbent starter, Joseph Addai and Mike Hart—who missed most of last year due to an injury.

 

Still, they drafted Connecticut running back Donald Brown, who rushed for 2,083 yards and 18 TDs while at UConn in the first round of the draft.  


Although the Colts should run the ball more, it seems this is a huge timeshare waiting to happen. 

 

Addai will see the most touches, followed by Brown.

 

Hart may steal a few carries and could see the ball more toward the end zone. Consider Addai a low-end R2/ high-end RB3, Brown a RB4, and Hart a RB5. 

 

One thing to remember is Addai has been injury prone over the last two years. If he misses action, Brown could see more of a workload and would thus become a RB2. 

 

Brown is a guy you definitely want to keep an eye on all season long.

FANTASY DEPTH CHART: Joseph Addai and Donald Brown


2009 SCHEDULE:
JAC (1), @ MIA (2), @ ARZ (3), SEA (4), @ TEN (5), BYE (6), @ STL (7), SF (8), HOU (9), NE (10), @ BAL (11), @ HOU (12), TEN (13), DEN (14), @ JAC (15), NYJ (16), @ BUF (17)

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS


Bruno Boys Ziza's Take:
There is no mistaking who the man is for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Maurice Jones-Drew signed a five year, $31 million dollar contract this off season. To take it a step further, the team also released veteran running back, Fred Taylor who had been splitting carries with Jones-Drew the past few seasons.

The Jaguars have a solid schedule in which Jones-Drew and, to a much lesser extent, his backups Greg Jones and Chauncey Washington should have plenty of chances to be successful this year.

Look into Jones-Drew as being an RB1 where as the other two are more of a handcuff type backs.

You'll most likely do your team just as much good keeping both Jones and Washington on the waiver wire instead of using up one of your bench spots as an insurance policy.

But,to be honest, I have never been a huge fan of the handcuff approach to things.


Bruno Boys Greg's Take:
For the last three years Maurice Jones-Drew has driven fantasy owners crazy as he was always the second banana in Jacksonville—not getting the touches he deserved. 

He scored a lot of touchdowns though, totaling 38 in his three years in the NFL. 

Since touchdowns rule fantasy football, Jones-Drew was still considered a gold mine at times despite the timeshare with Fred Taylor

Figuring out when he’d score though was the difficult part, especially since he never spread out his production...instead going three or four games without any scores or many yards then breaking out for four touchdowns in a game.


However, this year is different.

Jones-Drew will be the No. 1 guy with no one there breathing down his neck as Fred Taylor is off to New England.

Serving as Jones-Drew's back-up, instead, will be Chauncey Washington. The Jaguars did draft Rashad Jennings in the seventh round out of Liberty to add depth to the position, but he will only give Jones-Drew some breathers at best. 

Jones-Drew is finally worth a first round selection and is an RB1 this season. His back-ups do not deserve a roster spot.


FANTASY DEPTH CHART:
Maurice Jones-Drew, Greg Jones, and Chauncey Washington


2009 SCHEDULE: 
@ IND (1), ARZ (2), @ HOU (3), TEN (4), @ SEA (5), STL (6), BYE (7), @ TEN (8), KC (9), @ NYJ (10), BUF (11), @ SF (12), HOU (13), MIA (14), IND (15), @ NE (16), @ CLE (17)

TENNESSEE TITANS


Bruno Boys Ziza's Take:
Without a doubt, the Tennessee Titans had the best running back tandem in the league with Chris Johnson and LenDale White.

Johnson had a combined 1,488 yards and 10 touchdowns while White had 773 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

Those numbers would be welcomed on any fantasy football team this year—The problem is that it will be tough for either of these backs to repeat as 2008 was just one of those seasons where everything went right.

While Tennessee has a few cupcake defenses that they will be facing this year, they also have their fair share of tougher match ups.

Depending on the defense, they will be facing both and will have their chance to shine, which is why you are going to have to come back and read the running back weekly rankings that the Bruno Boys provide week after week throughout the season.


Bruno Boys Greg's Take:
Last year, Tennessee pounded the ball on the ground to win games. Expect more of the same this year. 

They have a talented backfield with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Joining those two on the roster are 2007 second round pick Chris Henry and Michigan State’s Javon Ringer, who was selected in the fifth round in the 2009 NFL Draft. 

It was interesting seeing the Titans select Ringer with the talent and depth they have at running back, but his 1,637 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in college must have looked appealing that late in the draft. 

For 2009, it will be Johnson and White splitting the load with Ringer and/or Henry seeing a carry only here and there. Many experts will suggest taking Johnson as an RB1, but I am not one of them. 

His 1,488 total yards and 10 total touchdowns as a rookie are impressive, but when selecting an RB1...you want a guy who will get most of the touches. 

Johnson, meanwhile, will still split time with White which prohibits him from being a star RB1. 

I put Johnson as a high end RB2 and White, who is the goal-line back, made evident by his 15 TDs a season ago as a low-end RB2 / high end RB3.


FANTASY DEPTH CHART:
Chris Johnson and LenDale White


2009 SCHEDULE: 
@ PIT (1), HOU (2), @ NYJ (3), @ JAX (4), IND (5), @ NE (6), BYE (7), JAC (8), @ SF (9), BUF (10), @ HOU (11), ARZ (12), @ IND (13), STL (14), MIA (15), SD (16), @ SEA (17)

For more fantasy football insight and advice, click the link below...

Bruno Boys Fantasy Football

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