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NFL Key Questions: AFC South

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IMay 24, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans celebrates after Vonta Leach scored a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game on December 21, 2008 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The 2009 NFL Draft is in the books, and despite the holes many teams were able to fill with their selections, there are still questions surrounding all 32 squads. The Bruno Boys though are here for you, attempting to shed light on the key issues surrounding all 32 NFL teams. This time we take a look at the AFC South.

Houston Texans

What can fantasy owners expect from Matt Schaub in 2009?

When on the football field, Matt Schaub has shown that he can be the franchise quarterback the Texans expected to get when they traded for him prior to the 2007 season.

The problem, though, is that in Schaub's two seasons with Houston, the quarterback has missed nearly a third of the team's games, playing in just 22 of 32 contests. Thus, arises the dilemna.

In posting a 92.7 quarterback rating, with 3,043 passing yards, 15 TDs, and just 10 interceptions in 11 games last season, Schaub has whet fantasy owners' appetites.

After all, who wouldn't want a guy capable of putting up 20+ fantasy points on a consistent basis (Schaub did it in five of 11 games last season) on their squad, especially when you consider the talent Schaub has to work with.

Not only does he have one of the best wide receivers in the league to throw to in Andre Johnson, he, also, has more than capable targets in wide out, Kevin Walter, and tight end, Owen Daniels.

Add to those fine receivers a sound running game, provided by Steve Slaton, and Schaub is in an offense that appears guaranteed to put up fantasy points, making Schaub a sure-fire QB1 if on the field for all 16 games in 2009.

Still, the injuries are a concern, and something to consider when selecting Schaub in your 2009 fantasy draft. By no means, though, should they make you steer clear of the QB, but if you do take Schaub, be sure you have another arm on your roster that you can rely on if Schaub goes down, and we're not talking about the Texans' backup plan of Dan Orlovsky.


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Indianapolis Colts

Does the Indianapolis Colts' first round selection of running back Donald Brown mean Joseph Addai's days are numbered as the team's featured back?

With the Indianapolis Colts failing to match the Buffalo Bills' offer to running back, Dominic Rhodes, who helped keep the Colts' running game afloat last season while Joseph Addai struggled, it appeared the team had some faith that Addai would return to the 1,000-yard rusher he had been in his first two seasons in the league.

Then, draft day came, and the Colts used their first round selection on University of Connecticut back, Donald Brown, who led the Huskies with 2,083 rushing yards and 18 TDs.

The Colts did not waste a first round selection on Brown to have him simply ride the pine. Rather, the team hopes to utilize Addai and Brown in a time share, helping to keep both runners fresh throughout the year.

While that plan of action may benefit the Colts greatly, it will frustrate fantasy owners as it means yet another running back by committee has surfaced, preventing either back from rising to RB1 status as they both seem to be RB2 candidates at the moment.

As of now, Addai is being considered the team's number one back by new head coach, Jim Caldwell, but really, the label means nothing as the time share is expected to yield a 50/50 split.

The split in action, more than likely means, Addai won't see a major bounce back in his numbers in 2009, but look on the bright side, at least this time around, you won't use a first round selection on him.

Jacksonville Jaguars

With Fred Taylor finally out of the picture, how will Maurice Jones-Drew fare as the Jaguars' workhorse?

Praise be to the fantasy football gods!

In a time when more and more teams are turning to the dreaded running back by committee (see: Indianapolis Colts above), the Jacksonville Jaguars have done fantasy owners a favor by putting another workhorse back out on the fantasy market as Maurice Jones-Drew will now be the team's featured back thanks to the release of Fred Taylor this offseason.

Granted, unless you're lucky enough to have one of the first three picks in your 2009 fantasy draft this news really won't matter because that's where MJD is likely to go off the board, and for good reason.

In his first three seasons in the NFL, Jones-Drew has averaged 844.33 rushing yards, 469.33 receiving yards and 12.67 TDs per season. Solid numbers to say the least, but even more solid if you consider that Jones-Drew received less than 200 carries in each of those three years and hit the 50 reception mark just once.

With Taylor now out of the picture, Jones-Drew will not only reach those plateaus, but he'll go beyond them, leading to a dramatic increase to his already stellar numbers.

Throw in the fact that Jacksonville did all it could this offseason to shore up their offensive line (drafting offensive tackle, Eugene Monroe of Virginia, with their first round selection and offensive tackle, Eben Britton of Arizona, with their second round choice and signing veteran, Tra Thomas, as a free agent), and it appears that Jones-Drew will find plenty of openings to do something with the extra touches he gets.

There is always the concern that a back carrying his team's full load could break down during the season, but the potential reward MJD can provide greatly outweighs that risk. If you're lucky enough to grab him, revel in what should be a fantastic 2009. 

Tennessee Titans

In re-signing veteran quarterback, Kerry Collins, the Titans have essentially stated that they will once again try to win games with their defense and running game. Will that be enough to allow the team to repeat the success they had in 2008?

No one is going to mistake Kerry Collins for the likes of Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, or Tom Brady.

But, the beauty of Collins' role in Tennessee is that he doesn't have to put up the numbers those three do. Rather, Collins simply has to be a game manager who avoids costly mistakes, a role he filled quite nicely last season as he threw just 7 interceptions and was sacked just 8 times in 16 games in 2008.

If Collins can be as frugal in 2009 with his interceptions as he was in 2008, the Titans should continue to be one of the top teams in the AFC.

Playing a style of smash mouth football, the Titans' rely on a combination of their ground game, which ranked seventh in the league in 2008, and their defense, which allowed the second fewest points per game, to beat their opponents into submission.

While it will be a bit tougher to do that this year with Albert Haynesworth heading to the Redskins, the Titans' should still get the job done.

Not only do they still have the two-headed monster of Chris Johnson and LenDale White running at opponents, but except for Haynesworth's departure (a blow that was softened by the Titans signing defensive tackle Jovan Haye from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) their defense remains largely intact.

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