Fantasy owners will remember two numbers from the Titans' 2009 season: 0-6, and 2,006.
The 0-6 record was how the Titans started out their year (they finished 8-8), and the 2,006 yards Chris Johnson rushed for were the fifth-most in a single season in NFL history.
A third number Fantasy owners should specifically recall is 2,509: The total yards from scrimmage Johnson had. Or perhaps 11 is a more notable total -- the consecutive games Johnson has rushed for 100-plus yards, a streak that's still alive and tied for second-longest in NFL annals. Maybe we should remember the number 50, the number of catches Johnson had last season, or 16 -- for the touchdowns he scored.
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Johnson has the chance to build on those stats this year, and the good news for Fantasy owners is his contract situation has been worked out, meaning he will report to training camp on time. Johnson wanted a raise and complained about his contract all offseason, including threatening to hold out, but the Titans have given him a new deal for 2010.
So long as he's in uniform, Fantasy owners should either be very happy to own him or be very scared to go up against Johnson, who should see a lot of work again as the primary weapon in the Titans' offense in 2010. We consider Johnson the No. 1 overall pick in all Fantasy leagues.
Sleeper ... Nate Washington, WR
This guy isn't on anyone's radar. Ask anyone about the Titans in 2009 and they'll tell you about Chris Johnson and Vince Young and even rookie Kenny Britt. But Washington was the one who led the team in receiving touchdowns and led all receivers and tight ends in receptions. This was in a year where he transitioned from a situational player with the Steelers to a starter in Tennessee. We think the offseason helped him better grasp the Titans' offense and see him being more of a contributor in 2010. He's absolutely worth a late-round pick thanks to his 800-yard, six-touchdown potential that no one else is noticing.
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Breakout ... Kenny Britt, WR
Forget about what you've seen and read this offseason and stick with what you know about Britt. Remember that he was a quick study last season and pitched in when they needed him to after Justin Gage got hurt. Know that he led the team in receiving yards. Be mindful of his big body type and athleticism. Now keep those things in mind even though people will tell you he had a knee procedure this offseason (it was for a bursa sac injury -- not major) and that he was in head coach Jeff Fisher's doghouse (he's out of it). The Titans will see defenses prepare for Chris Johnson, giving Britt chances to play big in single coverage throughout the year. We learned specifically that quarterback Vince Young is a big fan of Britt's, and we think the two will hook up for more than the three touchdowns they combined on last season. If he slips in your draft past Round 7 or 8, don't hesitate to get him.
Bust ... Bo Scaife, TE
Not an exciting bust to say the least, but just in case you're thinking that Scaife is a good backup tight end for Fantasy, we're here to tell you he's not. Sure, he might be a security blanket for Vince Young, but so will second-year tight end Jared Cook, who is far more explosive than Scaife and does have a sliver of Fantasy upside in him. We think Cook should pick up Alge Crumpler's spot from last season as the No. 2 tight end, but also play a lot in a two-tight end formations to give the Titans a lot of plays that look like runs from the start. Scaife could see 40 or 50 grabs, but a weak receiving average and a terrible track record when it comes to touchdowns makes him a guy very easy to pass on.
Chris Johnson and the Titans should be able to pick up where they left off last season as they don't have too many tough challenges. A home outing against the Steelers in Week 2 and a visit to Dallas in Week 5 might rattle the nerves, but besides those games there isn't anything that should scare owners out of coveting Johnson. The Titans' schedule starting in Week 6 is really nice and could result in some decent games for Vince Young and his receivers. One more note: The Titans won't play the Colts until Week 14, which means that they could be in the thick of things come December.
Training camp topics
After rallying the Titans to an 8-8 record last season, many people believed that Vince Young was prepared for the life of a starting NFL quarterback. But a well-documented off-field incident with him involved left people to question his judgment and maturity. Fantasy fanatics shouldn't necessarily judge him by the trouble he got into but instead by the reasonable expectations that should be placed upon him. There's no doubt that the Titans will continue to rely on Chris Johnson on the ground, taking the ball out of Young's hands. But that said, they'll have to find ways to make Young's arm a threat and using Johnson as a receiver along with a simple scheme that takes advantage of the special talents they have at receiver should give Young a shot to get some decent stats.
There will also be eyes on the running back depth chart behind Johnson. Entering camp, Javon Ringer is the primary backup, and the coaching staff is pleased with his work after he took first-team reps while Johnson sat out. But the Titans made an interesting signing when they grabbed rookie running back LeGarrette Blount after the 2010 draft ended. Blount was a highly touted back in college until he punched an opponent after a game and missed the rest of his senior season. He has reportedly impressed coaches this season and has drawn favorable comparisons to LenDale White, who is no longer with the team. How the running backs behind Johnson stack up should be of importance to all Fantasy owners who take Johnson in drafts.
Like the offense, Tennessee's defense enjoyed a renaissance over the second half of last season and has potential for a good 2010. The Titans addressed their pass rush with a first-round pick on Derrick Morgan and improved their linebacking corps with free agent Will Witherspoon. Though some aren't quite sold on their defensive line or cornerback talent, this unit should be serviceable, if not solid. Not playing the Colts until Week 14 should help build their confidence.
Kenny Britt (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Nate Washington (wrist; probable for the start of training camp) ... Derrick Morgan (calf; probable for the start of training camp) ... David Thornton (shoulder; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Rod Hood (knee; out for the season).
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