Wed Jul 02 07:15pm EDT
The Juggernaut Index is our annual attempt to rank every NFL team for fantasy purposes. We're not concerned with real-life wins and losses here. No, here we just care about imaginary winning. If an NFL team gains lots of yardage, limits turnovers, and scores when they reach the red zone, then you'll want to own their skill position players in fantasy leagues. You'll find those teams at the top of the Juggernaut Index. We'll begin at No. 32, the worst of the worst, and work our way to the elite fantasy offenses.
These rankings rely on the same variety of hard, incontrovertible math that resulted in the Mustache Rankings, by the way (where Andy Reid got robbed). There are algorithms at work. This stuff is peer-reviewed. Seasons are simulated, the models are adjusted, and the simulations are repeated. You can't argue with science, so don't even try...
31. Tennessee Titans
First of all, Rob Bironas is awesome. Let's make that clear from the very beginning. We (heart) Bironas.
His epic, record-breaking duel with Sage Rosenfels in Week 7 last season will be long remembered.
It's the rest of the Titans who don't really inspire much interest, fantasy-wise.
The same logic that led us to place the Chicago Bears last in this very index forces us to have Tennessee next-to-last. There are no Titans among the top 15 quarterbacks, the top 20 running backs, the top 50 wide receivers, or the top 15 tight ends in the Yahoo! experts composite rankings.
So, as with the Bears, we're telling you that in a 10-team public league, there are no Titans worth starting in Week 1. In fact, there are going to be many 8- and 10-team leagues in which no Titans are drafted. Their highest-ranked skill position player is Alge Crumpler, the No. 16 tight end.
If he's healthy, the former Pro Bowler was a nice addition. He might very well be the Titans' leading receiver in 2008, though. Justin McCareins and Justin Gage currently sit atop the Tennessee depth chart at WR. The guys behind them, Brandon Jones and Roydell Williams, are at least as interesting, but Jones has legal issues and Williams has a significant ankle injury that sounds like it will affect him throughout the season. And then there's Biren Ealy, who caught one pass for six yards last year.
That's what Vince Young has at his disposal. It again seems likely that if Young is going to be a viable fantasy option at quarterback, he'll need to do it by running for touchdowns. In 2006 he totaled 202 fantasy points, thanks largely to 552 rushing yards and seven TDs. In 2007 he ran more often, but for fewer yards (395) and only three TDs. As a passer, he's been less than ordinary: 57.1 career completion percentage, 158.2 yards per game, 21 TDs and 30 interceptions.
Of course he could make a significant leap this year, and the quad injury may have limited him in 2007. But there will always be injuries, and it's tough to predict improvement when the weapons are so uninteresting.
Well...except for Chris Johnson. He's an interesting weapon. The Titans selected Johnson out of East Carolina with the 24th overall pick in the NFL Draft. His official 40-yard dash time at the Combine was 4.24, which was nearly a tenth of a second better than anyone else's. Here's what offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger told the Nashville Tennessean:
"We were out there making up routes ... I've never had a guy that can do (things Johnson can) … You need to be able to take advantage of the guy because he can do so many things. We'll just see what he can handle.''
And here's what linebacker Stanford Keglar had to say:
"He kind of ran past me, I guess,'' Keglar said with a smile. "He is an amazing athlete and has amazing speed. I probably could say he is the fastest person I have ever lined up against.''
There's a decent chance that Young and Johnson will account for 100 percent of Tennessee's truly exciting, highlight-worthy plays in 2008. You'll want Johnson in keeper leagues for sure, and he's a nice late flier in other formats.
LenDale White, however, remains the primary ball-carrier. He recently revealed that he played with a torn meniscus last season:
“This happened last year in preseason. I tore my meniscus,” White said. “I played on it all season. Contrary to what people believe, I am a soldier. I played on it all year and I didn’t complain, not once. I waited until the season was over to get it fixed and now I’m feeling good.”
But given the competition for carries in Tennessee, it's still tough to imagine that White's fantasy ceiling is much higher than last year's stats: 303 carries, 1110 yards, seven TDs, 146 fantasy points.
The Titans' defense, of course, is very good. Last year they held opponents to 18.6 points-per-game, 92.4 rushing yards, and 199.2 passing yards. They were seventh in the NFL in sacks (40) and tied for second in interceptions (22). Keith Bulluck belongs in the IDP Hall of Fame and Albert Haynesworth, assuming he can make ends meet on $7.25 million, is terrific. And then there's Chris Hope. And Jevon Kearse.
Tennessee could be a playoff team in real-life, but there's less hope for Titans-led fantasy squads. They had the NFL's lowest Red Zone TD percentage last season (.364).
That gets us right back to where we began: Bironas is awesome. You can have the rest.
2007 Tennessee Titans team stats
Rushing: 131.8 Y/G
Passing: 192.3 Y/G
Points per game: 18.8
Red Zone possessions and TDs: 55, 20
'08 Schedule strength: .551