• Inside the Locker Room
With Nathan Rush of Athlon Sports
Chris Johnson seemed skittish at the line of scrimmage last year. What changed from 2009 to ’10, and do you expect a return to fantasy dominance?
After scoring a 76-yard TD against the Raiders in the opener and then going the distance on an 85-yard romp (which was called back due to an away-from-the-play holding call) against the Steelers in Week 2, Johnson seemed to be looking for holes to hit home runs with, rather than just taking what the defense allowed. But who can blame him? In 2009, CJ2K scored on runs of 91, 89, 85, 57 and 52 yards, along with catch-and-runs of 69 and 66 yards. CJ is always one cut away from a foot race to the end zone. As long as he’s faster than everyone chasing him, CJ’s fantasy gold.
Will Kenny Britt’s off-the-field issues impact his ability to become an elite fantasy receiver this season?
Britt is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in fantasy football this season. The 6'3", 215-pound 22-year-old was the top player in fantasy in Week 7 last year — seven catches, 225 yards, three TDs — but has yet to show the type of maturity or dedication necessary to take the next step.
How much will the offense change under new coach Mike Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer?
The Titans have a new coach, but expect the same run-first philosophy. With Palmer calling plays, expect CJ to put up pass-catching numbers closer to his 2009 totals (503 yards and two TDs) than those of 2010 (245 yards and one TD).
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: NO, @IND, JAC
It's hard to say what this offense is going to be like come Weeks 14-15-16. All three opposing defenses were in the bottom half against fantasy RBs last season, including the Colts (24.5 ppg) and Jags (23.7 ppg), who were in the bottom eight. Good news for Chris Johnson. But we expect the Saints, with former Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams calling the defensive shots, to improve, and the other two are AFC South rivals.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Jared Cook, TE
Deep-Sleeper: Javon Ringer, RB
Overvalued: Nate Washington, WR
Top Rookie: Akeem Ayers, LB
Bounce-Back: Derrick Morgan, DL
Top IDP: Barrett Ruud, LB
• Try to Avoid
Unrealized potential, lack of talent, off-the-field transgressions and a questionable quarterback situation make Tennessee’s receivers a tough sell for anyone looking for help in 2011.
WAIT UNTIL: 9th RD
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Vince Young failed to become Tennessee’s franchise quarterback, and the team will turn to Locker at some point in 2011. Locker needs to work on his accuracy but has all of the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. Locker should be one of the top keeper picks at quarterback but will likely hold no fantasy value in redraft leagues this season. Chris Johnson has threatened to hold out, which makes the addition of Harper even more valuable.
More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs
2 011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2 011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams