Fantasy football draft season is fast approaching. Prep to win your league with SI.com's ongoing preview, including team-by-team breakdowns that examine each club's key fantasy storyline and much more.
Key fantasy storyline
In his first five seasons in the NFL, Chris Johnson has never rushed for fewer than 1,000 yards, and never averaged fewer than 4.0 yards per carry. That makes the running back formerly known as CJ2K a reasonable pick around the turn from Round 1 to Round 2, right?
Not so fast. Take a look at his early schedule -- it's arguably the worst a running back can face in the first few weeks. Think of the best run-stuffing teams in the NFL: Seahawks, 49ers, Texans, Steelers and Broncos. The Titans play them all.
That spells yet another frustrating start for Chris Johnson and his fantasy owners. Every year, those who draft him debat whether to bench him, trade him or even cut him every week. Then, he goes out and breaks some long runs later in the season, finishing with 1,200-plus yards -- something he has done in four of his five years -- and making the early fantasy decisions on him seem rash.
Johnson did get an upgrade along his offensive line, but that is mitigated by the schedule and Jake Locker's inability to prove he's an NFL-quality starting quarterback. Drafting Johnson will require some early intestinal fortitude.
|Tennessee Titans' 2013 schedule|
|Including a look at how the Titans' upcoming foes fared defensively in fantasy last season|
Stats via FFToday.com
The schedule is not kind to the Titans this season, particularly in the first part of the season. They face the Steelers, Texans, Jets, Seahawks and 49ers -- five stalwart defensive-minded teams -- in five of the first seven weeks. The Chiefs and Chargers aren't much of a break in the other two weeks. The schedule is decidedly better after the bye in Week 8, so owners should be able to easily trade for CJ2K, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Shonn Greene at that point. The rough start to the schedule might be the nail in the coffin on an owner's decision to draft any Titans.
QB: Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Darius Reynaud
WR: Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Justin Hunter
TE: Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens
K: Rob Bironas
|Tennessee Titans' 2012 defensive rankings|
This was an awful unit last year, ranking dead last in the NFL in points allowed. To say this unit was a non-factor in fantasy would be an understatement. The addition of Bernard Pollard from the Ravens will help slightly, but not enough to make anyone consider this a draftable defensive/special teams unit. The overall ineffectiveness of the defense will allow some guys in the secondary rack up some IDP numbers, though. Pollard is an elite safety in fantasy terms, while George Wilson and Jason McCourty are also interesting defensive backs.