32 Questions: Tennessee Titans
Thirty-two teams, 32 burning fantasy questions. Throughout the preseason, we put one of these questions to an ESPN.com analyst for an in-depth look at the most interesting, perplexing or dumbfounding fantasy facet of each NFL team. Be sure to check out all 32 questions.
Does Vince Young have enough skill, weapons and experience to be a top-five fantasy quarterback?
It's difficult not to dream of what Young might do. On a football field, the person he most closely resembles was born on Krypton. In fact, by now it seems Young has been performing spectacularly on a big stage for so long that it's tough to remember he just turned 24. Or that he has exactly 15 games of NFL experience. Or that he threw 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. Or that he fumbled 11 times (losing three). Or that his quarterback rating in '06 was 66.7. Or that he completed just 51.5 percent of his throws.
Those are the holes in Young's résumé, and they're all related to inexperience. But what's left after you're done finding fault is a kid with spectacular athletic prowess and, perhaps even more important, abilities to "make things happen" and "elevate his team" that you don't see too frequently outside a guy named Brady. Young rushed for 552 yards last season (6.7 yards per carry) and seven scores. He has a great big arm, and he's particularly deadly out of the shotgun; his quarterback rating and his yards per carry increased dramatically when he stepped away from center.
If you're drafting Young, I think you probably understand you're not getting a typical fantasy quarterback. His value will come only partly from the passing game, which is good, because among receivers returning from last year, Bo Scaife caught the most passes (29). Brandon Jones is an intriguing wideout because he's relatively big (6-foot-1) and very fast, has excellent hands, and is a good athlete and red zone target. His problem has been staying healthy. David Givens is still recovering from his torn ACL and won't be ready to start the season, so Courtney Roby could line up opposite Jones. (Forgive me for not getting excited about Eric Moulds.) Scaife is Young's teammate from the University of Texas and can be an interesting deep sleeper. But we're not talking about a ton of arrows in VY's aerial quiver.
No, to belabor the obvious, Young is a fantasy stud-in-waiting because of his legs. Without a proven red zone rusher on this team (the Titans imagined LenDale White would've taken over that role by now, but then again, they also imagined he'd have stopped eating entire cans of Crisco in a single sitting), you have to assume Young is the primary goal-line rusher, meaning last year's seven running touchdowns are just the beginning and 10 might be more like it. It also seems likely he'll muster a minimum of 600 yards rushing. At this point, it becomes a mere algebra equation: Because rushing touchdowns and rushing yards are almost invariably more valuable in fantasy leagues than passing touchdowns and passing yards, Young is a 600-yard, 10-score running back who'll just happen to rack up 2,500 yards passing and maybe 14 passing touchdowns.
That makes him fantasy gold and, in my mind, vaults him past Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck and Tony Romo and puts him at right about the same level as Drew Brees and Marc Bulger. I grant you, Brees and Bulger aren't the injury risks Young is (and considering Bulger's history, that's saying something), and frankly, they're not the overall risks Young is, either, because their track records are longer and more substantial. But the road to football glory is littered with the carcasses of people who've doubted Vince Young, and forgive me for stating the unsubtle, but VY has way more upside than perhaps any quarterback you can draft outside Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. So if you have a choice between taking Manning in the first round or Young in the fourth? Sign me up for Vince. I do believe that, when all's said and done, he'll produce top-five fantasy quarterback value.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.