Not by popular demand, I am going to break down how I arrived at Vince Young's Fantasy projection here on CBSSports.com. Earlier on, I broke down Laurence Maroney. Since then I've had requests for Eli Manning. He's next up on the blog.
But I do quarterbacks differently than other positions, because I think it's the receivers that make the QB position what it is. So in my first batch of projections, I make the total passing yardage equal the total receiving yardage from all the receivers on the team. I know it doesn;'t work out that way in NFL stat sheets, but it's just a first draft.
So in essence, when I project Vince Young's stats, I project the Titans' receiving corps. The biggest change in Tennessee's pass game is the addition of TE Alge Crumpler, who made his bones catching short- and medium-range tosses from Michael Vick for years in Atlanta. A substantial amount of Crumpler's catches came on broken-down plays and check-down plays thanks to Vick either passing on or missing his first read. Vince Young doesn't miss many of his reads but will find it too easy to hit his new tight end for first downs. Last year, Tennessee's tight ends caught 63 passes and 51 the year before. Young will like having Crumpler around, and Fantasy owners should see a benefit in Young's stat line.
Past Crumpler, who's left? Justin Gage had a breakout 55-catch season, but I'm not sure he could do it again although he does have monster size and big hands. Roydell Williams had a couple of nice games but was too inconsistent Fantasywise. He'll still contribute to VY's bottom line. And Justin McCareins is back in Tennessee, but should be in more of a supporting role (unless the Titans bump Roydell to the slot and McCareins to the starting lineup, which might end up happening. That trio should be good for just more than double what Crumpler will give Young.
Throw in about a dozen receptions each for LenDale White and Chris Henry and some catches for the supporting staff in Tennessee (they've got some WR depth with second-year receivers Paul Williams and Chris Davis in addition to on-their-way-out guys like Brandon Jones and Mike Williams) and you end up with Tennessee's skill-position players totaling 283 receptions. By the virtue of my yardage projections, that pushes them to 3,301 yards, and I have them earmarked for 17 passing touchdowns (five for Crumpler to lead the team).
A lot of people will look at that number and say "There's no way Vince Young is a 3,000-yard passer," but I'm telling you that you cannot discount Alge Crumpler's presence and how he'll open things up for Young, way more than Bo Scaife and Ben Troupe did for him in years past. Even with modest numbers from Gage, Williams and McCareins, Young can get there (I have that trio totaling just over 1,500 yards).
But here's the catch ... Young is no lock to make 16 games. He hasn't in two seasons, so those 3,301 yards won't all be his. Kerry Collins will get a cut, too. Additionally, Tennessee's offensive line has taken a hit this offseason, losing guard Benji Olson to retirement and guard Jacob Bell to the Rams. Jake Scott will replace Bell at right guard, but the Titans have fourth-round pick Leroy Harris penciled in at left guard. It's not a bad offensive line, but it has its weaknesses, and teams will attack them.
Ultimately, I have Young getting 15 starts in 15 games with 246-of-409 passing for 2,928 yards and 15 touchdowns (all career-highs for Young) with 15 interceptions. So yes, I am saying Young will have a "career year" passing ... but it doesn't mean a monster season.
What about the rushing?
With the passing game improved, Young might not run as much as he has in the past. He actually tried running more last season but got fewer yards, a sign that opposing defenses have a much better handle of him now than when he was a rookie. As an example, the AFC South did a good job containing Young last season on the ground (just one rushing TD in those five games). Additionally, Young did not play well against 3-4 defenses last season; he has four rivals this year that line up in the 3-4 (including Baltimore and Pittsburgh) and also faces the tough run defenses of the NFC North.
I expect Young to still post nice rushing numbers for a quarterback, but not what you might hope for. I've got him running 67 times (an average of 4.5 carries per game) for just 271 yards (just a smidge over 4.00 yards per carry) and three touchdowns on the ground. Suffice to say, Tennessee will be glad to have added Crumpler just so there's one more option for Young to look at before taking off.
I've got Young as a No. 2 Fantasy QB, and these numbers might push him out of the "platoonable QB" territory.
What are your predictions for Mr. Young in 2008? Let me know by responding to this blog.