Fantasy football season is here, and as draft day approaches, it is time to debate and decide on some key topics that could make or break our collective fantasy seasons. Through our faceoff series Dave Stringer and new contributor Andrew Kareckas provide opposing views so you can decide who gives the most compelling argument for their side of the faceoff.
Which 2nd year running back is a better fantasy pick for 2009, Steve Slaton or Chris Johnson?
Coming out of West Virginia, Steve Slaton was somewhat of an afterthought given his size which enabled the Texans to steal him in the 3rd round. In his second season, I project more of the same from Slaton with about 1,300 yards rushing and an improvement in the passing game to about 600 yards receiving. That latter projection is the difference between Slaton and Johnson, who wasn’t as elusive as expected as a receiver. Both are talented speedsters with the ability to break one through the middle. Slaton, however, has better hands which may allow him to replicate the efforts of the Eagles’ Brian Westbrook. As the Texans and Slaton improve together, expect consistent touches and double digit TDs. If you buy the Westbrook comparison, look for an expanded role for Slaton in 2009 as the team designs plays to get him in space. ~ Dave
While Slaton looked good last year in Houston, the electrifying Chris Johnson has more upside and figures to have a monster campaign in 2009 if the Titans reduce LenDale White’s role. And with Johnson averaging a full yard per carry more than White, there is little reason to think that won’t happen. While both players have the ability to make defenders miss, Johnson is clearly the faster of the two and capable of more big plays. If both players get roughly the same amount of touches (the guess here is that they both are around 320), Johnson will put up better production in 2009. ~ Andy
I think Dave just nudges Andrew on the debate here. Personally, I’m a bit leery about both of these players as a prime 1st round pick, but slightly moreso with Slaton. That may be unfair to Slaton, who performed great last year, but Johnson does have better pedigree. Consider that knock on Slaton another positive comparison to Brian Westbrook, who was perenially undervalued but just kept on producing.
While I do think the Texans’ offense is on the upswing, fantasy players may be hyping them up a little more than warranted at this time. We know the Titans have built a solid foundation of a winning football team, to which Johnson benefits. In terms of receiving options, the Texans are better at the WR and TE positions, which could detract from Slaton’s receiving numbers relative to Johnson.
Johnson does have a TD vulture to contend with, the effective (although heavier at the time) LenDale White, but rumblings from the Texans indicate they are looking to manage Slaton’s workload to prevent him getting worn down. But who is going to do it? Maybe it is inevitable Slaton does get worn down as a result.
Tough call here, and a great first faceoff with more to come from Dave and Andy. We don’t have a poll function in the blog so check the forum post to place your vote.