Fantasy Football Sleeper: Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titan quarterback Jake Locker should top the list of all fantasy football sleeper QBs. I understand that is a rather bold statement, and I equally give you the fact Locker has struggled statistically since Tennessee drafted him eighth over all in the 2011 NFL Draft. I am also aware of the consistency issues that have plagued Locker during his young.
The negative of Locker’s game is well publicized and rightfully so – he hasn’t lived up to a top ten draft pick.
All of that said, Tennessee is a franchise whose head coach, Mike Munchak is now a permanent fixture on the NFL coaching hot seat. From that seat during free agency and at the 2013 NFL Draft he and the Titans organization did not look for QB help, but instead they invested in a surrounding cast of characters for Locker. That has to speak to not only their confidence in Locker but also their intent to keep him a permanent fixture in the Titan backfield. So he will get his snaps – all of them.
The upgrades in free agency and during the draft are significant. Offensive weapons are the fan’s favorites when it comes to selections and signings, but football folks know that championships are built and won in the trenches.
With this philosophy in mind the Titans and Munchak drastically altered one of the worst offensive lines in football from a season ago. In free agency they brought in former Buffalo Bill Andy Levitre thought by many to be one of the free agent catches of the year. In the draft Tennessee wasted little time nabbing Alabama guard Chance Warmack thought by many to be the best guard in the draft. In round four the Titans finished the renovation grabbing Cal Bear center Brian Schwenke.
Tennessee did add additional weapons aside from the big men up front to Locker’s arsenal. Former New York Jet running back Shonn Greene was brought in via free agency and they stayed local grabbing Tennessee Volunteer Justin Hunter in the draft’s second round. Hunter, thought by some to be better than teammate and first round pick Cordarrelle Patterson, was a potential steal in the second round that has tremendous upside.
Add the new to the current role players of Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright (another potential fantasy sleeper) and the future is beginning to brighten up in Tennessee. Locker has all the talent and tangibles but has spent much of his career as an NFL QB on his back. The offseason changes to a line once seen as the worst and now potentially one of the best will give Locker the time he needs to accurately release the ball.
The line upgrades should also return the Titan running game back to the mantle of NFL elite ground games taking significant pressure from Locker’s shoulders.
Although there have been glimpses, Locker has yet to consistently live up to the expectations a top ten pick warrants. Another year of experience and maturity plus a much improved line and run game along with the confidence of a coaching staff and franchise bestowed upon Locker makes him a very viable fantasy football sleeper pick.