The Tennessee Titans released RB Chris Johnson this offseason, and he is now a member of the New York Jets. Up until yesterday, Shonn Greene was the unquestioned starting RB for the team, but then the Titans drafted Bishop Sankey out of the University of Washington. Does Sankey have the opportunity to make an immediate impact in fantasy football?
Greene is actually an underrated player. While he played with the Jets, he quietly rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2011 and 2012 with six and eight TDs respectively. At 5-foot-11 and 233 pounds, he is a burly back who can push defenders back into the end zone in goal-line situations. However, Greene will turn 29 in August, and he also missed five games last year due to a knee injury he sustained in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While I fully expect Greene to continue to be involved, I think that Sankey has the opportunity to play quite a few snaps right out of college. Last season, Sankey had over 2,000 combined yards and 21 total TDs. At 5-foot-10 and 203 pounds, Sankey is a slightly smaller back, but he has great vision in finding the holes and is a receiving threat as well as a runner.
The Titans bolstered their already-tough offensive line by drafting tackle Taylor Lewan out of the University of Michigan with the 11th overall pick. Tennessee also liked throwing the ball to Johnson last year to get him out in space, where he does the most damage. Sankey is in a good situation where he will get decent run blocking as well as offensive play calling that will look to tailor plays to best use his strengths.
Sankey is obviously unproven in the NFL, and he will share carries and lose some goal-line touches to Greene. However, I think that he will be the starting RB for the Titans at some point in the 2014 season, if not at the start of the year. A conservative estimate for Sankey next year would be about 600 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards and six total TDs. He will be one of the few rookie RBs that I would take a chance on late in the draft.