For one, and only one reason whatsoever, the Tennessee Titans have a special place in my heart.
Bless you, Bishop Sankey.
Okay, all kidding aside, the Titans are up next in the Fantasy 32 series. This offense really doesn’t have a lot to like in terms of fantasy, but, like most teams to me, they are intriguing. A young, promising quarterback (who must stay healthy), an emerging wideout, and, of course, the greatest running back of all time.
Wait. Chris Johnson is gone?
The Titans continue to wait for Jake Locker to be really, really good. He’s missed 23 games over the course of his first three seasons, and continues to raise questions regarding his durability. It’s even more frustrating when you consider the fact that he has strong fantasy upside, considering his ability to get out of the pocket and run with the football. At 6’3″, 223 lbs and a 4.59 40-time, Locker has an elite combination of size and speed, presenting the ability to break big runs, which is always fun for fantasy owners. However, the passing volume hasn’t been there.
But could that change this year?
New head coach Ken Wisenhunt has had a strong track record in the passing game, especially last season in San Diego. He’s produced some strong fantasy options under center.
Wisenhunt helped rejuvenate Philip Rivers last year, as the Chargers had a balanced attack, but also made Rivers’ job easier. That could go the same with Locker, and if you are in a deeper league, or are planning on streaming a pair of passers, target Locker late. Because if he hits, he’ll hit in a big way.
The apple of my eye, the peanut butter to my jelly, Bishop Sankey is my man crush of the year. I mean, the guy is my Twitter avatar and I’ve written about him religiously. When previewing the draft, I projected Sankey to land in Tennessee in the second round, and now that it came to fruition, I’m thrilled. Sankey, in my biased opinion, is the best all around back in this class. He may not do one thing at an elite level, but does practically everything very well. Terrific vision, great burst, good patience at the line of scrimmage and the best cutting ability I’ve seen in a while, Sankey will mesh perfectly with this elite offensive line that ranked top-five in football a year ago.
And while Chris Johnson tried to blame his offensive line at times, get this. According to Pro Football Focus, since 2009, Johnson has gone untouched in the backfield on 70 percent of his carries in every season. Johnson was looking for the home run, rather than taking the solid gain of six or seven, as Pete Damilatis points out so beautifully below.
*via Pete Damilatis of PFF
Sankey is a very decisive runner who attacks the hole when he sees it, so I love his chances running behind a towering offensive line that just got bigger, drafting Taylor Lewan. Meanwhile, his only competition is a plodding Shonn Greene and an even more plodding Jackie Battle. And, while many people think Johnson has been bad in terms of real football, he has finished as the 11th, 1st, 5th, 16th, 12th and 9th-best fantasy rusher in each of the last six seasons.
2013 was the year of the second-year wide receiver breakout, as Kendall Wright continued the trend. The Baylor product hauled in 94 balls, the seventh-most in football, and was targeted a healthy 140 times, and the presence of Wisenhunt should allow the Titans to throw the ball more than 33.3 times per game (22nd). Wisenhunt has had success with guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Heck, even Steve Breaston had a 1,000-yard campaign in Arizona has the number three option. I will say, however, that Wright actually benefited from Ryan Fitzpatrick being under center, as he ranked inside the top-five in pass attempts to the slot, according to PFF. That’s where Wright operates, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs with Locker. Still, he’s a safe bet in PPR leagues.
Also, look for Justin Hunter to take a step forward in 2014. He saw inconsistent playing time in 2013 due to his tendencies to drop the football, but he also showed some flashes, too. Other than that, there isn’t a ton to like for fantasy purposes in the Tennessee passing game.
Delanie Walker came on towards the end of last season, ultimately finishing with a respectable 60 catches for 571 yards and six scores. He, too, saw more production with checkdown Fitzpatrick under center, but still, the hiring of former tight ends coach in Wisenhunt should help, as he compared him to Antonio Gates. He’ll be one of the guys to target if you miss out on the top tier tight ends.