2013 Team Outlook: Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker enters his 3rd NFL season in a make or break year as the former first round pick has yet to impress (just 14 TDs and 11 INTs in 16 games). Matt Hasselbeck is now in Indianapolis backing up Andrew Luck and former Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed by the Titans as an insurance policy in case Locker can't take the next step. The Titan offense averaged just 21 PPG in 2012, but a reinforced interior O-line could lead to improved production provided CJ2K can return to his 2009 form (topped 2000 yards). The Titans spent heavily on former Buffalo LG Andy Levitre and used a top-ten pick on Alabama RG Chance Warmack. Levitre is undersized and not considered to be a great run blocker and Warmack will likely face growing pains, so the immediate impact is to be determined. The Titans' passing offense ranked 21st in the NFL last season as Kenny Britt floundered, but rookie Kendall Wright showed flashes and will be joined by 2013 2nd round pick Justin Hunter to form one of the more intriguing WR corps for dynasty leaguers. The WRs will be relied on much more this season as TE Jared Cook followed the free agent money to St. Louis. Former 49er Delanie Walker is penciled in atop the Titan TE depth chart, but he's a significant decline in the receiving department from Cook.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU - Quality Backup
The Harvard alum signed a 2-year contract with the Titans to serve as the backup / insurance for oft injured starter Jake Locker (recovering from shoulder surgery). Fitzpatrick started all 16 games for the Bills in 2012 and completed 61% of his passes for 3,400 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. His limited arm strength and questionable decision making would be a downgrade for the Titan WRs if he ends up under center this season. With Locker's injury history, Fitzpatrick remains one of the better backups to stash late in drafts as he could very well see a handful of starts this season.
QB Jake Locker, TEN - Gamble (high risk)
UPDATE (10/22): Locker missed two games (weeks five and six) with a hip injury be returned under center for the seven loss to San Francisco passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Through five games, Locker is averaging just 209 YPG with eight touchdowns and only one interception. He's added 18 carries for 127 yards and could make for decent bye week filler in week 10 (vs Jacksonville) and week 14 (vs Denver).
PROFILE: The 8th overall pick of the 2011 draft has yet to justify his draft slot and could find himself in a camp battle with former Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Locker suffered shoulder injuries that limited him to 11 games in 2012 and he topped 20 fantasy points just once. An improved offensive line will likely lead to a greater focus on the run as the Titans would be wise to utilize Locker as more of a game manager (had just four games with 35+ pass attempts in 2012). Locker does possess moderate dual threat ability, as he finished with 40 carries for 291 yards (27 YPG) last season. The addition of rookie WR Justin Hunter paired with Kendall Wright and knucklehead Kenny Britt form a group of solid weapons, but Locker will need to overcome accuracy questions and stay healthy in order to be considered anything more than a low end QB2 in his 3rd NFL season.
RB Shonn Greene, TEN - Quality Backup
UPDATE (10/22): Greene missed four games following a knee scope and has just five carries for 20 yards on the season. He's expected to return to goal line vulture duties when the Titans return from the week eight bye --- Jackie Battle will likely move back to third on the depth chart.
PROFILE: The former Jet signed a 3-year $10 million contract to serve as CJ's backup, but word out of Titan camp is that Greene will also see a large amount of the red zone looks (which could keep him on the fantasy radar, despite a less than impressive 4.0 YPC average over the past two seasons, as the feature back for the Jets). The Iowa alum has proven to be nothing more than a plodder during his first four seasons, but has been very reliable (missed just 3 games to date). It is worth noting that in short yardage situations (less than 2 yards to go) Greene was below average in 2012 as he carried 33 times for 85 yards (2.57 YPC - NFL average was 3.1YPC); on the plus side, he scored seven touchdowns. It remains to be seen how much work Greene will see, but he is worth stashing (especially in leagues that are more reliant on TD-scoring, as head coach Mike Munchak has named Greene their goal line back for now).
RB Chris Johnson, NYJ - Solid/Safe Pick
WR Kendall Wright, TEN - Bye Week Fill-in
UPDATE (10/22): Wright has emerged as a solid PPR option in the first half of the season as he's hauled in 40 passes for 433 yards (62 yards per game) but has just one touchdown limiting and remains a mediocre WR3 option in standard scoring leagues as the #1 WR in the Titans run heavy offense.
PROFILE: The 20th overall pick in the 2012 draft out of Baylor showed flashes of his potential during his rookie season. The Titan passing game floundered last season, finishing 22nd in the league on the shoulders of over the hill Matt Hasselbeck. Wright led the team in receptions (64), but his yardage (626) and touchdowns (4) were far from starting fantasy caliber. At just 5'10, 195, Wright will continue to serve as a possession WR that will see the bulk of his targets on slants, making him a better option in PPR leagues. The drafting of Justin Hunter and addition of free agent Kevin Walter could also cut into Wright's workload as he enters his sophomore season. Draft him as a WR4 with upside (especially in dynasty leagues).
WR Justin Hunter, TEN - Dynasty Only
UPDATE (10/22): The rookie has yet to catch more than one pass in a game and is not a fantasy option barring injury to Kendall Wright or Nate Washington. He has just three catches for 58 yards through seven games -- but made his limited targets count scoring two touchdowns. Hunter is merely a dynasty league option for now.
UPDATE (8/13): Hunter is struggling with drops in training camp and the Titan coaching staff have been questioning his mental make up, which could bury the rookie on the depth chart. He should be off the fantasy radar unless you are in a dynasty league.
The Titans traded up to select Tennessee WR Justin Hunter with the No. 34 overall pick, sending the No. 40 and 216 overall picks to the 49ers, in addition to a 2014 third-rounder. Hunter regained his explosiveness following a 2011 knee injury. In 2012, he totaled 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns. A full year removed from ACL surgery, Hunter posted impressive results at the combine (4.44 forty, 39.5-inch vertical and 11-foot-4 broad jump -- longest of any WR). He's battled a hamstring injury in camp and is positioned in a crowded Titan WR corps with Jake Locker under center ; the 6-foot-4, 202-pound wide out is nothing more than a deep round flier. He has been compared to AJ Green, but dropped a disturbing 12% of his targets in his final collegiate season. This will need to be cleaned up before the Vol alum makes an impact at the NFL level.