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, NYJ - 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, --- - 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 Chris Johnson, ARI - Solid/Safe Pick
RB Shonn Greene, --- - 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).
WR Kenny Britt, LAR - Solid/Safe Pick
UPDATE (10/22): With the trade deadline approaching on October 29th, Britt's name has been mentioned often has he's fallen out of favor with the Titans. The soon to be free agent had just eight catches for 67 yards on the season and needs a change of scenery to have any fantasy relevance.
PROFILE: The oft injured / off the field nightmare is entering the final year of his contract and will need to prove his health / maturity in order to remain in Tennessee. There is no doubting Britt's upside, but he has yet to top 800 yards in any of his first four seasons in the NFL, while missing 19 games due to injury / suspension. Early word from camp is that Britt's knees are close to 100% and if he can match his career highs in 45 catches (2012), 775 yards (2010) and nine touchdowns (2010), Britt could justify a big pay day when he hits free agency after the season. Britt is best drafted as WR3, but has the potential to put up borderline WR1 numbers if Jake Locker improves his accuracy.
WR Nate Washington, NE - Bye Week Fill-in
UPDATE (10/22): Washington's fantasy relevance has been heavily dependent on the occasional big play. With Locker under center, Washington topped 100 yards receiving in weeks three and four. He had just four catches for 45 yards with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center so his fantasy prospects are looking much better now that Locker has returned to the lineup. On the season, Washington is averaging 63 yards per game and has scored two touchdowns. His PPR value is very limited as he has just 26 catches on the season but his ability to hit the big play should Washington a solid lower end WR3 / bye week filler in standard leagues.
PROFILE: Washington followed up his career year in 2011 (74 catches for 1,023 yards - only 1000 yard season of his career) by regressing back to his mediocre self as he finished last season with 46 catches for 746 yards and 4 TDs. The soon to be 30 year old WR has two years and $9 million remaining on his contract, which has led some to suspect that a potential release or trade is possible. Washington is too far down the depth chart to be fantasy relevant, especially on a Titan offense that is expected to focus more on the run game after the investments to the offensive line.