2014 Team Outlook: Tennessee Titans
QB Jake Locker, --- - Bye Week Fill-in
Jake Locker's fourth season is going to be one to watch. His return from Lisfranc surgery has gone very well, and he is actually ahead of schedule. Locker needs to focus on a few key aspects of his game this season to be productive--namely his movement in the pocket and his completion percentage. Locker has a great offensive line and this should help him work to improve; however, another underwhelming season or a string of injuries would force the Titans to find a new QB for the future. The addition of Bishop Sankey from the draft will provide Locker a tough rusher that can help the passing game succeed. Locker is probably best left on the waiver wire until he produces something on the field.
Editor's note: It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Titans decide to keep Locker as their franchise QB after this season. For example, if they don't make the playoffs, how well would Locker need to play in order to be re-signed? The former Washington Huskies star is in a contract year and may be one season away from the end of his career. If that isn't motivation, nothing is.
QB Charlie Whitehurst, --- - Not Draft Worthy
Ken Whisenhunt wanted Whitehurst over Ryan Fitzpatrick, so he got his way. That's all Whitehurst has at this point. If Locker misses any time this season, the veteran Whitehurst will play. Now 31 years old, if he were any good, we would have probably noticed by now. He is not draft worthy.
RB Dexter McCluster, SD - Gamble (high risk)
Dexter McCluster makes the move from Kansas City to join Tennessee this season. McCluster is the guy we love to watch with his speed and natural abilities, yet has never put it together to produce much of a fantasy season. In his new home he will have to compete for carries with Bishop Sankey and Shonn Greene. McCluster's role in the running game will be a work-in-progress as the offense feels out the return of Jake Locker. The best guess is that McCluster will be used as a change-of-pace and on specialty plays where the Titans look to get him the ball in open space. If he is successful with his opportunities, he might get more snaps. He is a high-risk option due.
Editor's note: If we are to assume Greene is a bust, McCluster could walk into a larger role. The reality is that Greene is still in prohibiting McCluster's path toward more touches. There is some upside given McCluster's speed, but it is limited to very deep leagues.
RB Shonn Greene, --- - Bust (overvalued)
Could Shonn Greene be over the hill at 28? He very well could be. Greene's knee injuries have hampered his offseason progress and he has had two surgeries in nine months on the same knee. With the RB1 role locked up by rookie RB Bishop Sankey, Greene will take a permanent back seat. The former Iowa runner will be a bust, as much of his career would havve indicated. Though it's not all doom and gloom, since this season could provide some limited opportunities (such as short-yardage carries). Greene's low ceiling and disappointing athleticism make him a bust candidate.
Update 8/15/14 - Greene just had his knee scoped again and this does not bode well for his durability this season. It looks like Bishop Sankey will be getting the rock this season and Greene will fade out of the picture quickly. Greene should be back on the field soon, but I doubt he will be a force in the offense.
RB Bishop Sankey, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
DYNASTY STUD: We here at FFToolbox have Sankey ranked as the 25th-best running back; considering his situation, that may not be high enough. This ranking would make him a borderline RB2 pick. Some experts have him listed as a potential bust given his poor game tape showings, but he is going to produce at a high level. Shonn Greene is aging quickly and his knee injuries of years past are still bugging him. Sankey was the first running back taken in the draft and with his comparisons to Tiki Barber, he will be a guy to watch. The job in Tennessee is all his and Sankey has an excellent offensive line that will help guide a run-heavy attack. Sankey is a Top 3 or 4 pick in dynasty rookie drafts with serious short- and long-term upside.
WR Justin Hunter, BUF - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Justin Hunter looks to be on the upswing as a wideout making strides toward fantasy prowess. Hunter is a huge target and has red-zone appeal for Jake Locker. This season, Hunter moves up to the WR2 spot opposite Kendall Wright (displacing Nate Washington). Wright tends to get the slot looks and that means Hunter becomes the big play guy on the outside. If Locker can get the ball into the vicinity of Hunter, he has the ability to make plays. Shawn Jefferson (the Tennessee WR coach) has high expectations for Hunter and thinks that in his second season the former University of Tennessee WR will be a difference maker. Given his WR ranking and fantasy owner doubts in Locker, Hunter becomes a sleeper pick in redraft. He also has dynasty value in what has to be a much-anticipated 2014 campaign. Based on his ADP (116.09, WR49), Hunter ranks as a low WR4 or high WR5, yet could end up playing like a WR3 pick. Take a shot on this upside prospect.
Editor's note: Hunter was ahead of Cordarrelle Patterson and Da'Rick Rogers on the depth chart when the trio was at the University of Tennessee a couple years back. Patterson may be a different sort of playmaker, but this speaks to Hunter's big-time potential.