In Part 3, we’ll look at the Titans wide receivers.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that the 2013 Tennessee Titans roster has potentially the deepest crop of receiving talent that we’ve seen since the team moved from Houston to Nashville.
The “Big 4” right now consists of Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, and the rookie Justin Hunter. These four guys, assuming they stay healthy, will see the most playing time.
Other notable names include fourth-year veteran Damian Williams, newly signed free agent Kevin Walter, Marc Mariani, and the big-bodied Michael Preston. I think it’s safe to rule out any of these guys as fantasy contenders unless multiple members of the Big 4 sustain injuries.
Although Britt was considered the “No. 1 receiver” last season, it was Wright who led the team in receptions with 64 and Washington who led the team in receiving yards with 746. Hunter led all receivers at the University of Tennessee in receptions (73), yards (1083), and touchdowns (9).
The fact of the matter is that any of these receivers could emerge as Jake Locker’s favorite target and become a fantasy stud, but each player is wrapped up in questions that won’t be answered until we see them play this year.
Will Britt return to his pre-injury form and play like the No.1 receiver that he can be? Will he stay healthy enough throughout the season to post big fantasy numbers?
Will Washington put in the effort that many say was lacking towards the end of last year? Will he be traded before the season starts? Will he see the field enough to be effective with the addition of Hunter?
Last year, Wright’s 9.8 yards per reception ranked 253rd in the league. Will he improve his consistency and yards after the catch working in Dowell Loggain’s run-heavy offense?
Will Hunter adjust to the speed of the NFL quickly and effectively? Will his injury history come back to haunt him? Will he see the field enough as a rookie to post fantasy-relevant numbers?
Kenny Britt, Average Draft Position: 88
Last year, Britt finished tied for No. 55 at receiver in fantasy scoring with an average of 4.5 points per game, posting a total of 45 catches for 589 yards and 4 touchdowns in 14 games.
This year, Britt enters camp fully healthy. He participated in all of OTAs, where he reportedly made some spectacular catches. This is a contract year for Britt, so if he can stay healthy (a big “if”), he should have the motivation to turn in a huge year.
It has been reported that this year’s offense is going to resemble that of the Houston Texans. Britt would take on the Andre Johnson role in that model, a player who has posted great fantasy numbers when healthy.
Britt has all the potential in the world to be a fantasy stud. That’s why I recommend taking Britt as a WR3 or WR4 this year, knowing that he has WR2 upside. I think his current ADP of 88 makes him one of the most promising sleepers of 2013.
Kendall Wright, Average Draft Position: 117
Kendall Wright not only led all Titans in receptions last year with 64, he also led all rookie receivers. On third down, he was Jake Locker’s go-to guy, as he also led all Titans receivers with 38 first downs.
Unfortunately, Wright did not turn in the kind of yardage numbers usually associated with a starting fantasy wide receiver, with only 626 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Among wide receivers, Wright finished No. 59 in fantasy scoring with just 4.8 points per game.
Wright was only a rookie last year thrust into an inept offensive system, playing alongside a terrible offensive line. Wright has the potential to be a solid WR3 and bye-week replacement player this year. However, I think the Titans will run the ball too often for Wright to see the number of targets that would make him a fantasy starter.
In points-per-reception leagues, Wright possesses WR2-upside. I can justify taking him in later rounds, 12th to 14th. Depending on how many teams are in your league, he might be the last non-defense/kicker you take, which could turn out to be a huge steal. In standard scoring formats, however, he should be drafted only in the deepest of leagues.
Nate Washington, Average Draft Position: 239
Nate Washington has been a reliable receiver for the Titans the last few years, but I think this is the year he is slowly phased out of the offense.
Last year, Washington led the Titans with 746 yards receiving on 46 catches, to go along with four touchdowns. His 16.2 yards per reception ranked seventh in the NFL among qualified players.
But, unfortunately, those days are soon to be over with the crop of talent the Titans have at his position. He doesn’t hold value in fantasy leagues this year unless somebody goes down with injury, and even then he’d be a WR4 at best. You can pass on Washington in this year’s draft.
Justin Hunter, Average Draft Position: 258
Justin Hunter led the University of Tennessee in receptions, yards, and touchdowns against the tough defenses of the SEC, despite being drafted after his teammate Cordarrelle Patterson.
This year, he’ll be two years removed from an ACL tear. Two years is the typical amount of time players need before returning to full strength (unless that player is Adrian Peterson).
Still, Hunter is a rookie, and will fight for playing time as a part of a talented Titans’ receiving corps. He probably won’t be drafted in redraft leagues this year and I can’t in good faith advise you to use a draft pick on him.
In dynasty formats, he may be worth stashing in the last few rounds, but will still most likely make his way to free agency.
The bottom line is that there is too much uncertainty surrounding the entire receiving corps to risk the fate of your fantasy season on any of these players. The good news is that you don’t have to. None of the Titans receivers are being drafted in starting territory, making them decent sleeper plays.
Kenny Britt has the best chance to break out this year, but Kendall Wright has some upside as well.
Agree? Disagree? Fantasy football questions? Hit me up on Twitter @JGra_TitanSized