On Thursday, August 8th, the Tennessee Titans open up their 2013 preseason by hosting the Washington Redskins. Most of the time, preseason games are meaningless to the fans, espcially the first preseason game.
The coaching staff is saying the starters will see 20-25 snaps. For reference, the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys ran 76 and 58 total plays, respectively, in Sunday’s Hall of Fame game. That means the Titans starters could play as much as the entire first quarter, maybe more.
Every once in a while, some fantasy-relevant information can be gleaned from these contests. Here are the top five fantasy football aspects to watch for starting Thursday night:
1. Offensive Playcalling
Thursday marks the first time the offensive system created by Dowell Loggains will be truly unveiled. It will be interesting to see how many plays the Titans run out of the pistol, the distribution of run plays vs. pass plays, and how many designed runs will be called for Jake Locker.
The Titans may elect to take it easy on plays where Jake could take big hits. They may keep some key formations hidden until Week 1. But these details could hint at what kind of fantasy season Locker may be heading towards.
2. The Offensive Line
The Titans hope to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage much more effectively this year. To do this, the offensive linemen will need to come together as a complete unit.
It will be interesting to see how the newcomers and the long-time Titans mesh with each other. The center battle looks to be an intriguing story line. Chance Warmack will experience his first NFL action.
How effective will Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene look running behind this new and improved offensive line? How comfortable will Jake Locker feel in the pocket this group creates?Will he have time to find guys like Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright downfield? The fantasy value of every Titans skill player may rest on the offensive line’s abilities.
3. Chris Johnson vs. Shonn Greene
How many reps will Greene get with the first team offense? How many touches will he take away from CJ? Will Johnson get enough touches to return to his fantasy glory days?
What happens in the first preseason game may not be a true indicator of the regular season. But if Greene runs well and CJ doesn’t, it could be very telling. On the flip side, if CJ2K looks like his old self, he could be in line for a monster fantasy year.
4. Kenny Britt vs. Kendall Wright
Kenny Britt: the 6’3”, 215-pound monster. The downfield, red-zone threat. Defenses can’t let him out of their sight.
Kendall Wright: the 5’10”, 196-pound elusive sophomore. The possession receiver who’s also capable of taking any catch to the house.
Which guy will step up and be Jake’s go-to receiver? Kenny Britt is the more dominant athlete, but Kendall seems to be Locker’s favorite target. Whichever guy emerges as the Titans leading receiver will have dangerous sleeper potential in fantasy football.
5. Taylor Thompson’s Development
I am curious to see how much Taylor Thompson has adjusted to playing the tight end position. Delanie Walker is still injured, so Thompson should have every opportunity to prove himself on Thursday.
Reports out of camp are that Thompson has vastly improved in such areas as route running and pass-catching. Already established as an excellent blocker, will Thompson be able to put it all together in a live game setting? Has he developed enough of a rapport with Locker to be an effective offensive weapon?
Thursday’s game may give us an idea of whether or not Thompson could be a viable fantasy option this year. It’s the difference between him being a complete nobody and him holding value as a deep sleeper.
As we travel deeper into the preseason, the answers to most of these questions will become more and more apparent. Thursday’s game provides us the first taste of what the Titans offense can deliver from a fantasy perspective. Who will deliver on their potential?
Ask me your questions on Twitter @JGra_TitanSized. I’ll be tweeting out my positional rankings over the month of August.