The Tennessee Titans could morph into a different team in 2014. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt has taken over, and if his stay with the San Diego Chargers in 2013 is any indication, he has a very specific layout for his new team’s offense.
Their success is undoubtedly going to start and end with quarterback Jake Locker, but if he can actually take that next step in his development, their offense could take off.
A healthy and improved Locker is clearly near the top of the list of guys who could do some damage in the fantasy football realm in 2014. Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are probably right up there, too. Even rookie running back Bishop Sankey’s fantasy stock is quickly soaring.
But what about those surprise options that many won’t even see coming? Let’s take a look at three interesting Tennessee players who could come out of nowhere and offer solid fantasy value in 2014:
Dexter McCluster (Running Back)
Whisenhunt didn’t bring McCluster in to sit around. The assumption is he had a very specific plan in place – one that consisted of a balanced backfield that may start with McCluster assuming a similar role seen by Danny Woodhead in San Diego.
In that role, the small but shifty and versatile Woodhead ran the ball 106 times for 429 yards and two touchdowns. His true value came as a receiver out of the backfield, however, where he hauled in an insane 76 receptions for 605 yards and another six scores.
McCluster isn’t quite as good as Woodhead, but he does have similar skill traits and also has NFL experience as both a true running back and true receiver. In other words, he’s built perfectly to mirror the role Woodhead played in Whisenhunt’s offense a year ago.
Potentially, that could equate to similar fantasy value. Woodhead still deferred to Ryan Mathews a lot as a true runner, and that’s going to be the case in Tennessee for McCluster, too. With that said, McCluster could very well be in for around 170-180 total touches while chasing elite Flex value on a weekly basis.
Zach Mettenberger (Quarterback)
Whoa, what? Yes, the rookie Mettenberger might actually play a role in the fantasy football world. He’s only the third option behind Locker and Charlie Whitehurst right now, but if the Titans’ season starts to go down the drain and they have nothing but the future to look to, why not see what the kid has?
Locker hasn’t yet proven to be a very consistent performer, and even if he does make the leap in 2014, he still has to defy the injury bug – something he’s been unable to do.
Mettenberger faces a bit of a road to obtaining any real fantasy value (or even seeing the field), but he was a heck of a steal in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He possesses the size, arm and pocket presence to evolve into a very solid starting quarterback. Truth be told, his skill-set is actually quite similar to Philip Rivers – the guy Ken Whisenhunt just got done with in San Diego. That pairing worked out pretty well.
Taylor Thompson (Tight End)
Of these three options, Thompson might be the biggest long shot, as he’s fairly buried on Tennessee’s depth chart and is still quite raw. A converted defensive end, Thompson still isn’t where he needs to be in terms of his hands and route-running, but his massive size and athleticism still make him an interesting red-zone option and a guy who could eventually be a factor over the middle of the field.
Delanie Walker is currently locked in as Tennessee’s main tight end, but Thompson is a deep sleeper worth monitoring.
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.