Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterbackJake Locker
(10) looks to pass against the Washington Redskins during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit:Jim Brown
-USA TODAY Sports
The Tennessee Titans haven’t exactly been a source of dominant fantasy football production. However, until now, they’ve also had fairly predictable play-calling. With new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, that should change.
Whisenhunt was at least part of a major career revival for Philip Rivers in San Diego last year, while he also made terrific use of little man Danny Woodhead and rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen. Needless to say, Whisenhunt didn’t exactly have what many would call elite talent around him, yet helped the Chargers form a very balanced and effective offense.
You never knew how San Diego would kill you or who they’d kill you with. With Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt also gone, the Titans have shed some weight that could have been holding them back. It’s a new fantasy season in 2014 and it could offer new opportunity for some of Tennessee’s skill players.
Let’s break down each player and project what we can expect out of them for the upcoming fantasy season:
Jake Locker (Quarterback)
Assuming Locker can actually finally stay healthy and play a full season, it’s not at all crazy to think he can resemble a competent quarterback with improved coaching and an offense that is designed to get the ball out quickly. Never the most accurate quarterback, Locker should dump the ball off to newly signed Dexter McCluster, while also getting short passes out quickly to guys like Delanie Walker and Kendall Wright. In addition, Whisenhunt should look to take shots with Locker’s exceptional arm strength, making use of Justin Hunter down the field and in the red-zone.
Locker could absolutely still be the erratic, injury-prone guy he’s been to this point, but fantasy football is all about upside. If he can stay on the field and understand what Whisenhunt wants out of him, he can be a very useful fantasy asset.
Projection: 3,400 passing yards, 18 TD, 14 INT, 450 rush yards, 5 TD
Shonn Greene (Running Back)
Greene takes over for the departed Chris Johnson. Unless the Titans draft a running back early in this year’s draft, should serve as Whisenhunt’s version of Ryan Mathews in Tennessee’s offense. Greene doesn’t have the natural talent that Mathews does, but he does have good size and power. He should be the team’s early down and short-yardage back. That doesn’t necessarily equate to huge fantasy numbers, but he won’t be a total waste if he locks down that role, either.
Greene will likely start the season as the main early-down back, but we have to factor in Dexter McCluster for about 100 carries and a big role as a receiver out of the backfield. Factor in a potential rookie back, as well, as Greene’s upside could be fairly limited.
Projection: 650 rushing yards, 6 TD, 15 receptions, 1 TD
Dexter McCluster (Running Back)
McCluster is where it’s at right now for the running back position in this offense. If there was someone as talented as Ryan Mathews, I’d get excited. Unfortunately, the only other back is the plodding Shonn Greene. It’s time to get excited about McCluster, who Whisenhunt will deploy as a Danny Woodhead type, seeing 100-plus rushing attempts and anywhere between 50-80 receptions. Like Woodhead, McCluster is too small to be an every down back, but is still an effective runner from all areas and is also an extremely gifted and shifty receiver.
McCluster should be extremely involved from day one and should end up being a solid weekly Flex play at the very worst.
Projection: 455 rushing yards, 4 TD, 65 receptions, 4 TD
Kendall Wright (Wide Receiver)
We already know by now that Wright is a PPR threat based off of his impressive 94 catches in 2013. However, fantasy owners hope he gets unleashed a little more as he has way more potential than he’s shown so far in Tennessee. How much better he can do will depend on the development of Locker, as Wright has the speed to hit plays deep and do damage with the ball in his hands. Still, we know that he’s the top target in the passing game. Even if he’s not busting big plays, he should still be providing solid weekly numbers. Just don’t expect his touchdowns to pick up all that much, as he’s not a real red-zone threat.
Projection: 89 receptions, 1,005 receiving yards, 5 TD
Justin Hunter (Wide Receiver)
Hunter came into the league a bit raw in 2013, but we still were able to see him make some plays (specifically a clutch game-winning touchdown against the Chargers) and the potential is obvious. Like the rest of Tennessee’s passing weapons, he’s probably only going to go as far as Locker can take him. He can help Locker just as much, though, as he’s a massive target who can make plays on the ball, as well as once the ball is in his hands. He won’t be a monster PPR guy in his second season, but Whisenhunt worked wonders with a rookie last year and there is major potential for him to do it again here with Hunter. Consider him a sleeper to be taken late in drafts.
Projection: 40 receptions, 650 receiving yards, 6 TD
Nate Washington (Wide Receiver)
Washington has been a cut candidate the past two years for the Titans, yet he keeps sticking around and making big plays. It’s reasonable to question whether or not he fits the team’s long-term plans, especially if Hunter can rise up this year, but he’s still a very solid receiver. He could even be a fantasy asset, but at this point he can’t be trusted as anything more than a WR3.
Projection: 55 receptions, 755 receiving yards, 5 TD
Delanie Walker (Tight End)
Whisenhunt already seems to be a fan of Walker, comparing him to Antonio Gates, who he worked with in San Diego. That’s pretty high praise, although Walker has nowhere near the size or speed Gates has had throughout his career. Walker is still a solid athlete who can make plays, though, and if Wiz is high on him, fantasy owners need to take notice. Walker actually enjoyed a very solid first season with the Titans in 2013, catching 60 balls for 571 yards and six scores. We can expect about the same, if not a little better production, in 2014.
Projection: 65 receptions, 655 receiving yards, 5 TD
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.