The Tennessee Titans have been awarded Randy Moss on waivers.
The Titans have a need for a receiver with youngster Kenny Britt expected to miss at least four weeks with a severe right hamstring injury, so it was not unexpected that they would put in a claim for Moss.
However, the biggest surprise is the teams ahead of the Titans in the claim process did not make a claim.
Of the playoff contending teams, the St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks all had waiver priority over Tennessee and are in need of help at the wide receiver position but decided against making a claim for Moss.
Their decisions allowed the Titans to claim Moss, moving him to a team that can use his deep threat ability while at the same times giving Chris Johnson more room to operate in the running game.
The Titans become Moss’ third team in 2010, having been traded to the Vikings from the Patriots on October 6th before being waived on Tuesday.
The Vikings decision to wave Moss so soon after acquiring him, resulted from his lack of production on the field, a well-publicized altercation with a catering staff, and a rambling five-minute post-game press conference that criticized Vikings’ coaches and praised his former head coach, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
The Titans are clearly gambling on Moss but it’s easy to see why they claimed him on waivers.
Their rushing attack hasn’t been as successful in 2010 because opposing defenses are clamping down on Chris Johnson, playing eight men in the box on a regular basis.
With Britt out for an extended period, this problem would have been even more exaggerated with Washington and Justin Gage in the starting line-up at wide receiver.
With Moss in the line-up, opposing defenses will play two safeties deep more frequently and that should give Johnson more breathing room in the running game. That makes Johnson a clear winner with the addition of Moss.
At quarterback, Vince Young and Kerry Collins also benefit from the addition of Moss. They get a player still capable of getting deep on a regular basis and that should also translate into more success for the receivers playing opposite Moss on intermediate routes.
Both quarterbacks are solid deep passers and become an upper tier backup for fantasy purposes with Young clearly having more upside given his ability to also contribute in the running game.
At wide receiver, Justin Gage has clearly lost his chance at moving into the starting line-up so he’s a fantasy loser with this move. He was a potential pickup in only the deepest of leagues anyway.
Nate Washington remains the second option but will be out of the starting line-up when Britt returns. Washington should see a slight increase in production until he loses his starting spot to Britt.
Britt goes from being the number one option to playing second fiddle to Moss but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He has proven capable of being productive when defenses focus too much attention on Johnson. If defenses focus exclusively on shutting down Moss and Johnson, Britt will have some big games when he returns. Consider Britt a mid-tier WR2 when he’s back in the line-up.
As for Moss, while this isn’t the ideal landing spot for him (that would have been New England), this isn’t a bad second option. He will fulfill the same role he did with the Patriots and Vikings. Look for him to getting plenty of deep looks and red zone work with Tennessee.
What should whet the appetite of his fantasy owners is the Titans schedule over the second half of the season. After a Week 9 bye, they face a number of weak passing defenses. Here is a list of the teams the Titans face between Week 10 and 16 and their pass defense rankings: Dolphins (18th), Redskins (31st), Texans (30th), Jaguars (32nd), Colts (13th), Texans (30th) and Chiefs (12th)
Moss shapes up as a mid-tier WR2 with upside but a player who brings considerable risk given his surly attitude and extremely questionable behavior in 2010. If motivated, he could be a significant fantasy contributor over the balance of the fantasy season considering the Titans schedule.