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2013 Player Outlooks – Tennessee Titans

By: — July 17, 2013 @ 10:53 pm
Jake Locker

An improved o-line hasn’t moved locker out of QB2 territory.

QB Jake Locker
(2012 QB Rank – #29, 16.7 FPts/G)

The Titans’ 2011 first-round pick has pretty much everything a team wants in its starting quarterback: size, mobility, speed, and a big arm. Missing is accuracy and the ability to read NFL defenses. Locker struggled with his mechanics and completion percentage in college at Washington and that has continued in Tennessee, where he has completed just 55.5 percent of his passes. A shoulder injury caused him to miss five games in 2012 as he threw for 2,176 yards with ten touchdowns and 11 interceptions. This past offseason the Titans added wide receivers Justin Hunter and Kevin Walter but lost Jared Cook in free agency, so Locker’s weapons have not improved significantly. Perhaps more importantly, the team addressed its deficiencies along the offensive line, and that should provide Locker with more time to throw as well as additional opportunities on play action. With head coach Mike Munchak in a must-win situation, he won’t wait long to pull Locker in favor of offseason addition Ryan Fitzpatrick. Consider Locker waiver-wire material in redraft leagues and a marginal prospect in dynasty formats.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
(2012 QB Rank – #17, 18.3 FPts/G)

Having been cut by the Bills in the offseason, Fitzpatrick joins the Titans in 2013 in a clear backup role behind Jake Locker. While Fitzpatrick played well at times during his stay in Buffalo, he suffered with his decision-making at key moments. Locker hasn’t played well enough to be entrenched as the team’s starter, so there is a chance Fitzpatrick will see the field at some point in 2013. If he does, he would be nothing more than a stopgap starter on your fantasy squad.

RB Chris Johnson
(2012 RB Rank – #12, 11.4 FPts/G; #12 PPR, 13.7 FPts/G)

It’s hard to find a more polarizing running back in fantasy than the Titans’ Chris Johnson. Contract holdouts and a lack of consistency have accompanied his outstanding production over a five-year career, and this past offseason the team acquired a proven backup for the first time in his career in Shonn Greene. That came on the heels of Johnson’s second consecutive subpar year as he struggled early in the season (45 rushing yards, 63 receiving yards and no touchdowns in his first three games) and finished the year with 1,475 total yards and six touchdowns. Although Johnson too frequently bounces runs outside and fails to follow his blocking, the fact is that he has been a remarkably productive back and his speed and ability to make tacklers miss remain unchanged. This is a player who has 8,546 total career yards and has averaged 1,709 total yards and 9.6 touchdowns per season. Throw in the fact that the Titans bolstered their offensive line in the offseason and that CJ2K’s perceived fantasy value is at an all-time low, and you could have a potential bargain for your 2013 fantasy squad. While Greene will likely vulture some touchdowns, Johnson is a fairly safe option as an upper-tier RB2 with upside if you can accept the inconsistency.

RB Shonn Greene
(2012 RB Rank – #15, 10.6 FPts/G; #19 PPR, 11.8 FPts/G)

With Chris Johnson struggling in short-yardage situations and the Titans lacking a big back to fill that role, the team signed former Jet Shonn Greene to a hefty contract ($10-million over three years) in the offseason. The amount of money they gave him may seems to suggest that they have big plans for Greene in 2013, but it seems more likely that they simply misread the market. One thing is more certain: Tennessee wants to run the ball more this season. They added Andy Levitre in free agency and Chance Womack in the first round of the draft to bolster the offensive line, and those additions will help the run game. While Greene is coming off a pair of 1000-yard rushing seasons and posted career highs in carries (276), yards (1,063) and touchdowns (eight) in 2012, we anticipate that he will be more of a change-of-pace and short-yardage back than part of a committee with Chris Johnson. Consider Greene a decent handcuff to Johnson and a potential flex option in 12 and 14 team leagues. Perhaps most importantly, he is likely going to be a touchdown vulture in 2013.

WR Kenny Britt
(2012 WR Rank – #59, 5.9 FPts/G; #60 PPR, 9.1 FPts/G)

This is the season where the rubber needs to hit the road for Britt. The talented Titans receiver enters the final year of his rookie contract after four mostly frustrating seasons in Tennessee. While Britt has all the tools required to be a dominant NFL receiver, his lack of maturity, poor off-the-field decision making, and lack of consistency on the field have been the hallmarks of his career. Not to mention his inability to stay healthy (19 missed games over the last three seasons). Returning from tears to his ACL and MCL that ended his 2011 season in Week 3, Britt struggled in 2012, topping 60 receiving yards just three times and finishing the season with 45 receptions on 90 targets for 589 yards and four touchdowns. The Titans took his potential replacement in Justin Hunter in this year’s draft and also spent a 2011 first-round pick on Kendall Wright, so the writing is clearly on the wall for Britt: Produce in 2013 or find a new home for 2014. However, with the Titans having a deep depth chart at wide receiver and Britt having never strung together more than five or six solid performances in a row, there is little reason to expect a breakout season in 2013. Consider him a WR4 with upside.

WR Kendall Wright
(2012 WR Rank – #55, 5.8 FPts/G; #45 PPR, 10.1 FPts/G)

Tennessee used a 2012 first-round pick to acquire Wright, and expectations were high that he would bring the playmaking ability he displayed at Baylor to the Titans offense. However, a subpar 40-time prior to the draft raised some concerns about whether he could replicate his college success in the pros. The naysayers were proven correct. While Wright hauled in a very respectable 64 passes as a rookie, he averaged just 9.8 yards per reception and found the end zone only four times. It remains to be seen whether his lack of big plays was the result of poor play calling, poor quarterback play or his physical limitations. Offseason reports indicate that Wright has had a solid offseason, but he faces healthy competition for targets in a deep Titans wide receiver depth chart. Combine that with quarterback Jake Locker’s poor accuracy, and Wright appears to have limited upside in 2013. Consider him a WR4 and move him up in PPR leagues.

WR Nate Washington
(2012 WR Rank – #47, 6.1 FPts/G; #52 PPR, 8.9 FPts/G)

With Kenny Britt out of the lineup for much of 2011, Washington posted career highs in all receiving categories with 74 receptions for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2012, Britt returned and the Titans added Kendall Wright in the first round of the draft, relegating Washington to more of a secondary role, and Washington’s targets plummeted from 121 to 90. While he played reasonably well with 46 receptions for 746 and four touchdowns, he faces even more competition for targets due to the addition of second-round pick Justin Hunter and free agent signee Kevin Walter. There were even whispers that the Titans could release or trade him rather than pay his hefty salary, given his declining usage, but that will only happen if Hunter or Walter play well in training camp. Washington is waiver-wire material everywhere but in the deepest of leagues.

WR Justin Hunter
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)

With Kenny Britt seemingly unable to fulfill his vast potential, Tennessee used an early-round draft pick for the second year in a row to address the wide receiver position. After taking Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 draft, the team used an early second-round pick this season to acquire Justin Hunter. The Tennessee product has outstanding speed and solid size at 6’4”, 200 pounds but is considered a raw prospect as he enters the pros. Given his lack of playing time in college, Hunter isn’t expected to contribute much as a rookie, and an offseason hamstring injury puts him further behind the learning curve. Since Britt is entering a contract year and the Titans are unlikely to re-sign him, Hunter is an excellent prospect in dynasty formats. He is waiver-wire material in redraft formats.

WR Kevin Walter
(2012 WR Rank – #72, 4.0 FPts/G; #71 PPR, 6.6 FPts/G)

The Texans spent years trying to replace Walter in the starting lineup, and this past offseason they finally chose to jettison him from the roster. He brings his talents to Tennessee in 2013 and figures to provide insurance for the seemingly inevitable Kenny Britt mishap or injury. Coming off a 41-reception, 518-yard, two-touchdown campaign in 2012, Walter is unlikely to approach that production in his first year with the Titans. With the team looking for more playmaking ability at wide receiver, Walter will enter camp fifth on the depth chart behind Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and rookie second-round pick Justin Hunter. Walter isn’t worth owning in 2013.

WR Damian Williams
(2012 WR Rank – #103, 2.5 FPts/G; #97 PPR, 4.8 FPts/G)

After three years in the league, it appears the Titans have given up on Williams, their 2010 third-round pick. After contributing little as a rookie, Williams stepped into the starting lineup in 2011 after an injury to Kenny Britt and played reasonably well, catching 45 passes for 592 yards and five touchdowns. However, he lost playing time last season with the addition of Kenny Wright in the draft and with Britt’s return. This offseason the Titans used a second-round pick to acquire Justin Hunter and added former Texan Kevin Walter in free agency. With Nate Washington also still around, Williams seems pretty entrenched as the team’s sixth wide receiver, putting his roster spot in jeopardy.

TE Delanie Walker
(2012 WR Rank – #32, 3.5 FPts/G; #35 PPR, 4.9 FPts/G)

Wanting to avoid going to arbitration regarding Jared Cook’s status, Tennessee chose to sign former 49er Delanie Walker as their new starting tight end. While Walker is a useful player capable of contributing in many ways, the fact is that he has started only a handful of games in his seven-year career. Sure, he was stuck behind the wonderfully talented Vernon Davis, but if Walker were starting material, he would have found a taker earlier his career. And let’s be honest. If Cook, whose talent level far exceeds Walker’s, didn’t become a star during his four years in Tennessee, why exactly do we think Walker will? You can do better.

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