UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
Fantasy

Fantasy football 2014 draft prep: Tennessee Titans team preview

Cornerback Jason McCourty (30) leads a Titans defense that finished 2014 ranked first in fantasy football against wide receivers. Photo:

Cornerback Jason McCourty (30) leads a Titans defense that finished 2014 ranked first in fantasy football against wide receivers.

The fantasy football story in Nashville is not a complicated one at all -- to start the season, at least. When your draft day comes and goes, you’ll most likely see only three names from the Titans come off the draft board. That’s not much different than in recent seasons, although, the name “Chris Johnson” won’t be attached to the team.

With his exit, and the entrance of new head coach Ken Whisenhunt in town, the Titans should have a whole new look. Granted, it will still probably be a while before any more Titans players are picked up in fantasy, but there should be some offensive progress that many owners will want to track closely all year long.

​Whisenhunt just got done revitalizing Philip Rivers’ career in San Diego, and turning both Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen into early round picks in 2014. Whiz will try to do his same magic with quarterback Jake Locker, running backs Shonn Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey, and wide receivers Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter.

If Locker were ever able to stay healthy for an entire season, we might be more bullish on this offense’s fantasy potential. Locker missed five games in 2012 and nine games in 2013. Interestingly, there’s not much behind Locker on the depth chart, so the other fantasy players’ best chances are going to come when Locker’s on the field (Dynasty owners should note the selection of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger.)

Whiz’s past success with Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Rivers suggests he’ll get more out of Locker than we’ve seen before. Even so, it doesn’t make him a fantasy starter outside of 2QB formats.

Locker’s young receivers, led by the ultra-reliable Wright, could make a lot of noise if the quarterback shines in his contract season. Wright mostly works underneath and the 6-foot-4 Hunter could become a great go-up-and-get-it kind of player. The second-year man coming over from Knoxville has a legitimate chance at a breakout season, much like Wright had last season. Veteran Nate Washington has great hands, but he doesn’t have the same flash as the other two.

Sankey, the likely first Titans player off your draft board this season, is the front man for a pretty quiet rookie running backs class. He’s the only one that’s expected to get starter’s carries, with just Greene behind him, and he’s running behind a decent offensive line. But even with that knowledge, there’s also the possibility that Greene takes some goal-line carries away, which puts a dent in the rookie’s fantasy value.

If Sankey can get the ground game going, and Locker can stay healthy, then the fantasy possibilities for the rest of the Titans climb considerably. While there are currently just three young Titans getting drafted in all fantasy formats, know that this is mostly a team waiting to be replaced by more exciting, youthful players.

If things go right, you’ll “Remember the Titans” a little better this year than everyone did last year.

Most overvalued player

Bishop Sankey, RB -- A fourth-round pick on a running back that we’re not even sure is as good as a mediocre Chris Johnson was last year it just too much to spend. With other fourth rounders like Ryan Mathews, Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings available, I’m not sure I can bet on Sankey here. With that said, I took him in the Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football 2014 magazine mock draft -- at the end of the sixth round. I was very happy to get him there, but doubt there are many drafts like that in August.

While Sankey does have good hands and can be a complete package at some point in his career, I’m just not sure if I’m willing to bet on him as a top-50 player right out of the gate. Ideally, you’d have two running backs already before the fourth round arrives.

Most Undervalued player

Kendall Wright, WR -- Wright progressed on the field and in fantasy play last season, no matter who was under center. While he only caught two touchdowns (half of the total he posted in his rookie season), he did register 94 grabs for 1,079 receiving yards to lead the Titans in 2014. Only six players caught more passes than Wright last year, and all of them scored five or more touchdowns.

A smart fantasy owner understands that touchdowns are tough to predict because, really, touchdowns are sometimes as much about a missed tackle or bad coverage as they are great catches in the end zone. Even though he’s entering a new offense, Wright is walking into 2014 as the best player on this team. Whisenhunt will reward his best player with plenty more targets, and there’s no way he scores fewer than five touchdowns in 2014.

Had he scored five last year, he would have finished as a top-20 receiver. He’s a sixth-round pick living in a seventh-rounder’s ADP.

Depth chart

QB: Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, Tyler Wilson, Zach Mettenberger
RB: Bishop Sankey, Shonn Greene, Dexter McCluster, Jackie Battle
WR: Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston
TE: Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens
K: Maikon Bonani, Brett Kern

With Greene battling weight issues and coming back from two knee surgeries in the past year, there’s reason to look farther down the depth chart. Let’s not underestimate what Dexter McCluster will do in that backfield, and possibly in a Danny Woodhead role.

Tight end Delanie Walker has a chance to move to the front of the fantasy pack that sits behind the elite tight ends. Whisenhunt has worked in tight ends in the past, including both Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green last season, so we can expect an uptick in value for Walker.

Whoever wins the kicking job in Tennessee might serve as a bye-week replacement mid-year, because of the Titans’ likely running ways.

Defensive analysis

 
Total

vs. pass

vs. run

Points allowed

NFL rank

14th

11th

20th

16th
 
vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE
Fantasy rank 3rd 29th 1st 22nd

Why pass against the Titans when you can run so easily against them? They’ll switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 this season, but it’s doubtful that will make a star out of this defensive unit. They’ll certain be on the attack more, which could deliver more turnovers and more chances for defensive touchdowns.

While they added some talent in the middle of their defense, with additions like linebacker Shaun Phillips, they did lose cornerback Alterraun Verner to the Buccaneers. It’ll be tough for the Titans to slow down passing games as much as they did last season -- even if they’re tougher against the run.

 

 

More Fantasy

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.