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Dynasty Capsule: Tennessee Titans

As part of the premium content package, we’re unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all Spring and Summer. This year, we also have a precursor to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite pieces – the dynasty sleeper. We continue our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.

Quarterbacks

Jake Locker

The Titans had a full blown quarterback battle going on during the pre-season, but Locker has emerged victorious.  Reports had been that Locker was given the nod as the starter earlier in the pre-season, but he promptly followed that up by a sub-par (being kind) performance against Tampa Bay that put some doubt into that notion.

From a dynasty perspective, Locker carries significantly higher value than Matt Hasselbeck for all the obvious reasons – upside, age and rushing ability.  However, he hasn’t been effective running the offense so far this pre-season and that could somewhat limit the value of other skill position players, at least temporarily.

The Titans start the season with an incredibly tough schedule – New England, San Diego, Detroit and Houston.  It was thought that Hasselbeck had the poise and experience to lead the team until Locker was really ready, but the Titans seem convinced Locker can handle the job and he’ll do well to survive that brutal stretch to start the season unscathed.

Matt Hasselbeck

Hasselbeck is a true professional and came to the Titans with his eyes wide open.  He knows this is now Locker’s job, but his play and leadership had made it impossible to keep him off the field.  He continues to look better than Locker and the Titans don’t view themselves as a rebuilding team – they want to compete now.  However, they don’t think Hasselbeck gives them the better chance to win any longer and have put all their eggs in Locker’s basket.

The most important thing from a fantasy perspective is that the Titans are very strong at quarterback.  Arguably, there aren’t thirty-two starting QBs in the league and the Titans have two. What would Arizona give to have Matt Hasselbeck right now?  This means owners of Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, etc. have good insurance against a quarterback injury.  If you’re a Greg Jennings owner, can you say the same thing about Graham Harrell?

Rusty Smith

I don’t think the Titans will want to continue to carry three quarterbacks.  Hasselbeck is under contract for 2013 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down.  Smith has acquitted himself nicely in the pre-season – outperforming Locker in my opinion.  However, I expect him to be a roster casualty.  He’s a decent backup quarterback and his performance so far should allow him to catch on with another team.

Wide Receivers

Nate Washington

Nate Washington is underrated for fantasy.  With Britt out in 2011, he put up a solid stat line of 74/1,023/7 – that’s nice in either PPR or standard scoring.  Britt is still hurt and in jeopardy of a suspension leaving Washington as the clear WR1.  He’s extremely cheap to acquire and I believe he will easily out produce his ADP/trade cost.

Another aspect of Washington is that he’s a solid citizen.  He doesn’t get in trouble, he’s been relatively injury free and he stays in the good graces of the coaching staff.  Increasingly, this is important in fantasy.  It’s tiring constantly worrying about a Britt suspension, a Santonio Holmes temper tantrum or a DeSean Jackson “on the field hold out.”

Net/net:  If you’re an otherwise strong contender, but need a WR3, Washington is a nice option due in large part the low price he commands.

Kenny Britt

There isn’t much for me to say here that you don’t all already know.  Britt is one of the most talked about players in dynasty.

Every player is a value at a certain price.  That price is just quite low in my book for Britt.  I can’t see owning him on any team at this point.  I’m pathologically against selling low, but Britt might break the mold.  I recently had an owner in a contract league ask me if they should sell three years of Britt for three years of Antonio Gates and I was tempted to say yes, but couldn’t quite bring myself to do it.

One thing I will mention is that ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Britt will indeed be suspended, but only for a small number of games.  I trust Schefter, but this one is mystifying to me.  Britt fell through the lock-out cracks last year and avoided any discipline, but gave Roger Goodell the chance to punish him yet again.  I’ll be surprised if he gets much leniency this time around.

Over/under on suspension:  Six games, appealed, reduced to four.

Kendall Wright

As a Titans fan (I probably should have mentioned that earlier), I hated this draft pick.  The O-line is a mess and David DeCastro falling so far was a gift we decided not to open.  But I digress – you want to hear about who the Titans have on the roster, not who I wanted them to have on the roster in April!

Kendall Wright turns out to be a godsend after all.  I guess I should have trusted that the Titans front office knew what it was doing – I suspect they were all too aware of Kenny Britt’s continued misbehaviors.

For a rookie, Wright has looked fantastic this preseason.  He runs crisp routes and catches most of the balls he should.  He’s currently listed behind Damian Williams on the depth chart, but that won’t hold up for long.

My only concern with Wright is that he may turn out to be a better NFL player than a fantasy asset.  There just aren’t that many slot guys who you want to start week in and week out.  I like him, I own him in leagues, and I have no problem with people taking him as the first receiver in a late rookie draft.  I just wanted to point out this concern.

Damian Williams

Damian Williams will have the opportunity yet again to grab the brass ring.  He’s going to need to do it quickly this time around because otherwise the targets are going elsewhere.

The annoying thing about Williams is he seems to have the physical ability, but he just can’t produce consistently.  I suspect the Titans are disappointed with his lack of progress.

He’s worth owning in shallow leagues as long as Britt is suspended.  After that, you’d need to have a fairly long bench to warrant carrying him.

Lavelle Hawkins

He signed an extension this year and therefore he’s safe to make the roster.  He’s been banged up since late last year.  I can’t see rostering him in any league.

The Rest of the Bunch

The Titans currently have the usual preseason slew of receivers.  There really isn’t much to worry about here.  The one thing I’m watching is whether or not Marc Mariani can hang on with the team.  For those who don’t follow the Titans closely, Mariani is a terrific return man, but not much else.  What’s interesting is that Darius Reynaud has been explosive all over the field, including the return game.  They may choose to use this roster spot to keep the running back over the receiver.

Running Backs

Chris Johnson

CJ2K, CJ1K, CJ0K – which one do we get this year?

Last year was a disaster for CJ owners.  While he put up top-15 numbers, he did so mostly because he played every game and did just enough to force his owners to start him week in and week out.  At least when a player is injured, it’s easy to know what to do.  CJ left his owners in the weekly quandary – will I look like an idiot for benching him and then seeing him go off?

CJ didn’t pass the eye test last year.  I watched every snap of every game and he looked lazy to me.  He didn’t hit the holes with authority, he didn’t square up his shoulders and he went down on first contact far too often.  The team said the holdout didn’t affect him and that he was in good shape.  Maybe so, but it didn’t look like that.

He’s looked remarkably better this preseason.  He’s also saying the right things.  He claims to have taken 2011 personally and if that’s true, that’s great for his owners.

Most importantly the Titans added Steve Hutchinson to the O-line this offseason – that should be huge for CJ.  While Hutchinson is aging, he’s still a major upgrade for an otherwise weak line.  The left side is now above average with Roos playing alongside the veteran.

CJ is a solid RB1 and a decent option if you can’t get Ray Rice, Arian Foster or LeSean McCoy.

Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper

The search has been on for CJ’s handcuff for years now.  Ever since LenDale White left, it’s been unclear who to own.  And it’s no different in 2012.

CJ is a true three down back/bell cow (a rarity in the NFL these days) and the other backs have no fantasy value in 2012 unless he’s hurt.  They simply aren’t valid flex options.  If he does go down, I’d fully expect a RBBC of the worst form between Ringer and Harper.  One of them will have value each week because they get the touchdown, but you’ll never know which one to start.

If you absolutely must own a Titans back-up running back, go ahead and roster Ringer.  At least he’s a free agent in 2013 and might end up some place where he gets more than four or five carries a game.  He’s not devoid of talent; he just isn’t going to get the chance to show it on the Titans.

Darius Reynaud

I mentioned Reynaud earlier and he’s been the camp surprise.  He’s actually been in the league for some time having had stints in Minnesota and with the Giants.  The Titans signed him as a street free agent in January.

Reynaud is a hybrid RB/WR.  He’s excelled in the return game, but also out of the backfield.  He’s going to make it tough for the Titans to cut him if he keeps playing the way he has.  It’s an interesting situation to monitor.  What I can tell you is that Reynaud has absolutely passed the eye test for me so far.

Tight End

Craig Stevens

Craig Stevens has no fantasy value and all he does is cap what value other Titans TEs might have.  The problem with Stevens is that he’s a very good blocker.  Because the O-line is otherwise weak, his blocking skills will keep him on the field more than his receiving ability would justify.  He doesn’t have bad hands; he simply lacks the speed to get downfield.  He’s an old school TE – not the new basketball player turned pass catcher type.  There’s a role for this on a team that wants to run but lacks O-line strength.  That doesn’t help Jared Cook owners. . .

Jared Cook

Cook is the most annoying Titan after Kenny Britt.  He flashes amazing speed and hands, then turns around and drops balls he simply has to catch.  The Titans have struggled at tight end since the departure of Frank Wycheck.  They’ve burned early picks on tight ends, traded up in the draft, etc.  Nothing has gelled.

Time is running short for Cook from a fantasy perspective.  The position is just too deep to be fooling around with an “upside” guy who isn’t producing.  It’s worth rostering him for another season to see what happens, but I’d have him on a short leash.

Taylor Thompson

Roster Thompson.  For more see our Titans sleeper article.

Editor’s Note:  Tim Stafford can be found @dynastytim on twitter and in the forums as dlf_tims.

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