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Dynasty Capsule: Tennessee Titans

As part of the premium content package, we’re again unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL leading up to free agency and the NFL Draft. This year, we’re also going to do a follow-up on all the teams after all the free agency and NFL Draft movement to assess the impact of any players teams have gained or lost. Since these capsules are always done as a simple snapshot in time, we figured that was the best way to tackle the off-season and provide ultimate value for our subscribers. All in all, we’ll have close to 500 player profiles found in these capsules over the off-season.

We continue our path through the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.

Quarterbacks

Jake Locker

Jake_Locker2Locker had a disappointing 2012 after earning the starting job in training camp.  He was plagued with a shoulder injury that ultimately resulted in surgery.  The hope now is that he is fully ready for off-season work and can benefit from taking the bulk of the snaps with the first team as he prepares for his second year as the starter.

The Titans have sufficient weapons around Locker for him to emerge as a viable fantasy starter.  The issue is probably less about Locker and more about fantasy in general.  There are just so many quality quarterbacks clogging up the low end of QB1s.  The value of a player like Locker isn’t that high because of all the alternatives in a 12-team, 1 QB league.  It’s not surprising his early start-up ADP is outside the first ten rounds.

Matt Hasselbeck

Likely a cap casualty.  I don’t think the Titans will continue to pay $5.5 million for the luxury of having Hasselbeck on the team.  They have other areas of need and that’s a rather big number against the cap.

Rusty Smith/Nate Enderle/Rookie

My guess is the Titans will draft another quarterback late and have a camp battle to see who they decide to keep.  While none of these guys has any fantasy value, the thing to watch will be to see how much they would drag down Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Jared Cook if they had to start in place of an injured Locker.  I’ll keep tabs on this during training camp and tweet out what I see.

Running Backs

Chris Johnson

Johnson is one of the most frustrating running backs to own in fantasy.  He started the season very poorly and was a frequent topic of trade discussions in dynasty leagues.  Many felt as soon as he flashed anything, owners should strike while the iron was hot and deal him.

Johnson actually ended up putting together a decent stat line by the end of the season.  He had nearly 1,500 total yards and had six touchdowns –  low end RB1 numbers similar to guys like Matt Forte and Reggie Bush.  Probably the one disturbing thing was that his targets were well down from previous years, though that was largely the result of an increased focus on the tight end and the presence of Wright.

Johnson will continue to be a highly drafted RB (his ADP is as the RB#12) simply because he has absolutely no competition for touches.  There are only a small handful of runners in the league who can say that.  As long as that’s the case, Johnson is a valuable dynasty asset.

Jamie Harper

With Javon Ringer and Darius Reynaud free agents, it appears  the mystery as to who to hold as CJ2K’s handcuff is likely solved.  In the past, it was basically impossible to tell.  If you are the handcuffing type, then Harper is probably your man.  Certainly don’t select him until the absolute end of your start-up draft because no else is going to either.

Note: I think it’s likely that the Titans will use a draft pick to add a RB to the roster if for nothing else but depth.  If you are trying to handcuff CJ2K, you need to keep tabs on that.

Wide Receivers

Kendall Wright

Wright turned out to be a much better draft selection than I originally thought.  Last year, I was disappointed the Titans passed on David DeCastro in favor of Wright, but Wright has won me over.

It’s strange how little he’s talked about in fantasy circles, but he has his loyal following.  Wright led the team in targets and receptions.  However, none of the Titans pass catchers accumulated sufficient stats to be more than bye-week/emergency fillers.

Locker is going to need to step his game up for Wright to become a legit weekly fantasy option in 2013.  As of right now, the only Titan who is startable is Chris Johnson.

Nate Washington

Washington was a major disappointment in 2012.  Coming off a 2011 of 74/1,023/7 it appeared that he was a WR3 who could be acquired on the super cheap.  The return of Kenny Britt, the addition of Wright and the overall offensive ineptitude rendered Washington worthless.

Washington’s 2013 outlook is bleak.  It’s hard to project him for anything more than about 45/700/5 – that’s just not going to get it done in any fantasy format.  He will end up owned in all start-ups, but he will be an end of the bench guy who likely hits the waiver wire at some point during the season.

Kenny Britt

This time last year, Britt was one of the most talked about players in dynasty.  Would he bounce back?  Was he a knucklehead with no hope of keeping out of trouble?  Buy low?  Hold?  What?  Everyone had an opinion.

Well, it turned out no one was quite right, including Britt.  He had a season marred by lingering injuries and inconsistency.  He stayed out of trouble during the season and that’s about the only thing he did.

Britt is a bounce back candidate and the pendulum has probably swung too far the other way on him.  If you have an owner who is sick of him in your league, make an offer.  He’s worth a first round rookie pick after about the 1.04.

The Rest of the Bunch

There’s no value to be had on the Titans after Britt and Wright at this point.  Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins are both set to make decent money and I wonder if they both survive with the team.  But either way it doesn’t matter because they don’t belong on even the deepest of dynasty rosters.

Tight End

Jared Cook

Jared Cook isn’t under contract at this point.  The Titans have said they have prioritized getting him done but the TE franchise tag is very cheap right now and that’s another option.  I’d be surprised to see the Titans part ways with Cook.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to defend Cook or to recommend trying to acquire him.  His early ADP has him somewhere around the 15th round – reflective of the fact dynasty owners just can’t see him breaking out.  Couple that with the emergence of many other exciting, young TE prospects and the time to move on is probably now.  Give me Coby Fleener or Dwayne Allen a couple of rounds earlier every day.  This rookie class is also loaded with options for dynasty teams looking for an upside player.

Craig Stevens

This is what I said in 2012 and it still seems right on:

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. . .

Taylor Thompson

Thompson is an interesting sleeper option for owners who want to really roll the dice.

For those who aren’t familiar with him, Thompson played DE in college but then switched to TE for the pre-draft process last year.  He played TE in the all-star games and worked out as a TE at the Combine.  He put up eye popping numbers for a TE – at 6’6”, 260 lbs. he ran a 4.59 and broad jumped 10’6”.  He has a Rob Gronkowski-style frame.

It’s not surprising he didn’t break out as a rookie given his lack of experience at the position, but he’s going under-drafted in mocks and start-ups right now.  If he hits, he could hit really big.  Chances are he busts, but if you have a taxi squad or 25+ roster spots you should find space for him until you are absolutely forced to cut him.

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

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