Let’s face it, people overreact to small sample sizes. This is especially true when it comes to the world of fantasy football. We have a very strong tendency to let what happens in just 60 minutes completely overpower and sometimes erase what we studied for months or what we’ve seen for years. Every once in a while we need to step back from the ledge, take a deep breath, and remember that extremes happen. Sometimes a perfect storm comes along and a player is great for a brief period before never being heard from again (Bryce Brown, I’m looking at you!). The exact opposite is of course true as well. There have been a ton of players who hit a little slump before leading more fantasy teams to the playoffs than beers consumed at a game in Lambeau Field!
That’s where I come in. For the last few years, I’ve been doing my best to be an objective voice of reason each and every week. I try to pick one or two “breakout” or slumping players each week. I take some time to objectively look at the good news, the bad news, and then give you what I hope is the truth about what you can expect moving forward. I’m not always right (then again, no one is!), but I like to think I’m right way more than I am wrong. I’m not afraid to say something unpopular or against the hype if it is what I believe. I was one of the first to tell you it is time to bail on Trent Richardson when the Browns traded him what seems like decades ago. I always felt Bryce Brown was a splash in the pan who wouldn’t hold dynasty value, and I was one of the voices telling you Allen Hurns was good enough to stay the starter opposite Allen Robinson. All three of those were rather unpopular takes at the time, but they are exactly what all of the evidence point towards. People just needed to step back and take it all in, and I’m just here to help you do that.
I’m going to keep a good trend going and stick with the receiver position once again this week. I normally like to mix it up a bit, but the receivers just keep giving me something to talk about this year. This week I’m going to look at a man who many think of as being much older than his true age. That’s probably because he was once a big deal, and it was eons ago in terms of fantasy football time. Nonetheless, he seems to be back and potentially better than ever, so let’s take another look at Kenny Britt.
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Kenny Britt, WR LA
Week 6 Stats: Seven receptions on eight targets for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Season Stats: 30 receptions on 40 targets for 492 yards and 2 scores.
16 Game Projection at that pace: 80 receptions for 1312 yards and 5 scores.
Believe it or not, it was seven years ago now that the Titans used their first round pick on Kenny Britt. He was drafted in the middle of the first round in most rookie drafts at the time. His stock only climbed over the next few years, even though he missed games here and there with soft tissue injuries. During his rookie year he flashed WR1 upside, and when he tallied nine touchdowns in only 12 games during his sophomore year he was vaulted into the WR1 ranks by most dynasty players. The expectations were huge for the then 22 year old receiver. Hopes exploded even more in 2011 when he had 14 receptions for 271 yards and three touchdowns after two weeks of the season. Then he blew out his ACL and MCL in week three and was basically never heard from again. Or at least that is what it seemed like.
After the knee injury, Britt had two more seasons with the Titans, but he never returned to form. During 2013, his last season in Tennessee, he was a part time player who only managed 11 receptions and didn’t top 100 yards. He signed a free agent deal with the Rams, but his first two seasons were rather underwhelming with season highs of 48 receptions, 748 yards and three touchdowns. This season he is on pace to nearly double those numbers. The big question is if he’s finally returning to his early career form or if this is just the perfect storm creating a mirage.
Good: It has been a while since we have seen it, but Britt always did have talent. He has great size for the position to go along with enough athletic ability to make big plays. Britt never was an athletic freak, but he definitely has enough to be a big time receiver in the NFL. We saw that over the first few years of his career. After all, you don’t earn a career 16.1 yards per reception average if you don’t have some athletic ability!
The other major plus you need to keep in mind when looking at Britt is the team he’s on. Some of you just threw up a little bit in your mouth when I talked about the Rams as being a positive thing, but hear me out. Even the worst teams in the league still throw for around 300 competitions, 3000 yards, and 12-15 touchdowns. Someone needs to be on the receiving end of those passes, and the Rams really don’t have anyone else. Todd Gurley is only getting about three targets a game, Tavon Austin is used almost exclusively around the line of scrimmage, and Brian Quick is.. well, Brian Quick. Britt is easily the only receiver on the team who fits the mold of the top receiver on the team, and he seems to be filling that role. He’s had at least four receptions in every game and 65 plus yards in all but one game. If that’s the floor, it is deserving of some attention.
Bad: The overwhelming concern for Britt is where has he been for the last few years? He blew out his knee in 2011. I can understand him not being the same receiver in 2012, but what about 2013, 2014, and 2015? It isn’t like he is finally healthy now from the knee injury, so what exactly changed? You can’t say it is a new and improved offense, because it isn’t. Typically when you have years of history of being inept, that doesn’t suddenly turn around and change in the blink of an eye. So why should we believe Britt is having some kind of career renaissance when there doesn’t seem to be any kind of external spark?
The other major concern is the uncertainty which goes with the Rams long term. He seems to have some chemistry with Case Keenum, but Keenum isn’t the long term answer. As you all know, they have the first overall selection in the 2016 draft sitting on their bench. At some point Jared Goff is going to come into the starting lineup, and who knows what the offense will look like at that point in time. If that doesn’t happen, then the ones who made that decision to draft him will likely be on the way out with a new staff coming in. Either way, the future of the Rams offense is very much up in the air, which hangs a large cloud over the long term future of Britt.
Ugly Truth: Britt was a player I picked up in several of my leagues as an end of the roster stash this last off-season. He’s still just 28 years old, and I figured Goff needed someone to throw the ball to down the field. Of course it isn’t Goff doing the throwing right now, but the opportunity for Britt is still there. Not only is the opportunity there, but he does seem to have some nice chemistry with Keenum. This combination of opportunity and chemistry should ensure a decent floor for Britt, which has been the case through the first six games this year.
The bigger question than the floor is where is Britt’s ceiling and what about his long term value? When it comes to his ceiling, I think we saw it in week six. I don’t think the Rams have a passing attack capable of getting Britt anything more than we saw this past week, but you really can’t complain about what he did last week. As for his projected stats, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was actually fairly close to the receptions and yardage numbers, probably a little bit under, but pretty close. I would actually take the over on the touchdowns, so I’m talking about him potentially sneaking into the WR2 ranks for season totals if he stays healthy. That might sound like an unrealistic expectation given the past few years, but he’s already inside the top 20 receivers and we are over a third of the way into the season.
Why is Britt seeing this sudden explosion after years of being rather nondescript? I think it is the perfect storm of several different things. I think he’s finally matured as a person and a player, both of which were issues earlier in his career. I think he’s feeling comfortable in the Rams offense, and I think the opportunity is there as I mentioned above.
The most interesting question is long term, what can we expect. Britt just turned 28 a month ago, which is right about the prime for a receiver. It is also about the age a lot of dynasty owners start to get nervous. I think he makes for a great pickup for a team who might be competing in the next few years. His cost is pretty cheap right now because people remember the heartbreak. The same fact makes him someone who is difficult to get decent trade value if you already own him. You’re going to need to flex your trading muscles to get solid value. I think Britt could push for WR3 value for the next few years, so I would be looking to get close to that value for him if I were moving him. You might not get it, but it is a starting point.
Final Verdict: I think what we’ve seen through the first six games is closer to what we can expect over the rest of this year and next year. There is a fair amount of uncertainty given his injury history and the current state of the Rams, but given his current price relative to his level of production and upside I’m interested in buying. He’s a WR3 with WR2 upside right now, and he isn’t as old as some think.
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