INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Over the past two seasons wide receiver Kenny Britt has missed 17 games due to injury, including 13 last year after suffering an ACL injury. While his durability has been a concern there’s never been a doubt around his talent. Britt has found his way into the end zone 15 times in 31 career games and has averaged over 70 yards per contest during his limited action the past two campaigns. Before going down early in Week 3 in 2011, Britt opened eyes with 14 catches for 271 yards and 3 TD’s during the first two weeks. When healthy, Britt has top 15 fantasy wideout potential.
The Titans square off with four playoff teams from 2011 in its first six games of 2012. The bye week doesn’t come to Week 11 which will keep owners from worrying too much about covering the bye week for their Titans’ players on draft night. Tennessee will play six of the 10 teams that allowed the fewest points to fantasy running backs in 2011, including the Texans (No. 2) twice. The tough schedule is even tougher come fantasy playoff time with Houston in Week 13, the Jets in Week 15 and at the Packers in Week 16.
Chris Johnson was one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football for much of 2011. He followed up the NFL lockout by holding out, missing nearly the entire preseason. It resulted in him being out of shape and unprepared. While he did recover to post his fourth straight 1000-yard campaign, Johnson’s touchdown total dipped from 28 total scores the previous two seasons to just four scores a year ago. A strong finish to the year coupled with a strong commitment to the team’s offseason program leave room for optimism entering 2012.
After scoring five times during an eight-game stretch Damian Williams popped up on fantasy owners radar midway through the 2011 campaign and proved to be a dependable option at times at a WR3 or flex option in deeper leagues. Entering his third season would suggest that he still has some upside. However, with Britt returning from an injury and the team investing a first-round pick in another wideout it’s hard to imagine Williams carrying much fantasy value entering 2012 unless someone else goes down.
One of favorite sleepers from a year ago, Jared Cook got off to a slow start before a monster finish in 2011. During Weeks 15 and 16, key weeks in most fantasy leagues, Cook rewarded those that exercised patience by grabbing 17 balls for 273 yards and a touchdown. The talent is there, but for Cook to emerge as a fantasy option he needs to find more consistency. He’s not a bad option for those owners that opt to wait around until the late rounds to worry about a tight end, but he’s far from a proven commodity.
The explosive Kendall Wright can stretch defenses with the best of them and that was something that the Titans’ passing attack was desperately missing when they spent a first-round pick on him in April’s draft. He figures to slide into the slot right out of the gate for the Titans. He’ll need to pick up on the offense quickly to make an immediate impact and will benefit greatly if Britt is completely healthy and Cook can keep defenses honest over the middle. He’s a nice late-round pick in yearly leagues and much more in dynasty formats.
Veteran Matt Hasselbeck enjoyed a decent first season in the Music City, but many close to the organization favor second-year slinger Jake Locker as the team’s quarterback. Expect Hasselbeck to start the season as the starter, yet it is only a matter of time before the Titans get an extended look at last year’s first-round selection. Locker has even more fantasy appeal when you consider his ability to run the football. Hasselbeck is a risky option even as a backup as he may not be starting by time you need him as a bye-week filler. Locker is worth stashing.
With so much attention being shined on Britt’s return to health and the arrival of Wright to the team, Nate Washington is likely to fall through the cracks in most fantasy drafts. While he’s not likely to match 2011’s career-high numbers (74 receptions for 1,023 yards and 7 TD’s), owners need to remember that he averaged 44 catches for 628 yards and six TD’s per years during his previous two seasons as a Titan. Even with his targets going down Washington will make for a solid backup WR on nearly any roster.