Saturday, June 9, 2012

32 in 32: Tennessee Titans

I really can't decide if I love or hate the Titans going into this season. On the one hand, Locker and Hasselbeck are manageable to decent passers, they could have the best running back in the game, they have two solid-to-great wide outs, and the defense is pretty good. I just can't really bring myself to guarantee any success from this unit.

Let's start with the QBs, because this is pretty easy. Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck probably aren't worth owning, unless Locker wins out the starting job in training camp. How can I draft a guy if I don't think he is going to start all season? If Locker is the starter, I'm probably not rating this guy as high as Matt Flynn or RGIII, so I probably don't need to draft him. I really do like Locker, especially for his legs. He can extend the play and get important first downs running the ball, but it is always a surprise. Were you as surprised as I was when Alex Smith fucking ran the ball against the Saints and basically gave his team the chance to win? Yeah, that is how surprised you are when Locker runs the ball. He does run way more than Smith, though. He also never threw an interception last season. 66 attempts, 0 interceptions, 4 touchdowns, but only a 51.5% completion percentage; I think that will improve for him with a full offseason of practice with these receivers, and I think Locker will end up starting before week 8, if not in the preseason.

Nate Washington proved to be extremely good last season, although he was always just on the cusp of being truly valuable. He is one of those receivers who is more valuable when there is someone in front of him on the depth chart, and Kenny Britt is coming back from a knee injury to be that guy. One thing at a time. I think Kenny Britt will be a top receiver this season, regardless of who is throwing him the ball. he is young and should be able to recover from his knee injury. People are going to be overly cautious about drafting him, so you should use that to your advantage. If he does not break 1,000 receiving yards, I will be extremely surprised. Nate Washington will probably fall into the bench-warmer category this season. You might not be able to find anyone better on waivers, but he probably won't beat out your starters, either. Having a good back-up receiver is important, so don't hesitate to give him a shot late in the draft, but don't reach for him. Odds are that he won't be able to produce another 1,000 yard season, but he could come close. Jared Cook will be one of the bigger candidates to break-out at the tight end position. Cook is entering his 4th season, and he is only 25 years old. He quietly put together a really great season last year, and he could compete with some of the great tight ends this season. He is a steal in the 7th or 8th round, but he probably won't be drafted until later in the draft. Cook is ranked 16th option at TE by NFL experts, but most of these guys were caught in the 700-800 yard TE quagmire. Cook is great if you end up passing on multiple tight ends and want to take a shot at a surprise guy. Let someone else draft Tony Gonzalez or Dustin Keller.

Finally we come to Chris Johnson. I would happily move back in the draft from 1st overall to draft Chris Johnson. His attempts will bounce back up to around 300, his yard-per-carry will bounce back up to around 4.5, and that means his rushing yards will go up over 1,300. Add in another 500 receiving yards and the 15 total touchdowns he'll net you, and you have a fist overall pick. I refuse to be scared of drafting this guy. No one on their roster is a threat to him. The Titans ran the ball nearly 100 fewer times than their opponents. That is unreal for a team with a mediocre passing attack. When you get to the 7th or 8th pick in the draft, try to trade up for Chris Johnson. If you don't like the early prospects, try to trade back and grab him. You are taking a risk, but this guy is young. I'm not saying he will be the rushing leader this season, but he is going to be a better pick than people give him credit for.

I would say, if you are in an IDP league, draft Jason McCourty. You will be happy you did. Bironas is still a powerful, accurate kicker. My only worry would be about his low extra-point count. Probably worth a pick, though.

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