To say it's been difficult to get very excited about the last several teams we have reviewed would be a bit of an understatement. Our anticipation level doesn't get much higher as we take a look at the 2012 NFL fantasy options in Tennessee. Having missed the playoffs for three straight years, the Titans have posted a combined 23-25 record since they won the AFC South back in 2008. Tennessee was mediocre on both sides of the ball last season as they scored 325 points while giving up 317. Let's check in on the 2012 Music City fantasy options.
Tennessee Titans Quarterback Fantasy Options
Look no further than the Tennessee quarterback position to understand why the Titans have stumbled on tough times recently. Following failed attempts with Vince Young in 2009, Kerry Collins in 2010 and then Matt Hasselbeck last season, the Titans are ready to turn the keys over to sophomore QB Jake Locker. The former Washington Huskies product was sporadic at best in brief appearances during his rookie season and that has carried over into the 2012 NFL preseason.
While we're certain that he's not thrilled about it, veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck has been forced into clipboard duty, as the former Seahawk will be the backup in Tennessee this season. At 36 years old, Hasselbeck is a shell of his former self as his arm has turned into a noodle. His 74 yards, zero TD, and two INT preseason passing performance, says it all for Hass. 2010 NFL sixth-round draft pick Rusty Smith out of Florida Atlantic is third in line on the Titans' QB depth chart.
Titans QB Analysis: Basically by default, it's swim or sink time for Locker, who certainly isn't a lock to have a productive fantasy football season. Currently ranked as a QB23 here at Fantasy Football Tool Box, we see a rough season ahead for Locker and the entire Titans aerial attack. Leave the Music City QB situation to another fantasy owner to deal with, as there won't be very much sweet music emulating out of the passing game in Nashville this season. If you do take a chance on Locker - get Hasselbeck as well.
Tennessee Titans Running Back Fantasy Options
Few players in fantasy football history have had a beast, to semi bust, to total bust run like Titans' RB Chris Johnson has experienced over the past three seasons. From 2,509 total yards and 16 TD in 2009, CJ2K dropped to 1,609 yards and 12 TD in 2010, before bottoming out (we hope) with just 1,465 total yards to go along with a paltry four TD in 2011. His holdout was blamed for the lack of production as Johnson missed the Titans' entire training camp and preseason action. Perspective MJD owners should take note of what happened with CJ in 2011.
In the good news category, Johnson has looked ready in camp and he is one of just a handful of running backs who are virtually unchallenged as a bell cow ball carrier. RB Javon Ringer is entering the final season of his four-year rookie contract, but his 3.1 YPC average on limited touches in 2011 isn't going to get anyone very excited. Jamie Harper, who may see some time at fullback, and Darius Reynaud are also in the mix here.
Titans RB Analysis: Back to some bad news. The Titans' offensive line has not been very good in the run game during the preseason. Pass protection has been decent, but the O-line hasn't opened up very many holes in the running lanes. Back to some good news: Johnson only needs a crease and he's gone, as he hasn't lost much of his vaunted speed. Bad news, defenses are going to crowd the line and force Locker to beat them. Personally, I see an up tick in yards and touchdowns and I expect top six RB numbers out of Johnson.
Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
Along with the mess at quarterback, the wide receiver position has been just as bad for the Titans in recent years. That said, WR Nate Washington was a pleasant surprise last season as the former Steeler posted career highs with 1,023 yards and eight total TD. From a fantasy perspective, Washington ran hot and cold as he topped 100 yards twice, 70 yards four times and was held under 50 yards six times. Owners who trusted the former Tiffin University Dragons product in the first round of the fantasy playoffs were rewarded with 130 yards and one TD.
WR Kenny Britt was activated from the training camp PUP list on August 28, 2012. Three separate knee surgeries have kept Britt out of action and one has to wonder if this guy will ever reach his potential. Flashes of brilliance have always been overshadowed by injuries or brushes with the law for this former Rutgers star. After posting 271 yards and three TD in the first two games of the 2011 season, an ACL injury ended Britt's season last year.
WR Kendall Wright, the Titans' 20th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, is currently listed as the WR2 in Tennessee. Wright has shown some pro level skills in the preseason as he caught seven of his eight targets in five quarters of play. With a possible suspension still on the table for Britt (July DUI), this Baylor Bears product could retain the WR2 role as the season opens. Wright will need to use his speed to make up for his 5' 10" size on the big stage.
Titans WR Analysis: WR Damian Williams, who filled in when Britt went down last season (582 YD 5 TD), gets bumped down with the return of Britt and the arrival of Wright. With the wide receiver position being deeper than it has ever been (and given the fact that this is still CJ2k's offense - that is being led by Locker), we wouldn't reach for any of the Titans receivers on draft day. Expect Washington, Wright, and Britt to all flirt with 100 FPT in 2012.
Tennessee Titans Tight End Fantasy Options
TE Jared Cook was another fantasy beacon on the Tennessee horizon last season The fourth year 6' 5" former South Carolina star posted 759 yards in 2011 (double the 361 from his sophomore season), but a disappointing three touchdowns. Cook was very impressive down the stretch as he posted 103 and 169 receiving yards in weeks 15 and 16. Those numbers came against the Colts and Jaguars, both of whom the Titans see two times each this season.
Titans TE Analysis: Barring an injury, don't look for any of the other four tight ends currently listed on the Titans roster to cut into Cook's offensive or fantasy production. Cook caught passes from Locker in Week 15 and Hasselbeck in Week 16, so you know the guy is trusted with either QB under center. If you miss the first two waves of the top ten tight ends, Cookie will be more than serviceable as a higher end TE2 this season.
Tennessee Titans Fantasy Bottom Line: Outside of the NFC West, this is probably the worst division in the NFL. The AFC South will feature a rookie QB in Indianapolis, along with second season pivots in Jacksonville and Tennessee. Personally, having received the number one pick in my Draft, I will not be selecting CJ, but I do expect him to go off the board within the top six picks. After that, I will mildly consider any Titans that are still around after Round Seven or so.