Tennessee Titans Fantasy Football Preview: Is Jake Locker Ready?

The Titans have a new starting quarterback and the (eventual) return of their top wide receiver. How high can these fantasy players fly? I break down their roster for fantasy purposes.

Short answer: Probably not.

The Tennessee Titans haven't had a consistently good offense since they were the Houston Oilers in the early nineties. That was the last time that the franchise finished consecutive seasons as a top ten total offense. That was the last time that they had a top seven total offense at all. They're consistently in the middle of the pack, and right now Locker probably gives them the best shot to score points.

Last season the Titans finished 21st in scoring without their top wide receiver and with their star running back nearly as absent. From the games I watched, Matt Hasselbeck did everything that he could, but he's not close to being the player that he was five years ago. That's why Locker is being put into duty, despite the fact that he hasn't shown much ability to complete passes or avoid mistakes, but if he can make enough exciting highlight reel plays with his leg and strong arm, the Titans might just score enough points to make the playoffs again.

It's not a perfect formula for success, but something similar worked out in Denver last season. Thankfully for the Titans, Locker is a lot better than "what's his name."

Here is a preview of Locker and the offense around him for your fantasy league...

2011 Record: 9-7

Drafted Skill Players: Kendall Wright, WR (1st), Taylor Thompson, TE (5th)

QB

Jake Locker

It's not as though Locker has been especially good lately. He's completing 50% of his passes in the preseason for 5.3 yards an attempt and he wasn't much better with numbers in camp. It's just that Hasselbeck hasn't given the organization any reason to hold back Locker because he has also been bad so you might as well just go with the younger, more exciting player.

Going with Locker should be a bit worrisome for Titans fans (though you won with Vince Young, so it's not the end of the world) but fantasy owners should hold onto Locker on their bench. He's a much better quarterback than Tim Tebow but there are similarities, most important to you being that they can score on the ground. Locker might only complete 50% of his passes and might only throw for 3,000 yards but he is a good bet to get two total touchdowns per game. You couldn't ask for more from a backup and there is still potential that he'll outright demand to be your starter with a few good performances in a row. I've seen him rated as a backed QB2, bordering on just being a free agent. I'd take him over Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Bradford and potentially Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer. No question.

Should he fail or get injured, Matt Hasselbeck would not warrant a roster spot in anything but the deepest leagues.

2012 Projection: 51% completions, 3,300 yards, 22 TD, 19 INT. 80 rushes, 400 yards, 6 TD

RB

Chris Johnson

While other Titans backs haven't seemed to have any issues in the preseason, Johnson has rushed for just 81 yards on 28 carries with a long of 14. Johnson was probably the most disappointing player of last season for the simple fact that he didn't get hurt but you almost wish that he had been so you could understand what was happening.

The former 2,000 yard back seemed to never find a rhythm after holding out for the entire preseason and camp, rushing for 98 yards total through his first three games on 2.13 yards per carry. He ran for 101 yards against a bad Browns rush D and maybe that would get him going? No, he had 167 total rushing yards over the next four games on 3.21 yards per carry. He had three good games the rest of the year but also ran for 13 yards on 12 carries against Atlanta.

If you started him in the playoffs (weeks 13-15) you got 134 yards and 0 touchdowns. All told, Johnson had 1,047 yards, 4 yards per carry, and 57 catches for 418 yards with four total touchdowns in 16 games.

I'm sorry but if you expect me to draft that production over Matt Forte, Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray or Marshawn Lynch, you're trippin' over Johnson's offensive line. There will be times when Johnson looks like his old self, sure, and there's a chance he rushes for 1,600 yards because he's done it before. I'm not giving up on Johnson, but I'm not going to rate him on maybes. I'd rather see him actually go out there and perform.

2012 Projection: 250 carries, 1,100 yards, 8 TD. 45 catches for 250 yards and 1 TD

Javon Ringer, Jamie Harper, and Darius Reynaud all possess qualities that would make them interesting if they were asked to be the featured back. Obviously, Reynaud has a bigger hole to climb out than the other two but he's got skills. Ringer is the guy you handcuff to Johnson.

WR

Kenny Britt

I'm a big fan of Britt, but one of the more frustrating stories of the off-season has been waiting to hear on his suspension from a DUI. Nobody can confirm if its 0 weeks, 1 week, 4 weeks, or anything at all. I'd lean towards two games, but that's just a guess. Britt slipped enough in one of my drafts for me to make him my FOURTH wide receiver. This is a guy that had 135 yards and 136 yards receiving in the first two games last season before tearing his ACL in week three.

He's had enough time to heal from the injury and now he's got a QB with a stronger arm and another viable wide receiver to take attention off of him, plus he's just a really talented player. If my plan works out, I'll flip a starting wideout after a couple of weeks and start Britt. If you have the same opportunity, do it.

2012 Projection: 60 catches for 950 yards, 8 TD in 14 games.

Nate Washington

In his seventh NFL season, Washington came out of nowhere to grab 74 catches for 1,023 yards, besting his previous career high of 687 yards in 2010. He also did some of it with Britt around, grabbing 7 for 99 against the Ravens in week two. It might turn out to be his career-best season, but Washington is a good player and a good bench spot, possible to even start in week one against the Patriots and then try to flip before Britt returns.

2012 Projection: 65 catches for 700 yards and 6 TD

Kendall Wright

The 5'10" Wright might benefit the most from Locker as starter, as they've worked very well together in camp and preseason, with Wright leading the Titans on 8 catches for 100 yards. I don't expect much from rookies, but he should have a few good games and maybe surprise for even more.

2012 Projection: 35 catches for 450 yards and 4 TD

Damian Williams

I pegged Williams as a sleeper last season and he had a few good games, catching a TD in five different games and topping 100 yards in week nine against Carolina. Williams and Lavelle Hawkins each just have one catch in the preseason. Williams finished with 592 yards but seems to have been pushed down the depth chart for when the top three guys are healthy and active.

TE

Jared Cook

He seems poised for a breakout. Cook had 21 catches for 335 yards over the final three games of 2011. I don't know how much observations and opinions have changed for him over the past few weeks but earlier many would say he's behind a guy like Jacob Tamme and I can't agree there. Draft him to be your backup and expect that he might be worth trading your starter.

2012 Projection: 55 catches, 900 yards, 5 TD

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