Fantasy Power Rankings No. 26 - Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans are No. 26 on the 2015 fantasy football power rankings. The team will be helmed by rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and features a couple of other rookies, as well as a handful of young players looking to turn things around.
The team finished the 2014 season as the No. 30 team from a fantasy football perspective. We had much higher hopes for the Titans at this time last year: Bishop Sankey was supposed to be better – as were wideouts Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter – but nothing seemed to fall into place for the team.
The 2015 Titans offer fantasy owners 74.7 percent as much value as the average NFL team and 51.8 percent as much value as the NFL’s best team.
Marcus Mariota is in line to be a solid backup quarterback option for fantasy teams. We aren’t expecting much out of him as a passer – 3,650 pass yards to go along with a 20-to-15 TD-to-INT ratio – but his legs are another story.
We currently have Mariota projected for 92 rushes for 549 yards and three scores. Those numbers would put him up there with Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton in terms of rushing ability. You’d be taking an obvious (and unnecessary) risk by selecting Mariota as your one and only quarterback, but he’s definitely worth a pickup in two-QB leagues and is an acceptable backup to scoop up late in drafts.
Tennessee has a hairy running back situation. The team has three running backs – maligned second-year pro Bishop Sankey, rookie David Cobb, and gadget player Dexter McCluster – and even the sum of all these parts isn’t all that great. As a unit, the Titans’ backfield ranks 28th in the league in terms of what they offer fantasy owners.
Per The Tennessean, “Sankey is the odds-on favorite to be the starter” come Week 1, with Cobb likely to serve as his backup. McCluster will be a receiving threat out of the backfield. It’s chaotic, to say the least, but we’ll try to find the positive here.
Each player’s stock is down because of the chaotic scene, which means if one of them hits, you get more return on your investment. Is it risky? Of course. But we aren’t talking about swinging and missing on your RB1 or even your RB2. By taking one of these players (presumably Sankey or Cobb), you’d be gambling on a backup player. There are worse things to gamble on.
Kendall Wright is the only Tennessee wide receiver currently projected to finish in the top 60 at his position. After catching 94 passes for 1,079 yards in 2013, the entire fantasy community was expecting big things from Wright heading into 2014. That’s mostly because it was clear that he had so much room to grow, given that he only caught two touchdowns in 2013.
Everyone was right about his touchdown totals growing (he caught six in 2014), but his production everywhere else slipped. Wright only caught 57 passes for 715 yards last year and finished the season as the 41st highest-scoring wideout. He should fare a little better this year with a more competent quarterback under center (we think), but Wright is still only a fringe WR3 or flex option at this point.
Fantasy players are taking their chances on rookie wideout Dorial Green-Beckham as well. He is currently being taken in the 12th round of fantasy drafts. This is not a bad place to take a flier on a rookie, especially one that should have an increased role in Tennessee’s offense now due to the unfolding Justin Hunter saga, which could lead to a suspension for Hunter, or his outright release.
The final player from the Titans that brings value to the fantasy “field” is tight end Delanie Walker, who finished last season at the eighth highest-scoring player at the position. Walker saw 100 targets in 2014, hauling in 63 of them for 857 yards and four scores.
Expect similar usage for Walker in 2015, but fewer yards. Consider this: In 2013, with nearly the same amount of receptions as he had in 2014 (60 versus 63), Walker had over 300 fewer receiving yards (571 versus 890).
One reason to expect a decrease in Walker’s yardage is that he will likely post fewer yards after the catch (YAC) in 2015. Walker had a 6.6 YAC per reception average in 2014, significantly higher than his career average. Heading into 2014, Walker’s YAC per reception average was 4.7.
Thanks to the boost his 2014 season gave to his YAC, Walker’s career YAC per reception average is now 5.2. Let’s take the middle ground here and assume Walker’s YAC per reception average will be between 4.9 and 5.0 this season.
If he catches about 60 passes again with an average YAC of 4.93, he’ll finish the season with about 300 YAC yards. Knowing that about 43 percent of Walker’s career receiving yardage has come from YAC, 300 YAC yards in 2015 would equate to nearly 700 total receiving yards. That’s solid, no doubt, but it’s a noticeable drop from his 890 receiving yards last season.
Remember, Walker was the eighth highest-scoring tight end last season with his bulky yardage numbers. With the expected yardage dip in mind, Walker may fall to the TE10-12 range. However, that still makes him a tail-end starter for fantasy purposes.
With a slew of rookies and young players that have yet to live up to expectations, together with a veteran tight end that is expected to decline a bit, the Titans simply don’t have enough fantasy firepower to rank higher.