Tennessee Titans Fantasy Preview

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Tennessee Titans

The prevailing thought amongst many NFL know-it-alls was that the Titans would attempt to surround franchise QB Vince Young with more help at the wide receiver position through the draft in the offseason. Instead the team decided to go running back - again - and are counting on free agent tight end Alge Crumpler to become Young's favorite target. Head coach Jeff Fisher's teams are predicated upon a tough defense and an offense that manges the clock and the ball, trying to avoid turnovers.

That kind of mentality is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to fantasy owners who worship the bomb and detest the dive. Under normal circumstances I'd suggest you run and hide from the Titans, but the wildcard Vince Young makes this team more of the intriguing variety than the vanilla kind:

Vince Young
2007 stats: 2,546 yds, 9 TD, 17 INT, 395 yds rushing, 3 rushing TD

The knock that you'll most frequently hear on Vince Young is that his unorthodox passing motion hinders his ability to ever become an accurate passer. While I'd agree that it looks incredibly awkward, throwing motion doesn't mean anything if it works because results are what matter, not style.

But we've never seen what kind of passer VY could become due to the Titans preference to surround him with mediocre, recycled receivers instead of legitimate downfield threats. The David Givens signing from a year ago was alright, but he's been injured from almost day one and guys like Justin Gage, Roydell Williams and Eric Moulds aren't what you'd consider gamebreakers.

The saving grace for those you who will draft VY is his ability to run when the pocket breaks down or when coaches call for it. He's big, strong and can break a tackle or two on the way to the house.

Crumpler is going to help Young in certain respects, but not enough for me to advise using a relatively high pick to select him. He's a great backup quarterback in fantasy, but not much more than that.

Running Back

LenDale White

2007 stats: 1,110 yds, 7 TD

The bruiser out of USC played up to his ability in 2007 and the numbers certainly reflected that.

White works best in a two back system in the same ilk as the one USC employed with him and Reggie Bush on their way to the Rose Bowl in 2006.

His North-South running style punishes defenders and is a perfect fit for Fisher's smashmouth football approach because he can tote the rock 30-plus times a game if called upon.

He had five games with over 100-yards rushing in 2007, but we'd like to see a multiple TD affair after failing to do so last season. With the addition of 2008 first-round pick RB Chris Johnson out of East Carolina , White will once again be the thunder out of the Titans' backfield as the workhorse back.

White doesn't merit number one back consideration as he's not one of the elite, but definitely qualifies as a dependable number two that will probably be selected somewhere in the mid third to late fourth round.

The backups are where things get a little muddy. The aforementioned Johnson is the home-run threat that White definitely is not and could potentially fit perfectly as White's counterpart.

But the selection of Johnson was a questionable one because the Titans took RB Chris Henry - no, not that one - in last year's draft. Either they don't believe in him or they just think Johnson was a talent they just couldn't pass up remains to be seen.

But I don't see this as a good sign for Henry and until training camp opens, have to assume that Johnson is the number two back for the Titans.


Wide Receiver

Justin Gage

2007 stats: 55 receptions, 750 yds, 2 TD

Roydell Williams

2007 stats: 55 receptions, 719 yds, 4 TD

Brandon Jones

2007 stats: 21 receptions, 248 yds, 2 TD

This position is without question the weakest link in the Titans offense and hasn't improved one iota in the offseason.

Statistically, Justin Gage and Roydell Williams were the two leading receivers for the Titans a year ago. Gage had more yards, but Williams had more TD and that gives him the edge. Williams also shows the most promise of the Titans receiving corps, seemingly gaining Vince Young's trust every Sunday in 2007. The team had been counting on Brandon Jones to assume the role of Young's preferred target, but it never materialized and many fantasy owners who predicted him to be sleeper last year were sadly disappointed.

Aside from Williams and tight end Alge Crumpler, you shouldn't be looking to the Titans for wide receivers come draft day. Williams I'd look at as a late round pick after you've sewn up a solid four WR rotation and keep him as a reserve for those pesky bye weeks.

But the man you might want to keep an eye on is Mike Williams.

The first round bust out of USC, taken by the Lions and subsequently cut by the Raiders a year ago, is trying to make a comeback with the Titans and has reportedly shed some weight and recommitted himself to the game of football. There's no doubt Williams had first round talent and possesses the abilities needed to be a wide receiver in this league. Whether or not he takes advantage of it is a completely different story. Drafting him isn't something I advise you to do, but pay attention to his progression through the preseason and the early part of the regular season because he could become a waiver wire wonder.

Tight End

Alge Crumpler
2007 stats: 42 receptions, 444 yds, 5 TD

I've mentioned his name already a handful of times so by now you should already know who I'm talking about.

After spending his first seven years with the Atlanta Falcons, Crumpler is now a member of the Titans in hopes he can do the same thing for Vince Young that he did for the currently incarcerated Michael Vick.

From 2004-2006 Crumpler averaged 56 receptions, 810 yds and 6 TD per season. At one point he was considered one of the top five ends in not only fantasy football, but in the NFL as a whole with a quarterback very similar to the style of Vince Young.

Now away from the soap opera that is the Atlanta Falcons, Crumpler is in a better situation and could make a return to his prominence among the throngs of fantasy football fans.

If you read the preview of the Houston Texans, you'll know my overall disdain for tight ends. Take Crumpler late on draft day, somewhere in rounds 12 through 15 or when you deem a tight end is your next targeted position in that time frame.

Defense
2007 stats: 40 sacks, 22 INT, 2 TD, 18.8 points per game

This roster is filled with defensive stalwarts that come together to form one of the league's best defenses. Names like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Albert Haynesworth, Keith Bulluck are what drive this unit and are all returning this year.

Who's not returning this year is Adam _________ Jones, the 'make it rain' cornerback who couldn't stay on the field because he couldn't stay out of trouble. But this defense performed well without him last year, earning their place as the league's fifth ranked defense overall.

A familiar face is returning this year to the Titans in the form of Jeavon Kearse. After two very forgettable years spent with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kearse is back where it all started to try and regain his reputation as one of the best pass rushers in football.

They're in the top 15 of fantasy football defenses and will go sometime in the last three rounds in the draft.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on July 16, 2008 10:47 AM.

Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Preview was the previous entry in this blog.

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