When the Titans get anywhere near the goal line, quarterback Jake Locker simply lofts a soft spiral toward the corner of the end zone. That's when the 6-foot-4, 203-pound Hunter turns into a jack-in-the-box, leaping over defenders to haul in a touchdown pass – just as he did in last Friday's loss to the New Orleans Saints.
It's been all but unstoppable so far.
As a rookie, Hunter checked in with the #18 FP/T (1.41), which is encouraging, especially if he’s able to beat out Nate Washington and get on the field as more than a just a passing-down specialist. He only played 36% of the team’s snaps, while Washington played 82%. The good news is that under then-OC Ken Whisenhunt, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal all played at least 67% of the Chargers’ snaps. Hunter's prowess in the redzone bodes well for QB Jake Locker.
Colts RB Trent Richardson’s first run of the preseason was for 8 yards, giving the indication that good things were to come with him. But he gained only 26 yards since then. The New York Giants, according to HC Chuck Pagano, loaded up the box on more than 20 of the first 30 plays of their preseason game last weekend. Richardson’s two longest runs -- 8 yards each -- came with Andrew Luck in the shotgun. Richardson's running with better instincts. It's just not showing up in the results, which is the determining factor.
Richardson averaged a woeful 2.9 YPC after joining the Colts, but he blames the learning curve he faced after joining a new offense midseason. Since they gave up a first round pick for him, he’ll have the backing of this Colts regime, but OC Pep Hamilton wasn’t afraid to give more work to Donald Brown given the disparity in the quality of play between the two backs. The offseason has gone pretty well for T-Rich — Brown is now out of the way, but the Colts did re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw. As the #20 RB off the board in the 5th round, it appears that fantasy owners are expecting Richardson to post RB2 numbers. Even that may be a stretch given his career output.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 10:48am
RB Ryan Williams, the former Arizona Cardinals second-round pick who signed with the Cowboys this summer, raised eyebrows with his impressive running late in Saturday's preseason game. But Joseph Randle, who the Cowboys gave a third-round grade coming out of Oklahoma State, has performed better on the whole since camp started and has consistently been ahead of Williams on the depth chart.
"Joe Randle right now is really playing outstanding," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 FM The Fan. "That's not an exaggeration."
Randle, who averaged only 3.0 yards per carry last season, has gained 91 yards on 20 carries in two preseason games, getting a lot of his work against the San Diego Chargers' starters. He looks more decisive and more elusive than he did last season.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 9:25pm
The Union-Tribune considered Chargers WR Malcom Floyd the training camp MVP in a runaway. Newcomer and Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers said Floyd, soon to be 33, moved like he's just three years into the NFL.
There wasn't a cornerback who faced him that Floyd failed to roast once.
Floyd took another step Friday in his comeback from the scary neck injury that ended his 2014 season. Against Seahawks starters and second-stringers, he caught one Philip Rivers pass in traffic and another over the middle.
Floyd said the contest's speed and contact, which included crack blocks against safeties, was vital to scrape barnacles off his game. He pronounced himself "pleased and confident" after facing the Super Bowl champs.
Floyd isn't getting drafted in typical leagues but he's trending up our WR draft board and may be someone you make your late-round flier if you find you need some depth with your WRs.
Monday, August 18, 2014, 2:10pm
Some of that inexperience showed up in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens, according to coach Jason Garrett. Weeden completed 10 of 19 passes for 129 yards and an interception. He also could have had a second pass intercepted. He was sacked once and hit countless times.
It was a little different than Weeden’s start in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.
“As much as anything else, it’s the mechanics of the game: handle himself at the line of scrimmage, making sure we’re in the right play,” Garrett said. “His decision-making at different times was only OK in this game, but he did some good things. Obviously we’ll highlight those and try to correct the other things. Like we talked about with him all along, he needs to play. He needs to play a lot of snaps, and I think he’ll get better and better the more chances we give him in game situations.”
Locker confidently marched the first team on a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive that saw him complete 4 of 5 passes for 30 yards with a pretty touchdown strike to "Making the Leap" candidate Justin Hunter.
After what Ken Whisenhunt did for Philip Rivers in San Diego last season, we're already seeing the coach's fingerprints on Tennessee's young passer.
Locker has averaged 15.1 FP in 16 career starts. That extrapolates to 241 points over a 16-game season, or about what Ryan Tannehill scored as the #16 QB in 2013. Health has been his biggest problem, but if he can stay upright, he could grow in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.
It seemed tight end Kyle Rudolph was poised for a huge 2013 season after he scored nine touchdowns and was Pro Bowl MVP in 2012. But an injury cut short his season last year. That injury has suppressed expectations for Rudolph externally. But internally, Rudolph is looked at as a key cog in the offense. He signed a lucrative contract extension at the beginning of camp and can now put his entire focus into playing within Turner’s offense, which has been very tight end-friendly over the years.
Rudolph was the #13 TE through Week 9 prior to a season-ending fracture in his foot. He was 15th in targets per game during that span, so there’s some opportunity in the workload department, especially with new OC Norv Turner in town. Turner isn’t necessarily as TE-friendly as his old boss Rob Chudzinski, but he featured Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron heavily while with the Chargers and Browns. Rudolph is just 24 and could make a nice leap if the Vikings can get good play out of the quarterback position. He should continue to be a force in the redzone.
Friday, August 15, 2014, 12:12pm
Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky: While veteran Shonn Greene is at the head of the line for the Titans running back-by-committee approach, rookie Bishop Sankey is the team's most well-rounded back. Sankey is on a good growth curve, and I expect he will earn the most touches over the course of the season, with Greene and Dexter McCluster making their contributions as more situational players.
We’re projecting Sankey to be the clear RB1 in Tennessee after the Titans took him as the first running back in the draft. He’s a versatile runner who doesn’t have much competition for touches. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class and joined a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013. He carries some risk since the backfield is unsettled, but the Titans didn't draft him so he could stand on the sideline.
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said Ryan Mathews remains the every-down back for San Diego. However, with the addition of Donald Brown in free agency along with third-down back Danny Woodhead coming off a career 2013 campaign, Mathews likely will see a decrease in carries. Mathews is in a contract year, so he'll be properly motivated to do the best with whatever touches he receives.
We're currently projecting an 11 percent drop in carries for Mathews. He is currently our #20 RB in standard and #26 in PPR. Brown is a very cheap (and talented) backup playing behind the injury-prone Mathews for a team that likes to run the ball. He's an attractive attrition pick in the final rounds.
We’re projecting Sankey to be the clear RB1 in Tennessee after the Titans took him as the first back in the draft. He’s a versatile back who doesn’t have much competition for touches. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class and joined a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013. Our only real concern is HC Ken Whisenhunt force-feeding Shonn Greene and/or Dexter McCluster to fill certain roles in his offense.
Titans WR Justin Hunter continued his run of strong training-camp catches. In seven-on-seven play, he hauled in a Locker pass at the left sideline despite strong coverage from Coty Sensabaugh. A few plays later, Hunter blew past rookie defensive back Marqueston Huff and caught a long pass from Charlie Whitehurst. Hunter also made two leaping receptions during team drills – once in the red zone and once down the left sideline, going up and over cornerback Ri'Shard Anderson.
As a rookie, Hunter checked in with the #18 FP/T (1.41), which is encouraging, especially if he’s able to beat out Nate Washington and get on the field as more than a just a passing-down specialist. He only played 36% of the team’s snaps, while Washington played 82%. The good news is that under then-OC Ken Whisenhunt, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal all played at least 67% of the Chargers’ snaps. So with Whiz calling the plays in Tennessee, there may be room for both Washington and Hunter in the lineup.
Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky:
He’s caught everything thrown to him, by whichever quarterback, over whichever defender, against whatever coverage.
But Wright is 1A, very much at the top of the list, his name absolutely in capital letters.
Make them bold, too.
Wright caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards, but only found the endzone twice. He’s not likely to become a major force in the redzone, though new HC Ken Whisenhunt had success around the goal line with a similar player (Eddie Royal) in San Diego. Royal scored six of his eight TDs from inside the 15-yard line (typically on quick screens), so Whisenhunt may elect to use Wright in the same way.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com was asked who was impressing him the most at Chargers training camp: " I couldn’t be happier to write that the guy impressing me the most is Malcom Floyd. We all know the scary injury he suffered early last year, so no one really knew what to expect from M-80. What we’ve seen is a player who hasn’t lost a step and is routinely making his patented acrobatic catches and big plays. I asked Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich about Floyd last week, and he said the wideout looks like a 25-year old out there."
From 2010 to 2012, Floyd finished #36, #32 and #36 as the second or third option in San Diego. He returns from a neck injury at the age of 32 (turning 33 in September) and will likely start as the team’s WR2 opposite Keenan Allen. If he’s starting and can stay healthy (a rather big “if”), he should be fantasy-relevant once again in 2014.
Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt projected the stats for the team's running backs:
Bishop Sankey: 980 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns; 27 catches, 287 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Shonn Greene: 523 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns; 17 catches, 136 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Dexter McCluster: 329 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns; 51 catches, 496 yards, 5 touchdowns.
When these projections are applied to our rankings, Sankey's numbers work out to #16 and #25 in standard and PPR, respectively. Greene (#39 and #44) and McCluster (#34 and #28) are also very fantasy relevant. Specifically, the McCluster projection is eye-opening. Wyatt is expecting McCluster to assume the full Danny Woodhead role in Ken Whisenhunt's offense. For perspective, Woodhead rushed for 429 yards and posted 605 receiving yards, while scoring eight total touchdowns. Wyatt is projecting McCluster for 825 total yards, or roughly 80 percent of Woodhead's total production. He's also projecting a 21 percent increase in rushing yards (1,514 vs. 1,832) and a 119 percent increase in receiving yards (420 vs. 919) for the Tennessee running backs when compared to last season.
We are more bullish on Sankey and bearish on McCluster mainly because we believe that Whisenhunt will realize that McCluster is not as good as Woodhead on passing downs, and will elect to use Sankey more in that role. McCluster does seem like a good late-round flier in PPR formats in the event that Whisenhunt stubbornly feeds him the ball.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 9:09am
Powell has played for the Arizona Cardinals. He rushed for 217 yards and caught 19 passes for 132 yards in 2012. He was cut and claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles before failing his physical.