What Should We Expect From Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter in 2014?
The Tennessee Titans have a young core of wide receivers in Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright. Are these two enough to return the Titans offense back to prominence and help them to eventually reclaim the AFC South?
Justin Hunter: Raw and Unpolished
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter had an up-and-down rookie campaign while showing intermittent flashes of brilliance. He posted a meager 18 receptions on the year, but finished sixth in the entire league in average yards per reception (19.7) among receivers with 15 or more catches. Tack on four touchdowns to those 18 receptions and the projected potential for Hunter starts to make sense.
For all of the great things Hunter did last year (game-winner against the Chargers and 114-yard explosion versus the paltry Raiders secondary), he had just as many no shows (four single-catch games and six complete goose eggs).
The quote that's getting thrown around this off season comes directly from Justin himself: "Sometimes I would look at it and be like 'What am I doing out there?'" Hunter also said, "A year older and a year wiser, things should be a lot easier for me this year, and a lot better."
Even Hunter himself recognizes he had some tough times as a rookie, and made some mistakes that he learned from which he can use to his advantage in the upcoming season.
Titans wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson said that Justin Hunter “can be the receiver that puts us in the playoffs and helps us win our division”
In the table below, we can see Justin Hunter didn't have many opportunities to accumulate statistics or Net Expected Points (NEP), but when his opportunities did arise, he capitalized in a big way, finishing with the fifth-best Reception NEP on a per-target basis among 15-plus reception wideouts a season ago.
|Player||Reception NEP||Rank||Reception NEP per Target||Rank|
He has big-play ability, and more volume could help him become a legitimate sophomore receiver.
Kendall Wright: Third-Year Breakout?
numberFire has already explored the fact that the theory of the third year breakout for wide receivers may be one of the biggest myths out there. The second year is where most receivers typically have their big year.
Kendall Wright wasn't expected to have a huge season last year, and there were a multitude of factors that pointed to a mediocre second campaign for him. When Jake Locker is your quarterback, expectations immediately get curbed. Couple that with the uncertainty around Kenny Britt's health, and it's easy to understand why not many had Wright projected at 1,000 yards or more. He managed to top that benchmark, but didn't impress in the touchdown department, finishing with a couple of scores.
The fact that Wright had a decent year statistically even with Jake Locker not making it through a whole season has to be taken as a positive indicator of how he will perform this year. His floor isn't nearly as low as most think, and there are a few other factors being swept under the rug by pundits everywhere.
Ken Wisenhunt has joined the team as head coach, and if you're curious about the kind of impact his arrival will have on this offense and Wright specifically, look no further than Keenan Allen's historic rookie campaign. There will be opportunities abound for Wright in the slot and on the outside, as Whisenhunt will surely work to move Kendall all over the field to create favorable matchups.
Wright's a shorter receiver and may have trouble scoring touchdowns, but a high floor in fantasy football is certainly true. He's currently our 20th-best wide receiver, and we're projecting 93 catches from the third-year receiver.