Should Tennessee Titans Wide Receivers Be Dropped in Fantasy Football?

After a poor start for Kendall Wright and company, how will Tennessee pass-catchers fare moving forward?

When you were drafting your fantasy football team, you probably didn’t plan on looking much into the Tennessee Titans and their players. Their highest rated player in the ESPN average draft position rankings was rookie running back Bishop Sankey with an ADP of 90.2. Wide receiver Kendall Wright followed closely behind at 93.1 after posting 1,000 receiving yards in 2013. Justin Hunter, who averaged a late 11th-round selection, was another player many suspected to have a breakout year in the Music City even after garnering only 18 receptions in his rookie campaign.

Now, many have begun to wonder whether these players are worth holding on to in their fantasy leagues.

So far in 2014, the production hasn’t been there for the Titans. Through four weeks, not one of the team’s wide receivers has gone over 63 yards in a single contst. Their lack of production isn’t helping the team out at all, either. At numberFire, we use a metric called Net Expected Points (NEP), which measures how many expected points a player is contributing to his team’s success. For Wright, Hunter and the aging Nate Washington, the numbers have been abysmal.

NameSuccess RateReception NEPRankPPR WR Rank
Kendall Wright68.42%9.0374th 44th
Justin Hunter100%11.4461st 74th
Nate Washington83.33%6.7688th 97th

Although the production is obviously lacking, a lot of this could be due to the poor quarterback play. Between Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger, the Titans Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points per play ranks 29th in the league, only behind Oakland, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. During ESPN’s Monday Night Football, an interesting stat also shot across the screen. Locker is second in the NFL in percentage of off-target passes this season, which could be a factor in why the receivers’ numbers are so low.

While the rest of the team has been subpar, one player has stood out and played exceptionally well. Tight end Delanie Walker was, on average, the 19th tight end drafted in ESPN fantasy football leagues, but he has completely surpassed expectations. Walker already has 22 receptions for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. Those 317 yards account for over one-third of all of the team’s receiving yards this season. Walker’s Reception Net Expected Points of 25.30 ranks fourth in the NFL among tight ends, and 15th among tight ends and wide receivers. If there is a Titans player to own, it’s absolutely Delanie Walker.

Upcoming Opponents and Outlook

Below is a chart looking of the team's upcoming schedule, along with their opponents' per play pass defense NEP average and ranking within the metric.

OpponentAdjusted Defensive Passing NEP per PlayRanking

When looking at the next six opponents for Tennessee, there's reason for optimism for the passing game. Aside from the game against Houston, not one of their next opponents is ranked in the top 20. So if there's any time left for the Titans receivers, namely Wright and Hunter to shine, it's in the next month and a half.

Although none of the Titans’ wide receivers have been worthy thus far of a fantasy start other than in deep leagues, there are two reasons to keep Wright and Hunter sitting on your team. The first is their Success Rates, noted in the first chart. This statistic shows the consistency with which a receiver earns positive NEP on his receptions. Both Wright and Hunter have solid ratings, particularly Hunter with a 100%. When the Titans do have the opportunity to pass the ball, and when these wideouts do catch it, they're doing good things.

The other reason is the aforementioned schedule. The time is now for these receivers to step up. Let them stay put on your rosters and keep an eye on them over the course of the next few weeks. If they’re not producing by this time next month, it may be time to send them on their way to the waiver wire.