Heading into the 2014 season, the Tennessee Titans' Kendall Wright is perhaps the most underappreciated wide receiver in fantasy football circles. He doesn't get nearly the respect he deserves, and his is a name you should get to know prior to your draft.
Yes, some do laud him for being a major player in points-per-reception leagues (and he does, of course, hold significantly more value there), but Wright can be very useful in standard leagues as well.
Entering that magical third year for wide receivers, Wright should continue the natural progression in his game and is coming off a fine sophomore campaign to boot.
Last year, Wright improved tenfold on most vital statistics from his rookie season. He upped his targets from his 104 to 140, receptions from 64 to 94 and receiving yards from 626 to 1,079.
Sure, he had just two touchdowns last year (he had four touchdowns in his rookie season), but touchdowns don't tell the whole story. After all, didn't Detroit's Calvin Johnson have just five touchdowns in 2012? And what did he have last year? (The answer, by the way, is 12.)
Before you rake me over the coals for comparing Wright to Johnson, I was merely pointing out that the correlation between touchdowns being tied to fantasy success doesn't paint the full picture (specifically in the case of receivers).
Besides, with a little bit of luck, improved maturity and full grasp of the Titans offense (led by new head coach and offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt), look for Wright to build on his touchdown numbers and fully break out in 2014.
Wright knows that a lot more is expected of him, and he is aiming to make himself a complete receiver, specifically his ability to make plays after the catch.
From Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean:
Some of the short passes that I caught, I maybe let the first person tackle me. I have to break that tackle and get way more yards than I did. And that is what I am working on — my explosiveness. It is great to get 1,000 yards. But I want to do a whole lot more after the catch. I need to make more guys miss.
The lack of touchdowns and big plays are being addressed, though, as Wyatt continues to point out:
According to Pro Football Focus, his 6.2-yard average gain after the catch ranked seventh among NFL receivers who played 50 percent of their team's snaps last season. He averaged 11.5 yards per catch last season, 10.8 over his first two seasons.
Wright scored 30 touchdowns at Baylor, however, so the Titans know he has more explosive plays in him.
Receivers coach Shawn Jefferson also told Wyatt about the development in Wright's understanding of the playbook and his football IQ.
When we got him out of Baylor his route tree and knowledge of the game of football was very limited. So now he is taking it to the next level. He knows he has the physical skills and can play the game, and now he knows by understanding the overall concept and scheme he can be even more effective when he doesn't have the ball in his hands.
So, it appears all the stars are aligning for Wright to have a breakout campaign and cement himself as at least a No. 2 WR in PPR leagues and, at minimum, a No. 3 WR in standard leagues. Although, don't be surprised if he ascends past those labels, as his upside is through the roof.
Really Andre Johnson is expensive version of Kendall Wright -- 90+ recs, 1100 yds, low TDs, tied to questionable QB. Only worth ADP in PPR.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) July 10, 2014
Wright has all the tools and attributes you want in a receiver, as he is quick, strong and athletic. He is about to enter his prime and nothing should hold him back from getting to the next level this year. After all, there is a reason why he was the Titans' No. 1 draft pick in 2012 (20th selection overall). The potential the team saw in him at Baylor is about to be tapped.
It doesn't even matter if his quarterback situation is muddled (with Jake Locker expected to be the starter in front of rookie Zach Mettenberger). Put simply, Wright can make plays and will be a major playmaker in the Titans offense for years to come.
Expect around 100-plus receptions, 1,200 receiving yards and five to seven touchdowns in Wright's third season. He'll prove to be a bargain and should be drafted in the sixth or seventh round, which in those rounds would be a steal.
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