The Tennessee Titans had all sorts of problems in 2014, including a defense that ranked 27th in the NFL. The Titans are hopeful that the arrival of defensive guru Dick LeBeau will help spur a quick turnaround, but this remains a defense with as many questions as answers.
Although his sack totals dropped from 10.5 in 2013 (as a 4-3 defensive tackle) to five last year, Jurrell Casey actually enjoyed a pretty good first season as a 3-4 end in 2014. The 25-year-old told Paul Kuharsky of ESPN he plans to step up his game this season.
“This year I’ve got to be a little more vocal, show my presence a little more,” he said. “Sit down with guys when we see things going wrong, get it fixed up and things like that. Last year I was a little quiet. I think if I’ll be a little more vocal, show my presence a little bit more, push guys a little harder, I think we should be 10 times better this season. I’ve got to show the guys that you can’t give up, you’ve got to keep pushing, keep on fighting for it.”
Despite those relatively paltry sack totals, Casey’s 68 tackles kept him in IDP DL2 territory in fantasy scoring in 2014. That’s where he remains in 2015, with the expectation that he’ll see a few more big plays come his way.
As SB Nation pointed out, there may not be a harder player on the Titans’ defense to predict than young inside linebacker Zach Brown, who has run the gamut over his brief NFL career. ‘Inside linebacker is one of several positions on this roster that is a big question mark,” they wrote. “It seems like every day, the overall theme when looking at the state of a position on the Titans roster is, “we’ll just have to hope, wait, and see,” and today is no different. It has been so long since we have seen Zach Brown play, and his two full seasons were complete opposites. Brown has a chance to be a much needed playmaker on the defense, but we are not going to find out if he has returned to form until August.’
In theory, Brown’s big play ability would appear a great fit for Ray Horton’s aggressive scheme. If he can stay on the field. And play within himself. Those “ifs” add more than a little risk to drafting Brown in IDP leagues, but the potential reward makes him worth a late look.
There’s a bit more certainty at the other inside linebacker spot, where Avery Williamson appears a good bet to both start and play three downs. In many respects he mirrors Brown – young, talented, and erratic – and while Brown’s fantasy ceiling may be a bit higher I trust Williamson’s IDP floor more.
The Titans’ best known fantasy defensive back is cornerback Jason McCourty, who turned in another solid season in 2014 with 85 total tackles. That production was good for a top finish among cornerbacks. The seventh-year pro is the front-runner to be the first player at his position drafted in IDP leagues this summer, and McCourty is a viable DB2 option in mixed formats.
However, the most valuable defensive back for the Titans in 2015 may well be free agent acquisition Da’Norris Searcy, who the Titans tabbed to man the strong safety spot. ESPN’s Jeff Ratcliffe tabbed Searcy as a potential value in the secondary this year.
“You might also want to give Da’Norris Searcy and/or Calvin Pryor a look. Searcy flashed fantasy potential in Buffalo and should finally get an every-down role at the fantasy-friendly strong safety position for the Titans, while Pryor figures to benefit from Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme.”
Folks, I know Ratcliffe. He knows stuff.