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Player Spotlight: Kenny Britt

A detailed look at Kenny Britt's fantasy prospects for 2013

There's little reason to believe that Kenny Britt will be a major factor in 2013. He has never topped 50 receptions or 800 yards in his entire career. He's missed 19 games in the last three seasons, and has serious red flags concerning his off-field behavior. He's already been suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy, and has had eight incidents involving the police since he was drafted in 2009. He's playing in a passing offense that ranked in the bottom 10 in fantasy points in 2012. He is playing in the last season of his rookie contract, and his team has shown little interest in extending him long-term. In fact, the Titans have spent the 34th pick of the 2013 draft and the 20th pick of the 2012 draft on receivers, signaling a willingness to move on from the Kenny Britt era. There are a host of reasons to believe that Kenny Britt will be a fringe fantasy asset this year, and any projections for his 2013 output will be necessarily underwhelming.

The fantasy community, by and large, is aware of this reality. Current ADP data has Britt going towards the end of the 8th round, as the 38th receiver off the board. The most recent Footballguys staff rankings have him as the 32nd best receiver. Footballguys projections, on average, have Britt pegged for about 850 yards and 6 touchdowns, a total that would leave him as a middling WR4. And, for what it's worth, I agree that these are reasonable expectations. By far the most likely scenario is that Kenny Britt will finish the season as quality depth and nothing more. If we're valuing Britt based on likely outcomes, he's about as unexciting as a player can be.

I would argue that this kind of thinking is a mistake; Kenny Britt is the type of player whose true value defies projections. Fantasy football isn't won by accumulating receivers who might get 900 yards and 7 scores instead of receivers who might get 800 and 6. Once you're getting deep in your draft, a player's upside matters far more than his downside. Getting mediocre WR3 production out of your fourth receiver doesn't do much to improve your chances, but getting high-end WR2 or even WR1 production out of your fourth receiver greatly enhances your chances of making the playoffs and winning a championship. Instead of settling for a bunch of bunts and singles, the latter part of your draft should be spent taking huge swings and trying to connect on a few home runs. And as far as home run potential goes, Britt stands head and shoulders above his peers.

For evidence of this home run potential, we need look no further than Kenny Britt's 2010 and 2011 seasons. Both years were marred by serious injuries, but he played three healthy stretches in those two years. From week 1 to week 7 of 2010, Kenny Britt played in six games, putting up 23 receptions, 434 yards, 7 TDs, and a 2 point conversion. He reached the end zone in each of the six games, and ranked as the #5 fantasy receiver over that seven week span. Then, he tore his hamstring and missed six weeks while recovering. He returned at the end of the year to play from week 14 to week 17. Over that span, he put up 19 receptions, 341 yards, and 2 touchdowns, once again ranking as the #5 fantasy receiver. Then Britt opened 2011 on fire, catching 17 passes for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns in two and a half games, once again ranking as the #5 receiver, before tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the year. In 13 games, Britt caught 59 passes for 1064 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a two-point conversion thrown in for good measure. Over the two years, only Calvin Johnson scored more fantasy points per game. Perhaps most impressively, Kenny Britt did all of this despite playing with three different quarterbacks. Six of his games were with Kerry Collins, four were with Vince Young, and three were with Matt Hasselbeck. None of those quarterbacks is still starting in the NFL.

Again, this isn't to say we should expect a repeat performance from Kenny Britt. His 2012 campaign was underwhelming, to say the least, as Britt dealt with rust and nagging injuries. Jake Locker, the current Tennessee quarterback, might be the worst passer Britt has yet played with. The entire Titans offense is less explosive than it was two years ago, and there is more competition in town for targets. It is not likely that Kenny Britt finishes 2013 as a top 10 receiver, but it is certainly possible- much more so for Britt than for any other receiver being drafted around him. This makes him a much better gamble than any projections would suggest; the worst case scenario is that you draft him as your 3rd or 4th receiver and he performs as a mediocre 3rd or 4th receiver, while the best case scenario is that Kenny Britt becomes the single most important player on your entire roster. Later round gambles who hit big can turn you into an instant contender, and no late round receiver has more potential to hit big than Kenny Britt

POSITIVES

  • Kenny Britt is a big, strong, physical receiver capable of overpowering most cornerbacks in the NFL; he is especially dominant inside the 20 yard line, with double-digit touchdown potential.
  • Britt is a former 1st round pick with a history of all-world production without elite quarterback play.
  • All of Britt's competition for targets is either young and inexperienced or old and mediocre.
  • Kenny Britt is fully healthy for the first time in years, and is playing for a new contract in 2014, which should leave him highly motivated and on his best behavior.

NEGATIVES

  • Britt has plenty of character red flags, with 8 run-ins with law enforcement since he entered the league; another infraction will almost certainly result in a lengthy suspension.
  • Kenny Britt has been plagued by injuries, being limited by a torn hamstring, torn ACL, and various ankle problems over the last three seasons.
  • Tennessee's passing offense is underwhelming, and features two other highly drafted young receivers fighting for targets.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Kenny Britt really makes an ideal 3rd receiver in fantasy. Nobody who saw a fully healthy Britt play in 2010 and 2011 would be surprised if he finished the season as a top 10 receiver. Even in the worst case scenario, the inexperience of his competition should give Britt a firm grasp on the #1 receiver role in Tennessee, and he should have no trouble getting enough targets to be a worthwhile weekly starter in leagues that require three receivers. Britt isn't just a lottery ticket, he's a Powerball ticket with a $300 million jackpot. Britt is a steal at his current ADP, and just might wind up being the key to your entire fantasy season.


OTHER VIEWPOINTS

Cory J. Bonini from KFFL says Britt is moving up his draft board

Britt has the talent to shine in the NFL as a No. 1 receiver for the Titans. He is finally healthy entering offseason workouts and doesn't have any lingering legal woes hanging over his head at the moment. While Britt seems to be capable of derailing this upward trajectory at any given second, I will give him the benefit of the doubt for now... 

I am all in on Britt being a strong No. 3 fantasy gamble. He has the ability to achieve high-end WR2 status in 2013, and if he falls short you spent only a midround pick on him.

Bryan Fontaine from Pro Football Focus wrote last year about how productive Britt had been to that point

 ...there are so few wide receivers with the size, athletic ability, and elite-level statistical metrics (albeit in a smaller sample size) that rival Britt.

It is easy to forget with all his knucklehead antics, but Britt entered the NFL at a young age (20) in 2009. In fact, Britt is two months younger than 2011 first round pick A.J. Green and just two months older than 2010 first round pick Dez Bryant. Britt has shown plenty of promise in his first three years when given the chance. Unfortunately, what his career statistics show is that he has yet to put it all together for a full season.

While Britt’s nine touchdowns in 2010 jump out at you, it is his touchdown per reception rate the last two seasons that stand out to me. That is elite level production. It is hard to fathom that Britt would have been able to continue his touchdown rate per game for the entire 2011 season (if healthy); however, a top-five PPR season would have been in reach.

Brad Berreman of Rant Sports recaps Britt's 2012 season and speculates about his future

Britt did play significantly more snaps late in the season, which may be a bi-product of better health. But the increase also coincided with Tennessee’s switch to Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator, which should not be overlooked since Loggains has now been given the position on a full-time basis. Britt’s production did not go up along with the increase in playing time, though he did have eight receptions for 143 yards against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14. 


KENNY BRITT PROJECTIONS

 RECRECYDRECTDRSHYDRSHTD
Adam Harstad 55 853 7 0 0
David Dodds 67 931 6 6 0

More from Adam Harstad:

Dynasty, in Practice: Valuing in the Face of Uncertainty - September 19
Dynasty, in Theory: A Paean to Uncommon Sense - September 16
Dynasty, in Practice: Early-Season Overperformers - September 12
Dynasty, in Theory: Thinking Like a Bayesian - September 9
Dynasty, in Practice: Keeping a Fantasy Journal - September 5
Dynasty, in Theory: Musings on Confirmation Bias - September 2
A Narrative History of Fantasy Football - August 28
Diversification 101 - August 19
Dynasty, in Theory: The Components of Player Value - August 14
The Opportunity Cost of Top Tight Ends - August 11