Editor’s Note: This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Rankings and Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The reunion is complete. The St. Louis Rams have officially signed free agent and former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt, joining him once again with Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
Fisher originally drafted Britt out of the University of Rutgers back in 2009 and helped him to arguably his two best seasons in Tennessee. Upon being released by the Titans earlier in the offseason, the dots quickly connected and had St. Louis GM Les Snead suggesting that a marriage in free agency was “better than 60%.” Snead’s prediction ended up ringing true after the dust settled, as the Rams won Britt’s services over a slightly interested Washington Redskins team, as well as a few other quiet suitors.
Britt’s new deal isn’t one you normally see a potential ‘number one’ target get, however, as it’s just for one season at roughly $1.4 million. Still, according to ESPN sources, Britt can raise his payday to about $2.9 million if he can stay healthy and get back to playing at a high level.
On paper, this is a can’t miss for the Rams. They can still take a stab at another potential go-to target in the early rounds of the draft, while they have a potential cheaply-signed number one receiver on their roster now. If Britt dominates, he answers the problem at wide receiver for 2014 and the new receiver the Rams potentially draft could take over in 2015. It works the other way as well, naturally, as the fresh blood could replace a struggling or injured Britt this year if needed, as well.
Rather than getting caught up in the hypotheticals of the draft and Britt’s long-term role in St. Louis, though, we’re probably better off figuring out what can be expected of Britt in 2014 if all actually goes well. More specifically, can Britt beat the odds and get back to being a top target that puts up solid fantasy numbers?
The short answer is absolutely. Britt has some minor off field issues and a injury-riddled history, but he’s still just 25 years old. Blessed with excellent size and ball skills, Britt has all the physical tools necessary of a true number one wide receiver in the NFL. We’ve already seen him do major damage in the league, too, as he averaged over 16 yards per catch in each of his first three seasons and even posted a career high nine touchdowns in 2010.
Britt has never really had the chance to grow up as a legit number one target, though, which is why he could actually hit career highs across the board with the Rams. For one, he’s had some unfortunate injuries and missed a lot of action – 23 games in his career, to be exact.
If completely healthy, Britt should at the very worst be the player he was in 2012 when he caught 45 receptions for 589 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He still missed two games that year and wasn’t as explosive as he had been in the past, but his size and ball skills were still evident enough.
There’s more working in Britt’s favor. He wasn’t forced into the rigors of the game much last year (just 11 receptions), meaning he’s going to enter 2014 as fresh and as healthy as he’s been since before he messed up his knee in 2011.
Another positive is who will be operating under center. Britt has seen nothing but inconsistency and inaccuracy in Tennessee, where he’s tried to make things happen with the likes of Vince Young, Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him passes. With the Rams, his speed could show a little better on the turf, while Sam Bradford has to be considered at least a moderate upgrade. There have been a few whispers about doubts surrounding Bradford’s talent and future as a Ram, but there’s no denying the numbers he was putting up in 2013 before going down with a knee injury of his own.
Britt’s 2014 fantasy football outlook is all about potential. Considering his injury history and the fact that he spent the majority of 2013 doing a whole lot of nothing, it’s hard to make a definitive statement with any real confidence. All we really know for sure right now is that if he’s healthy he can absolutely turn things around.
A guy many may want to compare Britt to heading into 2014 could be ex-Rams wide receiver Danario Alexander, who was at a similar stage in his young career just two seasons ago. Alexander struggled mightily to stay healthy for years and looked to be just about done, but then signed on with the San Diego Chargers in 2012 and had a fantastic season. He missed 2013 with another injury, but at least for one season, put his talent on full display without injuries being a factor.
Long-term, Britt might not be able to accomplish that for long, either. For 2014, though, it’s entirely possible. The talent around him is better, there is some familiarity with Fisher, he’ll be in another contract year and if healthy and effective, he’ll likely have a very solid role.
The Rams went through a lot of trouble to land slot receiver Tavon Austin in last year’s draft. While they certainly have a versatile weapon for the future, they still don’t have a single wide receiver on their roster that can consistently make big plays down the field or in the red-zone. That’s where Britt could factor in.
For now, fantasy owners can’t get too excited. Everything is set up perfectly for Britt to get his career going again. We just can’t trust his knees, effectiveness or role yet. But if he can keep it together and lock down a role, he’ll absolutely be worth taking in the later rounds of fantasy drafts as a potential high upside WR3. He’s probably not going to turn into a 70+ catch or 1,000+ yard receiver in St. Louis (or maybe ever), but if properly utilized he should be able to make a good amount of big plays and be a factor in the touchdown department.
Tags: St. Louis Rams