It’s well known that many of us here at Fantasyknuckleheads are always on the hunt for that potential diamond-in-the-rough who may join the ranks of the elite fantasy sleepers of the league. Every now and then we dig down deep into our metaphorical bag of wonders, cast off the normal run of the mill article-builds that every Tom Dick and Harry are constructing and conjure up something we think is unique and special; potential fantasy gold if you will.
Pouring it on a little think, huh?
Well be that as it may, I wanna talk a little bit about Titans receiver Marc Mariani, and why I believe he could be a late-round sleeper waiting to happen.
Here’s the developing scenario in Tennessee. Kenny Britt recently underwent arthroscopic surgery to his left knee; a routine scope to sort of clean all the poopily-doopily and reduce swelling in his knee. The procedure itself isn’t entirely bad, but the fact that the man’s had three surgeries in 10 months is very worrisome indeed.
Britt is seriously risking entering the 2012 fantasy football season on the PUP list, and who knows just how well that knee will hold up over the course of 16 games ( or however many he plays) . With that mention, let’s not forget that Britt relies heavily on his athleticism and speed to make an impact, and without a healthy knee, his ability to “do what he does” potentially takes a significant hit.
So, in the meantime, the Titans obviously have to find an outside replacement.
Many feel that rookie sensation Kendall Wright (Baylor) is going to fill in the outside position with Lavelle Hawkins also competing for the job.
The Titans also have Damian Williams on the roster, but there is some strong suggestion that the Titans are going to relegate him to more special teams work—remember I said that—while rotating him in on specific plays.
And of course there’s Nate Washington who is awesome and should be owned by whomever is reading this.
So if we stop right there ( no mention of the TE for the sake of this debate), the initial scenario shapes up as one main outside receiver (Washington) and a vacant spot for the other outside receiver ( a primary battle between Hawkins and Wright, with Williams factored as a rotational role-player).
So who fills the slot and how does this all point towards Mariani?
If Mariani does man the slot, he’ll be especially valuable in leagues that award points for Special-Teams play as well…remember that.
When I first read Titans OC Chris Palmer wants to get Williams “more involved” in special teams, it got me thinking. The Titans already do not view Williams as a viable starter for one. He filled in marginally for Britt in 2011, but had he done a better job, the Titans may have passed on drafting Kendall Wright altogether.
Marc Mariani, on the other hand, has been the primary return man for Tennessee for two years now but has always been viewed as a sleeping giant receiver just waiting to get his shot.
Then I remember an interesting Tweet from John Glennon a while back suggesting that the Titans plan to try Mariani in the slot this year—the very position that is currently NOT dedicated to any receiver in Tennessee.
Now this ain’t Scooby-Doo, but there sure does seem to be a bit of funny business going ’round in the Smoky Mountains, and if I’m right, that means Mariani could very much emerge as a viable sleeper receiver in 2012.
Mariani was drafted in the seventh round by Tennessee. He caught 164 balls for 3,015 yards (17.6 ypc) and 29 total TDs for Montana (played 42 of the possible 48 available games in three years) and is one of the all-time leading receivers in Montana history with over 5,000 all-purpose college career yards in just three years of service.
The slot position was a weak spot for Tennessee last season, and if they are to spread the ball more this season like they wish, the slot must be utilized.
Currently this is a receiver who isn’t even on the map. You won’t find him in any rankings or even most Top 200 lists, and that may be a good thing because it potentially secures his availability at the back end of your draft—precisely where you want to draft him.
Remember a few pieces of advice that have a lot to do with not only your draft approach, but also Marc Mariani:
If your fantasy radar is fired up, you would be wise to put Mariani at the forefront. If you do wind up drafting him at the tail-end of your draft, you’ll be even wiser.
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