Film Room Checkup: Kendall Wright
December 14, 2013 | Sammy Mayers
Kendall Wright had a disappointing week for fantasy owners hoping to collect garbage-time points in an expected Tennessee blowout loss in Denver. Limiting Wright seemed to be a point of emphasis all afternoon for the Bronco defense and they did a great job of taking him out of the game. For a receiver averaging close to 6 receptions and 8.5 targets a game coming into this game, 2 catches on 3 targets was a disappointing output from Wright. In reality, he had 4 targets but one was taken off the board when Denver was charged with roughing the passer on the same play. It was surprising that the Titans only had 24 pass attempts in this game. This was mostly due to the fact that they were leading at halftime and decided to be more conservative than they should have been near the end of the game. Despite throwing so infrequently, it was odd to see that Wright only had 3 targets the entire game. From watching the tape, it became evident that the Broncos did all they could to take him out of the game and force Fitzpatrick to find other options such as Justin Hunter and Nate Washington, who had 8 and 6 targets respectively.
Here are some plays from the game that I found notable when it came to reasoning Kendall Wright’s poor fantasy performance:
This first play is a good illustration of how the Broncos chose to deal with Wright for most of the afternoon. Wright is lined up in the slot on this play set to run a 5-yard in route.
The middle linebacker knows that if Wright is operating in the middle of the field, it is his responsibility to track him and make sure he is not a viable option for Fitzpatrick. Wright thrives on short receptions in which he has space to run and the Broncos were determined to limit those types of plays.
The corner who was initially covering Wright passes him off to the linebacker and he engulfs him as Fitzpatrick decides to throw elsewhere. The Broncos executed their plan of forcing Fitzpatrick’s hand perfectly on this play as they forced him to make a more difficult throw outside the hashes.
On this play, Wright starts out lined up on the outside but gets motioned to the slot. This helps Wright get a free release off the snap because the Broncos are playing zone coverage.
As Wright explodes off the snap, he streaks up the field as the corner follows the receiver who was lined up ahead of Wright at the line of scrimmage.
As Wright turns back to look for the ball, he sees that Fitzpatrick has already decided to throw elsewhere. Fitzpatrick could have felt that there simply wasn’t enough room to fit the ball in for Wright. To me, Wright was open enough on this play to warrant a target. Especially considering the type of coverage he was facing on other plays. It was still somewhat of a positive to see him some separation and space within the Broncos defense.
This play is actually Wright’s “4th” target that doesn’t count because the Broncos were charged with a roughing the passer penalty at the conclusion of the play. As you will see in a bit, there was another infraction committed by the Broncos defense that could have been called. Wright is lined up on the right side of Fitzpatrick and is running either a curl route or a post route – the contact on the play makes it difficult to determine.
Wright makes his way up the field until he is interfered with by a Bronco at the 34 yard line, approximately 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. It is baffling that this blatant penalty was missed by the referees.
Despite the contact, Wright attempts to continue his route and he gains separation as he heads towards the opposite hashmark. Fitzpatrick recognizes this and attempts to fit the ball in the tight window.
The black circle I placed on this photo is where the ball ended up – right on Wright’s gloves, he just couldn’t bring in the ball. As mentioned before, roughing the passer was called after the play but a catch would have resulted in a gain of approximately 17 or 18 yards and the penalty would have been declined. Although it would have been a difficult catch for Wright to make, it is frustrating that he was unable to come up with it due to the fact that he had so few targets as it is.
On this final play, Wright is lined up to the left of Fitzpatrick and is set to run a 7 yard out route.
For some reason, the receiver bunched up with Wright draws both of the cornerbacks and leaves Wright wide open on his route. Fitzpatrick realizes how wide open Wright is and throws it his way.
The ball is off target and falls incomplete. This should have been an easy pitch and catch for Fitzpatrick and Wright but it wasn’t. A play like this doesn’t necessarily worry me about Fitzpatrick’s ability to get the ball to Wright because we saw how accurate he can be – on the previous play, for instance. However, on a day where Wright clearly struggled to get open, any extra reception would have been appreciated.
For the most part, many of the plays from this game looked like the first one I presented – in which Wright was bracketed and shadowed. His space was limited all afternoon and he had to fight for every inch on the field. His targets on the day were obviously way below his average and I would consider it an anomaly heading into the final weeks of the fantasy football season.
A poor performance from Wright in this game does not concern me as we make our way into the last and most important weeks of the fantasy football season. The lack of targets in this game shouldn’t be a concern as I expect him to go back towards the range of his seasonal average which was at 8.5 a week before the game in Denver. Wright is very much a focal point in the Titans offense and they will rely on him as they try to keep their (slim) playoff hopes alive. It also comforts me to know that Wright is facing divisional rivals (Indianapolis and Jacksonville) in the next 2 weeks who he has already faced this season. Although he didn’t score a touchdown in either game, he put up great numbers in both – 9 receptions for 80 yards on 12 targets against the Colts and 7 receptions for 78 yards against the Jaguars. Wright should return to his status of being a reception machine in these last few weeks and I would start him excitedly in PPR leagues and comfortably in Standard leagues.
Good luck in your matchups this weekend, people!