Player Profiles

The Curious Case of Bishop Sankey

By June 27, 2014No Comments

I'm torn on what to do with Bishop Sankey. One part of me loves the opportunity this guy has, I mean I've been preaching all offseason that opportunity can trump talent. However, the other part of me thinks the hype is going too far. Everyone is talking about this guy, and at the end of the day, people are going to be expecting Eddie Lacy production a la 2013. I love the opportunity but I'm completely torn. Let's explore why some love him and why others simply don't.

As soon as Bishop Sankey was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the fantasy hype started rolling. He was the first back off the board and immediately became "the guy" in Tennessee. I hear you Shonn Greene fans (are there any) that say the job is still up in the air, but I'm not really worried about that impact.

As far as I'm concerned Bishop is the guy to own in Tennessee for fantasy football in 2014. The price of getting him however will be a tough pill for some to swallow. And his actual value? It's going to be debated by fantasy football pros until the day of your draft.

The Fantasy Football Positives of Bishop Sankey in 2014

Bishop Sankey is the guy with the Titans. He is going to get the ball. A lot. Here's where opportunity comes into play.

Although Chris Johnson was bashed by many after failing to recreate his success from 2009, he ran for more than 1,000 yards every year in Tennessee. There are only 5 other players who started their careers off with six straight seasons like that. They included:

  • Corey Dillion
  • Eric Dickerson
  • LaDainian Tomlinson
  • Barry Sanders
  • Curtis Martin

There's no arguing that CJ2K could have been more dominant at times, that he was inconsistent and drove fantasy owners crazy at times, however he did produce well with the Titans.

Now, Chris Johnson didn't do all of that on his own. He had a great offensive line to help him out. In fact, in 2013 the Titans line ranked inside the top-five in the NFL and since 2008 Chris Johnson went untouched in the backfield on 70% of his carries (PFF). Sankey has great vision, can cut on a dime and is a good pass-blocker. That means he should have plenty of holes and room to make things happen in the Titans backfield for fantasy owners in 2014.

All of that summed up is: Sankey is in a great opportunity and he has a chance to shine.

The Fantasy Football Negatives of Bishop Sankey in 2014

As with everything, there are some negatives to consider. Bishop Sankey hasn't officially been named the starter in Tennessee. Shonn Greene is still in the picture and will take away some carries as long as he stays healthy. Per The Tennessean, Greene had knee surgery and is expected to be fine, however knee surgeries for a running back are never good.

I'm going to roll with the assumption that he takes the lead role with the Titans, however we also must keep Dexter McCluster in mind. Word out of the Titans earlier this offseason was that they were very impressed with what McCluster was bringing to the table. So odds are there will be some sort of committee in Tennessee, however most teams run some sort of committee anyway.

The next concern is the addition of Ken Whisenhunt, at least for fantasy owners. He's much more pass happy than the previous regime and will likely want to throw the ball more often. Luckily Sankey is a good pass-blocker and had good hands. That means he should get some looks in the passing game, however Dexter McCluster must be considered a threat in this area as well. He was quick and shifty in Kansas City, and when used correctly he can be a huge asset to this Titans team.

Here's a concern that has nothing to do with his talent: where he's being drafted. As of late June, Sankey is being drafted right at the beginning of the 4th round. That means by the time we hit August, Sankey will likely move up many peoples boards further. I'm not sure I'm willing to part ways with a pick that high. Its starting to remind me of the Montee Ball and David Wilson hype last season (I took the bait on Ball and was wrong). It's possible that my tendency to play it safe has me hating him being drafted in round 3ish.

Looking at 2013, the Titans were ranked as having the 10th heaviest run focused offense. That'll likely drop in 2014 slightly, but those are still good odds.

The Fantasy Value of Bishop Sankey in 2014

As torn as I am on Sankey, I still think he'll have a top-20 fantasy season in 2014. Chris Johnson was able to consistently produce top-15 seasons in Tennessee, so there's no reason to think Sankey can't produce.

I don't want to get caught up in the rookie hype, as I don't expect fantasy performances like Eddie Lacy produced in 2013. I just love the opportunity Sankey has here, and I think the volume of carries means his good talent is a great combo with this great opportunity. Create your own fantasy rankings and trust your gut. You don't want to regret taking a chance or missing the guy you always wanted.

Bishop Sankey is currently going on average of pick 2 in round 4 according to Fantasy Football Calculator. He could turn into a mid- to high-end RB2, just don't bet the house on it.

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Nick Schreck