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2023 Player Outlooks: Tennessee Titans

By Hunter De Siver | 7/8/23 |

QB Ryan Tannehill
(2022 QB Rank – No. 27, 16.7 FPts/G)

When former Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown was traded to the Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft, the NFL community sensed that Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill would have no receivers to throw to, even though they acquired first-round receiver Treylon Burks in the deal. As it turns out, the NFL community was right.

Tannehill played in 12 games in 2022 (multiple injuries), recording 212 completions for 2,356 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ranked 27th among quarterbacks in fantasy points with 200.6 overall and 16.7 per game. The lack of receivers was truly detrimental to his season, as the Titans went 6-6 when he was in the lineup compared to their 12-5 record the year before.

Unfortunately, the Titans didn’t make any impactful changes to their receiving room this offseason, so Tannehill, who is nearly 35-years-old, is likely to perform similarly to 2022 (assuming he plays 12-17 games). In fantasy football terms, he won’t be drafted and unless his receivers make tremendous strides, he won’t come off the waiver wire either. Rookie QB Will Levis is waiting in the wings.

RB Derrick Henry
(2022 RB Rank – No. 4, 19.0 FPts/G)

When A.J. Brown was traded, the NFL community said the entire Titans offense will rely on Derrick Henry and they struck gold again as Henry ran the ball more times (349) than any other running back in the league. Henry amassed 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 games. The power back also got involved in the pass attack by hauling in 33 receptions for 398 yards. Henry recorded the fourth-most fantasy points among running backs with 304.6 overall and 19.0 per game.

The running back position is being devalued by the league right now making true workhorse backs hard to come by. There are only a few elite ones, while the rest are interchangeable. Luckily for the Titans, Henry is one of those elites and is expected to stay in that tier this season.

It’s uncertain if 2022’s No.3 fantasy RB Josh Jacobs will replicate his anomaly of a season, but No. 1 Austin Ekeler and No. 2 Christian McCaffrey should maintain their status due to their receiving abilities. If head coach Mike Vrabel continues to use Henry in the passing game, the running back is capable of finishing No. 1 in fantasy. His age (29) and perhaps more importantly the workload is starting to become a concern and Henry as piled up three seasons of over 300 carries. Still, the TD upside and projected volume makes him an easy Top 10 running back selection.

RB Tyjae Spears

Henry’s contract ends after the upcoming season and it’s uncertain if he’ll stay in Tennessee. The Titans likely selected Tulane running back Tyjae Spears in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft as a safety net if Henry walks.

Spears led the American Athletic Conference in all rushing stat categories in 2022, recording 229 attempts for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns. Tulane shocked the college football world this season by finishing with a 12-2 record and beating USC in an historic comeback in the Cotton Bowl as Spears rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns on just 17 attempts.

Just because Derrick Henry… is well… Derrick Henry, Spears probably won’t see the gridiron on Sundays much this season. However, if Henry walks, Spears has the potential to be considered the most underrated running back heading into 2024. With that being said, Spears isn’t likely to be drafted in most fantasy leagues this season, but could be a late-round flier and handcuff option should Henry get hurt.

Treylon Burks

WR Treylon Burks
(2022 WR Rank – No. 81, 8.0 FPts/G)

Burks had pressure put on him the second the Titans traded up for him in the 2022 NFL Draft. In 11 games (multiple injuries), the rookie hauled in 33 receptions for 444 yards and a touchdown. He only had one game above 70 yards, when he put up 111 in Week 11 against the Green Bay Packers.

Burks finished with 88.1 points last season, the 81st-most among all NFL receivers. However, he’s expected to make tremendous strides this season as the Titans traded wide receiver Robert Woods this offseason, making Burks their WR1. The former Arkansas Razorback recorded 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns just a couple years ago at school and now he’ll hopefully come close to replicating those numbers in 2023.

If Tannehill can shake off his injuries from 2022 and play similarly to how he did in 2021, Burks has the potential to achieve those goals. Burks is currently hovering in the WR30 range according to ADP. This would translate to him being a WR3, FLEX or first bench option in fantasy drafts, which seems logical given he’s the obvious main target in a weak receiving group for the Titans.

WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
(2022 WR Rank – No. 89, 5.5 FPts/G)

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine only recorded one game over 60 receiving yards last season. It just so happens that one game (Week 10 against the Broncos) was the best of his career, hauling in five receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Including that one-hit wonder, Westbrook-Ikhine only had 25 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games last season. His 82.7 fantasy points were the 89th-most fantasy points among receivers as he averaged just 5.5 per game.

Since Treylon Burks will get most of the targets and Henry will be fed the ball 20-plus times per game, Westbrook-Ikhine will likely have similar numbers to last season given the expected low passing volume. Don’t count on the Titans WR2 being drafted in fantasy leagues, but he will be picked up off the waiver wire if Burks gets injured.

WR Kyle Philips
(2022 WR Rank – No. 155, 4.0 FPts/G)

Kyle Phillips was the Titans’ fourth receiver last season and only played in four games, recording eight receptions for 78 yards. Like Burks, Phillips was also a rookie last season as the Titans drafted him with the 163rd overall pick in 2022. Phillips was very solid at UCLA, putting up 59 receptions for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final year.

Phillips is hoping to put up similar numbers, but it’ll be all but impossible with the lack of targets in this offense. At best he’ll be third in the pecking order for Tannehill behind Burks and TE Chigoziem Okonkwo. As a result, he won’t be drafted in fantasy leagues this season but since he’s likely to earn the starting job as the slot receiver, Phillips is someone to keep an eye in on PPR leagues should he hold onto his role for the entire season.

TE Chigoziem Okonkwo
(2022 TE Rank – No. 25, 6.3 FPts/G)

Chigoziem Okonkwo has been a popular breakout candidate among fantasy analysts. In his 2022 rookie campaign, Okonkwo hauled in 32 receptions for 450 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games. He had the 25th-most fantasy points among tight ends in his rookie campaign, but headed into 2023, don’t be surprised if he becomes the Titans second option in the passing game given the lack of depth Tennessee has at the receiver position.

When Tannehill finds him down low, Okonkwo may thrive as he averaged the most yards per catch (14.1) among all starting tight ends last season. His big-play ability and athleticism is intriguing which makes him a nice target if you skip the top tier options at the position. FFToday ranks him 14th among tight ends for 2023. This is a fair placement for the breakout star as he’s expected to be above average in year 2.

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