For the fourth consecutive season since going the Titans as the
second overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Marcus Mariota failed
to play in a full-16 game campaign. The former Oregon Duck threw
for just over 2500 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games last year,
posting a disappointing 15.6 fantasy point per game average.
To say that Mariota has been a disappointment would be a massive
understatement. He has yet to throw for more than 3500 in any
of his four seasons, and his career 69 passing touchdowns since
2015 ranks 20th in that period. By comparison, Mariota has just
19 more career passing touchdowns that Patrick Mahomes despite
playing 38 more games.
The additions of Adam Humphries as a possession receiver and
rookie A.J. Brown should help Mariota this season, and the emergence
of Derrick Henry as a viable rushing threat should keep opposing
defenses honest. But with the quarterback position as deep as
ever, Mariota is not worthy of a draft pick in anything other
than super flex leagues.
After a disappointing start to the 2018 season in which he failed
to top 58 rushing yards in any of his first 13 games, Derrick
Henry closed out the season on a tear. His career-high 238 rushing
yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars proved to be a week-winning
performance in the opening week of the fantasy playoffs, and his
170-yard, two-touchdown game against the Giants in Week 15 helped
many owners secure a place in the fantasy super bowl.
Henry will once again share backfield carries with veteran Dion
Lewis. However, going into the season, the coaching staff of Mike
Vrabel and Arthur Smith have repeatedly said they intend on leaning
on Henry and the ground game similar to what they did last year.
Henry’s 12 touchdowns and 1059 rushing yards on 215 carries
were all career highs for the former Alabama star. With a 4.6
career yard per carry average, he should be a lock for 1000 yards
this season should he receive at least 220 rushing attempts.
The question is, will the Titans be in enough positive game scripts
to give Henry a chance to get to the 220 carry plateau. A preseason
foot/calf injury is something else to keep an eye on, as leg and
foot injuries can linger and could carry over into the regular
Lewis’ first season with the Titans proved to be somewhat
of a dud, as the former Patriot running back managed just two
total touchdowns on the year while posting a disappointing 3.3
yard per carry average.
As the primary receiving back alongside Derrick Henry in the
Titans backfield, Lewis’ 67 targets ranked 15th in the league
at the running back position. But he did not do a ton with his
receptions, posting 400 yards and one receiving touchdown.
The Tennessee coaching staff has talked up their intentions of
featuring Henry more in the running game after Henry’s monster
finish to the 2018 season. Lewis will continue to have some value
in PPR formats, but his value in standard leagues will be limited
as the secondary option behind Henry.
Davis’ sophomore season was an up and down campaign filled
with a few monster games sandwiched between multiple duds. The
former first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft four double-digit
games, highlighted by a 125-yard, seven-catch performance against
the Patriots Week 10.
On the positive side, Davis garnered 112 targets as the number
one win receiver for the Titans. He increased his yard per reception
average by nearly four yards, and he nearly doubled his average
fantasy points per game from his limited action as a rookie.
On the negative side, he caught just over half of his targets
from the erratic and inaccurate arm from Marcus Mariota, and his
touchdown total of just four is not enough for a player of his
pedigree and draft cost. It also could be a negative that the
team added Adam Humphries via free agency and A.J. Brown in the
draft, two players who could eat into the target share for Davis.
Humphries reportedly turned down a more lucrative free agent
offer from the Patriots to join the Titans this past offseason.
Bypassing the chance to play with Tom Brady and for a team with
a real chance to play again in the Super Bowl was a curious decision
by Humphries, a scrappy slot receiver who posted career highs
in targets, catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns last season
with the Bucs.
Humphries projects to be the slot receiver for the Titans and
a favorite target for Marcus Mariota on short and intermediate
routes. He may not reach 100 targets again like he did last year,
but he will be an active player in the passing game and someone
with low-end WR3 in PPR formats.
The Titans drafted Brown in the second round of the 2019 NFL
draft to pair with former first-round pick Corey Davis. To many,
Brown was the better of the two star wide receivers at Ole’
Miss over the past few seasons, despite the fact that D.K. Metcalf
earned far more coverage by the media. As a junior, Brown caught
85 passes for 1320 yards and six touchdowns for the Rebels, the
second time in consecutive seasons in which Brown topped 1200
receiving yards. As a rookie with the Titans, Brown’s fantasy
value may be limited as he projects to be the No.3 or No.4 option
on a team that wants to use a run-heavy approach.
Walker returns to the field in 2019 after playing in just one
game for the Titans in 2018. The 35-year-old veteran suffered
a gruesome leg injury last season, leading many to assume that
the 14-year vet may hang up his cleats.
Instead, Walker is on pace to return to action again in 2019
and could be a nice value at a tight end position void of many
attractive value picks. Before last season, Walker was the beneficiary
of four consecutive seasons of at least 100 targets. Although
he owns just one 1000-yard season, he is a reliable option for
at least 65 catches and 800 yards.