This team-based draft strategy aims to identify which Tennessee Titans are primed for fantasy opportunities in 2019. This series serves as an assessment of each offense and its prospects heading into next season. The stats used for this research are based on a half-PPR scoring format. Redraft rankings are listed for each player in parentheses (not that I like using parentheses).
Tennessee Titans: No. 28 fantasy offense in 2018 (30th in passing, 8th in rushing)
Going into his fifth season, the clock is ticking for Marcus Mariota to take the next step and become an above-average starting quarterback. The Titans seem to have their doubts about his development, allowing their franchise signal-caller to play on his fifth-year option this year. Mariota will be a free agent after the season, so he is effectively playing for his starting job in 2019.
In order to earn an extension, Mariota needs to prove durable enough to hold up over a full 16-game season. He’s missed eleven starts in his four-year career and spent a handful more hampered by injury. Availability is the best ability, especially at the quarterback position, and Mariota has flat-out failed in that department. He’s reportedly gained ten pounds this offseason in order to shrug off big hits, but I remain skeptical of his ability to stay on the field. In the event he does go down, the Titans have partially covered themselves by trading for capable backup QB Ryan Tannehill.
Tennessee also deserves blame for their coaching instability, employing four different offensive coordinators since drafting Mariota. Young quarterbacks need time to master an NFL offense, but Mariota has been given a new playbook almost every year of his career. As a result, the Titans have been the fifth-worst fantasy offense since 2015. That’s not the sign of a team with a franchise quarterback, that’s a team relying on its defense to stay in games and sneak into the playoffs.
As for this upcoming season, the structure of the Titans offense suggests another conservative output for Mariota (QB28), who will struggle to produce QB1-performances on a weekly basis.
The true bread and butter of the Titans offense is the running game, where Derrick Henry absolutely exploded late last season. He’s the definition of a ‘workhorse back’, becoming more effective with more touches and wearing down opposing defenses with his physical running style. Henry is liable to explode when the team is leading in the fourth quarter, but he’s also a game script-dependent back.
He’s rarely used in the passing game—the team employs Dion Lewis (RB52) for that—which means he stays off the field when Tennessee needs to score quickly to get back into the game. Looking at the Titans’ schedule, there are several instances where Henry’s production could suffer against high-scoring teams, making him a high-end RB3. Three years into his career, we know what Henry (RB23) is at this point: he’s a dominant force in the right situation, but he’s also going to disappear under the wrong circumstances.
Meanwhile, the frustration continues to mount for Corey Davis owners, as the Titans added another wideout in the draft, A.J. Brown. They also signed Adam Humphries to a lucrative deal in free agency, adding to the stable of wide receivers they won’t use. Tennessee was second-to-last in pass attempts last year and the targets will be even thinner being distributed between three capable receivers.
Davis (WR32) leads the pack with his talent and draft capital, but a breakout season will be hard to come by in this offense. The other Titans receivers are not worth drafting, but they could work their way into fantasy relevance at some point during the season.
Delanie Walker is barely clinging to fantasy relevance himself, as he returns from a broken ankle suffered in week 1 last year. The 35-year-old tight end claims he still has some gas in the tank, but it’s difficult to trust a 13-year veteran coming off a significant injury. Walker (TE17) provides limited upside in this offense, which makes him nothing more than a streaming option during the season.