By Connor Rigg
The Titans season was a tale of two halves. The beginning of the season looked bleak with the Titans going 2-4 with Marcus Mariota. Mariota’s poor play caused him to get benched for Ryan Tannehill, under whom the Titans caught fire. They finished 7-3 and made the playoffs as a wildcard. In an upset, the Titans defeated Tom Brady and the Patriots 20-13. They shocked the NFL by defeating MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens 28-12 behind Derrick Henry’s massive game. The Titans put up a valiant effort against Patrick Mahomes and company but couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs’ electrifying offensive and lost 35-24. With Tannehill at QB, the Titans skill players increased their productivity, but can they repeat their success? Let’s jump right into it.
QB: Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill enjoyed his best and most efficient season to date after replacing Mariota in Week 7. He completed a career-high 70.3% of his passes while throwing for 2,742 yards. He threw a touchdown on 7.7% of his passes, which is 3.2% higher than his career average. He also threw the deep ball more often this season, which is evident to his 9.6 Y/A that led the NFL. His efficiency was insane last year, but can he keep it up? The only problems I see this season with Tannehill will be passing volume and regression. The Titans love to run the ball, and he attempted 286 passes in the ten games he started. If the Titans let him throw the ball more than 500 times, he can be a low-end QB1 even with touchdown regression. Regardless, he is a fine QB2 in Superflex leagues and is a streaming option in redraft.
RB: Derrick Henry, Darrynton Evans
Henry was a man amongst boys last season. He carried the football 303 times for a league-leading 1,540 yards (5.1 Y/A) and tied with Aaron Jones with 16 rushing touchdowns. According to Football Outsiders, the Titans offensive line ranked 4th in run blocking, which helped Henry demolish opponents. He is set to receive another 300+ touches yet again and is ready to repeat as the rushing leader. The only knock on Henry is his lack of receiving production. Henry has never caught more than 20 passes in a season, which in PPR hurts his upside. Which is a big reason why I don’t believe his ceiling is a top 3 RB. Henry is a solid RB1 in drafts and can be a cornerstone for your dynasty teams. Just be wary of his potentially capped ceiling.
Evans was selected by the Titans in the 3rd round and will replace the pass-catching role that Dion Lewis had last season. Evans had over 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns his final year at Appalachian State. According to Player Profiler, Evans is in the 96th percentile in the 40-yard dash with a 4.41, 86th percentile in speed score, and 82nd percentile in burst score, similar to Darrell Henderson for the Rams. He’s a potential three-down back but will have to wait for his opportunity. If you roster Henry in dynasty, you better not leave your drafts without Evans. He is also a perfect late-round target in all formats. Keep an eye on Evans this off-season.
WR: A.J Brown, Corey Davis, Adam Humphries
AJ Brown had a dynamic rookie season. He went for 1,051 yards on 52 receptions (84 targets) and scored 9 total touchdowns. His year was one of the best rookie seasons we have seen, and aside from one game, he didn’t play on over 60% of the snaps until Week 7. When Tannehill started, that’s when Brown took off. His yards per reception were astronomical (20.2), and he had 465 yards after contact, which was 6th among wide receivers. His 8.8 YAC/R (yards after contact per reception) was 8.8, which led the NFL. Brown was historically efficient, and this may come as a red flag to some due to natural regression. I believe his efficiency will go back down to earth, but his volume will increase as he should command over 120 targets. Brown is a superstar in the making, and you need to buy him in dynasty leagues while you can because he is about to take off.
Davis was labeled a breakout player the past two offseasons, and he hasn’t lived up to the hype. He was 1.05 in the 2017 draft and still hasn’t produced an elite season. Playing with Mariota was a significant factor in our disappointment, but Davis might not be who we thought. He appeared in 15 games, caught 43 passes on 69 targets for 601 yards, and scored two touchdowns. He’s nothing more than a WR4/5 for redraft and dynasty.
Humphries’s first season with the Titans was a letdown. He only appeared in 12 games and caught 37 passes on 47 targets for 374 yards and 2 touchdowns. He won’t receive a high target share but with Tannehill in town for the full season, he looks to improve on his totals.
TE: Jonnu Smith
Smith is one of my favorite targets for tight ends in redrafts and dynasty formats. Smith has been playing behind journeyman Delanie Walker for the past three seasons, and finally gets to showcase his talent as a starter for a full season. Jonnu Smith had 35 catches on 44 targets for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2019. His 79.5% catch rate was ranked second for tight ends. He had a total of 273 yards after the catch, which was good for 9th for all tight ends. Smith is very athletic and can gain separation. He was 4th in the NFL in average separation with 3.7 yards. Walker leaves 31 targets with his departure, so those will end up going to Smith. It would not shock me if he ends up a top 5 tight end this season, but he is currently being drafted outside the top 12. He will be the second option behind AJ Brown in this offense and is a perfect tight end if you decide to wait in the later rounds. Acquire Jonnu Smith shares in 2020 drafts.
Connor Rigg – Dynasty/Redraft
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