2020 Fantasy Previews Part 31: Tennessee Titans

The 2019 Tennessee Titans were a team you could call slightly above average at best during the regular season. They went 9-7, and never had a winning streak of more than 4 games. That winning streak came off of a loss to the Carolina Panthers that dropped them to 4-5. They won 4 straight to make them a playoff contender at 8-5. Their offense was very balanced as they averaged just under 28 pass attempts per game and 23 rush attempts per game. They went on to shock the world in the playoffs as the 6 seed and upset the Patriots and Ravens on their way to the AFC Championship where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. They did all of this despite having a mediocre defense. The Titans finished with the 21st ranked total defense, 24th ranked pass defense, 12th ranked rush defense, and the 12th ranked scoring defense. They also finished 9th in the league in turnover margin with a +6 margin. The Titans had a pretty underrated draft as the picked offensive tackle, Isaiah Wilson, in the first round and cornerback Kristian Fulton in the second. Fulton was projected to go in the first round in many mock drafts. Look for the Titans to improve from last year with a weaker division.

Projected Depth Chart:

Quarterback: 1. Ryan Tannehill 2. Logan Woodside

Running back: 1. Derrick Henry 2. Darrynton Evans

Wide receiver: 1. AJ Brown 2. Corey Davis 3. Kalif Raymond 4. Cameron Batson

Slot receiver: 1. Adam Humphries 2. Cody Hollister

Tight end: 1. Jonnu Smith 2. Anthony Firkser

Quarterbacks - In 2019, the Tennessee Titans started the year with Marcus Mariota as their quarterback. He started in 6 games and finished 5 of those, with Ryan Tannehill taking his job in the 6th. Mariota was a very solid fantasy option as he averaged 17.04 fantasy points per game in the ones he finished. He was pretty inconsistent in those 5 games as he finished with under 10 points once, between 13 and 16 points twice, and above 20 points twice.

Ryan Tannehill came in relief of Mariota in Week 6 and took the job from there. From Week 7 to the end of the year, he averaged 22 fantasy points per game, which would've been 352 fantasy points for a 16 game season, where he would've been the QB2 behind Lamar Jackson. What's crazy is, he did this while averaging 27 attempts per game over these 10 games.

Marcus Mariota is gone and that leaves the job to Ryan Tannehill in 2020. I drafted him as my quarterback in the 20 team league because of his high-level efficiency with a low number of attempts. Tannehill is going at the end of drafts and is a perfect pick if you want to wait on a quarterback. There is some bust potential in such a run-heavy offense, so I would back him up with a safer option.

Running backs - In Mike Vrabel's first year as a head coach, the Titans used a two-back system with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Henry received 215 carries and Lewis received 155. Dion Lewis was used much more in the receiving game as he caught 59 passes to Henry's 15. Henry finished with 201.36 fantasy points, while Lewis finished with 160.7. Henry got a lot more work at the end of the year, and that was what separated the 2.

In 2019, Derrick Henry went off. He ran the ball 303 times for 1540 yards and 16 touchdowns and finished as the RB5. He had a very up and down year with most of the ups coming at the end of the season. From weeks 9-17, Henry played in 6 games and finished with over 23 fantasy points in 6 of those games. Prior to that, he hadn't scored over 23 points since week 1 and finished with below 15 in 5 weeks. Dion Lewis was phased out of the offense and finished with 66.3 fantasy points.

Derrick Henry is going in the first round of most drafts and I don't really understand it. He is not going to give you anything in the receiving game and had a pinnacle year in 2019. He could easily get hurt in the way he runs and I am staying away. The Titans drafted Darrynton Evans from Appalachian State in the 2020 NFL Draft and he is the perfect complement to Henry. He is a fast, home-run hitting back who is great in the receiving game. He is free in fantasy and I think he could have a couple of big games as the main third-down back.

Wide receivers - The Tennessee Titans didn't pass the ball enough to have multiple startable receivers. In 2019, Corey Davis was the WR2 and caught 43 passes on 69 targets for 601 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davis scored 115.1 fantasy points and only scored over 10 points twice. Davis scored 20.1 points in Week 4 with 5 receptions for 91 yards and 1 touchdown and 20 points in Week 7 with 6 receptions for 80 yards and 1 touchdown.

A.J. Brown was a rookie and the WR1 on this offense. In college, he was part of an Ole Miss team that also had DK Metcalf and Dawson Knox. He finished the season with 52 receptions on 84 targets for 1051 yards and 9 total touchdowns. This was good for 217.1 fantasy points and the WR21. Brown started to come along at the end of the year as he averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game.

AJ Brown will be the main target in this offense in 2020 and that is why I have him as a breakout candidate. He has the ceiling of a player like Tyreek Hill who will have some really good games and really bad games. If you draft Brown, do not draft him as your WR1 because he will lose you some weeks because of his inconsistent play. If you can pair him with a top receiver, he could be a great asset to your team.

Tight ends - Jonnu Smith finished as the highest-scoring tight end on the Titans with 104.7 fantasy points. He did this by catching 35 passes on 44 targets for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was good for the TE7. Delanie Walker was the starting tight end before he got injured and had 21 receptions on 31 targets for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. Delanie Walker is no longer with the Titans and if you combine his and Jonnu Smith's stat lines, you get 56 receptions on 75 targets for 654 yards and 5 touchdowns. This is good for 159.2 fantasy points and the TE9.

This is why I am pretty high on Jonnu Smith this year as a deep sleeper. You can get him very easily as the backup tight end and should see 75 targets as a floor with both Tajae Sharpe and Delanie Walker gone. Smith could end up breaking out, but I think the deep sleeper designation better fits him. In 12 team leagues, look to target Smith as a backup tight end who is more than just a plug and play on bye weeks. Jonnu Smith should have multiple good games this year and should emerge as a top 10 fantasy football tight end.

Fantasy Analysis:

Sleeper: Ryan Tannehill

Bust: Derrick Henry

Breakout: AJ Brown

Players to avoid: All wide receivers not named AJ Brown

Deep sleeper: Jonnu Smith

Handcuffs: Logan Woodside, Darrynton Evans, Kalif Raymond, Anthony Firkser

I hope you liked 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 31: Tennessee Titans. Next up is the final fantasy preview, 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 32: Washington Football Team. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Titans offense for fantasy 2020.

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