After being drafted 8th overall by the Dolphins in 2012, Tannehill
never quite panned out in Miami. He was serviceable, and seemed
to be on the verge of a breakout several times during those six
seasons, but they understandably let him walk after the 2018 season.
The Titans saw something they could work with, and intelligently
swooped in to sign Tannehill to a cheap, one-year deal. When Mariota
again struggled over the first five weeks of the season, the Titans
decided to turn to Tannehill to see what he could do. They did
not regret the decision.
Tannehill had by far the best season of his career, setting career-high
marks in completion percentage (70.3%) and touchdown percentage
(7.7%). He threw only 6 interceptions as well, helping catapult
the Titans into the playoffs – and almost to the Super Bowl.
Tannehill was signed to a new lucrative 4-year deal, presumably
to do more of the same. He is surrounded by a good line, an excellent
running back who keeps the defense from pinning its ears back
and going after the quarterback, and an excellent young pass-catcher
in A.J. Brown. Tannehill is unlikely to become a top-10 quarterback
during his career, but he is a competent fantasy football option
in the late rounds who even provides a bit of upside rushing the
ball (185 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2019).
Although the Titans did lose right tackle Jack Conklin in free
agency, which is a concern in the protection department, they
did draft his replacement in the first round when they took Isaiah
Wilson. If he can step in and provide adequate play as a rookie,
there is no reason to believe we won’t see more of the same
out of Tannehill and this offense in 2020.
For some reason it took the Titans coaching staff a few years
to figure out how to use Derrick Henry properly. In case you missed
it, the proper way to use him is to give him a ton of carries
straight into the teeth of the defense, and watch him wear them
During his first and second seasons, Henry ran the ball only
110 and 176 times. In Week 13 of the 2018, Henry ran for 238 yards
and 4 touchdowns on only 17 carries, and that seemed to snap Vrabel
and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith out of it. They stopped
giving around half the snaps to Dion Lewis and instead began letting
Henry shine, and they have been rewarded.
In 2019 Henry ran the ball over 20 times on seven different occasions,
something he had only done three times in his entire career before
last season. He had 15 or more carries in every game but one.
Henry ran for 5.1 yards per carry, for a remarkable 1540 yards
and 16 touchdowns. He also added in 18 receptions and 2 more touchdowns
through the air.
Behind an excellent offensive line (ranked 4th per footballoutsiders.com),
Henry often built up a head of steam before the line of scrimmage,
and it is very difficult to stop a fast 247-pound running back
in full gallop. Although he does not get much work in the passing
game, the Titans did design a few screens for him to keep the
defense guessing, with quite a bit of success. That will never
be a prime part of his game, but he should continue adding a bit
of value in the passing game.
The bottom line: As long as Henry retains his power and speed
and continues to get adequate work, he will produce nicely. He
is a worthwhile first-round fantasy choice, even in a time when
running backs who are not extremely active in the passing game
have been devalued.
Dion Lewis was cut by the Titans after his second season with
the team, leaving an opening on the depth chart behind Henry.
They chose to fill that opening with a rookie out of Appalachian
State, Darrynton Evans. Evans appears to be an upgrade over Lewis
physically, as he is bigger and faster, and also seems a bit more
dynamic in changing directions. Evans ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard-dash,
and distinguished himself in college not only as a runner but
also as a returner.
Even though offensive coordinator Arthur Smith committed to Henry
more in 2019, he still prefers to use two backs. Lewis played
on most of the obvious passing downs and finished the season playing
about 30% of the snaps. That leaves room for Evans to carve out
a role for himself.
The biggest obstacle, as is the case with most rookies, will
be figuring out protections so he can play on third downs. If
he can, he has great potential as a late-round flier in PPR leagues.
He could get around 50 targets, and with his ability in open space
he could produce quite nicely with minimal touches.
A.J. Brown was a bit overlooked early on in his rookie season.
Many were excited about his potential, but when the Titans drafted
him he was widely panned as a rookie prospect. The thinking was
that the Titans just don’t throw the ball enough to support a
stud wide receiver, plus he would be behind Corey Davis in the
Sometimes you just have to bet on talent. It was obvious in Brown’s
college tape that he possesses an incredible mix of speed, strength,
and run-after-the-catch ability. He is also a very good route
runner, and can run routes out wide and from the slot effectively.
He showed all of that and more as a rookie, producing on limited
He surpassed Davis as the team’s No.1 option en route to
52 receptions for 1,051 yards and 8 touchdowns! That equated to
20.2 yards per reception, showing off his ability to catch the
deep ball and his incredible skill in the open field. If he takes
another step in the offense and receives 120 targets, he could
produce as a top-five fantasy receiver due to how many yards he
is likely to rack up after the catch. The fact that defenses have
to “stay home” to account for Derrick Henry only opens
things up more for Brown.
Brown played significantly fewer snaps than Davis through Week
7, but from Week 8 on he played 99 more than the veteran. It is
clear the coaching staff now sees him as their top option in the
passing game, so it is reasonable to project him to take over
as the clear-cut target leader in the offense.
The biggest risk or downside to picking Brown in the early rounds
of fantasy drafts is that the Titans are not a high-volume passing
offense like the Falcons, so his opportunities will be limited
in comparison with some other receivers. If there is one receiver
to bet on despite limited opportunities, it is probably Brown.
Corey Davis entered the NFL as the 5th overall pick in the 2017
NFL Draft, and many in the fantasy community had high hopes for
him. He has the prototypical build for a No.1 NFL wide receiver,
and is very athletic. But so far, he has not been able to establish
himself as a dominant player at this level.
Granted, he did play with Marcus Mariota during his first two
seasons. During his second season (2018) he produced 65 receptions
for 891 yards and 4 touchdowns as the clear leader in the wide
receiver room. Many expected a big step in 2019, particularly
since A.J. Brown would keep defenses honest on the other side
of the field. But the narrative didn’t pan out, as Brown
came in and simply outplayed Davis.
Despite the poor play of Mariota early in 2019 and then playing
second fiddle to Brown the second half of the season, Davis did
finish with 43 receptions for 601 yards and 2 touchdowns. But
it was a big step back from 2018, and seemed to indicate that
he’s more of a secondary option at the NFL level. He is
not being drafted until very late in fantasy leagues, or is going
undrafted. In a low-volume passing offense and behind Brown, it
seems like the market is correct in this assessment.
Adam Humphries did not choose the correct free-agent destination
if his goal was to become a household name. During his four seasons
in Tampa Bay, he gradually got more work until in 2018 he received
105 targets and put up 76 receptions for 816 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Those are fantastic numbers for a slot receiver, but the Bucs
let him test free agency.
He ended up signing with the Titans, and in 12 games in 2019
he received only 47 targets. He moved from one of the highest-volume
passing attacks to one of the lowest, and his stats plummeted.
He is still a talented slot player, but the Titans simply do not
run 11 personnel (3 wide receivers) very often. They had 3 or
4 receivers on the field only 50% of the time. Only five teams
did that less often.
With the same offensive philosophy in place for 2020, it seems
likely Humphries will play a similar role this season. The one
thing that has changed is that Tajae Sharpe left town, and he
seemed to split third receiver duties with Humphries. That could
open the door to a bit more work for Humphries this season. Still,
he is likely to receive around 4 targets per game and have a minimal
fantasy impact. Only in deep PPR leagues is he a viable option.
Jonnu Smith took over for starter Delanie Walker after Walker’s
troublesome ankle, which ended his 2018 season, again hampered
him. Smith showed himself to be a very capable tight end, producing
12.5 yards per reception and showing off excellent skills after
the catch. He only produced 35 receptions, which is too low to
make him a fantasy TE1, but it is reasonable to expect him to
take another step forward in 2020.
In the 8 games after Walker exited, Smith received 33 targets
– and that included a game where he was not targeted. That
leads me to assume he will get 4-5 targets per game, which would
equate to 65-75 targets over the course of the season. That would
still not enable him to be a top-10 option at the position, but
it could land him in the top 15. He is also a young, rising player
at the position, making him a solid option in dynasty leagues.
Yet, as with many players above, his upside is limited in an
offense predicated on the run. If the Titans are not as good this
season and find themselves trailing more games, that could lead
to more production in the passing game (and a corresponding decrease
in rushing production). But that is difficult to bet on with such
a solid offensive line, and such an excellent running back.