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Fantasy Football: Derrick Henry & The Tennessee Titans Team Preview, Sleepers, Busts, Value Picks

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Our final AFC South Team Preivew breaks down the Tennessee Titans offence, finding fantasy tooball sleepers, busts, Values & Best Ball picks.

We’re launching a new season-long NFL Fantasy Football product here at Awesemo.com. Throughout the offseason, we’ll break down each of the NFL’s 32 teams from a Fantasy Football perspective, giving you our favorite picks, NFL sleepers, value plays, fades and sleepers. Other features will include positional breakdowns, tiered rankings, and mock drafts.

Awesemo’s Season Long NFL Fantasy Football projections and rankings are OUT! And they are customizable and can be used as ESPN Fantasy Football Rankings or Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings for whichever host site you use for your league.

You can find them right HERE.

To start, Nolan Kelly highlights all the major coaching and personnel changes, followed by Ben Rasa’s fantasy takes. We’ll update each throughout the offseason as news breaks and some of the positional battles become clearer.

We’ll be releasing four team previews per week, starting June 25 and going through August 16, beginning with the AFC East.


Ben Rasa and Nolan Kelly Break Down the AFC South for your fantasy football drafts.


If you’re not a member, sign up for Awesemo+ to get access to our premium rankings, projections and Slack Chat, including Awesemo’s weekly premium office hours, where he takes all your fantasy football questions.**

This week, we’re previewing the AFC South, with write-ups on the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts coming up. After that we’ll finish up the AFC with the Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders.

Last day’s preview

The Jacksonville Jaguars

  1. Overview
  2. Key Fantasy Departures: Targets
  3. Offensive additions
  4. Best Ball ADP
  5. Positional breakdowns: QB, WR, RB, TE, O-line
  6. Preseason players to watch
  7. Betting guide
  8. NFL Fantasy players to target
  9. Biggest question mark
  10. Fantasy football sleepers
  11. Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings
  12. News and updates: check back throughout the next two months
  13. Final thoughts

Fantasy Football Overview

Mike Vrabel returns for his second season in charge of the Titans, along with defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur is gone – off to coach the Green Bay Packers after leading the Titans to the 27th ranked scoring offense last year. Tight ends coach Arthur Smith was promoted to the job. We don’t have much of a track record on Smith, but it’s safe to assume that a run-heavy approach will continue in Tennessee.

The Titans were one of the worst fantasy offenses in the NFL last season, offering little to no value at any position outside a respectable season from Corey Davis and four games from Derrick Henry. A lot of the Titan’s success this season depends on the health of Marcus Mariota, who battled as many as seven different injuries last season. The Titans are saying that Mariota will have to win the job over new signee Ryan Tannehill, so keep an eye on that battle as camp progresses.

Pass rate: 31st (51.49%)

Run rate: 2nd (48.51%)

Pace: 28th (29.52 plays per game)

Key Fantasy Departures: Targets

Total: 68

  • Luke Stocker: 21
  • Darius Jennings: 15
  • Other: 32

Offensive Additions

  • Adam Humphries: The former Buccaneers slot receivers should soak up targets in this mediocre, short-passing offense.
  • Rodger Saffold: Big upgrade for the run game.
  • AJ Brown: Second round pick out of Ole Miss is a thick, slot-protype.
  • Delanie Walker: This counts, right? Walker missed last year with an ankle injury. If he’s healthy he’ll take over his TE1 duties again.
  • Ryan Tannehill: The Titans are stockpiling mediocre QBs. Tannehill will get a shot to compete for the starting job.

Best Ball ADP

  • 34) Derrick Henry
  • 87) Corey Davis
  • 142) Dion Lewis
  • 147) Delanie Walker
  • 186) Adam Humphries
  • 194) Marcus Mariota
  • 2006) AJ Brown

Quarterback

Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill have similar stat lines through their careers, with near identical quarterback ratings and completion percentages. Mariota led the Titans to winning seasons in 2016 and 2017, and,  unlike Tannehill, the 25-years-old has room to grow. One would have to think Mariota is the front runner for the job, though the though of drafting him in Best Balls comes with risk. If you think the injures are behind him, Mariota could easily duplicate his 13th place fantasy finish from the 2016 season, which would make him a bargain, compared to his QB28 status. If you’ve got an elite QB and want to wait until the last rounds to get a second, Mariota is a strong option.

Running Back

There isn’t much to say about Derrick Henry that wasn’t already outlined in Spags and Loughy’s Sleeper RBs article. If the last four weeks of the season are indicative, he’ll be an RB1 with 1,500+ yards rushing at 15 TDs. If those games were an aberration and this coaching staff goes back to its old ways with more of a Dion Lewis time share, then the upside is limited, especially with Henry’s lack of work in the passing game.

The Titans run game vastly improved after they gave Henry more touches. Through the team’s first 12 games they averaged 3.9 YPA on 314 carries. In their final four games, they averaged 5.62 YPA on 141 carries (yes that includes THIS run). Take that 99-yarder out and the team is still up a full YPA over the final quarter. Those kinds of splits are hard for a coaching staff to ignore.

For Best Balls, it’s a good idea to target RB2s with decent floors, who make move up to RB1 status should something happen to the lead back. Dion Lewis is one such option. He’s going to get his 3rd down work, and is a fine Best Ball floor play if you’re weak at RB. Anything happens to Henry, and Lewis is suddenly an RB1,

Tight End

Delanie Walker is currently going as the 15th TE off the board in Best Balls. In the three years prior he finished 7th, 5th and 4th in TE fantasy scoring. Yes he’s 34-years-old, yes he’s coming off a brutal season ending ankle injury, yes he’s not the focal point of this offense any more and yes he may start the year on the PUP list, but this is still a smart add as your TE2 in Best Balls, given his upside. If you get one of the big-three TEs and can wait on a backup, strongly consider Walker at his draft position.

Wide Receiver

Sure-handed Adam Humphries comes over from the Bucs after finishing 5th in the NFL in slot targets last season while catching 59 balls for 666 yards and a TD. He posted a career high 75.2 PFF receiving grade, which ranked 29th in the league, while ranking 10th in separation, 14th in Yards After the Catch and 35th in Contested Catch Rate. His overall production will decline in the run-heavy Titans offense, away from the Monken Air-Raid, but Humphries is a fine deep pick with a solid floor in drafts.

Much maligned third year receiver and former first round pick Corey Davis, quietly had a respectable season for the Titans, finishing 33rd in the NFL in PFF’s pass receiving grades and sixth in the NFL in percentage of targeted air yards. In Best Ball drafts he’s going as WR 34, but finished last year as the WR 28 in a bleak situation, with an injured Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert throwing 25% of the team’s pass attempts. He’s also a third year WR, which is traditionally the season we see the greatest jump in numbers.

The problem with targeting anyone beyond those two WRs in fantasy drafts, is the total lack of passing upside form this offense. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the leagues second most run-happy team produces more than two relevant wide receivers. Taywan Taylor, if you’ll remember, was the late-August 2018 deep sleeper tout-darling. He held down a role in this offense but was less than prolific. Second round pick AJ Brown makes for an excellent dynasty add. He projects as more of a slot WR in the NFL, though with Humphries the Titans will find other ways to get him involved.

Offensive line

Trending: Slightly up

PFF Pass Blocking Grade: 10th

PFF Run Blocking Grade: 9th

Two years ago, this was one of, if not the best offensive line in football, ranking 3rd in both PFF’s run blocking and pass blocking grades. Since then, there’s been a steady decline towards mediocrity.

The Titans re-jigged the interior of their offensive line this offseason, adding former 2nd Team All-Pro LG Rodger Saffold from the Rams elite group. Saffold is one of the best run-blocking guards in the NFL, so that bodes well for the Derrick Henry in between the tackles. If Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin can return to their 2017 form, this unit has the potential to return to it’s former elite status.

Preseason players to watch

  • Tajae Sharpe/Taywan Taylor/AJ Brown: Who’s running with the first team?
  • Delanie Walker: Back and healthy?
  • Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill: Who’s winning the battle? Is Mariota healthy?

Nolan’s Best Ball Takes

  • Getting my fair share of a healthy Delanie Walker at his current ADP. He’s moving up the charts a bit, but is a solid TE2 and a risky TE1 that you’ll need to pair with 1-2 more equal TEs.
  • If you miss out on all the QBs, I don’t hate bargain basement shopping for Mariota after a down here. He at least has some rushing upside.

Ben Rasa’s Fantasy Football and Betting Preview

Tennessee Titans 2019 O/U Win Total – 8 (Over -105 , Under -125)

The Titans feel like the forgotten team, but with head coach Mike Vrabel entering his 2nd year they will be looking to build upon their 9-7 record in 2018 and grab a spot in this years playoffs. To do that they are going to need a healthy Marcus Mariota and a few of the weapons around him to breakout and increase their production this season. The positive sign for the Titans is that they basically return intact and with minimal losses on the offensive side of the ball its very possible we see some Fantasy targets emerge.

Ben’s Favorite Player to Target

Corey Davis – WR

Not a team that has a ton of guys that I’m dying to draft, but I am a believer in Corey Davis and think he still has more potential than we have seen so far in his career. I will say that his target share should go down with Humphries , AJ Brown and a healthy Delanie Walker all being factors in the passing game, but the efficiency of the targets he gets should increase and help his ability to return value.

Davis is mega talented, and despite the new additions on offense I think he still will be able to carve on a big role and it could expand if he really starts breaking out as the season goes on. This is not a guy I think you should be reaching for in drafts , but with most people soured on him I think grabbing him late is a solid move that can pay dividends throughout the year.

Biggest Question

Is Derrick Henry a top tier Fantasy RB?

Derrick Henry fits exactly what Mike Vrabel and the Titans want to do on offense so we know that volume isn’t going to be an issue for the big man out of Alabama. He gets a ton of goal line work and is durable, but he is incredibly limited catching the ball which hurts his stock in PPR formats. If the Titans are successful this year then Henry should be in line for a big season and has the legit top 10-12 RB upside that you are looking to get when drafting him. If the passing attack falters and the Titans are one dimensional then we could see tough sledding for Henry and its possible late in games he is phased out due to the Titans playing catch-up.

Fantasy Football Sleeper

Delanie Walker – TE

An ugly injury ended Walker’s season last year and deprived Mariota of one of his favorite targets and security blankets. He returns healthy and ready to assume that same role within this offense,  but with his injury history and just his abrupt end to 2018 he certainly isn’t getting a ton of buzz within the industry. This feels like a perfect buy low spot on a guy who when healthy is a legit #1 option for the passing game and isn’t someone you will have to burn an early round pick on in Best Balls or standard leagues this  season.

Awesemo’s NFL Fantasy Football Rankings

Awesemo’s Season Long NFL Fantasy Football projections and rankings are OUT! And they are customizable and can be used as ESPN Fantasy Football Rankings or Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings for whichever host site you use for your league.

You can find them right HERE.

Updates

Updated throughout preseason and training camp because we all know things can change quickly in the NFL.

Final Thoughts

The Titans have the core intact from a year ago when they were a fringe contender in the AFC and now will look to take the next step with Mariota leading the charge. Add in the new weapons on the outside to muddy the target share waters, plus an emphasis on being a run first offense and you don’t have the most exciting team from a fantasy perspective. You can certainly look to a few guys in later rounds , but overall this isn’t a team I am overly excited on and think there are other AFC South teams to prioritize.

I've been obsessed with fantasy sports since as long as I can remember. Back in 1993, while seated in the last row of Mr. MacMillan's math class, I'm fairly certain a few buddies of mine and I invented daily fantasy sports -- popping down our fivers and using nothing more than a newspaper box score, we'd make our NHL player picks for the night's action. Twenty years later I started out playing DFS on DraftStreet, when three-max tourneys with 490 people were a big deal, and I've been hooked ever since. More than anything, I'm interested in getting better as a player, and in helping you become a better player. Armed with Awesemo's grades and the projections from our experts, we're here to help you take the next step. You can contact me by emailing support@awesemo.com.

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