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If there's one word I would associate with this Titans offense it's "potential." Unfortunately, to this point it's mostly untapped potential. The Titans are hoping wholesale changes to the coaching staff will change that.
The player who should be helped the most is Marcus Mariota. Matt Ryan and Jared Goff both had career years working with new Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. LaFleur was also around for the career years of Robert Griffin III and Matt Schaub. And there are certainly people who believe Mariota has as much upside as any of those guys. He was one of my favorite breakout picks on 2017 and fell on his face. But at least part of that is because of how little we saw from his rookie receiver.
Corey Davis was taken fifth overall by the Titans in 2017 and I loved the pick. He's a big receiver with even bigger upside. But his rookie year was a disaster. Davis missed games because of injuries, struggled with his conditioning, and didn't look sharp when he was on the field. It wasn't enough to downgrade his upside, but it was troubling to see a player with his talent have so little success. If he's motivated by that, and Mariota improves, the sky is the limit.
If there's one player we've really been waiting on to fulfill his potential, it's Derrick Henry. But it hasn't been Henry's fault. He was (wrongly) stuck behind DeMarco Murray, which greatly limited his Fantasy appeal. Still, just look at his career line:
286 carries, 1,234 yards, 11 total touchdowns.
That's a first round pick in Fantasy. It's what we thought we had when the team let Murray go. Then they signed Dion Lewis and we had to start all over. I still expect Henry will lead the team in touches and touchdowns, but his upside took a major hit.
But enough about upside, let's look at expectations.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
The Titans have a first-time defensive-minded head coach, so we really need to lean on the offensive coordinator here. Unfortunately Matt LaFleur only has one year of history in that role himself, and it was under Sean McVay, who may have been calling most of the shots anyway. The good news is, LaFleur has spent several years under Kyle Shanahan and that one with McVay. With the success those two have had it's hard to believe he won't incorporate as much of what they do as possible.
The interesting thing is that LaFleur really hasn't been involved in an offense that uses tight ends heavily. In fact, the offenses he's been a part of have thrown the ball to tight ends just 16 percent of the time over the past three seasons. Delanie Walker is used to a larger share of the targets than that all by himself and Jonnu Smith is coming. I'm assuming we'll see LaFleur incorporate tight ends more than he has, but less than the Titans have. Especially after the acquisition of Lewis.
- This team illustrates the problem with ranking players based on the most likely outcome. Rishard Matthews constantly outperforms our expectations for him and is the most likely receiver to lead the team in targets, yards and touchdowns. But his upside doesn't touch that of Corey Davis.
- The tight end targets are a real bear. Walker's expectation would be his lowest total since 2013. But he'll be 34 years old, the team has an up-and-coming tight end, and we don't know exactly how LaFleur will distribute the ball.
Tajae Sharpe was a guy that people believed in at one point in his career and the Titans lack of depth at wide receiver means he still has a chance to be. But he'd better start moving. Sharpe could displace Taywan Taylor with a good summer of work and even find himself in the No. 2 role if Davis shows up out of shape or continues to struggle with injuries. Sharpe is still just 23 years old and he's entering his third year in the league. But he could just as easily be cut as make a Fantasy impact.