The Titans doubled down on what worked, with Derrick Henry rushing for over 2,000 yards and leading them to a No. 4 finish in scoring. They lost several key weapons this offseason, but the addition of Julio Jones more than makes up for that, and should help them avoid any expected regression.
Record: 11 - 5 (7)
PPG: 30.7 (4)
YPG: 396.4 (2)
Pass YPG: 228.3 (23)
Rush YPG: 168.1 (2)
PAPG: 30.3 (30)
RAPG: 32.6 (2)
2020 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 48.7%
The share of the Titans offensive plays that have been runs over the last three seasons. And, of their 521 rush attempts as a team in 2020, only 20 of them were scrambles by Ryan Tannehill, so 96.1% of their total rushes were designed. The most ridiculous part of that is, the Titans ranked 24th in scoring defense; per SharpFootballStats.com, the Titans ran the ball 4% of the time when they were trailing, while the league average was 35%.
Hey, no surprise here: The Titans love to run the ball. I'm expecting they'll tilt a bit more pass heavy with the addition of Julio Jones because I'm sure they recognize they can't keep riding Derrick Henry as much as they have been -- plus, if you have Julio Jones and A.J. Brown on the same team, why wouldn't you throw the ball more? However, this will still be a very run-heavy team, with a passing game heavily funneled to Jones and Brown and a high share of aggressive, downfield targets. Among WRs ranked in my top 15 overall, Brown and Jones ranked 12th and 14th in targets.
- We break down the Julio Jones trade on the Fantasy Football Today in 5 podcast. Listen below and follow at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts:
1. (22) Caleb Farley, CB
2. (53) Dillon Radunz, OT
3. (92) Monty Rice, LB
3. (100) Elijah Molden, CB
4. (109) Dez Fitzpatrick, WR
4. (135) Rashad Weaver, DE
6. (205) Racey McMath, WR
6. (215) Brady Breeze, S
Coaching staff changes
OC Todd Downing (prev. Titans TE coach); DC Shane Bowen (prev. LB coach)
71 carries, 18 RB targets, 150 WR targets, 85 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Ryan Tannehill||PA: 526, YD: 4205, TD: 34, INT: 13; RUSH -- ATT: 59, YD: 258, TD: 4|
|RB||Derrick Henry||CAR: 323, YD: 1548, TD: 14; TAR: 27, REC: 19, YD: 161, TD: 1|
|RB||Darrynton Evans||CAR: 73, YD: 323, TD: 3; TAR: 37, REC: 26, YD: 190, TD: 2|
|WR||A.J. Brown||TAR: 138, REC: 87, YD: 1349, TD: 12|
|WR||Julio Jones||TAR: 132, REC: 85, YD: 1232, TD: 9|
|WR||Josh Reynolds||TAR: 43, REC: 24, YD: 315, TD: 2|
|TE||Anthony Firkser||TAR: 90, REC: 64, YD: 639, TD: 4|
How good can this receiving duo be?
The Titans still figure to be one of the lowest volume passing offenses in the league, but there should still be plenty of opportunities for A.J. Brown and Julio Jones to put up big numbers. This is probably the best WR duo in the NFL now, and I'm expecting an uptick in pass attempts with the two of them commanding more than half of the team's attempts. I'm not quite projecting both to be No. 1 Fantasy WR, but they're close. And Ryan Tannehill could have his best season yet -- and that's saying something, given how he's been with the Titans.
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
Because this is such a low-volume passing offense, there really isn't much room for a sleeper pass catcher to emerge. So, we'll go with the backup running back. Evans drew some Alvin Kamara comparisons last preseason, but injuries limited him to just five games and 16 touches. Evans, the No. 93 pick in the 2020 draft, was a big-time playmaker in college, and he figures to have a role as the third-down back for the Titans. But the upside comes if something happens to Henry. Evans obviously won't just be a one-to-one replacement for Henry if something happens, but he can be a viable Fantasy option if he gets the opportunity to be a starter -- especially because he figures to be a factor in the passing game.
Just a heads up for the next two sections: There really aren't any great choices for a breakout or a bust for the Titans. That's just the nature of an offense that figures to be built around a few high-level superstars. If something goes wrong for one of the principals here, it's almost certainly going to be due to injuries, not because they had an unexpectedly small role. I'm going with Jones as the breakout call solely because he's coming off such a disappointing season, and many might have a skewed perception of how he played in 2020, so let's be clear: He was awesome. Jones missed seven games and missed most of two others; in the other seven, he averaged 19 PPR points per game, which would have made him the No. 4 WR in Fantasy. He has one great season left in him, at least. If I end up with him as my No. 1 WR, I'm fine with it; if he's my No. 2, I'm thrilled.
What does a "bust" mean in this context? People -- myself included! -- have been calling Henry a bust candidate for three straight years and all he's done is get better. The thing is, he simply plays by different rules than pretty much every other elite Fantasy running back. He draws pretty much all of his value from the running game, where he combines unparalleled volume with nearly-peerless efficiency, and that's a hard thing to do year in and year out. At some point, he's going to slow down -- either he won't keep putting up 5-plus yards per carry or he'll have a bad touchdown luck season or he'll just break down. I'm lower than the consensus on him, ranking him ninth among running backs, but that's hardly a sign of disrespect -- though my Twitter mentions may disagree after this is published. It's possible this is the year the wheels fall off for Henry, and I won't have him on my teams at the price he is likely to go for in most drafts. But believe me when I say, I don't feel particularly strongly about this call. Someone has to be the bust call here.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.