Coming off a season where Derrick Henry finally broke down, it's curious that the Titans opted to move A.J. Brown this offseason. They still went 6-3 without Henry, but it's asking a lot of Robert Woods coming off a torn ACL and rookie Treylon Burks to help carry a contender's offense, so this offense still seems like it'll go through Henry. That's a little scary at this point.
Record: 12 - 5 (3)
PPG: 24.6 (15)
YPG: 342.5 (17)
Pass YPG: 201.1 (24)
Rush YPG: 141.4 (5)
PAPG: 31.5 (25)
RAPG: 32.4 (1)
2020 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 58%
That's how often the Titans ran the ball on first and second down with the score between one score in either direction from Week 9 on when they were playing without Henry. In the games Henry played, they ran the ball 53% of the time in those situations. Yes, the Titans were actually more run-heavy without Henry last season, if you can believe it.
It's fair to wonder if, perhaps, the experience of going 6-3 without Henry might lead them to the conclusion that they don't need to rely on him quite as much -- they can work in some other backs, keep Henry fresh, and lean on him when they really need him. Maybe that'll be the case, but I kind of doubt it because while they kept winning games without Henry, it was a real slog. They went from averaging 26.6 points per game on offense in the first eight games to just 19.9, dropping from seventh to 18th in the league.
This is still going to be a very Henry-centric offense, and the offseason trade of Brown makes that even more likely. Will he average nearly 30 carries per game like he did a year ago? Probably not, given the foot injury that ultimately ended his regular season. But I'm not expecting to see the Titans reverting to using Henry as a part-time or rotational back, or anything like that. For better or worse, this offense will continue to revolve around Henry.
1. (18) Treylon Burks, WR
2. (35) Roger McCreary, CB
3. (69) Nicholas Petit-Frere, T
3. (86) Malik Willis, QB
4. (131) Hassan Haskins, RB
4. (143) Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE
5. (163) Kyle Philips, WR
6. (204) Theo Jackson, DB
6. (219) Chance Campbell, LB
203 carries, 53 RB targets, 233 WR targets, 61 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Ryan Tannehill||PA: 525, YD: 3832, TD: 26, INT: 10; RUSH -- ATT: 74, YD: 295, TD: 3|
|RB||Derrick Henry||CAR: 295, YD: 1328, TD: 12, TAR: 37, REC: 29, YD: 252, TD: 1|
|RB||Dontrell Hilliard||CAR: 39, YD: 169, TD: 2, TAR: 26, REC: 20, YD: 90, TD:|
|WR||Robert Woods||TAR: 135, REC: 85, YD: 938, TD: 7, CAR: 25, YD: 122.9, TD: 1|
|WR||Treylon Burks||TAR: 94, REC: 55, YD: 766, TD: 4|
|WR||Nick Westbrook-Ikhine||TAR: 56, REC: 30, YD: 473, TD: 2|
|TE||Austin Hooper||TAR: 79, REC: 52, YD: 567, TD: 3|
Just how big a risk is Derrick Henry?
There are actually plenty of questions about this offense heading into camp -- including surrounding first-round pick Treylon Burks' conditioning and Robert Woods' recovery from a torn ACL as they try to replace A.J. Brown. However, if Henry is healthy, we know he's going to be the focal point here. Henry's size and strength were supposed to make him an outlier at a position that increasingly devalues players in their late 20s, and he was on pace for another elite Fantasy season through the first half of last season. However, suddenly he's 28 years old and coming off a broken foot that cost him nearly three months of action. Henry's lack of pass catching production means he typically needs consistent carry totals in the 20-30 range, so any talk of trying to limit his workload could prove costly for his appeal.
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
Given how much space Henry takes up when he's healthy, there just isn't much room for anyone else to matter in that backfield. So, if you're looking for potential contributors in this offense, it comes around the 100th pick in the form of either Woods or Burks. Woods goes a bit later in ADP, so I'll tag him as the "sleeper." He was overshadowed by Cooper Kupp's monster season in L.A., but Woods was putting together another solid WR2 season, though he'll need to be better this season than he was last to have a similar impact for Fantasy given how rarely the Titans figure to throw. He's no Brown, obviously, but Woods is a proven playmaker with the ball in his hands who has also been a viable downfield playmaker at times, as well. If the Titans make a point of getting Woods the ball in a number of ways like the Rams used to, there's still a lot to like about him if he's healthy coming off that torn ACL in early November.
Burks looks like he fits the Brown mold a bit better. He's got that similar blend of speed and power that makes Brown so dangerous with the ball in his hands, though obviously asking him to do what Brown did in a low-volume passing offense is asking an awful lot. I'm not expecting that kind of impact as a rookie, especially given concerns in offseason training about Burks' conditioning and potential issues with asthma. Still, those concerns have pushed Burks' price to the point where you can draft him with the knowledge that you can sit him on the bench and let him try to figure it out. Remember, Brown wasn't consistently playing even half the snaps for the Titans until Week 5 of his rookie season. A similar level of patience may be required for Burks, but he has a ton of upside.
Henry is the only Titans player with an ADP inside of the top 100, so how could he not be the bust pick here? There's upside, obviously – No. 1 overall upside, even, though not necessarily as high as a healthy Christian McCaffrey's. However, he'll be 29 the day after the regular season ends and saw his per-carry efficiency numbers collapse across the board in 2021. That could just be small-sample noise, but it's also possible – maybe likely – that we've seen the best of Henry. I'm not willing to chase that with a first-round pick, personally.