What Fantasy Football Questions Exist For The 2019 Tennessee Titans?
Welcome to The Contingency Plan! 32 pieces focusing on the ranges of outcomes for every team in the NFL. The RotoExperts projections are a tremendous starting spot for your 2019 fantasy research, but like most projections, will only be considered one of the many possible outcomes that exist for each player/team. When compiling rankings, it is best to consider as many possible outcomes as possible, as well as the payoff and probability of those outcomes. The Tennessee Titans are next up on our list.
The Contingency Plan looks to find those outcomes you may not be considering for 2019. By using a series of “what if” questions, the goal is to help you look a little deeper into each team and, hopefully, uncover some league winners. Some of these questions will exist for most teams, while others will be unique to the specific squad at hand. Today, we cover the Tennessee Titans.
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What If Marcus Mariota Is #ActuallyGood?
Since being the second overall pick in 2015, Mariota has a sub-.500 win percentage, has missed eight games, and has played hurt in a bunch more. This has led to the perception that Mariota is a bad QB, and that the Tennessee Titans need an upgrade in order to reach the next level of NFL offensive prowess. However, I think a lot of folks would be surprised to see how Mariota stacks up against a couple of fan(tasy) favorites:
Efficiency visualized. Luck and Wentz are better deep-ball passers, but Mariota is *fantastic* under 22 yards or so. pic.twitter.com/TyZE3uhNld
— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) May 30, 2019
When he’s kept clean, Mariota has shown that he is actually a pretty impressive passer, particularly when targeting player 20 yards and under. The issue has been keeping him clean. The Tennessee Titans ranked 29th in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate in 2018, but were ranked 10th in pass blocking by Pro Football Focus. This seems to indicate that Mariota has been under siege a lot, but it may actually be his fault.
Further muddying the waters is that Mariota holding onto the ball has been a strength for him.
QBs to see an improvement in PFF QB rating when holding the ball 2.5 seconds or longer in 2018:
Russell Wilson (+14.7)
Matthew Stafford (+12.5)
Marcus Mariota (+9.4)
Blake Bortles (+1.6)
Matt Ryan (+1.2)
Dak Prescott (+0.3)
— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) May 30, 2019
So is Mariota improvising too much? And is he good? These are questions that will be difficult to answer.
What we do know is that the Titans are about as loaded as they have ever been at pass-catcher. They just spent a second-round pick to acquire A.J. Brown, who will line up opposite former top-five pick Corey Davis. They signed Adam Humphries in free agency, and still have deep threat Taywan Taylor in the fold. Delanie Walker is back, and elite TE athlete Jonnu Smith has more experience. Dion Lewis also still looms as a threat out of the backfield. This is a great cast.
If Mariota can prove effective (and healthy) in 2019, the results could be huge for those who own him and other players on the Tennessee roster. Mariota is coming off the board as the QB28 right now on DRAFT, in the 16th round. Davis is the only pass-catcher being taken inside the top 100 picks, and he’s going in the eighth round. The Titans would be a relative gold mine of value if Mariota can put together a full season of good work.
What If Derrick Henry Stays On The Field On Passing Downs?
When Mike Vrabel and Matt LaFleur came to Tennessee last year, they brought with them Dion Lewis on a four year $19.8 million contract. The expectation was that he and Henry would divide the backfield work, and that Lewis would see most of the passing down action. This played out somewhat, as Lewis finished the year with 59 catches, but it was obvious that he fell out of favor with this same coaching staff by year’s end. He saw about 16 opportunities per game for his first 11 games, but just nine per game over his final five. Meanwhile, Henry went from about 12 to roughly 20.
Now LaFleur is in Green Bay and Arthur Smith has been promoted to offensive coordinator. Both he and Vrabel have indicated they would like to build the offense around Henry. So what if that ends up including Henry being a more active receiver instead of the back they can cut after 2019 to save over $8 million?
Henry has very quietly been a productive receiver in limited college and professional opportunities. He averaged 16.8 yards per reception on 17 catches at Alabama, and currently has averaged 9.5 YPR through 39 NFL receptions. Since Henry entered the league in 2016, only eight RBs have a higher YPR on equal or more targets (50).
Giving Henry more work through the air could take him from TD-dependent early-down back to a top-five finisher at the position. It would also strip Lewis of any remaining fantasy value he has outside of being a Henry handcuff. The Alabama product is the RB16 off the board, and lasting until the end of the third round in some cases.