Labor Day Weekend is finally here, which means football is right around the corner. But, almost as important as the NFL season is the Fantasy Football season.
The Tennessee Titans and Fantasy Football historically do not mesh. The Titans have been deprived of big-play talent in this past decade, rendering most players on the team’s offense useless in nearly every single fantasy format imaginable. However, if you were able to draft punters, Brett Kern might slither into the first round of some drafts.
After many years of offensive despair, Titans offense burst onto the scene in 2019 under offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith’s reign. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Titans were the benefactors of an A.J. Brown steal in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Brown went on to accumulate 1,000 yards in his rookie campaign, providing a midseason spark to any fantasy owners who swiped him off of the free-agent market.
Derrick Henry led the league in rushing yards with 1,540 to go along with a league-best 16 rushing touchdowns. It is safe to assume that many owners who selected Henry in the upper-middle rounds of their league’s draft were likely to hoist some hardware last season, or at the very least win a chunk of money.
Many fantasy players are wondering whether or not the Titans’ offense will be able to replicate this type of fantasy production again in 2020. ESPN put together four fantasy gurus to rank the NFL’s top fantasy targets for the upcoming season in Matthew Berry, Tristian Cockcroft, Mike Clay, and Matt Bowen.
Let’s begin with Tannehill, the NFL’s leader in passer rating, completion percentage, and yards per attempt in 2019. Berry has the Titans’ signal caller slotted at 19 among the quarterbacks in 2020. While Tannehill is critical to Tennessee’s success, he is not much of a stud when it comes to fantasy football. Tannehill’s numbers are efficient, but not eye-popping. With one of the league’s best running backs in Derrick Henry, there is not much room for Tannehill to explode with 300+ yard performances on weekly basis.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 4, 2020
Tannehill’s favorite weapon in 2019 was undoubtedly A.J. Brown. Brown enters 2020 looking to improve on what many believe was a Rookie of the Year caliber season last year. ESPN’s fantasy experts rank Brown as the 16th best receiver in PPR (point per reception) formats. That goes to show that Brown’s fantasy production last year is not thought of as a fluke, but more of as a sign of what will come. Brown is a respectable WR2 play in nearly every league as the second-year receiver has already established himself as the Titans’ No. 1 pass catcher.
Tannehill will have a couple of other bodies to throw to in Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith. However Davis was not ranked in the top-70 at the wide receiver position while Smith check in at No. 20 among tight ends.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) September 4, 2020
Then it comes to the matter of El Tractorcito. Derrick Henry is held in high regard entering the 2020 fantasy season. Rightfully so after finishing the season averaging 149 rushing yards per game in his final six games and carrying many fantasy teams on his back to a championship.
After last year’s efforts, it should come as no surprise that Henry is ranked as ESPN’s sixth best running back in PPR formats. With the lack of productivity in the passing game, Henry makes even more sense as a top pick in non-PPR leagues where the experts have him slotted as the fifth best back. These expectations are compelling considering how he is featured in the Titans’ run first, ask questions later offense.
Ryan Tannehill took over in Week 7.
From Week 7 on, Derrick Henry averaged the second most fantasy points— behind only CMC.
He outscored Zeke and Saquon even with one less game due to a bye week.
Nothing changed for this offense, yet he’s being drafted as the RB7 on MFL.
— Elvin Ryan (@ElvinRyan_FF) July 22, 2020
But, for all his upside, there is still a concern with Henry. The MVP candidate didn’t eclipse 100 yards on the ground last season until week 10. It took him 13 games to hit triple digits in 2018 as well. History tells us that Henry is a slow starter and with the questions about the right side of the Titans’ offensive line there is enough concern to make one think twice before selecting the hulking back in the top half of the first round.