The Titans finished 2019 ranked 10th in points scored on their way to a (9-7) record. The team rolled in the playoffs as well knocking off the Patriots and Ravens, before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs in the conference championship. The team will look to build off the success of 2019 this season, and to do that they will rely on the scheming of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Smith drew up the perfect offense for the Titans last year in a scheme that started with the ground game. This is where that offense begins as they establish the run with a true workhorse in Derrick Henry. Once the ground game was established Smith schemed up a lot of play action. In fact, the Titans were very heavy play action in 2019 and that should continue into 2020.
Ryan Tannehill (QB) – the planets aligned perfectly for Tannehill in 2019. He landed on a team that fits his skill set perfectly in regards to being a ball distributer. Tannehill is tough, accurate, and able to extend plays with his mobility. Tannehill had to wait before Mariota buried himself before getting the opportunity to start for the Titans. It didn’t take that long as Tannehill earned 10 starts in 2019. Tannehill turned those ten starts into a deep playoff run which essentially earned him a new 4 year deal to be the team’s starter. The thing that Tannehill proved to be most in 2019 is efficient. Tannehill was ranked first in yards per attempt (10), second, only to Lamar Jackson in touchdown rate, and 3rd in completion rate. The thing entering 2020 we have to be ready for with Tannehill is regression. The regression for Tannehill will likely come in terms of his efficiency.
Fantasy Spin: Tannehill should come off the board after the top 12 quarterbacks are taken as a top end QB2. We have Tannehill ranked as our 17th quarterback entering 2020 in redraft leagues. Tannehill and that Titans offense under Smith should continue to be one of the most productive in the league week in and week out. The only concern we have with Tannehill is the sample size from last year was relatively small which could be leading us astray. In dynasty Tannehill ranks as our 19th quarterback.
Derrick Henry/Darrynton Evans (RB) – like we mentioned above, the Titans are a run first team, and figure to be again in 2020. The offensive line is built for this offense and the loss of Jack Conklin during the offseason figured to weaken it, but the team went out and drafted his replacement in Isaiah Wilson. The teams foundation is their outside zone run principles first and for most. Henry will be the guy in the backfield again as he is playing on the franchise tag in 2020. Henry is big and once he gets in open space is like a truck running at you, as he is very difficult to bring down. The only knock on Henry is he will not likely be on the field if the team is trailing, as we seen in the playoff loss to the Chiefs. The Titans found themselves down and Henry disappeared as Dion Lewis entered the game. This season we should expect the same in those instances, the only difference being Lewis has been replaced with a rookie who offers more Juice. Darrynton Evans was drafted for a couple reasons. The first reason he was drafted is he fits the outside zone run scheme perfectly, as he ran that exclusively in college and was very good at it. Secondly, Evans can catch the rock and will be very good in that complimentary role to Henry.
Fantasy Spin: Derrick Henry is a locked in RB1 for redraft leagues in 2020. We have him ranked as our 7th ranked running back. Henry will continue to be a productive volume back in a run heavy offense. Evans will be intriguing in 2020 as he not only is Henry’s handcuff but will offer some standalone value as a pass catching back. Evans is a nice dynasty prospect who could see his role change to more of a feature back next season if the team moves on from Henry as expected. In the dynasty format we have Evans ranked as our 50th running back, which is higher than his redraft ranking of RB64. Derrick Henry checks in as our 13th ranked dynasty running back entering 2020, as his age and wear continue to climb.
AJ Brown/Corey Davis/Adam Humphries (WR) – A lot of the Titans success in the passing game didn’t come on deep vertical routes in 2019. The success was found on the short to intermediate routes which the receivers used their run after catch ability to generate big plays. The best receiver on the team in this aspect of the game in 2019 was AJ Brown. This offense worked very well in this regard last year, but it’s difficult to predict if the big plays will be there this season off the short passing plays. With Brown when he was coming into the league from Old Miss he was going to be viewed as an inside tough guy as he mostly manned the slot. However, the team started playing him at the X position towards the end of his time there and he did it very well, which showed NFL teams this guy can be versatile and effective all over the formation. Brown is big and can generate good leverage as he proved in 2019. The only concern we have with Brown is he didn’t see a lot of opportunity last year as the targets weren’t there as he only saw 84, catching 61% of those. The thing with Brown is he averaged 20.2 yards a reception which is very good. Corey Davis has been very frustrating for fantasy owners over the years. The problem with Davis isn’t just the fact that he struggles with press coverage, its opportunity much like the issue with Brown. When a player is in a scheme that just doesn’t produce a lot of volume through the air it’s tough to be productive in a fantasy sense as a receiver. Davis will never be the guy that gets 10 targets a game.
Fantasy Spin: Like we have said above the Titans are a run first team. We look for Tannehill at best to drop back 25-28 times a game which isn’t a lot of opportunity for these receivers. AJ Brown is the wide out to own out of this group as he can be viewed as a high end WR2 in redraft leagues, as he is our 15th ranked wide out. In Dynasty leagues Brown is a back end WR1 as he ranks 11th for us in that format. Corey Davis is not very appealing in any format as in redraft we have ranked as our 74th receiver entering 2020. The lack of volume severely hinders he and Humphries fantasy outlook. Humphries is our 87th ranked wide receiver in redraft.
Jonnu Smith (TE) – the team is very high on Smith entering 2020. Smith unlike his years prior will begin the off season as the guy at tight end since the team finally decided to move on from Delaine Walker. Smith is not going to be the tight end that is going to catch 80-90 balls this season. Smith likely will be in the 50-55 range due to the low volume we have already discussed. The thing that is fascinating about Smith is the praise that Bill Belichick gave him back in January, saying he was the best at the position after the catch. This praise is pretty accurate as Smith holds the positions PFF record for forced missed tackles per reception at the college level, which since entering the league continues, as he leads all in that stat at tight end. This is the final year on his rookie deal so should have some big games if he’s given the looks.
Fantasy Spin: Smith is a gifted athlete who finds himself on a bad team for fantasy production at the position. The lack of volume will severely limit Smith’s upside in 2020, making him a mid to back end TE2. We have Smith as our 19th ranked tight end in redraft. In dynasty he ranks as our 24th tight end putting him in the same TE2 position as redraft.
Defense – The Titans defense finished up 2019 ranked 12th in points allowed. They were towards the top half of the league in most categories and figures to be around the same as we enter 2020. The trade of Jurell Casey shouldn’t impact there defense that much. Head coach Matt Vrabel brought over the Belichick style defense as the Titans like to run a 3-4 base defense while playing primarily cover 3, cover 2, and man free in the secondary. The Titans lack that dominant speed rusher so Vrabel likes to send the safeties and linebackers on blitzes to bring pressure. Vrabel often disguises the coverage by having a lot of pre snap movement.
Fantasy Spin: The Titans defense is our projected 18th defense entering 2020. They will offer weeks of stream ability throughout the season.
Strength of Schedule
The Titans wide receiver corps will face the 12th easiest schedule this fantasy regular season. Their playoff schedule will be the 14th easiest during weeks 14-16. Henry and Evans will be looking at the 9th easiest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The backs will then have the easiest schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Tannehill will face the 7th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 10th easiest during weeks 14-16. Jonnu will face the17th easiest fantasy regular season schedule, and will face the 14th easiest playoff schedule from weeks 14-16.