Titans Offensive Profile Under Mike Vrabel
2018-2020 Pass Attempts Rank: 31st, 31st, 30th
2018-2020 Rush Attempts Rank: 9th, 10th, 2nd
2018-2020 Plays Per Game Rank: 29th, 30th, 17th
2018-2020 Yards Per Drive Rank: 23rd, 14th, 3rd
2018-2020 Points Per Game Rank: 27th, 10th, 4th
2018-2020 Point Differential: 15th, 8th, 13th
Projected Starting Lineup
QB Ryan Tannehill
RB Derrick Henry
WR A.J. Brown
WR Julio Jones
WR Josh Reynolds
TE Anthony Firkser
LT Taylor Lewan
LG Rodger Saffold
C Ben Jones
RG Nate Davis
RT Ty Sambrailo
Passing Game Overview
Ryan Tannehill turned in 2020’s overall QB7 finish amid Tennessee’s run-first attack by way of high-efficiency quarterback play; Tannehill logged a 33:7 passing TD-to-INT ratio, averaged 16.6 rushing yards per game, and scrambled for seven rushing touchdowns, tied with Lamar Jackson for fifth most at their position. This year, Tannehill’s supporting cast has improved with LT Taylor Lewan returning from last Week 6’s ACL tear and Julio Jones upgrading on Corey Davis opposite A.J. Brown. The Titans are also likely to encounter more shootout scenarios due to their deficient pass defense after allowing last year’s eighth-most points per game. I took a 40-to-1 MVP flier on Tannehill just before the Julio trade and like him as a fringe QB1 in fantasy.
A.J. Brown continued to showcase his WR1 mettle as an NFL sophomore, finishing top three in yards per route run for the second straight year and further warranting in-prime Terrell Owens comparisons as a ball-dominant alpha. Since Brown entered the league, his 17.4 yards per catch, 11.2 yards per target, and 19 receiving TDs all rank top five among wide receivers. Still only 24 years old, Brown arguably warrants WR1 valuation in Dynasty leagues over Tyreek Hill, 27; Stefon Diggs, 27; Calvin Ridley, 26; Davante Adams, 28; and DeAndre Hopkins, 29.
Julio Jones joins the Titans at age 32 after missing seven 2020 games and parts of several more due to recurring hamstring injuries. Yet Jones remained an on-field difference maker, ranking No. 4 among qualified wide receivers in yards per route run and setting career highs in catch rate and yards per target. Julio is transitioning from a Falcons offense that last season ranked fourth in pass attempts to a Titans team that finished 30th. Yet Tennessee’s target distribution is narrow and uncomplicated, and this year’s Titans appear inclined to throw more than last year. In 2021, I’m approaching Julio as a boom-bust WR2.
Anthony Firkser should consolidate middle-of-field targets vacated by Jonnu Smith and Adam Humphries while Brown and Jones demand attention outside. Firkser caught 74% of last year’s passes delivered by Tannehill, best on the team among players who drew at least 15 Tannehill targets. Albeit short on dynamism with 4.87 speed at 6-foot-2, 246, Firkser catches almost everything and has developed a multi-year rapport with Tannehill. Brown and Jones can dominate the perimeter, but the Titans are short on possession-area chain movers inside.
Josh Reynolds spearheads the Titans’ sub-package pass-catcher corps after leaving the Rams to accept a one-year, $1.75 million deal from Tennessee. Reynolds specializes in contested catches downfield, yet both Brown and Jones are vertical playmakers. Reynolds could emerge as a fantasy sleeper if Brown or Jones misses time. Fourth-round rookie WR Dez Fitzpatrick and journeyman TE Geoff Swaim appear ticketed for role-player duties in substitute offenses.
Running Game Overview
Derrick Henry led the NFL in both rushing yards and rushing TDs for the second straight year in 2020, becoming just the eighth individual in league history to clear 2,000 rushing yards despite playing in a distinctly anti-rushing era. Disappointingly from a gluttonous fantasy standpoint, Henry continued to lose passing-down snaps to the likes of Jeremy McNichols and caught just 19 passes in 16 games. Even as the league’s premier ball carrier, Henry’s passing-game nonexistence lowers his floor and ceiling as part of a Tennessee offense that’s in flux.
Darrynton Evans joined the Titans as 2020’s 93rd overall pick but never earned a tangible rookie-year role due to Covid’s deletion of the NFL preseason and multiple hamstring strains. Evans did look spry in limited opportunities on game tape and is clearly a superior talent to Titans No. 2 running back competitors McNichols, Brian Hill, and Khari Blasingame. A sort of poor man’s Alvin Kamara, Evans warrants attention as a low-cost fantasy sleeper this year.
2021 Win Total
As of June 30, Tennessee’s Win Total at DraftKings Sportsbook was 9.5 with equal juice (-110) to the over and under. Although I applaud GM Jon Robinson’s aggressive acquisition of Julio Jones, the Titans’ roster remains among football’s thinnest and especially weak in pass defense, which disproportionally impacts wins and losses. Including playoffs, last year’s Titans went 8-2 in one-score games, placing Mike Vrabel’s team at significant regression risk. And we can’t overlook progressive OC Arthur Smith’s departure. Even after spending the last several years as a Titans supporter, I’ll be fading them in 2021.