2021 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 5,822 (17th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 45 (14th)
Offensive Plays: 1,133 (6th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 582 (24th)
Rush Attempts: 551 (1st)
Unaccounted for Targets: 351 (1st)
Unaccounted for Carries. 213 (5th)
A Bill Belichick disciple, Mike Vrabel is the only one of those who has really experienced any sort of success out of his own. Vrabel played the bulk of his career under Belichick, landed a job under fellow Belichick-ian DC Romeo Crennel with the Texans, and then turned it into the Titans’ head-coaching job under New England product GM Jon Robinson. In four seasons, Vrabel has produced a stellar .631 winning percentage and has gone to the playoffs the last three years. All with Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback. Vrabel has already shown he can win on the road in Foxboro, took the Titans to the AFC title game in 2019, and then won Coach of the Year last season after Tennessee clinched the No. 1 seed despite losing Derrick Henry for half the season. Vrabel has what it takes to be one of the game’s best coaches, even if he does it in a somewhat boring manner by playing smart defense and run-first offense. On offense, OC Todd Downing is coming off a lackluster first year on the job after replacing Arthur Smith. The unit took several steps back, and Tannehill wasn’t nearly as good or explosive as he was under Smith. Downing is very much coaching for his job in 2022 and now does not have AJ Brown.
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis, Logan Woodside
WR: Robert Woods, Dez Fitzpatrick
WR: Treylon Burks, Kyle Phillips
WR: Nick Westbrook-Ihkine, Racey McMath
TE: Austin Hooper, Geoff Swaim, Chigoziem Okonkwo
Tannehill’s career was resurrected in Tennessee under OC Arthur Smith, but Smith landed the Falcons’ head-coaching gig last offseason. After finishing as fantasy’s overall QB9 under Smith in 2020, Tannehill’s numbers dipped pretty significantly with OC Todd Downing, and he wrapped up last year as fantasy’s QB15 despite attempting 50 more passes and upping his rushing line to 55-270-7. Tannehill’s playmaking numbers regressed, however, as his yards per attempt dipped a near full yard from 7.9 to 7.0 while his touchdown rate plummeted to 4% after being over 7% with Smith calling plays. It didn’t help that AJ Brown missed some time with injuries, but it was clear the change in offense affected Tannehill’s numbers and production. The Titans traded Brown to the Eagles on draft night in exchange for a first-round pick they used on WR Treylon Burks. Tennessee also upgraded its WR2 spot with Robert Woods after the Julio Jones experiment didn’t work out at all last year. At tight end, Tannehill gets a much-needed pass-catcher in Austin Hooper after the Titans never replaced Jonnu Smith last season. Derrick Henry is back from his broken leg. Tannehill’s never going to be a volume passer, so he needs his receivers to make big plays with the ball in their hands. That’s difficult to rely on for fantasy, but Tannehill is very active as a runner with 18 rushing scores in Tennessee in the last three years. He’s a mid-range QB2 and will now have third-rounder Malik Willis breathing down his neck.
With Jared Goff out and Matthew Stafford under center for the Rams, Woods was barely usable for fantasy purposes before a season-ending torn ACL in Week 9. He saw just two high-volume target games in LA’s offense, as Cooper Kupp emerged as fantasy’s premier WR1 last season en route to Offensive Player of the Year. The Rams signed Allen Robinson in free agency and shipped Woods to Tennessee in a salary dump. Woods will compete with rookie WR Treylon Burks for WR1 duties in Tennessee’s run-first offense, but the veteran’s role could be bigger than expected while Burks gets acclimated to life in the NFL. Burks was already badly out of shape during spring practices, giving Woods a leg up. Being the No. 1 wideout for an offense with 2021’s lowest pass rate would make Woods a viable low-end WR2 in fantasy. He’s a fantastic real-life fit in the Titans’ offense as a willing and efficient blocker in the run game.
In his final season at Arkansas, Burks had a dominant true junior campaign in which he recorded 67 grabs for 1,123 yards and 11 touchdowns across 12 games, earning first-team All-SEC honors. Burks was excellent throughout his college career, making second-team All-SEC in 2019 and 2020 and the SEC All-Freshman team. He finished his Arkansas career with a 36% yardage share, off the charts for a three-year college wideout. Drafted with the pick the Titans got from the Eagles in the AJ Brown trade on draft night, Burks drew comparisons to Brown in the draft process and figures to be a natural fit in terms of playing style. If his downfield efficiency carries over to the NFL, Burks could easily exceed his redraft ADP in an offense without much target competition outside of Woods. But his pro career has gotten off to a rocky start after sitting out spring practices due to conditioning issues. There’s still plenty of time to turn it around this summer, but Woods has to be the wideout we draft for fantasy right now. Westbrook-Ihkine could even open the year as the starter opposite Woods.
Things went from bad to worse in Hooper’s second season with the Browns. He appeared in 16-of-17 games but only managed to catch 38 balls for 345 yards. Hooper was also relegated to splitting snaps with Harrison Bryant and David Njoku in the Browns’ tight end-heavy offense. Cleveland took on a sizable dead cap hit to move on from Hooper over the offseason. The Titans then signed him to a one-year, $6 million deal, replacing Anthony Firkser after Firkser proved incapable of being the Jonnu Smith replacement in Tennessee. The Titans are starving for a capable pass-catcher at the position, and Hooper has had productive seasons in the past. He should play a meaningful role as a receiver, although Tennessee’s run-heavy style leads to them also using multiple tight ends. It’s not a whole lot different of a situation than Cleveland.
RB: Derrick Henry, Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins
OL (LR). Taylor Lewan, Jamarco Jones, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, Dillon Radunz
Henry finished ninth in rushing with his 937 yards last season, and he did it in just eight games. Entering 2021 with 3,567 yards rushing over the previous two years, Henry was well on his way to a third straight monster season before breaking his foot in Week 8. At the time of the injury, Henry was fantasy’s RB1 with three three-touchdown games. Although the counting stats remained mesmerizing, his efficiency took a hit, with Henry’s yards per carry falling from 5.4 to 4.3. His average yards after contact, 3.3, was his lowest mark since 2017 and well off his 2018-20 numbers. Now 28 with an otherworldly 955 touches over his past 39 games, Henry is at a crossroads for both age and workload. Henry has spent most of his career as a model-breaker, but that was before breaking his leg. For their part, the Titans seem without concern, continuing to treat No. 2 running backs like an entry-level job that can be filled by randoms off the street. The latest is fourth-round rookie Hassan Haskins, who profiles as a poor man’s Henry at 6’2/228. Henry can withstand efficiency drops because of his volume projections in Tennessee’s feed-it-to-the-Big Dog offense. Despite last year’s ailment, there is little reason to believe he will suddenly be more injury-prone than anyone else at the position. We can continue to bet on Henry’s touch counts as a locked-in RB1 as his team’s centerpiece.
A three-year contributor for Michigan, Haskins had easily his most productive season in 2021, posting a 270-1,327-20 rushing line while adding 18 receptions and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Known for his power, Haskins consistently drives through contact and has the balance to break tackles and keep going. Haskins is never going to be a home run hitter, but he can grind out yards as the power complement in a backfield committee if given the opportunity. He is the odds-on favorite to serve as Henry’s direct backup on early downs, with Dontrell Hilliard lined up to handle passing-game work. Neither will be fantasy-viable as long as Henry is healthy.
Playing in the AFC’s weakest division, the Titans’ win total sits at 9.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Colts are right there at 9.5, too, but the juice is on the Colts’ over, putting them as slight division favorites. Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis has the Titans set to face the 12th-toughest schedule and the Colts with the third-easiest. The Titans have notable out-of-division road games against the Bills, Chiefs, Packers, Eagles, and Chargers. They also host the Raiders, Bengals, Broncos, and Cowboys in 2022.