QB Marcus Mariota – Over the last two seasons, Mariota has a 17-13 record while averaging only 30.1 passes per game. In 2016, Marcus played well leading to 26 TDs and only nine Ints. Last year Mariota struggled to throw TDs (13) while making more mistakes (15 interceptions). He continues to offer value as a runner over the last two seasons (60/349/2 and 60/312/5). In 2017, Marcus passed for over 300 yards in two games while never delivering more than two TDs in any game. He missed Week 5 with a hamstring injury. Over his three years in the NFL, Mariota hasn’t delivered a special season in line with his success in 2014 at Oregon (5,224 combined yards with 42 passing TDs and 15 rushing TDs with only four Ints. The new offensive coordinator invites intriguing upside to the 2018 offensive game plan. Matt LaFleur has been part of two great offenses in 2016 (Falcons – 33.8 points per game) and 2017 (Rams – 29.9 points per game). Based on his direction and questions with the possible production at WR, Marcus will be drafted as a backup Fantasy QB in 2018. He has top 12 talent for sure, but his passing attempts will rank well below the league average. His winning value will need to come from his ability to run and TDs. With a full season of games, Mariota should deliver 4,000 combined yards with just over league average TDs. His potential for upside and change in offensive philosophy would lead to me drafting Mariota on many teams as a QB2 in 2018.
RB Derrick Henry – After chasing Henry around as the upside RB over the last two seasons, Fantasy owners now have an opportunity to ride this exciting RB to a winning season. Despite expecting a considerable bump in touches and high value in TDs, many Fantasy owners may trust issues with 2018 Fantasy value for Derrick with Dion Lewis to the Titans’ roster. In 2017, Henry had 187 touches for 880 yards with Six TDs and 11 catches. He finished two games with over 100 yards rushing (19/131/1 and 11/109/1). In his only game with the whole show at RB in Week 17, Derrick delivered 117 combined yards with a TD and one catch while receiving 29 touches. Last year the Titans’ RBs had 383 rushes for 1,521 yards and 13 TDs plus 50 catches for 402 yards and two TDs on 66 targets. There is no doubt that Henry will receive 300+ touches in 2018 leading to about 1,500 combined yards. I expect double digit TDs with about 25 catches. Derrick is a power runner who will be better with a high volume of touches. Excellent upside RB2 with huge upside if he gets the whole show for the Titans.
RB Dion Lewis – The Patriots turned to Dion Lewis over the second half of the season as their lead back. He finished with 212 touches for 1,104 yards with nine TDs and 32 catches while starting eight games. Over the last six games of 2018, Lewis had three games with over 100 combined yards (15/112, 153 combined yards with two TDs and five catches, and 133 combined yards with two TDs and six catches) while receiving 61 touches over the last two starts of the season. Dion projects as the pass-catching back with a change of pass value on early downs. Possible 150 rushes for 600+ yards plus 50+ catches for another 400+ yards with a handful of TDs.
WR Corey Davis – The most impressive thing about Davis on draft day in 2017 was the high praise from longtime NFL WR Steve Smith. He knows what it takes to have success in the NFL, and he painted an impressive picture of this young man in my eyes. Corey was TD machine (46 over 39 games) over his last three seasons at Western Michigan. Over four years in college, Davis caught 331 passes for 5278 yards and 52 TDs. He’ll win many jump balls plus he does a nice job tracking the deep pass. Corey has the accelerator to turn a short screen pass into a long TD. He runs well in the open field with the ball in his hands plus his second gear creates instant separation after the catch. Davis will have value in fades at the goal line and enough quickness to score on slants. He’ll represent the number 84 well in his career. Last summer Corey suffered a hamstring injury leading to him reinjuring it in Week 2. After five missed games, Davis only had 27 catches for 302 yards and no TDs on 52 targets over the last nine games of the season. His best game (5/63/2) came in the second week of the playoff vs. the Patriots. Last year the Titans’ WRs caught 159 passes for 1,977 yards and a league-low six TDs on 266 targets. Great talent who will emerge as one of the top receivers in the game. With a healthy offseason, Corey should be an attractive value WR in 2018. His starting point should be 70+ catches for 1,000+ yards with mid-level TDs.
WR Rishard Matthews – After a slow start to 2016 over his first four games (3/26, 4/40, 3/32, and 2/82), Matthews turned in to a scoring machine (nine TDs over his last 12 games). His best success came in three games (9/122, 4/105, and 9/114/1) over the last six weeks of the season. Rishard finished with 65 catches for 945 yards and nine TDs on 108 targets setting a career high in all area. Last season Matthews missed two games with a hamstring issue leading to a step down in production (53/795/4 on 87 targets). He had four games of value (6/87/1, 4/70/1, 5/113/1, and 6/95/1) while posted under ten Fantasy points in half of his games. On the year, Rishard averaged 6.2 targets per game compared to 6.8 in 2016. The emergence of Corey Davis will push Matthews to WR2 in this offense. Possible 60+ catches for 800+ yards and some scoring value.
WR Taywan Taylor – Based on his junior and senior seasons at Western Kentucky (86/1467/17 and 98/1730/17), Taylor will move up quickly up the Titans’ depth chart at wide receiver. Taylor has a very good release with upside as a route runner. He’ll add value after the catch while needing improvement in his hand catching ability. His next step is showing the ability to get open against higher level CBs. In his rookie season, Taywan caught 16 of 28 targets for 231 yards and one TD. He projects as the 3rd WR in Tennessee’s offense in 2018 with minimal Fantasy value without an injury.
WR Tajae Sharpe – Over his last two seasons at UMass, Sharpe caught 196 passes for 2,600 yards and 12 TDs. He drew a lot of attention over the summer in 2016 leading to his name climbing in the late draft season. The Titans gave him a great opportunity in Week 1 (7/76 on 11 targets), but his game just was ready to make an impact in his rookie season. Tajae finished with 41 catches for 522 yards and two TDs on 83 targets. He had a poor catch rate (49.4). He missed all of 2017 with a foot injury that required surgery last June. His opportunity in 2018 may give him the inside track to win the WR3 job for the Titans over the summer.
TE Delanie Walker – Over the last five seasons, Walker has been the best receiving option in Tennessee. With the Titans, he’s averaged 4.7 catches for 55 yards and 0.34 TDs per game or 10.24 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. He has over 100 targets in each of the last four seasons leading to 800+ yards receiving each year. In 2017, Delanie had 74 catches for 807 yards and three TDs on 111 targets. He finished with eight games with five catches or more, but only one game with over 80 yards receiving (6/92). Walker will start the year at age 34 while showing no regression to his game. Marcus Mariota will look for the TE on many plays (97/1015/6 in 2017). Last year Delanie did plays through some injuries. Only a steady TE options for me, but I would be careful not to overpay for a player who should be on the decline. With 16 games of action, 60+ catches for 700+ yards and a handful of TDs. My bet is on the under on his projections.
TE Jonnu Smith – In his rookie season as the number two TE for the Titans, Smith caught 18 passes for 157 yards and two TDs on 30 targets while receiving plenty of snaps (556) in two TE sets. If I did roster Delanie Walker in 2018, I would be comfortable with the upside of Smith as his handcuff. Over four years in college, Smith caught 178 passes for 2,001 yards and 18 TDs highlighted by his sophomore year (61/710/8). Jonnu has plenty of talent with the speed, the strength, and the athleticism to make plays at the next level. He needs to improve his route running while doing a better job when given a chance to catch the ball. A vertical threat with some value as a blocker.
2018 Fantasy Football: Positional Team OutlooksFantasy Football Rainman Shawn Childs, a six-figure high-stakes career earner and one of the most accurate rankers in the industry, previews the most relevant players at each skill position on all 32 NFL teams! Use these team previews to DOMINATE your competition as we approach the 2018 Fantasy Football season!