Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
View All Scores

2023 Tennessee Titans Fantasy Preview

Henry 'completely' mispriced in OPOY odds
Jay Croucher and Drew Dinsick try to make sense of Derrick Henry's +4000 odds to be named the 2023 NFL offensive player of the year.

2022 Stats

Points per game: 17.5 (28th)
Total yards per game: 296.8 (30th)
Plays per game: 58.4 (31st)
Pass Attempts + Sacks per game: 29.7 (29th)
Dropback EPA per play: -0.03 (23rd)
Rush attempts per game: 28.6 (11th)
Rush EPA per play: -0.1 (26th)

Coaching Staff

Entering his sixth year as Titans head coach, you can argue that Mike Vrabel has gotten the absolute best out of everything in his power. It would be easy to knock his team for choking away winnable playoff games against the Bengals and Ravens, but offenses based around run-centric play and Ryan Tannehill do not have a high ceiling. They are underdogs. Last year was Tennessee’s first non-winning record under Vrabel and it came as a bunch of Jon Robinson’s guys -- be they draft picks or trades -- absolutely disintegrated on the roster. Isaiah Wilson. Caleb Farley. Julio Jones. Dillon Radunz. Malik Willis. It didn’t all fall apart until Vrabel lost Tannehill and was forced to literally start someone who was never in the building before October (Josh Dobbs) towards the end of the season because Willis was an unserious option. Given how many close losses they endured in that span, Vrabel was arguably still doing great work.

One of Vrabel’s things is that he has to give anyone he worked with on the Houston Texans a shot, and so Tim Kelly is the new offensive coordinator after a year as an assistant. Kelly’s 2020 season as Texans offensive coordinator ended with Deshaun Watson’s best passing season of his career, with many good games after the firing of Bill O’Brien, and nobody should know or care about the 2021 Texans and whether or not they existed. Tannehill is not Watson and, even without DeAndre Hopkins, the 2020 Texans had Will Fuller’s last great season and Brandin Cooks, better receiving talent than the Titans can currently boast. But it’s possible that the Titans are able to build a better passing attack around a more horizontal belief near the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, the Titans return Harold Landry after a lost season and are probably in the third-tier of available D/STs given their potential matchups against last season’s bad offenses like the Texans and Colts. No reason to go out and believe they’re a full-season start, but they should give you some usability this year.

Pass Game

QB: Ryan Tannehill, Will Levis, Malik Willis
WR: Treylon Burks, Racey McMath
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
WR: Kyle Phillips, Chris Moore
TE: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Trevon Wesco, Josh Whyle

There are two questions with Ryan Tannehill’s fantasy value right now. The first is: Can this offense improve enough to make him fantasy-viable? Tannehill averaged 13.9 fantasy points per game, had zero games of three or more touchdowns, and cracked 300 yards once in 12 starts. I think you can squint at better roles for the best players on this offense and believe that there will be better talent around Tannehill this year, but the depth of talent is still awfully low. The second is: How quickly will Will Levis get a chance? There was some beat writer speculation that Tannehill could be a pre-season trade or cut, and even if he’s not, this team has an obligation to figure out how good Levis can be before next year’s draft if they are not winning games. A midseason trade is certainly in play, and an outright benching wouldn’t be surprising given that this is the last year of Tannehill’s contract. He’s hard to roster right now given that level of uncertainty for that level of payoff. I think he’s still a pretty solid quarterback for in-real-life purposes, but can’t recommend him as a fantasy option in this scenario. I would, however, love Washington Commander Ryan Tannehill.

The DeAndre Hopkins holders have found the rock-and-hard place scenario. On the bright side, he’s clearly the No. 1 wideout on the team and has a history with Tim Kelly. On the down side, we have no idea if or how that will make the Titans throw the ball more. The identity of the team has been Derrick Henry-heavy. The vision is probably to bring him into the A.J. Brown role, so he has a WR2 chance, but I feel more comfortable rostering him as a WR3 because I think he’ll have to be extremely efficient on his opportunities to be worth the squeeze.

Burks struggled with injury concerns in 2022, but was the only consistently targeted Titans receiver from Week 10 on. It’s just hard to say what that upside actually looks like because his value was hog-tied to Willis for some of that. My belief is that Burks has the talent and opportunity to burst on to the scene as a WR3. My concern is that the team is still run-first and might remain that way if Vrabel does what Vrabel always does and squeezes competitive football from some chicken stock, your five-day old Chinese leftovers, a bay leaf, and a seasoning packet you forgot you had. But in Tannehill’s best years, the run game was complementary enough to open up some passing game weapons. I think WR4 is a fair compromise between his upside and the potential he’ll be slogging through some run-heavy scripts.

I’m also the staff’s Chigoziem Okonkwo backer. He’s by far the most explosive option not named Burks on this team, and averaged 3.5 receptions and 40 yards per game in the last seven weeks of the season despite playing mostly with Willis. I think Okonkwo can take the leap into low-end fantasy TE1 this year, though as with Burks that probably manifests better for fantasy if the Titans are downright bad rather than feisty. He’s also a clear bet as one of their best red zone weapons based on his size and speed, and found three touchdowns in just 35 touches last year.

And other than that, folks ... Kyle Phillips is a deep dynasty roster but not someone you need to worry about in regular-sized leagues after an injury-filled rookie season. I’ve always liked Chris Moore and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as players but they are not fantasy football-eligible unless you play in 20-team leagues. Most of the value when the Titans pass figure to be tied on or through Hopkins, Burks, and Okonkwo.

Run Game

RB: Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Hassan Haskins
OL (L-R): Andre Dillard, Peter Skoronski, Aaron Brewer, Daniel Brunskill, Nicholas Petit-Frere

Did you know that Derrick Henry finished with 152 rushing yards over expectation last year despite a) playing behind one of the worst lines in the NFL and b) playing with Malik Willis and Josh Dobbs for five games? Because I sure didn’t before I looked it up. 95 percent of the noise about Henry has been a) a potential trade for him, b) the idea that he’s losing a step, and c) Old RB Crew getting together to talk about how bad old running backs are. Is Henry what he was in 2020? No. Nobody really could be. Is he still playing great? I think so. He had 56 broken tackles last year, second to only Josh Jacobs per Sports Info Solutions, and while his yards after contact are down from 2020, they were in line with his 2019 season. Much as most drafters have already moved on with Jacobs’ ADP, Henry is also lumped into a draft position where we’ve already pre-factored in some decline. What if Henry -- a certifiable physical marvel who literally tosses aside defensive backs that try to tackle him -- just isn’t that quick to fall off? The Titans could have easily taken the AFC South last year with a healthy Tannehill. Henry can still close out plenty of games. I think both he and Jacobs are a little overlooked at where they’re going now.

Third-round rookie Tyjae Spears should quickly fit in as the third-down back now that the Titans have moved on from Dontrell Hilliard. I think he’s got a valuable enough role in the event of a Henry injury that you can justify a bench spot for him in most leagues, and he’s an afterthought from an ADP perspective. I expect him to be a pretty hot fantasy pickup some point in the first six weeks of the season after an explosive play clues everyone else into what he can be. Given the lack of investment the Titans have behind Henry and the fact that Haskins often struggled to hold off Julius Chestnut, I think it’s possible Spears is a top-40 pick in 2024. He makes for a tidy dynasty buy right now.

After last season’s utter disaster, the Titans have almost completely turned over the offensive line. Nate Davis, Ben Jones, and Taylor Lewan are all gone. The problem is that they haven’t necessarily solved anything. Skoronski was regarded as NFL-ready at guard, but could be pushed to right tackle early with Petit-Frere serving a suspension. Skoronski has extremely short arms for a tackle. Andre Dillard (who I loved coming out of college) never was able to push an Eagles left tackle out of their plans and is essentially an unknown quantity as a starter. Brewer and Petit-Frere were both bad last year, and Brunskill is more solid veteran addition than someone who is turning the entire unit around. It’s hard to see this unit being worse than last year, but at the same time they didn’t have the capital to address every position that was a problem last year.

Win Total

BetMGM has the Titans with a 6.5 win total under of +120 and an over of -160. The Titans have two different identities as they enter this season -- there’s the Vrabel-coached grit-and-grind team that overachieves every chance it gets, and there’s also the team that clearly looks to be prioritizing a shift towards a rebuild. Last season, the grit-and-grind was winning out until Tannehill went down. While I can see things going south and the team pivoting quickly, making this a risky bet, I’m going to tentatively go over 6.5. The Titans are not playing in a tough division and, frankly, almost made the playoffs last year with everything going wrong. Why would it be surprising if they won seven games with the same ethos?