Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans didn’t put up horrible numbers in their final dress rehearsal against the Chicago Bears this weekend, but they never looked completely right, either. Mariota was inconsistent, hitting difficult passes and then over-throwing open receivers seconds later. DeMarco Murray saw his first action and said he felt ready to go, but he and Derrick Henry could only muster 40 yards on their combined 15 carries.
Things looked so out of sync that coach Mike Mularkey left his starters on the field until they finally crossed the goal line early in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Titans secondary let Mike Glennon and rookie Mitchell Trubisky go 21-33 for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. They held up better against the rush, but overall, it wasn’t a good night. Just to make sure we would mention the special teams, Ryan Succop missed a 40-yard field goal.
What did we learn?
Mariota theorized that he may have been trying too hard to make things happen against Chicago. He hit the passes he jammed into tight spots and missed most tosses that needed touch. Whether it was adrenaline or desperation, he better calm down before the regular season. Rishard Matthews led the team in targets and yards. I wish I could tell you it proves my assertion that he is a true sleeper candidate among the highly-touted new receivers, but the truth is that Corey Davis and Eric Decker both sat out against Chicago.
DeMarco Murray took the ball six times for 16 yards. His young challenger, Derrick Henry, matched Murray’s 2.7 yards per carry with 24 yards on nine carries. Henry added 29 yards on three catches, which is why more fantasy owners are adding him to their fantasy teams.
Mariota’s ADP has risen from a ninth-round QB12 to the current seventh round QB8, partially on the backward slide of Andrew Luck and Cam Newton and partially on the hype about Tennessee’s expanding passing game. He’s not going to go any higher based on this game. Fantasy owners can justify pulling him off the board anywhere from QB8 to 12.
The Tennessee passing game rumors have all three of Mariota’s wide receivers coming off the board between 36 (Decker) and (51) Matthews. Davis is a tenth round WR41 today. I think Matthews, Decker, Davis is the correct order in their current range. I still think Matthews and Decker could both be in the WR30s range based on touchdowns for Decker and touches for Matthews (as well as my general distrust of rookie wide receivers.)
DeMarco Murray is still being drafted as the RB7 in the first round. Henry has crept into the sixth round as the RB30. Between the planned increase in passing plays and the threat of Henry, along with the potential for some unplanned pass-heavy games compliments of their defensive struggles, I have serious reservations about picking Murray that high.
The odds that Father Time and the Injury gods will finally catch up to Murray are part of the reason I would consider reaching a bit for Henry. I just think Henry will be splitting touches evenly by midseason if he isn’t already the feature back by default.
Those other fantasy guys
Delanie Walker saw one target. Of course, he caught it. Unless injuries continue to hamper Decker and Davis (they are both expected back for the opener), Walker’s role will be less than last season when he finished as the TE5. Something closer to a TE10-12 may be more appropriate this season.
Ryan Succop finished 11 points out of the top ten last year, although nine other kickers were also within that range. I heard someone argue that since they expect the Titans offense to score more often, the kicker should be a popular sleeper candidate. I’m not buying it, but I share the rumor with you because I care.
The defense still needs a lot of work. They are not fantasy-worthy yet.
So… that’s that
Tennessee fans are like fans all around the NFL. They were all excited about their Titans and their new wide receivers until they witnessed an off game. Now they are all proposing trades “to help” and complaining about preparation.
What I wish they could do is tell you what players are worthy additions to your fantasy roster. But they can’t, so you should constantly check back with us here at RealSport to get the fantasy advice you need.
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