Quarterback- Marcus Mariota
This was a very close battle, but we gave the edge to Mariota. The news around Andrew Luck right now is that he might miss some time at the beginning of the season. I’ve heard it could be just 1 game or all the way up to 6 games. Luck does have the easiest schedule in the NFL this year, but this will be Mariota’s year. He put up 3,426 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and he added 349 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns on the ground last season. Mariota exempted himself from the sophomore slump and looks to continue the momentum. If he didn’t get injured at the end, the Titans would have most likely made the playoffs. Mariota has single handedly turned this franchise around and has made them the team to beat in the AFC South. All experts are pointing towards Mariota having a huge year and possibly being a candidate for MVP. Mariota has all the weapons to succeed. They drafted the young stud wide receiver, Corey Davis and they also managed to get Eric Decker. The Titans defense is good, their offensive line is good, and of course their running backs are fantastic.
The attributes that I like about Mariota are; He’s extremely smart with the football and he doesn’t turn the ball over. Mariota doesn’t seem to make those reckless mistakes/throws that most other quarterbacks will. All his plays are productive and trustworthy, which always makes fantasy owners more confident. The Titans will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this coming season. I have his numbers being around 3,600 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 325 rushing yards, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Definitely QB1 worthy.
Running Back- Demarco Murray
Murray had a hell of a year last season. He totaled 1,287 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns and added 377 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. This division has other good running backs such as Lamar Miller, Frank Gore, and Lenard Fournette. The Houston offensive line is marginal, Frank Gore turns 50 this year, and Fournette is unproven and plays for the Jaguars. However, I do think Fournette will have a good year, but you get my drift, Murray by far is the number 1 running back in this division. The Titans have the 4th ranked offensive line for this coming season, and Mariota will keep defenses honest with all the outside weapons he has. The one area that concerns is Derrick Henry. He’s going to be the guy there, it’s just a matter of time. On 110 rushes he produced: 490 yards and 5 touchdowns and he averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his first season. He did vulture some production that was supposed to be Murray’s. I think the Titans will continue to slowly feed the young gun this season. I predict that Murray will get 1,100 rushing yards and 9-10 total touchdowns. Still RB1 numbers, but there will be slight decrease due to the increased involvement of Henry.
Wide Receiver- DeAndre Hopkins
Everyone would probably pick T.Y. Hilton, but with the news about Luck I wasn’t able to give him the win here. Last year was disappointing for Hopkins. It was the first time he finished with under 1,000 yards receiving since his rookie season. We can’t forget that he added an enormous 4 touchdowns as well. The Texans always have the same issues every year; their quarterbacks are all terrible. Hopkins had 78 receptions on 151 targets. The volume is going to be there with Hopkins, especially with Will Fuller out for the first half of the season with the broken collarbone. Now, the Texans don’t have a legit WR2, which means that Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson will throw to Hopkins 90% of the time. I think both of the quarterbacks will be a step up from Brock Osweiler and will make Hopkins fantasy relevant once again. Hopkins ADP is currently 29, which I believe is the correct value. He will get 1,050 yards and 7 touchdowns. He will get more touchdowns this season, especially with the one-handed grabs he’s making in practice.
Tight End- Delanie Walker
Walker is by far the best tight end in this division. Is it because his name is Walker and lives in Memphis? Probably… Delanie Walker was been a TE1 ever since he arrived in Tennessee. Mariota has great chemistry with him and relies on him a lot. Walker seems to get banged up a bit, but usually manages to play through it. You could argue that Walker was Mariota’s best receiving threat last season, but things will change this season. With the new additions at wide receiver, Walker will be the number 3 option. I believe his numbers will be about the same as last year’s: 800 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. I would have projected more, but Mariota will spread the ball out more this season.
Sleeper- DeShaun Watson
It was fun to watch Watson last night in his debut against the Carolina Panthers. He went 15/25 with 179 passing yards. He added 3 rushes for 24 yards and 1 touchdown. I know that it was only his first preseason game and most of his playing time came against 2nd and 3rd stringers. The thing is he looked great compared to Tom Savage. Savage knows the playbook and is familiar with the system, but can only take the Texans so far. I do think the Texans will end up playing it safe and make Savage the starter, but I believe it will only take about 4 games until Watson is inserted into the starting lineup. Watson is very competitive, which he will prove the rest of the preseason. He is going to make this decision very difficult.
Let’s get back to the fantasy value. Watson could end up being a quarterback to watch from the second half of the season on. He’s competitive, has dual threat capabilities, and has the drive to win football games. He could be a great back-up/streamer option later in your fantasy seasons. Keep an eye on Watson and the waiver wire. Watson, Miller, and Hopkins could be a lethal 3 headed monster later on in the season.