The Tennesse Titans have their backs up against the cliff with the enemy closing in. The enemy, in this case, is Father Time. You can’t rule them out in a fight as long as they have Derrick Henry but it’s only a matter of time until guys like Henry, Ryan Tannehill, and Robert Woods go plunging over the precipice. The Titans have a big decision to make this off-season - do they go all in for one last shot at a Super Bowl or is it time to move on and usher in a new era in Tennessee?
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
The Titans have two quarterbacks under contract for 2023 with one restricted free agent.
Ryan Tannehill - age 34
Contract: Ryan Tannehill is in the last year of his deal (there are two void years after but those are mainly for accounting purposes). He can be released with $18.8 million in dead cap, $17.8 million in savings this off-season.
Outlook: The Tannehill story is an interesting one - the rare wide receiver converted to a quarterback who has a career resurgence with a new team after a trade at 30 years old. He doesn’t do any one thing great but he’s pretty good at most aspects of the position. His decision-making is good, he’s a capable passer, and he’s fairly mobile. He falls pretty squarely in the category of “quarterback that you CAN win with”.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - In another time and place, Ryan Tannehill might have had more upside. His back-to-back seasons with seven rushing TDs would have been the cherry on top rather than completely buoying his value. But he just so happened to land with arguably the best pure runner of our generation in Derrick Henry and a coach who quite literally wore a mask that said “Please Give the Ball to Derrick Henry”. They did draft a wide receiver in the first round last year but only after trading away one of the league’s top pass catchers in AJ Brown. It’s not even a lock that they bring Tannehill back and, at his age, his time is limited. So I would try to pawn him off if possible to anyone willing to buy.
Malik Willis - age 23
Contract: Willis was a third-round pick in 2022 so he’s on a rookie contract through 2025.
Outlook: Willis was a favorite of the fantasy community with his tantalizing rushing upside and many projecting him to go in the first round of the NFL draft. Instead, the quarterback out of Liberty slid all the way to the third. With the injury to Tannehill he got a chance to start but was clearly not ready so they actually ended up signing Joshua Dobbs off the street and starting him.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - The reality is that quarterbacks drafted in the third round and beyond face an incredibly uphill battle. Sure, Russell Wilson was a third round pick but the second most fantasy-relevant quarterback drafted in the third round over the last 30 years is Matt Schaub. And it’s not much better in the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh. The good news is that other fantasy gamers might still be enamored by the potential rushing upside of Willis while forgetting that you don’t get a chance to run the ball if you aren’t actually a starter in this league. Regardless of what you paid, I’d do my best to scrap him and salvage something if you can.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
If I’m the Titans, I’m avoiding lateral moves toward guys like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo. This is a team that should make one last push with what they have before rebuilding this team for the future. But that also doesn’t rule out them taking a quarterback in this draft or even trading up for the top overall pick. The Kansas City Chiefs were coming off back-to-back 11 wins seasons with Alex Smith when they drafted Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith played one last final Pro Bowl caliber year before Mahomes took over. It was a similar story with the Eagles and the Jalen Hurts pick. Whether the Titans decide to look for a future QB now or not, I think they inevitably ride with Ryan Tannehill one last time in 2023. This recent quote from Mike Vrabel lends me to believe that's the case.
Titans Running Backs
The Titans have four running backs under contract.
Derrick Henry - age 29
Contract: Henry is under contract for this year then he’s a free agent in 2024. Much like Tannehill, he has two void years for accounting purposes.
Outlook: What really is there to say about Derrick Henry at this stage? The man is an absolute force on the ground. The one knock on him has been his usage in the pass game but he just had his best ever season catching the football. You know what you are getting.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - This might seem obvious but fantasy footbal doesn’t always have to be hard. If you are one of the best teams in your league, you hold Derrick Henry and start him. If you think he puts you over the top, you trade for him at market value and start him. Every week. On the flip side, he’s 29 years old. So, if you aren’t in a spot to compete now, you really should cash out on Henry immediately before he starts to slow down. Father Time is undefeated.
Hassan Haskins - age 23
Contract: Hassan Haskins was drafted in 2022 so he’s under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Derrick Henry has never been a dynamo in the pass game so we had hoped that Haskins might be able to carve out a role for himself in that facet. That didn’t quite happen. He was a rookie of course but he found himself third on the depth chart behind Dontrell Hilliard as well.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - There will always be a market for anyone perceived as the backup and heir to King Henry’s throne. And that’s what we would be hoping to sell Haskins on. But the reality is that most teams WANT to split up the RB work in the modern era and talented players find a way to get on the field. I’m not saying they have to be Alvin Kamara and force Adrian Peterson to be traded so they can split work with Mark Ingram. But that would be nice. Not everyone steals the starting gig like Kenneth Walker or Dameon Pierce but guys like Rachaad White, Tyler Allgeier, and James Cook all at least fought their way onto the field. Haskins not even being able to beat out Dontrell Hilliard is a pretty big red flag for the fourth round pick so I’m cutting bait.
Jonathan Ward - age 25
Contract: Jonathan Ward is an unrestricted free agent after 2023. They could also release him with $1M in savings and zero dead cap.
Outlook: Ward spent a couple of years with Arizona but only had nine carries over two seasons. He’s more of a depth piece than anything.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Ward is a depth guy that contributes on special teams. You can drop him if you need the spot.
Julius Chestnut- age 22
Contract: Chestnut was signed as an undrafted free agent last season - he’s under contract for 2023 though he can be cut with no hit for $870K in savings.
Outlook: Chestnut was productive at Sacred Heart but lacks high end speed/athleticism. He did crack the roster this year but his usage was limited.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - If you are in a very deep league you can hold onto him because he has an amazing name but he has quite the uphill battle to be fantasy relevant.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
Unless they decide to completely blow it up, we should see one last year where they go all in with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. After that, all bets are off. I don’t foresee them going out of their way to bring in a big name in free agency and, if I’m this team, I’m not spending up on a running back in the draft either. Given the short shelf life of RBs, they should be one of the last pieces you add as part of any rebuild so, even if they blow it up, they shouldn’t go out of their way to add a Henry replacement right away. That should be the cherry on top when they are ready to compete again. I could see them bringing back Dontrell Hilliard or filling out the roster with another reliable, if not unspectacular, piece.
Titans Wide Receivers
The Titans have six wide receivers under contract with another three signed to reserve/future contracts.
Robert Woods - age 30
Contract: Robert Woods is under contract through 2025 though he can be released in 2023 for $2.6 mil in dead cap with $12 million in savings.
Outlook: Robert Woods is a solid receiver - he has steady hands and he’s a great run blocker. But he is on the wrong side of 30 now and played last year coming off a serious knee injury so he’s not quite worth his cap hit. They might be able to renegotiate with him to make one last run but he could also easily be a cap casualty.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - The reality here is that no one is giving you anything of value for Robert Woods. So there isn’t really a market to sell him. If he stays on the Titans, he’s not exciting as an older player in a low-volume pass attack. But, if he is a cap casualty, the current free agent market is bleak so there is a chance that he lands himself in a decent situation where he could have a last glimmer of fantasy relevancy. That’s why he’s a guy I’m holding onto just to see what happens. It could very well turn out you drop him come May and it’s time for your rookie drafts but I don’t think anyone is giving you any sort of pick for him anyway.
UPDATE The Tennessee Titans have officially released Robert Woods. He is now free to sign with any team.
Treylon Burks - age 22
Contract: Treylon Burks is a first round pick so he’s under contract through 2025. They can also pick up his fifth-year option for 2026.
Outlook: Burks was hurt on three different occasions here. In training camp, mid-season, then again down the stretch. But he still managed to flash that ability that had us hyped in the first place. He finished the season as virtually an every-down starter with 15 targets over his last two games so he at least ended on the right foot.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - The buy window for Treylon Burks is still wide open in most cases (unless someone like us already has him). Once upon a time, a player named AJ Brown was faded for his landing spot despite checking nearly every box and having the high draft capital we like to se. Burks is a big physical player whose best comp per Player Profiler is Jordy Nelson and he’s still only 22 years old - we often forget the age apex for wide receivers is more like 26-28. He’s not going to be in a run-first offense with Ryan Tannehill forever so we’re still looking to buy now while his price is reasonable.
Kyle Philips - age 23
Contract: Philips was a rookie in 2022 so he’s under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Kyle Philips generated a little buzz this off-season which is rare for a fifth round pick. He then came out and had six catches on nine targets in his first game before getting nicked up and falling off the radar.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Not only is he a fifth round pick but he’s a slow possession slot WR. Even if he starts, he’s likely coming off the field for two WR sets in favor of bigger/faster split ends and flankers. Hopefully, you sold early on but his name might have popped just enough for you to still slide him into a deal and cash out. Otherwise, he can probably be dropped.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine - age 25
Contract: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is a restricted free agent heading into this off-season.
Outlook: Westbrook-Ikhine was the guy who stepped up with injuries to Treylon Burks and his 777 snaps was close behind Robert Woods’s team-leading 809. At times he was even playing upwards of ~95% of the snaps. They should be able to easily retain him if they want as a “right of first refusal” RFA which would cost about $2.6 million.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - This isn’t a guy you go out and buy in your dynasty league - in fact, if someone will give you a pick for him you should probably sell. But on this island of misfit toys, Westbrook-Ikhine beat out a lot of guys who were actually drafted to play a pretty reasonable snap share. He didn’t produce much but there is a world where the Titans cut Robert Woods for cap space and Westbrook-Ikhine ends up starting opposite Treylon Burks. The plan from there is hold and sell him for anything you possibly can. Otherwise, just drop him. He played a lot but he also didn’t do a whole lot with it.
Cody Hollister - age 29
Contract: Cody Hollister is a restricted free agent heading into this off-season.
Outlook: They might bring him back but they won’t pay the $2.6 million RFA tender for him.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - He’s a 29 year wide receiver that has never caught more than four passes in a season. You can drop him.
Racey McMath - age 23
Contract: McMath was drafted in 2021 so he’s under contract through 2024. He can be cut this year for just under $900K in savings with $85K in dead cap.
Outlook: The 6’3” 217 pound WR has yet to carve himself out a role through two seasons.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Great name but the dream for McMath likely ended when they drafted another large split end in Treylon Burks. That was his path to a spot in this offense. Unless it’s a very deep league he can likely be dropped.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
It might look like a ton of guys that they either have or that they can bring back fairly easily. But the reality is that not many of these guys are safe. We know that Treylon Burks is locked isn as the split end of the future. At flanker, they could go with Robert Woods or they could cut him, bring Nick Westbrook-Ikhine back on his RFA deal, and start him. In the slot they could use Kyle Philips or one of Woods/Westbrook. The rest of the guys are inconsequential. If this team is going to try to make one last Super Bowl push, it’s not out of the question that they try to upgrade the WR spot opposite of Treylon Burks. But for a team that doesn’t throw super heavily, that might be a misallocation of assets. Especially if they end up blowing it up next year.
Titans Tight Ends
The Titans have two tight ends under contract and two signed to reserve/future contracts.
Chigoziem Okonkwo - age 23
Contract: Chig was a rookie in 2022 so he’s under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Chig first drew interest at the combine where he ran a blazing 4.52 forty yard dash at 243 pounds. According to PlayerProfiler, that’s top 96th percentile speed for his position. Building on that, the fact that he was able to carve out a role and produce as a rookie despite the presence of Austin Hooper is impressive.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - This is an absolute screaming buy for us. We mentioned the 4.52 forty - well, that’s the same 40 time run by George Kittle who has more 40+ yard plays than any tight end over the last decade. In fact, he’s the only guy with multiple 70+ yard plays. Speed is the great differentiator for tight ends when it comes to YAC so we really can’t get enough of it. Not only is this team thin at wide receiver but Austin Hooper is also a free agent that they are unlikely to bring back. It’s wheels up for Chig so go out and get him. I’d honestly consider a late first but I’d feel really good about a second. The guy who has him now didn’t need to use a second to draft him so you might be able to get away with it.
Kevin Rader - age 27
Contract: Kevin Rader is under contract for 2023 though he can be cut for $1 million in savings and no dead cap.
Outlook: Rader is more of a blocking tight end which is a valuable piece in real life football but not fantasy relevant.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - You don’t need to hold Rader in any format.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
Chig Okonkwo seems locked in as the starter and primary pass-catching tight end which we like to see. They will need depth behind him and I imagine they have at least three tight ends on this roster when all is said and done - the two others being a primary blocking tight end for jumbo sets and then someone with at least a little pass-catching chops in case Chig goes down. In terms of the blocking tight end, maybe they bring Geoff Swaim back or I also wouldn’t rule out a reunion with free agent MyCole Pruitt. For the other option, they could go with a late draft pick or someone cheap in free agency. As Chig fans, what we really want to avoid is them bringing in anyone that ONLY catches passes. It might not seem like much but any guy who goes in to play slot every once in a while can be just annoying enough to hurt production. The perfect example would be them signing a guy like Dan Arnold. We don’t want that.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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