The 2022 NFL Season is nearly upon us. As part of the run up to the season, we’re preview all the teams, culminating with our picks for who makes the playoffs and who wins the awards this season. Check back each day through September 5. Let’s get ready for some football!
Different journey. Same ending.
It was another division-winning year in Tennessee last winter, followed shortly by another home playoff loss to an AFC North squad. The Titans embodied the “next man up” mentality you hear constantly in sports. The team set an NFL record for the number of players who played at least one snap for the team with 91 players donning the two-toned blue, including two future hall-of-famers. Remember Adrian Peterson and Julio Jones? Neither do Titans fans. Reigning offensive player of the year Derrick Henry was on a monstrous pace for perhaps back-to-back 2000-yard seasons before suffering a season-ending injury at the midway point of the season. Ryan Tannehill and the passing offense as a whole lacked creativity and explosiveness, which led to their undoing against the very explosive Cincinnati Bengals.
Mike Vrabel was awarded coach of the year for his masterful performance in the 2021-22 campaign. Navigating injuries, COVID-19 protocols, and the loss of the team’s best player were not enough to stop Vrabel from leading his team to the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. Defensive coordinator Shane Bowen made a big jump in his own right, taking the team from 24th in total defense in 2020 to sixth in the league last year. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing, however? Let’s just say the addition of Tim Kelly (much like last year’s addition of Jim Schwartz) could help Downing avoid an employment search in his near future.
In April, Titans fans were in for a big surprise as general manager Jon Robinson traded away young star WR AJ Brown to Philadelphia on draft night. The truth may never be revealed as to who was the unreasonable party in their contract negotiations, but I digress. Brown is an Eagle, and the Titans were left with a gaping hole in their WR room. The team traded for WR Robert Woods coming off an ACL-tear last November and drafted rookie Treylon Burks in the First-Round of last spring’s NFL draft. Out are AJ and Julio, in comes Woods and Burks.
For fantasy purposes, I think it’s fair to say that the addition of Kelly on the offensive staff is large enough to warrant consideration for Ryan Tannehill as a low-end QB1. The addition of Austin Hooper and Chig Okonkwo at the TE position represent an upgrade overall in pass catchers. Malik Willis in unlikely to play in 2022, but has the highest upside of this rookie QB class and is a must-roster in dynasty formats.
For Henry, you just have to ask yourself how confident you feel in a 28-year old running back coming off the biggest injury of his career. If healthy, Henry will be right next to Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey in the OVR RB1 conversation. If not, it’s a tough blow to your team without a true workhorse behind him.
According to current ADP, Woods and Burks are being drafted in the ninth round as WR4s. I think both are being massively undervalued. Believe it or not, Woods commanded the ball in Los Angeles more often than Cooper Kupp did and put up WR2 numbers while doing so during their tenure. I’m willing to bet both receivers outperform their current ADP and finish inside the Top-36 at the position. Oh, and do not sleep on rookie Kyle Philips out of UCLA. He’s been turning heads in camp and could be the missing slot-WR piece this team needs.
I wouldn’t expect eye-popping numbers from the tight ends or kicker, but possibly from the defense. Hooper (TE25) is being drafted too low but won’t likely crack the Top-12 this year. Okonkwo is a great dynasty stash. I could easily see this defensive unit finishing in the Top-5 at their position if healthy and they currently cost you absolutely nothing.
A year ago, I predicted this team would be in the fight for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. I also predicted Tannehill would be in the MVP conversation. What’s more laughable than the Tannehill prediction is that once again the media has fallen in love with the Indianapolis Colts’ strategy of signing a washed-up QB to compete with Tennessee. The Titans will win the AFC South going away and once again will be within striking distance of the lone AFC playoff bye-week. I think the floor for this team is 10-7 and the ceiling could be upwards of 13-4 if they can avoid having to play 91 players again in 2022. Nissan Stadium will be rocking in January as the Titans look to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 23-years.