Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Defending Marcus Mariota


As a longtime fan of the Houston Texans and, therefore, a longtime hater of the Tennessee Titans, it takes a lot for me to defend a Titans player.

But all of this Marcus Mariota hate has to stop. Yes, his career up to this point hasn't resembled what people wanted from it and he's not a fantasy QB1, but there's still a lot of potential for Mariota to succeed in a revamped Titans offense, and he's likely heading for a season that looks more like 2016, when we thought he was breaking out, than 2017 or 2018.

Let's talk about why everyone should be higher on Marcus Mariota than they currently are and why he can be a streamable fantasy quarterback in 2019.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Marcus Mariota Isn't That Bad, Y'all

Look, I get where everyone is at with Mariota at this point, and I get that the addition of Ryan Tannehill isn't good for him. He's never finished better than QB12 and has never played a full 16 games. Those aren't good things. He's combined for 24 touchdown throws over the last two seasons, which doesn't even match his 2016 production, when he threw for 26 of them. And last year, he threw for under 200 yards per game. Bad stuff, yes.

But let's look beyond those raw numbers. PlayerProfiler has some advanced stats that have me still occupying Mariota Island.

First off, the Titans just didn't throw the ball last year, with the team averaging just 30.2 pass plays per game. The elevation of tight end coach Arthur Smith to the offensive coordinator role doesn't suggest much about the team's plans to change that, but their other offseason moves do. For example, the Titans brought in one of the best (and most underrated) slot options in the NFL last year in former Buccaneer Adam Humphries, who suddenly gives the team a reliable option at the slot.

They also drafted A.J. Brown in the second round and will have a healthy Delanie Walker at tight end. Mariota should be throwing more this year for the simple reason that he has good options to throw the ball to. Last season, Corey Davis was targeted 112 times. Running back Dion Lewis was second on the team at 67, and then you get to the team's other wide receivers, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe. Those guys will be significantly less involved this year, with the team's new acquisitions taking on a larger share of the offensive load.

Beyond that, though, there are numbers from last year that suggest Mariota can excel on a team that dedicates more time to the passing game. Among all quarterbacks, he had the seventh-best deep ball completion percentage. He had the fifth-highest true completion percentage, a number that factors in throwaways and drops. And while he was 29th among quarterbacks in air yards, he was only 17th in air yards per attempt. If he stays on the field, we'll see Mariota throwing the ball deeper more often. The deeper the target, the better chance it results in a big play.

Marcus Mariota also ranked eighth among quarterbacks in accuracy rating, but his receivers dropped 19 passes. This is where the new receiver corps comes in, and why I'm pretty high on Adam Humphries this year. Humphries had the 11th-best catch rate among wide receivers last year and proved to be a very solid guy after the catch, racking up 428 YAC, eighth-best at his position. I can't say enough about how much I think having a guy like Humphries is going to help Mariota this season.

(Also, a non-advanced stat here: Mariota completed 68.9 percent of his passes last year, tied for fifth in the NFL.)

Mariota is also a mobile quarterback, which increases his fantasy value. He's rushed for over 300 yards in each of the past three seasons and had five rushing touchdowns in 2017. Is he Cam Newton or Kyler Murray? Nah, but he's capable of giving fantasy owners a couple of extra points per game with his legs, and a couple of extra points per game can make a difference over the course of a season.

 

Don't Believe Me? Just Watch

Let's head to the tape and show some visual evidence of why Mariota deserves more love.

First, if you want a more in-depth breakdown, last season I wrote about and broke down Mariota's Week 10 performance, when he threw for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Patriots. He showed a lot of promise in that game, and the Titans had him moving around in the backfield and firing the ball downfield.

But let's look at some tape from some other games.

Here's a touchdown throw against the Jets from last season. The Titans run this play out of the shotgun -- which, it should be noted, the Titans used on 51 percent of snaps last year, the league's sixth-lowest rate -- on third and six. When you have a mobile quarterback like Mariota, I like running plays from the gun as much as possible, and I hope the Titans understand that this year and put Mariota in this position more.

Anyway, Mariota gets the snap, the Titans offensive line does a good job keeping the pocket clean for him, and Mariota is able to thread the ball between two Jets defenders to Davis right at the first down line, who turns upfield to get those final four yards.

The thing about this play is the accuracy that Mariota shows. He gets the time to throw that he needs, and because of this is able to deliver a pass right to Davis. Remember those advanced metrics from earlier that suggest Mariota is actually a really accurate passer who has been hurt by his supporting cast?

Yeah. I'm buying that conclusion.

Titans Film Room has a great compilation here of Mariota's ability to anticipate where his receivers are going to be:

More evidence here of how a clean pocket and good receivers can help Mariota excel. He's shown some really good ability to put passes where they need to go and to lead his receivers. This year's improvements to the roster will give him his best chance since 2016 to actually turn that potential and that accuracy into solid production.

I don't think Mariota's heading for a QB1 year. The volume just isn't there for that. But he will see more volume than last year, and I think he's got a chance to be solidly in that QB2 tier, maybe in the QB15-18 range. That's not fantasy starter material, but it does make him a viable streaming option for fantasy owners who go that route. It makes him a bye week replacement. And it makes him a value play in Superflex leagues. So, let's stop hating on Marcus Mariota, okay?

More ADP Values and Sleepers




More Recent Articles

 

Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More


Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 14 Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Jared Cook has been ruled out of the game after... Read More


Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More


Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Updated Week 14 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 14 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 14 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss Week 14. Adam Thielen (hamstring) has officially been ruled out. Le'Veon Bell... Read More


Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 14

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 14

In Week 13, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were the high-end options that had great matchups. Adams had a huge two-touchdown game while Hill only came up with 55 scoreless yards, falling victim to game flow as the Chiefs led from start to finish, scoring a defensive touchdown in the process. Several of the wide receivers... Read More


Week 14 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More