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Tony Pollard, Tyjae Spears - Fantasy Football Outlook for Tennessee Titans RBs in 2024

Tyjae Spears - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

The Tennessee Titans backfield underwent significant changes this offseason. Longtime starter Derrick Henry left for the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. Tennessee’s offense has been centered around Henry for years, and this rushing attack will have a very different look in 2024.

While Henry is gone, second-year back Tyjae Spears remains in the fold. The team also signed former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard to a three-year, $21.75 million deal in free agency.

So, what does all this mean for fantasy football purposes? Let’s take a look and analyze what fantasy gamers can expect from this backfield in 2024.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy football rankings for 2024 fantasy football drafts:

2023 Season Review

Like most years under former head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans’ offensive attack was built around their ground game. Unlike previous years, Tennessee’s ground attack was not quite as effective. It only ranked 17th in rush yards per game after finishing 13th in 2022, fifth in 2021, and second in 2020. However, it still finished a respectable 14th in offensive rush DVOA last year, per FTN Fantasy.

Part of Tennessee’s dip in rushing production can be attributed to winning only six games. It’s hard to consistently run the football when you are playing from behind. Some of the blame can also be placed on the Titans offensive line. They only ranked 17th in Pro Football Focus’s Run Blocking Grade. Former starting back Derrick Henry also averaged a career-low 4.2 yards per carry in 2023. However, several of his advanced metrics were still strong, and this suggests the offensive line was probably a bigger issue than Henry.

Rookie back Tyjae Spears also showed he could be effective when given the ball. Spears only finished 30th in Next Gen Stats Rush Yards Over Expectation (RYOE), but among rushers with 100 attempts, Spears ranked fourth in Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) signature Elusive Rating.

While Tennessee’s rushing numbers and offensive line play were down compared to previous years, the final totals might have been better if the team won more than six games.

Offseason Changes

After the club opted not to re-sign him, Henry departed for the Ravens in free agency. Spears was poised to take over as the Titans' new RB1, but that changed once the team signed former Cowboys running back Tony Pollard to a three-year, $21.75 million deal in free agency.

Pollard is coming off a down season where he averaged a career-low 4.0 yards per carry and saw many of his advanced metrics decline from his 2022 season. The team also has Hassan Haskins, Julius Chestnut, and undrafted free agent Dillon Johnson in the mix. For all intents and purposes, though, Pollard and Spears figure to split touches to start the year.

The club also moved on from head coach Mike Vrabel after six seasons. Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was hired to take Vrabel’s place.

Tennessee drafted tackle JC Latham with the seventh overall pick in April’s draft and signed center Lloyd Cushenberry III to a four-year, $50 million deal. Both additions signal the new coaching staff recognized the shortcomings of the offensive line and are taking action to address this issue. Improved offensive line play would go a long way toward fixing this ground game.

2024 Final Expectations

It’s fair to say we should expect this offense to look radically different than it did for six seasons under Vrabel. General manager Ran Carthon has been steadfast in his support for second-year quarterback Will Levis. Callahan has spoken out in support of the young signal-caller as well. Tennessee brought in Pollard, beefed up the offensive line, and signed Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd to contracts in free agency.

The Titans sure seem committed to building their offense around Levis, and all signs point to this being the case in 2024. Expect this offense to place more emphasis on the passing game than it has in previous years. This would mean fewer rushing opportunities, but it doesn’t mean the team’s running backs will be useless for fantasy football.

While Pollard struggled mightily last year, he did close the season strong, finishing as PFF’s highest-graded rusher from Weeks 11-18. However, Spears is younger and appears to be the more explosive back. He finished higher than Pollard in Elusive Rating, RYOE, and Fantasy Points Data Suite’s Missed Tackles Forced Per Attempt (MTF/ATT). Fantasy managers should expect a full 50/50 split between the two backs. Although, if Pollard’s 2023 struggles bleed over to 2024, Tennessee may hand the reins over to Spears completely.

Pollard has a National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) average draft position (ADP) of 79th overall while Spears is going over a round later with an ADP of 95th overall. With this backfield likely being a committee approach and Spears going a full round later in drafts, he is the preferred play. Spears makes for a fine selection, particularly for gamers who opt for a zero RB approach.

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