Tennessee Titans: week 1 fantasy outlook

The wait is over!

After eight long months the regular season is finally upon us, and for millions of people…so is fantasy football.

The Tennessee Titans retooled their roster this offseason, and as a result they have more players with fantasy value this season than they’ve had in years.

With that said, we’ll discuss the players to put in your lineup this week, as well as the ones you should leave on the pine.

Must Start

DeMarco Murray – RB: After a disastrous one year stint in Philly last season, Murray now finds himself in the perfect fantasy situation as the feature back in Tennessee’s run-first offense. This week’s opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, had the fifth best defense in points allowed in 2015 (18.9). But if there was a chink in their armor last season, it was their run defense that ranked 17th while giving up just under 110 yards per game. Look for Murray to get a boatload of touches Sunday as the Titans look to slow the game down with a heavy dose of the run game. 100 yards and a score seems plausible for Murray, who averaged 8 yards per carry this preseason behind Tennessee’s revamped offensive line.

Delanie Walker – TE: Not only was Walker the Titans’ primary weapon in the passing game last season, but he also led all tight ends in receptions in 2015 (94). He will once again be heavily relied upon in the passing game this season, even with the new additions at wide receiver. Start him with no reservations.

Have A Seat, Sir

Tajae Sharpe – WR: The rookie fifth round pick out of Massachusetts led the NCAA in receptions last year, and he also led the Titans in receptions this preseason. Sharpe enters the regular season opener as the starter, but I would take the wait-and-see approach this week. This matchup looks more like a slugfest between two teams that want to run the ball down each other’s throat, so his opportunities could be limited. Plus, you want to make sure that Sharpe’s preseason success against vanilla defenses carry over when teams start to game plan against him.

Derrick Henry – RB: The rookie second round pick had an outstanding offseason, finishing second in the league in preseason rushing yards. But this is fantasy football…and opportunities are everything. For all of Henry’s success this summer, no one knows for sure how he will be used Sunday. Ten carries? Fifteen? Goal line only? Until you have a clearer picture of how he Titans plan to deploy him (which I assume will be a ton by season’s end), then you have to leave him on the pine this week in favor of a starting running back on your roster.

Marcus Mariota – QB: Two years ago Mariota was the trigger man of Oregon’s high-powered spread option attack, but if the Titans have their way, he will be much more of a game manager this Sunday. And game managers do not equate to wins in fantasy football. Most people drafted Mariota as their backup qb this season, so do yourself a favor, don’t over think it and leave him on the pine this week.

Sleeper of the Week

Tennessee’s defense: Yes, the Titans’ starting defense struggled mightily this offseason, giving up touchdowns on the opening drive of each of their first three preseason games. But if your starting defense has a bad matchup, then this unit could help you out in a pinch. Tennessee finished 12th in total defense last season, and their starting front seven returns in tact. Minnesota was hardly an offensive juggernaut in 2015 (29th in total yards, 16th in points per game), and that was with their franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center. Now out for the season, the Vikings will go with backup Shaun Hill or newly acquired Sam Bradford…who just arrived less than a week ago. Either way, don’t sleep on the Titans’ defense this week as they catch Minnesota early before they get settled at qb.

***You can now get all of your weekly Tennessee Titans fantasy updates from me on http://www.rotogab.com. You can also download the iTunes app. My podcast, Titans Talk, airs every Wednesday night and game day for the Titans.***

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