Fantasy Impact: Dion Lewis to the Titans

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 14, 2018

Dion Lewis to the Titans may be a better real-life fit than for fantasy

Once we found out that DeMarco Murray was released by the Titans, we knew there would be a move that coincided with it. As it turns out, it was a pretty big move as the Titans have agreed to terms with Dion Lewis on a four-year deal worth a reported $20 million, making him the ninth-highest paid running back on an annual basis.

Some out there may be wondering why they made such a big signing with Derrick Henry on the roster, but it all comes down to Henry’s inability to pass-block and contribute consistently in the passing game. The Titans first concern is protecting Marcus Mariota and Henry has graded out as one of the worst pass-blockers in all of football. While most wondered why Murray was getting as many, and often more snaps than Henry, this was the reason.

Get a free $3 Best Ball entry into a 2018 DRAFT contest with your first deposit >>

Lewis is going to go through quite the change here, as the Patriots are a team who’s scored at least 28 points per game while he’s been there, while the Titans averaged just 20.6 points per game in 2017. It’s important because of the research I did last offseason where we often want running backs tied to high-scoring offenses (read it here). It’s not to say that the Titans can’t become one of the high-scoring teams, but they haven’t been as of late.

With the Patriots, Lewis also started to get the goal-line carries as the team moved on from Mike Gillislee, bumping his fantasy numbers significantly. We know that Henry will be the goal-line back for the Titans, which is significant because of the top-12 running backs last year, they all scored a minimum of six rushing touchdowns. And before you say that Lewis’ receiving will make up for that, nine of those top-12 running backs also totaled at least 300 receiving yards. You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but touchdowns mean a lot for a running back’s upside, and Lewis is going to lack that.

Lewis also isn’t the most durable of running backs, and at 5-foot-7 and 193 pounds you shouldn’t really expect him to be. Yes, he handled a massive workload down the stretch for the Patriots, though that was out of necessity with Gillislee inactive and Rex Burkhead banged up. If you believe Lewis takes the starting job from Henry, I would be hesitant to project anything more than a 50/50 split out of this backfield, though I don’t see Lewis even getting there.

Is Lewis a bad signing? Absolutely not. It’s a signing that I thought should happen, and even mentioned it in my free agency primer that predicted landing spots. However, let’s not pretend that a running back who has 329 career carries at 28 years old (will be at the start of the season) is suddenly going to become a workhorse in the NFL, especially when Henry, a player the team used a second-round pick on just two years ago, is showed to be capable of handling more work. In fact, Henry’s 286 carries over the last two years aren’t far behind Lewis’ numbers.

So, how do we project Lewis and what type of fantasy asset will he be? He’s a better at running in-between the tackles than most realize and has solid hands, though he wasn’t used as much as he could’ve been in New England, likely because of James White‘s presence. He’ll be mixed in with Henry in what I’m projecting to be a 65/35 split, similar to the one the Vikings used last year with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. Murray was a weekly-RB2 because of his goal-line carries and heavy workload, while McKinnon was more of a splash RB3 who could post RB1/RB2 numbers from time-to-time. The Titans ran the ball 366 times last year, while completing 50 passes to the running back position. I don’t do projections until after the draft, but at this time, I’d expect Lewis to be in the range of 130-150 carries and 35-40 receptions. Running backs don’t change much on a per-touch basis, so this would put him right in the middling RB3 conversation in standard leagues, while teetering on the low-end RB2 conversation in PPR formats, similar to last year’s McKinnon.

Miss any of the other big-name free agent signings? We’ve got you covered with the links below.
Allen Robinson to the Bears
Sammy Watkins to the Chiefs
Kirk Cousins to the Vikings
Case Keenum to the Broncos
Trey Burton to the Bears

SubscribeiTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | RSS

Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE FantasyPros upgrade with first deposit
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
2Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4David Johnson (ARI)RB
5Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
9Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
10Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Julio Jones (ATL)WR
12Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
13Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
14Michael Thomas (NO)WR
15Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
16Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
17A.J. Green (CIN)WR
18Davante Adams (GB)WR
19Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
20Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
21Mike Evans (TB)WR
22Jerick McKinnon (SF)RB
23Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
24Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
25Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
26T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
27Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
28Travis Kelce (KC)TE
29Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
30Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
3Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
6Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
7Manny Machado (LAD)3B,SS
8Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
9J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
10Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)LF,RF
 View All Rankings 
11Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
12Chris Sale (BOS)SP
13Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
14Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
15Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
16Trea Turner (WSH)SS
17Bryce Harper (WSH)CF,RF
18Andrew Benintendi (BOS)LF,CF
19Joey Votto (CIN)1B
20Carlos Correa (HOU)SS
21Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
22Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
23Luis Severino (NYY)SP
24George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
25Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
26Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
27Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
28Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
29Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
30Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (TOR)SG,SF
9LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Gordon Hayward (BOS)SG,SF