Fantasy Football Update: Ryan Tannehill re-signs with Titans, Derrick Henry gets franchise tag

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The Titans had a busy start to NFL free agency, and all they did was keep two of their own players. Ryan Tannehill signed a four-year, $118-million deal on Sunday, and Derrick Henry received the franchise tag on Monday. Clearly, Tennessee is looking to run back the formula that led it to the AFC Championship game last year, and barring a Henry holdout (a very real possibility), fantasy football owners should be happy with that news.

For coverage of all the latest NFL signings and rumors, check out SN's live free agency tracker.

Fantasy Football Outlook: Ryan Tannnehill returns to Titans

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Tannehill was a revelation for Tennessee after taking over for Marcus Mariota in Week 6 against Denver. In 13 starts (counting the playoffs), he threw for 2,967 yards, 27 TDs, and six INTs while completing 67.9 percent of his passes. He also ran for 216 yards and five TDs. Strictly looking at the regular season, he finished No. 9 among QBs in fantasy points per game (four-point passing TD leagues), according to Fantasy Pros, though if you throw out his Week 1 mop-up appearance, he would actually be tied for sixth with Patrick Mahomes (20.9).

Tannehill obviously took to Tennessee's offense, which, despite being run-oriented, still afforded him chances to make plays downfield. That should be the case again next season, but there's reason to think Tannehill's emergence -- at least from a fantasy standpoint -- was lightning in a bottle. Tennessee threw the second-fewest passes in the NFL last season (448), trailing only Baltimore. With young, talented receivers like A.J. Brown and Corey Davis, Tannehill managed to make the most of his opportunities, connecting for several big plays. If he's not as efficient in 2020 or the big plays dry up, then he'll have pedestrian passing numbers.

Tannehill's mobility will help him pad his stats slightly, but he's not exactly a "running quarterback." He either needs to pass more or be hyper efficient. The former could happen naturally when you factor in just how few overall plays Tennessee ran last season (949, third fewest), but Tannehill is unlikely to see a huge bump in his attempts per game given the offensive mindset of the team. The latter could also happen again, but clearly the margin for error is slim.

As it stands, Tannehill figures to be a borderline starter when drafts roll around late next summer. You can find higher-upside QBs based simply on volume, but Tannehill will be a safe mid-round pick who will be a reliable backup, if nothing else.

Fantasy Football Outlook: Derrick Henry franchised by Titans

Henry frustrated fantasy owners for much of his first three seasons. We knew he was talented, but he could never put it all together. It wasn't just because of playing time -- Henry wasn't great when on the field, averaging 3.7 yards per carry through Week 12 in 2018. From that point on, he simply became one of the best backs in the NFL. He finished '18 with a four-game surge for the ages: 87 carries, 585 yards, seven TDs. He carried that over to '19, rushing for 1,540 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and 16 TDs. He punctuated his breakout season with 446 yards and two TDs in three playoff games.

The Titans will likely make it a priority to re-sign tackle Jack Conklin, and as long as the offensive line is strong again, the 26-year-old Henry should be in line for another high-volume, highly productive season in 2020. Of course, there are some potential worries, starting with the very real possibility he holds out. As we've seen the past couple seasons, running backs want to get long-term contracts while they can, and even with a franchise tag salary of $12.5 million, Henry will be looking for more security. Given his physical running style, it makes sense. If Henry holds out, anything can happen, and that includes a late/sluggish start to the season. To be fair, that could happen even if he gets paid, but for now we'll all have to wait and see.

The other issue with Henry is his lack of receiving ability. With just 57 catches in four seasons, his value takes a slight hit in PPR leagues. Tennessee released Dion Lewis already this offseason, but we expect them to bring in another complement to Henry who will be more active in the receiving game. As long as Henry can withstand 300 carries, he'll still have plenty of value in all formats, but if that number -- or his efficiency -- goes down, then Henry will becomes more of a worry.

Assuming Henry isn't going to hold out, he'll be a sure first-round pick next year, but until he's in camp, there will be a lot of trepidation about pulling the trigger on him.

Fantasy Football Outlook: A.J. Brown, other Titans receivers bolstered by Tannehill news

A.J. Brown finished his rookie season No. 10 in fantasy points among WRs (non-PPR), and if you just look at the 10 games Tannehill started, he would have finished fourth in fantasy points per game at the position (12.6).

At 6-0, 226 pounds, Brown is a fast, physical receiver who thrived in the Titans' ball-control offense. With Tannehill under center, he relied a little less on big plays, but no one is going to mistake him for Michael Thomas. Big plays are a big part of his game -- and his fantasy value -- and even if we expect him to be more reliable and a better all-around receiver in his second season, we know he'll need some long gains to really pay off.

We can't say Tannehill is the "best" quarterback for Brown, but at least we know he's one who works well for him. Ultimately, we view Tannehill's return as good news for the talented young receiver. The two have a solid rapport, and it should only get better this season. Because of Brown's age and ability, fantasy owners will likely be too excited about him heading into next season, but he's conservatively a WR2 in standard leagues. His value takes a hit in PPR leagues, but he can still produce there. Like Tannehill, his margin for error is slim because of just how infrequently Tennessee passes, but if you can live with the inconsistency, Brown should be more good than bad.

Corey Davis (three catches, 4.7 targets, 40.4 yards per game with Tannehill starting) will probably never be a consistent fantasy threat on Tennessee, but Tannehill also represents some stability for him. As long as Tennessee's offense as a whole is strong, that can only help Davis.

Perhaps the most interesting receiving threat for the Titans is Jonnu Smith. The athletic, fourth-year tight end had four games with at least 60 receiving yards when Tannehill started. (To be fair, he also had two games with zero targets.) With veteran Delanie Walker out of the picture, Smith has a chance to really break out next year. Expect to see him on a lot of preseason sleeper lists.

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