Marcus Mariota led the Titans to points on each of the first two drives against the Panthers in the second preseason game Saturday at Nissan Stadium, leaving with a 10-0 lead. He was replaced by Matt Cassel. Mariota completed 6 of 8 passes for 61 yards, a touchdown and a 135.9 passer rating. He threw one touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker and added a nine yard rush.
With DeMarco Murray not playing, Derrick Henry gave a glimpse of how impressive he could be if Murray were to ever miss time. He was not efficient on the ground with 16 carries for only 36 yards (2.3 avg) but punched in two touchdowns (including a 17-yard score). Henry also caught three passes for 17 yards.
Henry had a solid rookie year, turning 123 touches into 627 total yards and five scores and finishing as the #45 RB in PPR formats (#39 in standard). Unfortunately, not much has changed in the Tennessee backfield as the still-productive DeMarco Murray is expected to continue to serve as the team’s lead back. Barring a Murray injury, it’s difficult to see a path to a top-25 finish for the second-year back.
In his first 27 NFL games, Mariota has averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game, which would have extrapolated to about what Dak Prescott scored last year as the league’s #6 fantasy quarterback. When his six-attempt game against the Patriots (from his rookie year) is removed, his average jumps to 18.3 fantasy points. With the addition of Corey Davis, the #5 overall pick, and TD-machine Eric Decker, Mariota now has Davis, Decker, Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker to throw to. The Titans have invested heavily in the passing game, which is an indicator that the team is willing to open up the offense. If he plays a full season, a top 5 season is well within reach. This makes Mariota an excellent value in the middle rounds.