It is interesting to see all of the differing opinions on Dion Lewis since he has joined the Tennessee Titans. Many analysts, and fans alike, seem to believe he is the preferred fantasy option of this backfield, citing he is a better fit for Matt LaFleur’s system than Derrick Henry.
Perhaps it is indeed proves to be the truth, but it is also presumptuous. LaFleur, despite being the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator in name last year, has no track record to suggest any type of back will be better than another, nor do we know his in-game playcalling patterns. It also ignores Henry’s big-play ability. Sure, Lewis is a better receiver, and he is coming off a season in which he rushed for 5.0 yards per attempt. To the contrary, though, Lewis is also 28 this fall and has played exactly one 16-game slate in his entire career. He also has suffered serious lower-body injuries.
Here’s what we do know about LaFleur: He learned from Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta and Sean McVay in LA — the most explosive offenses in that window. The Rams were led by Todd Gurley’s dominating, 2,093-yards-from-scrimmage performance. Judging by his own words, LaFleur is no fan of the “dink and dunk” style of offense, and he’s a creative mind who is willing to gamble.
Over the past few years, Lewis has flashed a number of times for the Patriots. The Pittsburgh product has been dynamic throughout his NFL stops, averaging no fewer than 4.4 yards per pop, and he has hauled in five aerial scores on 88 career grabs. He’s a tougher inside runner than his 5-foot-8, 195-pound frame suggests.
Tennessee’s offensive line is among the stoutest in football, and the offense features a burgeoning receiving corps. Former first-round pick Corey Davis could emerge as one of the league’s rising stars, and Marcus Mariota is waiting to put it all together in this quarterback-driven system.
Prior to last season’s 212 offensive touches, Lewis had handled the ball just 149 times on the ground and 56 receptions worth of action in his entire career. Can he hold up to an increased workload in consecutive seasons? Does a hot-hand scenario deprive him of chances, especially in the red zone, if Henry is as good as he has been deemed. With a career long of a modest 44 yards, Lewis isn’t exactly a home run waiting to happen. He also scored all six of this TDs last year inside the 20 in a backfield missing a battering ram, which carried his fantasy value. Henry may eradicate most of those chances in Tennessee.
Fantasy football takeaway
Gamers are opting for Lewis in the early sixth round of standard systems and nearly a half of a round sooner in PPR scoring.
There certainly is quite a bit to like about his situation, although it would be detrimental to dive in head first and expect numbers like last season’s line that created a top-15 fantasy back in both scoring systems. Don’t underestimate the Tom Brady effect on defenses playing off of the line of scrimmage.
Lewis is a decent RB3 but will be added as some teams’ No. 2. Overvaluing him could result in lost points and a season worth of scrambling to find an replacement option. There is some potential for him to live up to his draft placement, though it would require problems on Henry’s end, and it is difficult to count on it.