Anyone familiar with the Tennessee Titans knows that the offense runs through Derrick Henry and the ground game first. Henry has been counted on for 20 or more carries a game almost every week the last three years, which reduces the number of offensive snaps in games because every rush takes 30-40 seconds off the game clock.
Yet, Tennessee had a fairly potent pass offense because Ryan Tannehill could count on A.J. Brown and Corey Davis to get the job done on the outside (with eight defenders in the box). Those days are over, since the Titans allowed Davis to leave via free agency in 2021, traded Brown before the 2022 draft, and cut Julio Jones this spring.
Tennessee used the pick received from Philadelphia for Brown (No. 18) to select Treylon Burks from Arkansas. A huge receiver (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), Burks was a downfield threat who caught 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. But what makes Burks, who has drawn physical comparisons to Brown, an intriguing fantasy talent is how he was used in the Razorbacks’ gimmick offense.
He lined up everywhere on the field, including in the backfield. He finished his college career with 38 carries for 222 yards to go with his receiving production and wasn’t a speed receiver, like Percy Harvin, taking reverses. He was much more like San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel, who took carries to the outside and between the tackles as well.
Despite some recent changes, the Titans have one of the more dominant offensive lines in the NFL and attack defenders in the run game, which plays into the idea of replication as the shadiest form of flattery.
Samuel is currently unique in the amount of time he spends running the ball for a pure wide receiver, especially near the goal line. The NFL is a copycat league, and if something works for one team others with similar styles quickly steal the idea to incorporate it into their own schemes. Burks fits that role with the Titans and their razor-thin receiver corps. He may be asked to wear multiple hats in Tennessee’s offense.
Burks missed most of OTAs with asthma-related conditioning issues, although he has returned to the field for training camp and looks every bit the part.
Fantasy football takeaway
In fantasy football, opportunity plays as big a role as anything and Burks is being allowed through the velvet rope past the line. The only veteran wide receiver is Robert Woods, and he’s coming off a significant knee injury. Third-year man Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is the biggest name left from last year, and he caught only 38 passes. Trivia answers Dez Fitzpatrick, Racey McMath and Cody Hollister combined to play in 16 games last year, and they’re the second line of the depth chart.
Burks needs to be a savior.
When it comes to fantasy value, in a 12-player format, rank Burks at a very low-end WR3 and more likely a WR4 — simply because he is going to get so much defensive attention given there’s nobody else demanding double coverage. The road is paved for him to be the No. 1 guy, giving him a bit of sleeper appeal. The question is can a rookie a sketchy supporting cast handle that pressure right out of the gate?