2022 AFC South Preview: Fantasy Football Outlook, Sleepers, and Busts

Justin Herrera breaks down the AFC South from a fantasy football perspective.

2021 Review

 

Points per Game 24.6 15th
Offensive Snaps 1133 6th
2021 Record 12-5 T-3rd
2022 Vegas Win Projection 9.5 13th

 

The Tennessee Titans finished the regular season with the best record in the AFC Conference and earned a first-round bye with a 12-5 record. They would lose to eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in a gritty turnover-filled game, 19-16.

The Titans lost key pieces WR AJ Brown, WR Julio Jones, and  DB Janoris Jenkins. They replaced those pieces with WR Robert Woods, WR Treylon Burks, and TE Austin Hooper. The Titans didn’t have any major coaching staff moves and should be ready to try and repeat as AFC South champions. This team is looking very identical to 2021 and should look to be a little better with Henry back and more weapons on the offense.

 

Passing Game

 

Passing Yards per Game 201.1 24th
Passing Touchdowns per Game 1.3 19th
Pass Attempts per Game 31.5 25th

 

The Titans’ passing attack last year was asked to step up after Derrick Henry went down last season. Ryan Tannehill, AJ Brown, Julio Jones, and a ragtag group of receivers took the Titans to a first-place finish and a playoff bye. Tannehill stepped up last year; whether he’s given credit or not, he was without Brown for four games and Julio for six. Propelling the team at times with a mix of Jeremy McNichols, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Chester Rogers.

In 2022 the Titans have let Julio go and have shipped Brown off to the Eagles. In their place, they received the 23rd overall pick, which they turned into Arkansas stand-out Treylon Burks. The Titans also sent a 6th-round pick in 2023 to the Rams for Robert Woods, who is coming off a torn ACL in 2022. Another acquisition that should help elevate the teams passing game is the addition of Austin Hooper. This team passed the ball 51.4% of the time, and I don’t think that’ll vary too much this year. I do think they have more weapons, and if the plan isn’t to run Henry into the ground, then some of these guys will be worth drafting this year.

 

Running Game

 

Rushing Yard per Game 141.4 5th
Rushing Touchdowns per Game 1.35 3rd
Rushing Plays per Game 32.4 1st

 

Last season the Titan ran the ball the most and had Derrick Henry on a 465 carry pace. Unfortunately for the Titans, Henry went down in Week 8 with a broken foot. Donta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard took over and helped propel this team into the playoffs. This year the Titans drafted Hassan Haskins in the fourth round to take over for Foreman as Henry’s main backup. The Titans ran the ball 551 times in 2021, and I don’t expect them to change up the game plan. With Henry’s latest injury, I do expect the Titans to try and make Hilliard and Haskins take on more of the workload in 2022. Making them good players to draft late.

 

Sleeper

 

Austin Hooper, TE

Austin Hooper is two years removed from his breakout season in 2019 with the Atlanta Falcons. This past offseason, the Browns decided to release Hooper and give him a shot to be the guy in Tennessee, where he has signed a one-year, six-million-dollar contract. In Tennessee, Hooper will have plenty of opportunities in this new-look offense that’ll try and move on from their loss of AJ Brown. Hooper has never had 100 targets, 1,000 yards, or ten touchdowns in a season. So I’m not expecting a full-on breakout season in 2022, but with 148 targets vacated between Anthony Firkser and AJ Brown. I think we can safely say that Hooper has sleeper potential in 2022.

 

Deep Sleeper

 

Hassan Haskins, RB

Hassan Haskins out of the University of Michigan is my deep sleeper this year, with Derrick Henry returning from the broken foot injury. In his Junior year at Michigan, Haskins was a monster running for 1,458 scrimmage yards and 20 total Tds on 288 touches. Haskins is in a position where he can be the handcuff in an offense that ran the ball 551 times (most in 2021), even with Derrick Henry missing half the season. Last year D’onta Foreman had 533 yards and three Tds in his backup role with the Titans.

 

Bust Candidate

 

Treylon Burks, WR

Treylon Burks is the heir apparent to AJ Brown for the Titans after being selected with the pick they received from the Eagles for Brown. During workouts, Burks has been seen as “out of shape” and not conditioned to play football. According to former Razorbacks Coach Sam Pittman, “I’m assuming he didn’t go in there in great shape. It’s the same way when he was a sophomore,” when talking with 3HL on 104.5 The Zone. While I expect him to get in better shape, I do

There seems to be a problem in Tennessee, and I think Burks being one of the first rookies taken off the board will be a mistake for Redraft leagues. While the volume should be there for Burks, trying to hit on a rookie wide receiver is hard. Since 2018 we’ve had great classes of wide receivers that litter our top 24 ranks, but only seven of them have hit in the top 24 during their rookie year. In other words it’s hard to predict that unicorn receiver that just picks up the playbook and style of the NFL and takes off.

 

 

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)/Photography by Jeffrey Brown, David Rosenblum + Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire

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