Fantasy Uncertainty: Titans RBs

As the 2024 fantasy football draft season approaches, Adam Nardelli offers his take on how to navigate a murky Tennessee Titans backfield.

The summer months have arrived, which means football season is on the horizon!  Soon enough, we’ll all be in a backyard, putting stickers on a board with a cheeseburger in hand (or maybe you’ll just be tapping a name on your phone, but regardless: your fantasy drafts aren’t far off).

To help you get ready, I’ll be digging into different backfields and receiving corps around the NFL where we’re still searching for some clarity.  We’ll dive into question marks surrounding selected position groups, examine the ADPs (average draft positions) of their most fantasy-relevant players, and come out of the process with tips on how to maneuver through these uncertainties in our drafts.

In each post, I’ll break down key names to know in the backfield or receiving corps, then offer my lean on how to navigate the murky waters.  Some of these groups may have multiple names to know depending on the situation, but we’ll start off with the basics and focus on the Titans backfield.  It’s still early in the summer, so for now, all average draft positions (ADPs) will be based on underdog bestball data from

With the departure of Derrick Henry, the Tennessee Titans running back situation presents a unique opportunity for fantasy managers in 2024.  Typically, one running back will have a markedly higher ADP than others in the same backfield, but both Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears can be had without using major draft capital.

Those favoring the anchor running back team build strategy may find the Titans running back situation particularly interesting. Starting your draft with a stud like Christian McCaffery, Bijan Robinson, or Jonathan Taylor generally allows you to wait on your second running back while building up your receiving corps.  The ADPs of both Spears and Pollard provide nice value later in the draft for those who wait on that second running back.


Tony Pollard

The former Dallas Cowboys running back signed a 3-year, $24 million contract to come to Tennessee in free agency.  With the state of the running back market in recent years it was somewhat surprising to see Pollard as a priority signing after a somewhat disappointing 2023 season, but new head coach Brian Callahan clearly believes Pollard can be a weapon for his young quarterback, Will Levis.

In 2023, Pollard was the main guy in the Cowboys backfield, but he didn’t deliver on his second-round ADP.  In his only season of 250+ carries, four yards per carry on the dot confirms what some may have believed already: Pollard isn’t a true bellcow back.  His receiving line of 55 catches on 311 yards was rather inefficient as well, but the good news for us in the fantasy community is we don’t have to use anything close to a second-round pick to secure Pollard in 2024.

With Spears as his partner in this duel backfield, the former wide receiver could be used more as a weapon across the formation instead of as a traditional running back. According to Turron Davenport of, new head coach Brian Callahan offered the following take on Pollard and Spears:

“I can’t wait to start playing around and using them in different ways because they both do things differently, they’re unique.”

Summertime coachspeak is always fun, but Callahan obviously values what Pollard brings to his offense. The University of Memphis product can act as a nice safety blanket for second-year quarterback Will Levis via screens and high-percentage throws to the middle of the field.  According to, Pollard’s ADP is the early 9th round, an incredible seven-round discount from a year ago.


Tyjae Spears

The second-year back from Tulane showed plenty of flashes in his rookie season, but his upside was always going to be capped by the presence of Derrick Henry.  I won’t go so far as to say that the backfield is his, but the sky is the limit for Spears now that Henry is gone.  Yes, the Titans made a sizable investment in Pollard, but as we discussed, he’s not an every-down back that’s going to command a workload even close to what Derrick Henry received.

In the sample size we did see, Spears produced.  He had a 77.3 PFF (Pro Football Focus) grade, which ranked in the Top 25 among all running backs. He also compiled 52 catches while playing behind Derrick Henry.  Imagine what he can do now that his usage will undoubtedly rise.  He’s a natural pass catcher, as new Titans offensive coordinator Nick Holz recently offered, and Spears was also efficient between the tackles (his 4.5 yards per carry average in his rookie season behind a suspect offensive line serves as part of the evidence).  He also passes the ever-important “eye test,” as it’s easy to see the juice and explosiveness Spears brings to the table.

Spears goes off the board around Pick 114 in Underdog bestball drafts, making him a mid-10th-round selection in a 12-team league. That’s a wise investment in a guy who showed plenty of promise as a rookie and may end serving as the RB1 for the Titans.


The Lean

It’s easy to make a case for drafting both running backs. Based on ADP, in theory, going back-to-back with Pollard and Spears in the 9th and 10th rounds would secure the Titans backfield for a minimal investment. This isn’t the conventional (or even optimal) strategy, however, so if I had to choose, the cheaper, younger, and potentially more explosive running back in Spears is the more attractive option.


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