Last year, quarterback Marcus Mariota showed why he was deserving of a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
It’s true that he wasn’t a consistent Fantasy option, but Mariota had a few big performances:
Week 1: 13/16, 209 passing yards, 4 touchdown passes
Week 9: 28/39, 371 passing yards, 4 touchdown passes
Week 13: 20/29, 268 passing yards, 3 touchdown passes
But he also had these type of performances:
Week 5: 21/32, 187 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception
Week 10: 16/24, 185 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception
So, which Mariota are we going to see in 2015?
Marcus Mariota: 2015 Fantasy Football Review
As I mentioned, Mariota’s season was really a mixed bag of results. It was really difficult to guess when to start him, but it appears he performed best against weaker opponents.
In Week 1, Mariota faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defense for the Buccaneers allowed the seventh-most Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks last season. In Week 9, Mariota faced the defense that allowed the most Fantasy points to quarterbacks, the New Orleans Saints. In Week 13, he faced the Jacksonville Jaguars (fifth-most Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per game).
When he faced stiffer competition like the Buffalo Bills (16th-most Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks) in Week 5 and the Carolina Panthers (fourth-fewest Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks) in Week 10, he didn’t fare so well.
Now, part of the reason for Mariota’s struggles can be attributed to the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, the Titans’ line ranked 26th in pass protection and 29th overall.
That led to some of Mariota’s 38 sacks last season, but the coaching staff also wants him to get rid of the ball quicker.
Mariota was only able to play in 12 games after suffering MCL injuries, and he finished as the 22nd-highest scoring quarterback in standard scoring leagues. He would have cracked the top 20 if he played in a 16-game season, and it would have been good for his development if he had a full year of experience.
But, that was last year. Let’s take a look at the weapons for the 22-year old quarterback in 2016.
Marcus Mariota: 2016 Fantasy Football Weapons
The most important piece of this offense for Mariota is tight end Delanie Walker. Last year, I said Walker could finish as a top-five tight end, and I was shocked he was being drafted so late.
Walker was a beast in PPR leagues, posting a 94-1,088-6 stat line for 2015. I had a feeling Mariota would latch on to Walker simply because there weren’t a lot of other players for him to target.
But things may be a little different this year with the addition of Rishard Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham having a year of NFL experience under his belt. Also, the addition of pass-catching back DeMarco Murray is a plus.
Kendall Wright appeared to be in for a career year at the start of last season:
Week 1: 4 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Week 3: 7 receptions, 95 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
But because of injuries, Wright only made it through 10 games. He’s always had upside, but he hasn’t put together a solid season since his 2013 campaign.
Justin Hunter, Harry Douglas, and Tre McBride will compete for the rest of Mariota’s attention.
Marcus Mariota 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
This offense reminds me a lot of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars are more talented at receiver with Allen Robinson, but each team has a lot of young talent at the position. Also, each team has a combination of veteran backs (Murray for Tennessee, Chris Ivory for Jacksonville) and young backs (Derrick Henry for Tennessee, T.J. Yeldon for Jacksonville).
Still, as a whole it seems that the Titans are still a few years away from putting it all together.
One surpassing fact from Mariota’s performance last season was that he didn’t provide a lot of extra value through rushing the ball. He only recorded 252 rushing yards, and 112 of those yards were from Week 13.
He’s not going to be a reliable starter for your Fantasy team in 2016. The only format I would consider drafting him in is a MFL10.
Last year, I won one of my MFL10 leagues with Cam Newton and Jameis Winston as my quarterbacks. It actually worked out that when Newton wasn’t at his best, Winston stepped in. Of course, you aren’t going to be able to plan when the player you draft as a backup can fill in for your starter, but it shows the value of drafting a quarterback with upside even if he isn’t consistent.
Mariota showed enough talent last year for Fantasy players to expect a few big performances from him once again in 2016. But, keep in mind that he still has a long way to go before you start to put him in your lineup each week.