QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
2017 Stats: 3,232 pass yards, 13 TD, 15 INT; 312 rush yds, 5 TD
It’s hard to imagine things being any worse for Marcus Mariota than they were last year. He set career-lows pretty much across the board, but particularly in passing yards per game (215.5), yards per attempt (7.1), touchdown rate (2.9 percent), passer rating (79.3). He also posted a negative touchdown-to-interception ratio (13-to-15), for the icing on the disappointment cake.
If not for five rushing touchdowns, Mariota would have finished even worse than QB18 in ESPN leagues last year. But Mike Mularkey‘s stone age, “exotic smash mouth” offense is gone, and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has spent the last three seasons working under Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay as either a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator. LaFleur immediately promised a more aggressive approach, and an offense that seems sure to suit Mariota’s skill set.
Mariota led the NFL in yards per attempt and passer rating off play-action last year. So more of that, with a faster pace and the prospect of more read or run-pass options, is good news for the Titans’ offense. A potential breakout year for wide receiver Corey Davis and the addition of running back Dion Lewis will help Mariota as well.
Marcus Mariota found success off of play action in 2017. pic.twitter.com/eih45NPyM3
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 8, 2018
If a fast pace with more movement and running for Mariota sounds good for his fantasy prospects, it should. The offense he ran at Oregon had those things in spades, and he won the Heisman Trophy in 2014.
Mariota’s ADP on Fantasy Football Calculator is in line with his finish last year, as QB17 (pick 11.11) in 12-team leagues. Immediately above and below him is Jared Goff (QB16) and Derek Carr (QB18) and it would take climbing a few more spots, to Matt Ryan at QB13 to find a quarterback I find preferable to Mariota.
Mariota is one of the poster boys for waiting to draft a quarterback, then taking a QB2 pretty quickly after. Last year is his floor, and won’t be be repeated. The best season of his career is a real possibility in 2018, now that he has a progressive offensive mind to work with.