Every year analysts and experts put together the possible breakout candidates for the upcoming season, and sometimes these players fall short of the preseason expectations. Last year one of these players was Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota gained momentum in the offseason of 2017 after he threw for almost 3,500 yards with 26 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions in the 2016 season finishing as the QB12 in PPR leagues. Most believed that he would only get better after his great sophomore season, so he fell onto many 2017 breakout candidate lists. Mariota, however, took a large step in the wrong direction throwing for 3,232 yards with only 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while dropping 6 spots to the QB18 spot. Via Fantasy Pros, this year Mariota on average is ranked as the QB21. With the QB21 ranking, Mariota falls right back on to the list as a player to break out in the 2018 season, after failing to break out in the 2017 season.

The biggest reason Mariota will break out this season is the new offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur. LeFleur has been known to make the most out of what he has personnel wise and will be sure to give Mariota the best gameplan to be most effective. LeFleur, although not by himself brought a struggling Jared Goff to a terrific fantasy season by shaping the offense around Goff’s strengths. By being more run-heavy, the play action will open up more and the play action is where Marcus Mariota has shown he is the strongest as he has a 66% completion and averaged almost 12 yards a pass on play action plays last season. They will also focus on getting the ball out of his hands much faster by utilizing screens and quick passes as we saw many times with the Rams last year. He will need help from his receiving corps, to see if they are able to gain some separation as they finished 24th in receiver target separation last year (via playerprofiler.com). That being said, the Titans receiving corps should be better this season, as Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker will remain consistent receiving options and people are very high on sophomore receiver Corey Davis as a strong option to also break out this season.

All things point to Mariota having a career year passing the football, but the thing that makes Mariota most interesting this year is his versatility. Last season he rushed for 300+ yards with 5 touchdowns. It is safe to expect the zone read to be added to the offense this season, and that is where Mariota will increase his fantasy value. Mariota is too versatile to be a QB19-QB21 each season. This is the season we finally see Mariota break out and have that stellar season while making all the players around him better as well.

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