Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis was a solid fantasy football asset in 2018, but things will be different this coming season.
The writing is on the wall for Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis’ fantasy value to take a hit in 2019. Well, the writing was really on the wall during the last four games of 2018.
Lewis ended up finishing as a solid dual-threat PPR back for Tennessee with 917 total yards (59 receptions for 400 yards) and two touchdowns.
After a strong start to the season that saw Lewis see surprisingly consistent usage on the ground, Derrick Henry grabbed the reins of the ground game away from him.
The Derrick Henry effect
In his last four games, Henry broke The Matrix and scorched opposing defenses for 585 yards and seven touchdowns on 87 carries. By comparison, Lewis was afforded just 20 carries in that span, a far cry from the nearly 50-50 timeshare the two had for much of the season.
So, where does that leave Lewis? Not in a good spot for fantasy purposes.
If Henry’s legendary four-game run proves anything, it’s that the Titans need to get him the ball more and it’s likely that will come to fruition under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Will Lewis still get carries on a weekly basis?
Of course, but it’s doubtful he’ll hit the double-digit carry mark like he did in eight of his 16 games last season. That leaves much of the fantasy value he has left as a pass-catcher, which is something he excels at with the best in the league. That fact can still make him useful in PPR.
Can we depend on passing-game production from Dion Lewis?
The short answer? Probably not.
There’s only one problem with depending on Lewis’ passing-game production: after posting the second-highest receiving yards mark of his career and finishing second on the Titans in both targets and receptions, Lewis has a boatload more competition for targets in 2019.
Putting the fact that Henry could see more targets aside, Lewis has to deal with the return of quarterback Marcus Mariota’s most-trusted target in Delanie Walker, as well as free agent addition Adam Humphries and second-round draft pick A.J. Brown.
While Lewis will undoubtedly still be a safety valve for Mariota on third-down situations, there is a lot more talent around than last year to challenge the back for targets, creating more concerns for fantasy owners interested in taking him.
What’s the verdict?
Do not take Lewis in fantasy drafts thinking he’s going to have a similar timeshare with Henry that he enjoyed through the first 12 weeks of last season. The chances of that happening are slim, unless of course Henry stutters and gets off to a slow start.
Barring something unforeseen, Lewis will be a PPR bench stash who is very much matchup dependent in PPR, deployable against those tough front sevens that can stop the run. Other than that, he’s no more than a handcuff for those owners who are buying into the Henry hype in 2019.
Don’t get me wrong: he is still one hell of a talent on the football field, but the circumstances don’t lend to him having much standalone value.