Will Dion Lewis’ 2019 Fantasy Football season be better than 2018?
Will Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis improve his fantasy football numbers from a season ago, or will he struggle?
The way things are setup on the Tennessee Titans offense, don’t expect much of an improvement from Dion Lewis in 2019. In fact, expect him to struggle for fantasy production.
The veteran back finished as the No. 28 player at his position in PPR leagues in 2018, totaling 517 rushing yards (3.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Lewis’ best production came as a pass-catcher, where he compiled 59 catches for 400 yards and one touchdown.
As ESPN points out, Lewis had four top-25 scoring weeks, with none of them coming from Week 11 on. That’s mostly because fellow back Derrick Henry exploded late in the season with 585 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns in the last four weeks.
Thanks to Henry’s breakout, Lewis will likely take a backseat to Henry in 2019, which wasn’t the case early on last season. The two backs were almost in an even timeshare in the Titans’ backfield, and Henry’s numbers suffered as a result.
ESPN’s Mike Clay (subscription required) doesn’t see much room for improvement, either. He believes Lewis will score just one more touchdown in 2019 than he did in all of 2018, and that he might be set for a down season overall.
"There have been 309 instances in which a running back has reached 200-plus touches in a single regular season since 2007. In only 18 of those occurrences did a back fall short of three touchdowns. Lewis (two touchdowns on 214 touches) is the only player on that list from 2018. It was part lack of opportunity, part bad luck. Lewis was targeted 68 times, but not once while inside the opponent’s 7-yard line and only twice while within 15 yards of the end zone. Lewis did get some goal-line work (five carries inside the 5), but converted only one. Though regression to the mean is probable, Lewis is expected to play a lesser role in 2019, so we should anticipate only a slight boost.2019 projection: 3"
That’s a fair assessment. Clay also notes Lewis didn’t do much with the few goal line carries he had, and now the vast bulk of that work will go to Henry. If Lewis is going to score touchdowns, it’ll be through the air.
Another problem for Lewis is the increased pass-catchers around him.
The 28-year-old back would have normally been a go-to option on third-and-short situations, but that title will likely belong to Adam Humphries, who is a chain-moving machine and one of the more dangerous targets in the NFL when it comes to third down plays.
A returning Delanie Walker being in the mix also stands to hurt Lewis’ looks in situations that would normally have been his bread and butter last season. It would be utter disaster if Henry gets more looks in the passing game, also.
Is Dion Lewis even a handcuff?
In short, this is no guarantee. If you were going to pick a handcuff to Henry, Lewis’ style doesn’t match. Henry is more of a bruising back with big-play ability, and that is not Lewis’ skill set as a runner.
A more fitting Henry replacement in case of injury would be David Fluellen, a 5-foot-11, 224-pound back who bulked up this offseason to potentially play fullback.
Sure, we’d still expect to see an uptick in carries for Lewis if Henry went down, but Fluellen could get the bulk of the carries. He’s simply a better match for what the Titans will be looking for in a back leading a run-first offense.
Is Dion Lewis still a fantasy asset in 2019?
Lewis has a lot working against him this season, and while he remains a talented pass-catching back, his production in that area could also take a hit. I don’t think we’re looking at even a top-30 running back this season, unless something catastrophic happens at the position for the Titans.
Instead, Lewis is a fantasy bench player who may ripoff a few big plays during the year and find paydirt on rare occasions.
That might be enough to roster him and start him from time to time in favorable matchups, but until we see some kind of consistent production either on the ground or through the air, Lewis is nothing more than a PPR bench stash at best in 2019.