Last year’s Heisman winner tossed a touchdown pass on the fifth play of the game, a 52-yard completion to Kendall Wright. He added two more later—one to running back Bishop Sankey and the other to wide receiver Harry Douglas.
Wright and Douglas should have never been reliable fantasy options, but the pair have had too many moments to keep them on the radar.
Both receivers had over 1,000 yards receiving in 2013, though their two touchdown catches each didn’t give them the kind of impact to be every-week options.
Douglas does look like a stronger play now that he’s out of Atlanta and the enormous shadows of Julio Jones and Roddy White. He can move into the slot or line up on the outside in head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.
Wright is a possession receiver who hasn’t had a chance to create big plays in three seasons with Tennessee due to poor quarterback play.
Now that they appear to have at least a capable starter at quarterback, keeping them on the bench as flex options when matchups are favorable is a smart play.
Mariota entered the NFL with a lot of questions about how he would adjust to the speed of the league—reading defenses, working out of the huddle, etc. At least so far, the response has been emphatic.
Mariota completed eight of his first 11 passes for 156 yards to go along with those three touchdowns. His legs weren’t much of a factor, with minus-three yards on one carry.
At the time, that gave Mariota 18 fantasy points on the day in ESPN.com standard scoring leagues. Before everyone starts losing their mind, though, it’s only fair to pour some water on the situation projecting ahead.
Tampa Bay had the league’s worst record, fifth-worst pass defense and eighth-worst scoring defense last season. Things don’t appear to have gotten much better on that side of the ball, but let’s be optimistic once again.
The Titans play the Browns and Colts over the next two weeks. Those teams lost their opening games in Week 1, allowing a combined 58 points to two teams starting Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.
There are going to be growing pains for Mariota, limiting the ultimate upside of his wide receiver duo, but the weeks with bad defenses on the other side make him look like a worthwhile gamble in two-quarterback leagues.
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