Less than a week after it seemed the Tennessee Titans handed the workhorse reins to running back Derrick Henry for the 2018 season, the team swooped in on free agency and signed Dion Lewis to a four-year contract. Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported the deal.
The move is an outstanding decision by the Titans' front office from a real life perspective. While Henry is an exciting player who will almost certainly excel as the featured runner of this offense and will punish opponents near the goal line and in the fourth quarter, he faced a lot of skepticism about his abilities on third down. Tennessee recognized that and sought to protect its franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota with someone who can be a weapon out of the backfield on third downs.
A backfield of Henry and Lewis also fits perfectly into what the Atlanta Falcons do with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Titans' new offensive coordinator and play caller Matt LaFleur is very familiar with the success a two-man backfield given his background as Atlanta's quarterbacks coach in 2015-'16. Now as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, coming after he spent the 2017 season learning under Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams, LaFleur should be prepared to put his gameplan and highly regarded mind on offense to the test this coming season.
From a fantasy perspective, that's where the questions come in. Many hoped to see Henry be the featured back of this offense and develop into a three-down role where he could receive 300-plus touches. Obviously that's not going to happen and to the credit of Lewis, he is just as good of a runner between the tackles as he is a pass catcher out in the open. So there's obviously concern about just how many touches Henry will see.
It's worth noting though that Lewis carries significant injury questions. In his seven-year career, Lewis played in just 54 of 112 games and per ESPN's Mike Clay, never played more than 36 percent of his team's snaps in a single season. At 5'8" and 195 lbs, Lewis shouldn't be pushed into a role of 12-15 touches per game with a majority of them coming through the air.
This would still easily put Henry in the position to receive 15-18 touches per game, touches that will include plenty of carries and feature him as the running back inside the 10-yard line. Given that workload and role, he is still fully capable of a 2018 season with 10 touchdowns and 1,000-plus total yards. This will be an exciting offense in Tennessee, one that should help Lewis and Henry sustain fantasy value as an outstanding thunder-lightning attack in a beautifully schemed offense. Fear not fantasy owners, both of these players can find their way into your fantasy lineups when the 2018 season rolls around.