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Tony Pollard to the Titans

Tony Pollard has signed with the Titans. What does this backfield look like with Pollard and Tyjae Spears in dynasty?

Free agency is heating up quickly during the tampering period as former Dallas Cowboy Tony Pollard has signed with the Tennessee Titans. Pollard took the big payday instead of signing with some more competitive teams. Pollard will be a Titan over the next three years, making $24 million. What does this backfield look like now? Many had assumed that Tyjae Spears would rise into that starting job after the departure of King Henry. Let’s break down this signing and how it affects the Titans backfield.

History of Brian Callahan

Before we get into TonyPollard and his new teammate Spears, we must look at new Head Coach Brian Callahan and his offense. Callahan was the offensive coordinator for the last five seasons with the Bengals. He was brought in to enhance this offense from the plain run-first approach it has used for many years in Tennessee. Callahan never called plays in Cincinnati, but he was a significant part of the game plan and implementing the offense each year. The Bengals’ run offense was in the bottom ten regarding yards each season under Callahan.

If we look at how the Bengals offense ran, it mostly favored a one-back system. In four of the five seasons, they used Joe Mixon as a workhorse back with over 200 carries. In those seasons, Mixon would have at least 48 targets. His backups would all stay under 100 carries in any season despite Mixon missing significant time in 2020. In two of those five seasons, the backup running back would have at least 40 targets as they strictly worked as the backup. Callahan coming in will respect the franchise’s history of being a great running team, but we could see the Titans catch up to the new age of passing in the NFL.

The New Titans Backfield

This time yesterday, Spears looked primed to take a significant step in his development and be the next starter for this team. We expected the Titans would bring a lower-tier bruiser to complement Spears. Well, they brought in a similar back who is a few inches taller and about ten pounds heavier in Tony Pollard. Which back will be the primary back in the backfield? That question will be hard to judge until the season starts.

Tony Pollard has experience as the starter for the Cowboys. The Titans’ new coaching regime signed Pollard to a sizable contract, which means something to me in fantasy football. Pollard could not live up to the hype that folks put on him after taking over for the Cowboys backfield. He averaged 4.0 yards per carry and had his touchdowns cut in half compared to 2022. He was 23rd in fantasy points per game, but that doesn’t tell his whole story for fantasy.

Rushing YardsReceptionsTargets
Evaded TacklesBreakaway RunsRedzone Touches
Pollard Rankings Last Year vs. other RBs

Pollard was coming off a fractured leg he suffered in January 2023. He still managed to do well statistically, but not so much in fantasy. It’s possible Pollard was given too much of a workload coming off a significant injury. Pollard could work better in a split backfield where he isn’t getting a workhorse workload. We know that Pollard is a solid receiver with career highs in receptions in 2023.

Spears was decent as a backup rookie running back. Spears was a third-round pick with the former regime, which could be a concern. Spears’ third-round draft capital is decent, but the organization went out early in free agency and signed Pollard to a big contract. You have to wonder if the team views Spears as a 1A starter. Spears was able to get 52 receptions last season with 385 yards. He ran well with a 4.5 YPC. Spears was in the top 12 in receptions, targets, receiving yards, and target share last season. He was a twitchy and explosive runner coming into the league, which would make for a good change of pace back. Many expected Spears to be a full-time starter, which clearly won’t be the case.

GPY/ARu AttYdsTDsRecTgRec YdsRec TDsFP.5 PPR1PPR
Tyjae Spears174.5100453252703851102128154
Tony Pollard174.02521005655673010165192220
2023 Stats

Unfortunately for Spears, Pollard should be the 1A to Spears 1B. The workload could be split more than when Henry was there. Callahan’s rushing offenses over the last five years averaged 401 carries per season. Even if we go on the lower end of 380 carries, Pollard could be around 200 carries, with Spears around 160 carries and the rest going to other players. The interesting part will be the passing game. Pollard and Spears both had 50 receptions last year. There has been only one season in which Callahan had two backs with over 50 targets, so having high receptions may be a reach. The Titans don’t have a solid receiving core, so we could see more targets for the running backs. Levis had 56 targets to his backs between Weeks 8-15 last season, so he could have closer to 100 targets in a full season.

Y/ARu AttYdsTDsRecTgRec YdsRec TDs
Tony Pollard4.6210966650.1653752
Tyjae Spears4.5170765335.0502592
2024 Predictions

They will cap each others’ upside right now in fantasy. The objective could be to buy low with Pollard signing with the Titans. Pollard would likely be a low-end RB2, and Spears would be a flexible option in dynasty. Due to his contract with the team, Pollard would likely be valued at a few second-round picks. Spears will likely drop to a late second or early third-round pick as the offseason continues, especially if they announce Pollard as the starter. In that sense, it may be good to buy low in case one of them gets hurt. This team could struggle in 2024, so the run game could be limited. We must hope that the running backs can get the targets in the passing game. It’s not the best signing, but I’d rather have Pollard over Spears in 2024.

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