Tyjae Spears Dynasty Profile: Fantasy Outlook, Value, Projections, and Rankings

The Tennessee Titans selected RB Tyjae Spears in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. What is his fantasy outlook and dynasty value?

With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fantasy managers — particularly those in dynasty leagues — are trying to size up rookie values. And one running back, in particular, has the potential to be a starter this year, or even his team’s No. 3 RB. Tyjae Spears’ role with the Tennessee Titans hinges largely on what this team does with Derrick Henry. So what might fantasy football managers expect from Spears?

Tyjae Spears’ Dynasty Outlook and Value

The Titans went from the AFC’s No. 1 seed in 2021 to a non-playoff team in 2022. What happened? The loss of A.J. Brown, rookie Treylon Burks’ injury woes, and a disastrous QB situation culminated in a near-epic collapse for a squad that started 7-3 before losing its final seven contests — four of them by five points or less.

Now they’re in No Man’s Land in the NFL world — a team with the talent to compete for a postseason berth but also enough holes to warrant deep introspection and a possible full-on rebuild.

It’s notable that six of their first seven picks in the 2022 NFL Draft were offensive players. Amazingly, all six of their picks this year were offensive players. They have, on balance, a capable defensive team (brutally poor pass defense and elite run D). But they’re clearly desperate for offensive playmakers — guys who can help diversify what has become the most top-heavy offense in the league.

And who makes it top-heavy? The 29-year-old Derrick Henry, who’s coming off a 349-carry campaign. Conceivably, Tennessee wants to get a nice return for him. Just as conceivably, teams aren’t willing to meet their asking price.

If a deal doesn’t get done soon, then I’d expect the Titans to wait until a playoff-caliber team’s starting RB gets hurt, making Henry a hotter commodity for the RB-needy squad.

MORE: FREE 2024 NFL Mock Draft Simulator

Or, Henry could stick around if Tennessee outperforms expectations, keeps pace with the Jaguars, and opts to make one more big playoff push with one of the game’s top offensive assets.

This is the context surrounding Spears’ dynasty value. Projected by many to go a round or two later, the Titans clearly didn’t want to wait. And regardless, they didn’t have a fourth-round pick. So unless they traded up with their fifth-rounder, they might not have landed Spears if they’d chosen someone else in the third.

They clearly like Spears. And it speaks volumes that they burned a fourth-rounder on RB Hassan Haskins last year, as well as a third-rounder on Darrynton Evans two years earlier. Yes, this team has been trying to find a strong backup for Henry, or perhaps even someone who can take a load off their bell cow, keeping Henry comfortably below 300 carries for durability reasons.

Instead, the Titans haven’t found what they’re looking for, and they hope that Spears will enable them to stop looking.

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The rookie posted impressive numbers at Tulane, culminating in the MVP award at this year’s Cotton Bowl, when Spears amassed an incredible 17-205-4 rushing line vs. USC. Of course he’s good. That’s not in doubt.

The biggest question is how his skill set will translate at the NFL level. He’s a bit undersized and suffered an ACL tear three years ago. How will he respond to running into bigger defenders than he did in college? After never averaging more than 11 carries per game, he hit 16.4 as a senior.

Does this make him bell-cow-ready? Or, like many other RBs coming off a heavy-volume senior season, will his body be ready for a potentially grueling rookie year?

Yeah, I’m nitpicking. It’s important to point out these issues because Spears might very well earn some starts in 2023, and he could be the No. 1 RB to begin the 2024 season. There’s some massive boom to his potential value. There’s also a “we’ve seen this before” element when considering Haskins and Evans before him.

Longer term, Spears might operate most effectively as a change-of-pace back in a two-headed backfield. And if he improves his pass-catching skills, he might develop into a PPR monster on a team with a young QB (talking about Will Levis here) who might lean heavily on his RBs early on.

Tyjae Spears’ Fantasy Ranking

PFN’s Tommy Garrett ranked Spears as the No. 20 rookie in dynasty, sandwiched between Giants WR Jalin Hyatt (No. 19) and Jaguars RB Tank Bigsby (No. 21).

Now, rankings are largely subjective because they hinge not only on objective truths about players but also perceptions of how they’ll be utilized, as well as personal fantasy preferences. For example, you might be the kind of manager who loads up on 1B running backs (“complementary” RBs like AJ Dillon) and RB handcuffs, knowing that you can get massive upside at relatively little expense.

Or you might be a best-in-class manager who targets elite positional skill players whenever possible, followed by filling positional gaps.

Why take a running back who gets you 6-8 points when you can snag a wide receiver who averages 8-10?

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I fall into the former camp, which means I’m biased toward guys like Spears — bell-cow-capable RBs who might not get a heavy workload anytime soon but could win you your week if called upon to spot-start.

But his size concerns me. Maybe it shouldn’t. PFN listed him at 190 pounds. NFL.com lists him as 201. Maybe he’ll show up at camp somewhere in between. For context, Alvin Kamara is listed at 215 pounds, while Darren Sproles was listed at 190. Weight matters in the NFL. Of course, strength also matters.

If I had to provide an estimate (and I guess I will), I’d say Spears is a decent bet to start every game this year and next year that Henry doesn’t (i.e., if the Titans trade Henry). Beyond that, all bets are off. Spears appears to be a guy who fills an important backfield need on a team that might desperately need him.

And … if he struggles in Year 1, we shouldn’t be shocked if the Titans go back to the drawing board — with enough draft capital in the first two rounds to target a franchise-caliber RB like TreVeyon Henderson or Blake Corum.

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