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2021 Player Outlooks: Tennessee Titans



By Ken Ilchuk | 7/23/21

Ryan Tannehill

QB Ryan Tannehill
(2020 QB Rank Ė No. 9, 24.5 FPts/G)

Ryan Tannehill was a Top 10 fantasy QB in 2020 Ė 9th in total fantasy points (391.5), 10th in fantasy points per game (24.5), 8th in TD passes (33). But while he completed over 65% of his passes, he threw for less than 4,000 yards and had only four games with at least 35 pass attempts, ranking 15th in passing yards, 17th in completions and 18th in the NFL in attempts. Thatís thanks in large part to the presence of all-world RB Derrick Henry. Make no mistake, as long as Henry is healthy, heís going to get his touches, and heís going to get his short yardage goal line runs. Thatís the base of the Titans offense, creating serious fantasy limitations for Tannehill.

A new OC usually means some level of transition, but the hiring of former TE coach Todd Downing from within should create some continuity for Tannehill after the departure of Arthur Smith. The arrival of WRís Julio Jones and Josh Reynolds has been seen as a positive for the passing game, as they will line up opposite fellow stud WR A.J. Brown. But TE Jonnu Smith and WR Corey Davis have both departed, and there are some questions along the offensive line, particularly in pass protection.

In the end, a fantasy analysis of Tannehill feels like a whole lot of, ďeh.Ē He proved us wrong in 2020, and he has some new weapons to work with. But roster losses and the production cap imposed by the presence of Henry, along with the process of working with a new coordinator could signal a slight step back in 2021. Tannehill is still a borderline QB1 who will likely be fine most weeks, but only great on occasion.

RB Derrick Henry
(2020 RB Rank Ė No. 1, 19.8 FPts/G)

I could dazzle you with a lot of fancy stats here, but letís just cut to the chase. This beast of a man has rushed for over 3,500 yards and 33 touchdowns over the last two years. Thatís really all you need to know. But just in case you need more, itís worth noting that his attempts, yards, and rushing touchdowns have all gone up each year of his career. Heís not going to offer much as a receiver out of the backfield, but itís not unreasonable to think that he could post a second consecutive 2,000-yard rushing season and approach 400 touches and 20 TDís.

Could he get injured? Of course. Could he start to feel the effects of his workload the last two seasons? I suppose. But have you seen the guyís workout videos on social media? In a word, ridiculous. Heíll be ready and in shape, and might very well be the strongest man, pound for pound, in the NFL.

Thereís very little debate on this one. Henry is the No.2 RB behind Christian McCaffrey, and probably the second overall player off the board in just about every draft.

RB Jeremy McNichols
(2020 RB Rank Ė No 82, 2.1 FPts/G)

McNichols is coming off his best season as a pro in 2020, but those numbers (47-204-1 rushing) are hardly a blip on the fantasy radar. With Darrynton Evans making his likely return to the field in 2021 after injuries decimated his rookie campaign a year ago, McNichols may struggle to even earn the limited fantasy role he had last year as an emergency Derrick Henry handcuff.

Darrynton Evans
(2020 RB Rank Ė No. 108, 3.5 FPts/G)

Evans is a versatile player and a physical runner who gains yards after contact, is a reliable receiver who will make plays after the catch, and also offers some value in the return game. He only suited up for five games as a rookie in 2020 due to hamstring issues, but if healthy it looks like heís the most likely backup to Derrick Henry, and his receiving skills could earn him a minor 3rd down role in some two-back sets. But from a fantasy perspective, heís just insurance on your roster if Derrick Henry happens to be on your team.

RB Brian Hill
(2020 RB Rank Ė No. 52, 4.5 FPts/G)

If Darrynton Evans doesnít get on the field, it could be because of Hill. The 5th-year vet signed this Spring as a free agent and is coming off the best season of his career in Atlanta with the Falcons (100 carries for 465 yards rushing, 25 catches for 199 yards). His versatility and athleticism could make him the best three-down back on the depth chart behind Derrick Henry. Right now, heís not worth a roster spot unless he emerges in the backup role. Itís a situation that bears watching.

WR Julio Jones
(2020 WR Rank Ė No. 51, 10.6 FPts/G)

People in Nashville are fired up about the arrival of Jones. I wish I could say the same for this fantasy owner. Iím not there. Yes, between 2014 and 2019, he averaged over 1,500 yards and six touchdowns per season and was a full-blown stud while playing at least 14 games a season in that span. However, in 2020 he only played nine games due to lingering hamstring issues, and in three of those games he had less than five targets. He had four games of five receptions or less, and only posted three 100-yard games and three total touchdowns on the season. Oh yeah, and now heís 32 years old.

These are legitimate concerns. Then consider that he will have to fight the emerging A.J. Brown for targets in an offense predicated on running the ball with Derrick Henry. Then you have to ask yourself, when it comes to arm talent and getting the ball downfield, which is where Jones likes it, does Ryan Tannehill measure up to even an aging Matt Ryan? I donít think so.

Owners have to remember, this may not be your older brotherís Julio Jones, and I see too many potential limitations on his production right now to make him anything more than a WR2

WR A.J. Brown
(2020 WR Rank Ė No. 10, 12.4 FPts/G)

If you are intent on drafting a Titans receiver this season, this is the guy I would target. While the teamís run-first philosophy certainly has the potential to limit his production, Tennesseeís high percentage passing attack fits neatly into Brownís wheelhouse. A big, strong, physical receiver at 6-1, 226, with reliable hands, he creates serious mismatches in the short to intermediate passing game. He snatches the ball in traffic, breaks arm tackles, and has surprising run after the catch ability for a man his size.

Because he lived in the shadow of players like Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Delanie Walker at the start of his career, heís sort of been tabbed as an up and comer, a player to watch coming off a big season. The truth is heís been as consistent as anyone with two 1,000-yard efforts to his credit already. Heís caught 122 passes on 190 targets, with nine 100-yard games and 19 scores in his first two seasons in the league. He also ran for 60 yards on three carries and another score in 2020. Brown is a beast, a matchup nightmare, and a dangerous weapon in the red zone.

Some see the newly acquired Julio Jones as a threat to his targets, but I donít. While Jones is now on the scene, Smith and Davis are not. Brown is the future, is a great fit for this offense, and after ranking 10th amongst fantasy WRís a season ago, should be a WR1 in every format for 2021.

WR Josh Reynolds
(2020 WR Rank Ė No. 64, 4.6 FPts/G)

Reynolds is interesting as a low-end fantasy prospect with his new team. He grabbed 52 of his 81 targets with the Rams last year, by far the most productive of his four seasons in the league. Those numbers, and his 618 yards and two touchdowns arenít mind-blowing, but on a roster that doesnít feature nearly as much receiving talent as LA, his versatility and ability to line up on the boundary or in the slot could create opportunities for him, especially if Julio Jones continues to struggle to stay healthy. That scenario would make him the WR2 in this offense, which is appealing, even for a team that wants to throw the ball less than 30 times a game.

Reynolds is a roster stash and potential handcuff for Jones or A.J. Brown.

TE Anthony Firkser
(2020 TE Rank Ė No. 34, 3.0 FPts/G)

The departure of Jonnu Smith could mean good things for Firkser in 2021. All reports out of Nashville say that the fourth year TE has seen a high target rate through offseason camps, and the Titans have hinted that he could be a significant factor in the red zone.

Thatís all well and good, but as excited as we are for Firkser, this situation bears watching. It seems hard to believe that the Titans arenít closely watching the free agent market with guys like the Eaglesí Zach Ertz reportedly on the trade block, and veterans like Trey Burton, Tyler Eifert, and even former Titan Delanie Walker still unsigned.

Until weíre sure this is all sorted out, Firkser is a back end TE2 with upside, and thatís only if heís still the TE1 when camp starts.






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