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What's Ryan Tannehill's upside with Julio Jones?

By Jared Smola 8:07am EDT 7/6/21


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Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans

What You Need to Know:

  • Tannehill finished 8th or 9th among QBs in most fantasy scoring systems last season.
  • He scored at a QB1 level in 6 games -- tied with Matt Ryan for 12th most. His 5 outings of top-5 scoring were tied for 5th most.
  • Tannehill ranked just 18th in pass attempts (481) and 15th in yards (3,817). But his 33 passing scores were tied for 7th most.
  • He added 43 carries for 266 yards and 7 TDs. Those marks ranked 17th, 13th and 5th at the position.
  • Tannehill took over as Tennessee’s starter in Week 7 of 2019. He scored the 3rd most total fantasy points and the 4th most per game among QBs the rest of the way.
  • He ranks 10th among QBs in fantasy points per game over the past 2 seasons.
  • Pro Football Focus ranked Tannehill 1st and 7th in passing grade those years.
  • The Titans lost WR Corey Davis, WR Adam Humphries and TE Jonnu Smith this offseason. Those guys accounted for 40% of the team’s targets, 41% of the catches, 43% of the receiving yards and 45% of the TDs last year.
  • They upgraded on Davis, swinging a trade for Julio Jones in June. Jones is 32 now and had his fair share of injury problems. But he’s remained dominant when on the field, ranking 4th and 5th, respectively, in yards per route run among WRs with 50+ targets over the past 2 seasons.
  • Tennessee also added some WR depth in free-agent Josh Reynolds and 4th-round rookie Dez Fitzpatrick.
  • Anthony Firkser, who caught 39 of 53 targets for 387 yards and 1 TD last year, is expected to replace Smith as the lead TE.
  • The Titans lost OC and play-caller Arthur Smith, who took Atlanta’s HC job. He’ll be replaced by Todd Downing. He spent the past 2 seasons as Tennessee’s TE coach, so the team is looking for continuity in scheme. But Downing has just 1 season of NFL OC experience. That came back in 2017 with the Raiders, who finished 17th in total yards and 23rd in points.
  • TD regression -- both passing and rushing -- is also a concern for Tannehill.
    • His 6.9% passing TD rate last year ranked 4th among 30 qualifying QBs. The league-wide passing TD rate over the past 3 seasons is 4.7%.
    • Tannehill scored on 7 of 43 carries last year -- a ridiculous 16.3% TD rate that’s a near lock to decrease. He scored on 3.4% of his carries over his first 7 NFL seasons.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Tannehill has scored as a QB1 in Tennessee the past 2 seasons.

He’s gotten lucky in the TD department over that span and lost play-caller Arthur Smith, WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith this offseason.

But Tannehill has simply played very well since joining the Titans. And the weaponry looks just as strong this year with the arrival of Julio Jones to join stud WR A.J. Brown and underrated TE Anthony Firkser.

Add it all up and Tannehill again looks like a good bet for at least low-end QB1 numbers in 2021.


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