Titans TE Chig Okonkwo led the team in targets (5) in Sunday's loss to the Chargers, catching 4 for 54 yards. He tied RB Derrick Henry for the reception lead and ranked 2nd in yards. The rookie has caught 4+ balls and cracked 50 yards in 3 straight games. He has matched or beaten TE Austin Hooper in targets for 4 weeks in a row.
Titans HC Mike Vrabel shared on Saturday that he expects TE Chig Okonkwo to return to practice this coming week. The second-year player has been held out due to an undisclosed injury sustained on Tuesday. This news indicates the strong possibility that he'll be healthy to begin the regular season. Despite the free agent addition of WR DeAndre Hopkins, Okonkwo should still carry some quality fantasy value as a low-end TE1/high-end TE2 in 2023. We'll monitor this situation and update as more information becomes available. See where Okonkwo appears in our current TE rankings.
It's not hard to see why some fantasy football drafters are excited for Titans TE Chig Okonkwo's second season. After delivering a 94th-percentile 40 time among TEs at the Scouting Combine, Okonkwo was efficient as a rookie. Among 43 TEs who drew 30+ targets for the season, Okonkwo ranked third in Pro Football Focus receiving grade and first in yards per route. He ranked third in targets per route among all TEs who ran at least 10 routes. So what's not to like? Okonkwo's biggest question will be playing time. No Titans TE cracked 56% playing time for the season last year. No Titans TE has reached 71% in HC Mike Vrabel's five seasons. Okonkwo's per-route efficiency can combat that and still give him fantasy value, but playing time was the main drag on the fantasy value of Jonnu Smith -- a similarly enticing athlete with intriguing efficiency. Okonkwo moved slightly down our fantasy football rankings with the DeAndre Hopkins signing. He remains an upside play for 2023, as long as you don't reach for him too early. We'll also be watching reports on the role of rookie TE Josh Whyle through training camp and preseason.
Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official website expects a "big leap" from TE Chig Okonkwo this year. "He's had a solid offseason," Wyatt adds. Okonkwo didn't see quite enough volume to be a real fantasy factor as a rookie last season, turning 46 targets into 32 catches, 450 yards, and three TDs. But he averaged a huge 14.1 yards per catch and shined in underlying metrics like targets per route and yards per route. With very little target competition in Tennessee, Okonkwo has breakout potential in 2023.
New Titans OC Tim Kelly is excited to expand TE Chig Okonkwo's role in 2023. "We're gonna look to continue to grow his skills and his abilities so we can utilize him more," Kelly said from the Combine on Tuesday. "When the ball found him, he caught it. And he was good with the ball in his hands." Okonkwo finished his rookie campaign with 32 catches for 450 yards and 3 TDs. His underlying metrics scream big upside going forward. Okonkwo's 84.6 Pro Football Focus receiving grade and 2.61 yards per route run were both top 3 marks among 31 rookie TEs with 40+ targets over the past 10 seasons. Highlight his name as 1 of 2023's top breakout candidates at TE.
Titans TE Chig Okonkwo caught a team-leading 6 passes for 45 yards and a TD on 6 targets in Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. TE Austin Hooper and WR Robert Woods tied for 2nd on the team with 5 receptions apiece, in a game that saw QB Ryan Tannehill throw or 254 yards. WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine drew a team-high 8 targets but caught just 3. He did snag Tannehill's other TD.
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