Booms, Busts, Breakouts & Bets: Tennessee Titans
As the mercury rises and we inch closer to training camp openings, our resident fantasy football aficionados, Brad Evans and Derek Brown, profile their favorite Booms, Busts, Breakouts and Bets for every NFL team. Giddy up, gamers. Today’s topic:The Fightin’ Air McNairs.
Fantasy Football Booms - Titans
A.J. Brown, WR
Regardless of which metric you utilize to put wide receiver play under the microscope, Brown still comes out as an elite game changer. Brown's top-five ADP might seem rich to some, but he finished last season as the WR6 in fantasy points per game (17.7, PPR), so it's not off base. Brown was one of only six wide receivers last season that accounted for a 26% or higher target share and saw 35% or more of the team's air yards. The other wideouts in this illustrious ring of honor were Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas and Justin Jefferson.
With Corey Davis gone, Brown can gobble up the targets by the dozens weekly. Even on a team that ranked 30th in neutral-gamescript passing rate last year, there's plenty of volume for Brown to pay off on his lofty ADP. — Derek Brown
A.J. Brown, WR
Unbeknownst to most until it was revealed after the 2020 season on Brown’s social media accounts, the dude played through two bum knees that required surgery to repair. Expected to be fully operational once training camp opens in late July, the wideout will step back into his alpha dog role, with sharpened teeth no less. Sans Corey Davis, he could see a handsome uptick in target share (7.6 looks per game in ‘20). If he can maintain his top-15 standing in salient advanced analytics (e.g. air yards share, yards per route run, yards per target, etc.), the Titan has sound odds of landing inside the position’s top-five whether PPR or standard. Yes, even in an old school system predicated on running Derrick Henry 20-25 times per game.
Defensible arguments can be made for Calvin Ridley, DK Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins over Tannehill’s main squeeze, but after Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs fly off draft boards, Arthur Juan (!) Brown (19.7 ADP, WR5) is many investors’ preferred weapon of choice and for good reason. Keep in mind he finished No. 2 among all WRs in fantasy points per route (0.62). More targets could mean more value and week-to-week consistency. — Brad Evans
2021 Fantasy Football Busts - Titans
Ryan Tannehill, QB
Is Tanny the Bitcoin of QBs? Unless China or Elon Musk publicly mutters negative words about him, no, his market value isn’t going to crash. Still, at his QB14 (111.4) ADP, he’s a little too rich for this lamebrain’s blood.
On a per-game basis, Tannehill has finished QB11 and QB12 in consecutive seasons. His low turnover yield, persistent multi-TD efforts vertically and ground production has kept him a end-of-the-bar regular inside the QB1 club. However, his seven rush TDs from last season are likely unsustainable. Unless he experiences an upwelling in passing scores, which is doubtful given Tennessee’s run-heavy approach (51.8% of time in ‘20), he’s most likely to hug the QB15 line. Matt Ryan, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, all typically available at a similar price point, are finer options. — Brad Evans
Josh Reynolds, WR
Late-round treasure hunters have begun to mutter Reynolds' name while their eyes turn to saucers and their mouths water. I'm sad to report there is no gold to be found here. Reynolds' counting stats and underlying metrics have been nothing more than pedestrian over the last three seasons, which isn't likely to change playing outside opposite Brown this year. Since 2017 among an average yearly pool of 104 wide receivers with 30 or more targets, Reynolds has never finished higher than 70th in yards per route run.
Last season, Tennessee was the most 12-personnel-heavy team in the NFL, deploying two tight ends on 35% of their plays. Reynolds will be asked to win as an outside receiver regularly and possibly against man coverage. This is something he is ill-equipped to do regularly in the Corey Davis role. Davis finished 17th in yards per route run (among 76 wide receivers with 20 or more targets against man), excelling versus man coverage. Reynolds' performance wasn't as pretty, as he found himself 70th. Even though he can be had for pennies (WR73) in your fantasy drafts, there are more tempting targets late with a better talent profile or offensive situation in which to invest. — Derek Brown
Fantasy Football Breakouts for the Titans
Anthony Firkser, TE
With Jonnu Smith moving on to the land of clam chowder and big contracts, Firkser now takes over as the primary receiving tight end on a team that loves to feature the position. In 2020, the Titans ranked fourth in target share (29.6%) and tied for sixth in targets (138) to the tight end position. Firkser can monopolize targets as he competes with depth chart pushovers Geoff Swaim, Jared Pinkney, Tommy Hudson and Miller Forristall.
Smith was the primary red-zone option for Ryan Tannehill last season, leading the team with 17 targets inside the 20. If Firkser stacks 7-8 touchdowns, we can find himself as a top-10 option by the season's end. He'll handsomely reward drafters investing in his current TE16 draft cost. — Derek Brown
Josh Reynolds, WR
Sorry, DBro, but when it comes to the Rams castoff, there’s gold in ‘dem ‘der hills. He is indeed a potential late-round gem, a player, though questionable versus man coverage, who has a clear path to opportunity. Corey Davis’ vacancy, which accounted for 23.1% of the team’s target share (92 targets in total), presents ample promise. The now New York Jet finished WR28 last fall in 0.5 PPR formats tallying a 65-984-5 line.
Reynolds’ 2020 profile provides little evidence of an imminent breakthrough. Overshadowed by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, he was only sporadically effective. However, as witnessed when thrust into an expanded role Weeks 8-17 in 2018, he possesses measurable potential. Over that stretch, he recorded the 27th-most valuable line for a WR in PPR, morphing into a Jared Goff red-zone favorite. If he can recapture the confidence gained from that outburst, the lengthy target (6-foot-3), has considerable odds of cracking the position’s top-40 with final numbers in range of 50-700-5. At his ultra-cheap WR73 (200.2 overall) ADP, he’s drenched with upside. — Brad Evans
Best Bets for the Titans 2021
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Tennessee Titans to NOT make the Playoffs - (+115, William Hill)
It's easy to envision the Titans missing the playoffs after losing multiple integral pieces on offense and featuring a defense that ranked 29th in total DVOA last year. — Derek Brown
Tennessee Titans to win the AFC South (+130, DraftKings)
Team-wide continuity is omnipresent when it comes to the Titans. Centered around Derrick Henry, whose ridiculous offseason workouts left viewers sore, and featuring the seventh-easiest projected schedule, they are legit division title contenders available at attractive odds. — Brad Evans
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