Tennessee Titans 2021 Fantasy Previewby Mike Fanelli July 27, 2021 0 comments
The Tennessee Titans were very active in the offseason. Because of salary cap issues, the Titans had to let Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith leave in free agency. Despite losing over 200 targets from last season, the Titans waited until the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft to add a wide receiver. However, after the Atlanta Falcons put Julio Jones on the trade block, the Titans were the most aggressive team in trade talks. Following months of speculation and recruiting, the Titans ultimately added the seven-time pro bowl receiver. After their wild offseason, let’s take a look at what fantasy players can expect from the Titans this season.
Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 Fantasy Football Previews.
Quarterbacks – Ryan Tannehill
When fantasy players think about the Titans, rarely do they start with Tannehill. However, that might change after this year. Last season, Tannehill finished as the QB7, averaging a career-high 21.5 fantasy points per game. The biggest jump in Tannehill’s production last season was the touchdowns. Tannehill not only had a career-high 33 passing touchdowns last season but a career-high seven rushing touchdowns. However, despite some concerns about regression earlier this offseason, those numbers should easily repeat themselves in 2021.
Tannehill had a 7.1 percent touchdown rate last season, which could easily be repeated this year, especially with the addition of Jones. Furthermore, of Tannehill’s 30.1 pass attempts per game last season, 15 percent came in the red zone. After losing Davis and Smith in free agency, Tannehill was an obvious regression candidate. However, after trading for Jones, Tannehill has two elite receivers and a tank in the backfield. Fantasy players should expect another mid QB1 finish from Tannehill this season.
Running Backs – Derrick Henry, Darrynton Evans, Jeremy McNichols, Brian Hill
For the second year in a row, Henry led the league in rushing yards. Last year, Henry had career-highs across the board with 378 rushing attempts, 2,027 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns, and 20.8 fantasy points per game. Many believe Henry’s value will take a hit with the addition of Jones. However, adding Jones should only help Henry as defenses will have to pick between double-teaming the wide receiver duo or stacking the box against Henry. If teams go all out to stop Henry, Brown and Jones will have their way with one-on-one matchups. After a few deep balls, defenses will take their chances with Henry. Don’t let the addition of Jones scare you away, as Henry is still a top-five running back, even in PPR scoring.
The real question with this backfield is who will be Henry’s primary backup? Last season, McNichols led the way with 59 touches while Evans had 16 in five games. In the offseason, the Titans added Hill from the Falcons, and he could take on the third-down role. None of these running backs will have value with Henry healthy. However, after 681 rushing attempts over the last two seasons, Henry could wear down and suffer an injury. If Henry misses time, expect the Titans to use a running back by committee approach, meaning fantasy players shouldn’t draft any running back as Henry’s handcuff.
Wide Receivers – A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Josh Reynolds, Dez Fitzpatrick
A year ago at this time, Brown was considered a WR2, while Davis was a late-round dart throw. Fast forward 12 months and the Titans have two of the best receivers in the NFL. Last season, Brown finished as the WR7 on a points per game basis, averaging 17.2 per game. Furthermore, Brown’s 11 touchdowns finished fifth among wide receivers and tied for fifth overall with Travis Kelce and Robert Tonyan. Now with Jones on the other side, Brown won’t see as many double teams this season. However, on the flip side of the coin, Brown won’t see 140 or more targets with Jones on the team.
Speaking of Jones, landing in Tennessee was the best spot for his fantasy value. Much like in Atlanta with Calvin Ridley, Jones will have a wide receiver opposite of him that requires the defense’s focus. While Jones missed seven games last season, he was still productive, averaging 16.2 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, when fully healthy in 2019, Jones averaged 18.3 fantasy points per game while Ridley averaged 15.2 per game. There will be some weeks where one Titan receiver has a big game at the other’s expense. However, if both stay healthy, Brown and Jones should finish as top-15 wide receivers or better this year.
Before the Titans traded for Jones, Reynolds and the rookie Fitzpatrick were two sleeper wide receiver targets for fantasy players. Last season, Reynolds averaged 7.8 fantasy points per game. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick had 21 touchdowns during his time at Louisville and was the first wide receiver the Titans drafted. With the addition of Jones, neither wide receiver are draftable in standard-sized leagues. However, both are worth keeping an eye on early in the season. If Jones struggles with injuries again, Reynolds or Fitzpatrick could turn into a fantasy option in deeper leagues.
Tight Ends – Anthony Firkser
After Smith signed with the New England Patriots this offseason, Firkser became a sleeper tight end option. Then, when the Titans didn’t use a draft pick on the position, Firkser started to get top-12 hype. However, that hype died off quickly after the Titans added Jones. Despite the addition of Jones, Firkser still has fantasy appeal in most leagues. Last season, Firkser finished fourth on the team with 39 catches, only two behind Smith.
Furthermore, Smith had eight receiving touchdowns last season, most of them coming inside the 10-yard line. Defenses will focus on stopping the talented receiver duo and Henry inside the red zone. With the defense looking elsewhere, Firkser could quickly replace Smith as Tannehill’s favorite red zone target. While fantasy players shouldn’t rush to draft Firkser, he is a solid option to look at if you stream tight ends.
Last season, the Titans D/ST finished in the bottom eight, averaging 4.4 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, the Titans D/ST scored more than six fantasy points in only three games. By comparison, they scored two or fewer fantasy points in five games, including three with negative fantasy points. However, in the offseason, the Titans did make additions to the defense, signing Bud Dupree and Janoris Jenkins. Then during the draft, the Titans used several prime draft picks on defense, including their first-round pick on cornerback Caleb Farley. While the Titans made several changes on defense in the offseason, they are still not a D/ST you should draft in standard-sized leagues. However, they are a D/ST you should keep an eye on when streaming this season.
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