The Tennessee Titans have been on quite a run since Ryan Tannehill became the team’s starter in the middle of the 2019 season. That year, the team made the playoffs as a Wild Card, beat then-MVP Lamar Jackson, and made it to the AFC Championship Game. In 2020, Tannehill guided the team to an 11-5 record and won the AFC South before coming up short in the first round of the playoffs.
The Titans seem poised to make a run in 2021, too. Tannehill was QB7 for fantasy in 2020, throwing for 3,819 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs with 266 yards rushing, and 7 TDs. The Titans did plenty of that damage thanks to A.J. Brown, who in his second season finished as WR12. He caught 70 passes for 1,070 yards and 11 TDs during the season. The Titans’ pass offense also featured a heavy dose of receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith.
But this off-season, the Titans have seen key pieces like Davis and Smith leave. Davis signed a three-year deal with the New York Jets, while Smith signed a four-year contract with the New England Patriots. All that has left some pretty big holes to fill and many questions about who might fill them.
The Free Agent
The only free agent signing the Titans made in the receiver group was Josh Reynolds, formerly of the Rams. Reynolds was taken in the fourth round of the 2017 draft by the Rams, playing for them all four years of his career. He saw 201 targets, catching 113 passes for 1,450 yards and nine TDs. That included a strong 2020, where he finished as WR62. He saw a career-high 81 targets, catching 52 passes for 618 yards and 2 TDs. That earned him the free-agent deal from the Titans, where he currently projects to be a starter opposite Brown.
Another likely route many expected the Titans to take is drafting a wide receiver to fill the void. That didn’t happen until the fourth round when the team snagged Dez Fitzpatrick out of Louisville. It was an unconventional selection, but Fitzpatrick played all four seasons for the Cardinals, catching 154 passes for 2,589 yards and 21 TDs. The opportunity here is the lack of competition, making Fitzpatrick an interesting snag late in rookie drafts.
The Tight End
While Smith, the top tight end, moved on, the Titans retained Anthony Firkser. He has been with the team for three seasons and took a step up in 2020. He caught 39 passes for 387 yards and a TD, just two passes fewer than Smith for the Titans. Firkser did that with just 53 targets and is one of the more experienced targets returning for Tannehill in 2021.
The Wild Card
Of course, it’s possible the answer to the team’s receiving needs isn’t currently on the roster. One potential target rumored to the team is Julio Jones, the star receiver from the Atlanta Falcons. Jones has made no secret he wants out of Atlanta, and post-June 1, he is more easily traded by the Falcons. He’s expressed interest in playing alongside Brown and would certainly answer a huge need for the Titans.
Jones was a first-round pick by the Falcons in the 2011 draft and has played all 10 seasons in Atlanta. He has caught 848 passes for 12,896 yards and 60 TDs. The past two seasons, he’s done it playing opposite of emerging receiver Calvin Ridley. Adding Jones would give the Titans the best pair of receivers the team has had in a while, and certainly the best receiving options Tannehill has had in his career with the Titans.
Fantasy Projections and Fantasy Value
The idea of Jones in Tennessee is appealing, and if that happens, it would be a game-changer for Brown and Tannehill. But let’s set that aside for a moment and focus on the more likely scenario that the team has to make with its current options, including journeyman Fred Brown, veteran Chester Rogers, and prospect Cameron Batson.
Brown is a Top-10 dynasty receiver and a great option. He’ll be the top guy no matter what. But if you’re looking for value, the question is which receiver provides that value. Reynolds didn’t move the needle a ton in his signing, but the reports are the team likes him and his potential in the offense. At his current ADP of WR73, he’s cheap to acquire. He’s the most experienced pass catcher opposite Brown and most likely to return value. That makes him worth taking a chance, especially at that price. Fitzpatrick, currently going as WR86, has appeal as well. He’s going later in rookie drafts and could be a decent practice squad stash given the state of receivers with the Titans.
If you’re in the market for a tight end, Firkser also presents some appeal. He is currently going as TE21 and can be a mid to upper TE2, especially with the lack of options in Tennessee. Tight end is often a bit of a gamble, so anyone in line for targets is worth the gamble.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.