The Tennessee Titans spent just a fourth-round pick to secure Ryan Tannehill’s services in 2019. To keep him in and around the Nashville area, they spent quite a bit more. We’ll get to that, but the long story short: Tannehill will be a Titan for a while. The Titans made a run of it with Tannehill, going 7-3 in the regular season and taking two of three from the Ravens, Patriots, and Chiefs in a brutal playoff gauntlet. What does securing Tannehill for the 2020 NFL season mean for the Tennessee Titans, and what does it mean for your upcoming fantasy football drafts?
Ryan Tannehill’s New Contract
Ryan Tannehill and the Titans re-upped on March 15. Tannehill’s contract, per ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, is four years, $118 million total, with $62 million guaranteed. It’s functionally a three-year deal, as the third year becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster in 2021. All told, Tannehill has the fourth-most remaining money for all QBs in the NFL and is set to be a Tennessee Titan for the foreseeable future.
What Ryan Tannehill’s Contract Means for the Tennessee Titans
Securing a quarterback is the biggest hurdle a team has to jump in order to find success. The Titans believe they’ve jumped that hurdle with Ryan Tannehill. More importantly, by securing the QB, the Titans clear up the need to decide between putting a franchise tag on Ryan Tannehill or on Derrick Henry. This also provides continuity for the team, which might help Corey Davis become something and will definitely aid in the breakouts of A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith. Tannehill started ten games last season for the benched Marcus Mariota and averaged 260 yards passing, 2.2 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions per contest while chipping in 18 rush yards per game.
What Ryan Tannehill’s Contract Means for Fantasy Football
Ryan Tannehill turned in top-ten QB games in eight of his ten starts last season. Then, the Tennessee Titans stopped throwing the ball entirely in the playoffs. While I don’t expect the Titans to replicate their playoff downturn, I also don’t expect Ryan Tannehill to continue his torrid fantasy football productivity. Why? Efficiency and regression in two key statistics: touchdown rate and yards per attempt.
Last season, Tannehill carried had a 7.7% TD rate. Basically, one out of every 13 or so of his passes went for a touchdown. The NFL career leader is 7.9%, and the active leader (Aaron Rodgers) is 6%. Between 2000 and 2018, QBs exceeded a 7% TD rate 20 times. On average, in their next season, their TD rate was 5.2%. That change is enough to drop Tannehill from 2.2 touchdowns per game to 1.5 touchdowns per game right off the bat, and that doesn’t get into his yards per attempt.
On average, the Titans gained 9.9 yards per pass attempt with Ryan Tannehill. A lot of that had to do with A.J. Brown taking seemingly everything to the house. Like his touchdown rate, you can’t sustain a 9.9 yards per attempt average. Between 2000 and 2018, six players had a season with a yard per attempt over 9. The upper echelon season sat somewhere between 8 and 8.5 yards per attempt in that span. No QBs topped 9 yards per attempt two seasons in a row, and these players followed up their hot play with a 7.8 yards per attempt the following year. Ryan Tannehill doesn’t pass a lot, and dropping his Y/A to 7.8 turns him from 260 passing yards per game to 210 yards per contest.
That isn’t to say that Tannehill won’t be good, he should be good. There are some pundits out there who will want to say that Tannehill has a massive (like, top-seven massive) season ahead of him. I’d exercise caution with him, and snag him in double-digit rounds, but I am not going to reach for Ryan Tannehill given his likely regression.
What Ryan Tannehill’s Contract Means for Tennessee’s Fantasy Football Options
Ryan Tannehill will likely take a step backward in both yards per attempt and touchdown rate this season. That means that A.J. Brown’s torrid pace that saw him as the WR8 last season will not continue unabated. That having been said, it’s likely Tannehill focuses in more on Brown, to the detriment of Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. The Titans also cut Delanie Walker last week, further focusing targets to tight end Jonnu Smith.
Brown and Smith are the guys to own in this passing game, as the Titans have a Derrick Henry-sized elephant in the room when it comes to their offense in 2020. The Titans tagged Derrick Henry, per Adam Schefter, meaning their offense will look a lot like it did last year. In order for Tennessee to have more than two passing game options, they need to pass more. Putting the tag on Derrick Henry signals they won’t change up their gameplan from last year. If they do decide to open it up, Tannehill has some gunslinger in him. Tanny threw the ball an average of 33 times per game in Miami, compared to the game managerial class number of 27 last year in Tennessee.
Re-signing Tannehill is good news for the Titans’ fantasy football options, but putting the franchise tag on Henry puts a limiter on Tannehill’s pass attempts and the passing game upside.
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