2019 Bold Takes for Every Team: AFC
Here we go again. As we are on the precipice of a new season, analysts throughout the industry start to present their hot/bold takes. And here I am, doing the same thing as so many others, just adding to the pile. Many present their takes for attention and/or with very little evidence to support their theses. This is where I separate myself. With the help of FFStatistics (@FFStatistics_), I can defend my bold takes, making them actionable advice. So, without further ado, here are my 2019 bold takes for every AFC team.
Lamar Jackson will finish as a top-10 fantasy QB
I do not need to hash that out as many of you who have been following me on Twitter or have heard me on podcasts have read/heard my arguments ad nauseum. For the sake of brevity, I will condense my arguments below. Read my article for a more thorough analysis.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) November 12, 2017
The main argument about Lamar Jackson is that he is a bad passer. This is wrong. Jackson was the first and only quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards while rushing for over 1,000. To surpass 3,000 yards passing, you have to be doing something right through the air. While many will point to his “struggles” as a passer in his rookie season. They would also be wrong. Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) recently wrote an article explaining that Lamar Jackson is the best QB ever who has attempted over 150 attempts or more at the age of 21 or younger (11). This list includes Matthew Stafford, Drew Bledsoe, Alex Smith, among others. He is also among the top rookie QBs to throw over 150 passing attempts since Peyton Manning (45), beating the likes of Andrew Luck, Manning, Wentz, and others in yards per attempt and passer rating.
Now Jackson enters the 2019 season as THE starting QB, having practiced with the starters all offseason. The offense has been built around him and the Ravens have added pass-catchers like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin to Willie Snead and Mark Andrews, giving Jackson a better set of pass-catchers to throw to than 2018. The Ravens also promoted tight ends coach Greg Roman to offensive coordinator. On the surface, this may not be a big deal. However, Roman has worked with running QBs like Jackson before in Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick, and Alex Smith. Each and every one of those QBs had there best seasons as a passer, and best fantasy seasons, under Roman. (Obviously, Alex Smith had a career under Andy Reid in 2017, but the point still stands.) Roman’s QBs have attempted no less than 419 attempts in the season nor fewer than 3,100 yards. While not prolific, it is far from terrible.
What it all comes down to is this: Jackson is only 22 years old and just had one of the best passing seasons a 21-year-old and rookie QB has ever had in recent memory after being thrown to the wolves in Week 11 of 2018. He now is the established starter in an offense built around him with an OC that has led QBs similar to Jackson to their best seasons as a passer. All of this combined with Jackson’s rushing ability and the possibility of reaching 1,000 yards on the ground make him a candidate to finish inside the top-10 fantasy QBs of 2019 and possibly top-5.
Josh Allen will finish outside of the top-20 QBs
This has been an ongoing battle this offseason, Lamar Jackson versus Josh Allen. Many analysts claim that Josh Allen is the better passer and will be the better fantasy QB in 2019. A lot of this stems from Allen’s last six games in 2018 in which he was the QB1 and produced 20 or more PPR points in 5-of-6 games. A significant portion of this production came on the back of four games where Allen ran for 95 or more yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Normally, running QBs are priceless in fantasy football because of their rushing floor. See Lamar Jackson above. The issue is that Allen is not a traditional running QB. Allen’s best season as a runner in college was in 2016 when he ran for 523 yards on 3.7 yards per carry. For reference, Jackson had back-to-back seasons of over 1,500 yards on the ground on 6.0 and 6.9 yards per carry. Carson Wentz, not regarded as a running QB, ran for 642 yards on 4.7 YPC. Kyler Murray ran for 1,001 yards on 7.2 YPC. You get the picture. So, while Allen had a great season on the ground in 2018, it is not something we can expect moving forward. A lot of Allen’s production on the ground can be tied to the Bills poor offensive line play. In 2018, they ranked 30th in run blocking and 23rd in run blocking according to Football Outsiders. There were many times where Allen was forced to move outside of the pocket and take off running. He was also quick to tuck and run after his first read was not open.
The other aspect of this is that Allen was not a good passer in 2018. Allen was last in the league in completion percentage, second to last in yards per attempt, passer rating, and interception percentage, third to last in touchdown percentage, etc. Again, you get the picture. This is just a continuation of his college passing where he only completed 56% of his passes in back-to-back seasons, a low number among college quarterbacks.
In 2019, defenses will likely force Josh Allen to beat them through the air and contain him on the ground. It is because of this, and Allen’s past, that he will be streamable at best in 2019.
Tyler Boyd will be a WR1
This may be a luke-warm take. After all, Tyler Boyd was a WR1 through the first eight weeks of the season in 2018. He was also on pace to finish as the WR3 in games with AJ Green on the field. There is the crux of the argument, however, as Green was only healthy and on the field for the first eight games of the season. Without Green, Boyd was the WR27 from Weeks 9-15 before being shut due to a knee injury.
Of course, of the games that Boyd played without Green, he also played three, really 3.5, without his starting quarterback Andy Dalton. So it is really hard to say which player had a greater impact on Boyd’s production. We will soon find out as Green underwent surgery on his ankle and will likely miss the first several games of the season. This means Boyd will have a chance for significant volume early in the season.
A coaching change in the offseason also lifts Boyd’s prospects. New head coach, Zac Taylor, was the Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach under Sean McVay. Under McVay, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who, like Boyd, is a big slot receiver (Boyd played over 67% of his snaps from the slot in 2018), finished as the WR25 as a rookie in 2017 and was the WR4 through the first five weeks of 2018 before dealing with multiple knee injuries. Ultimately, Kupp finished 2018 as the WR15 in points per game, which included a week where he only played 38% of the offensive snaps.
If Taylor brings over a similar system to McVay’s, which he should, Boyd is in for a big season.
Nick Chubb will finish as a top-5 RB
Nick Chubb is arguably the best rushing running back in the game. As a rookie, Chubb finished 9th in evaded tackles, 11th in juke rate, 6th in breakaway runs (15+ yards), 8th in yards created per carry, and 10th in rush yards all despite not starting the first six games of the season. From when he took over as the starter in Week 7 on, Chubb was the RB8 despite only seeing 28 targets.
Therein lies the issue with Chubb, targets and receptions. Many in the fantasy football community believe that Chubb is not a pass catcher. This is false. Chubb caught 18 receptions in his freshman year at Georgia. Not prolific by any means, but not bad either. Chubb was just not used much as a pass-catcher the rest of his career at Georgia nor as a rookie in Cleveland. However, his 16-game pace as a starter would have given him 50 targets, three per game. Again, not the best, but not awful. But, the top five running backs from 2018 had 81 or more total targets or nearly six targets per game.
— Sam Greene (@SGdoesit) November 25, 2018
However, Chubb may be getting more targets in 2019. The Browns recently traded their pass-catching running back Duke Johnson to the Houston Texans. This opens up 62 targets from last season. While many expect Dontrell Hilliard to step into the pass-catching role, Chubb likely sees more targets. With Chubb’s running prowess, this equates to a top-five finish in 2019.
Noah Fant will be a TE1
Since 2000, only seven rookie tight ends have finished as a fantasy TE1. That equates to three percent. The odds are stacked against the Denver Broncos rookie tight end, Noah Fant. The generally understood trend is that tight ends take longer to break out, usually seeing their breakouts in their third season or later. So, rookie tight end production is very rare.
This delayed breakout largely has to do with learning both route running and blocking schemes. However, the NFL has started to migrate towards more “move” tight ends. “Move” tight ends play yes in-line, blocking, and more lining up as a receiver in the slot. Fant is a prototypical “move” tight end. He is on the smaller side relative to tight ends at 6’4″, 250 lbs. He also ran a 4.50 40-yard dash, which is in the 99th percentile for tight ends. While he is not a bad blocker, his size and speed make him an ideal mismatch against linebackers and safeties and is better used as a pass-catcher.
On top of Fant’s profile, he is catching passes from a quarterback who likes to target tight end. In Joe Flacco‘s 11 seasons, he has helped his TE1s to four top-12 finishes, eight top-15 finishes, and has only had one season outside of the top-24. Flacco has also given his top tight end 75 or more targets in six seasons. Finally, Flacco has targeted his tight ends 20% or more in all but one season.
Combining Fant’s athleticism and Flacco’s propensity to throw to tight ends will make Fant a TE1 in 2019.
Will Fuller will not be a top-36 WR
The Will Fuller-Deshaun Watson connection has been magical since 2017. In 11 games with Watson as his quarterback, Fuller has been targeted 67 times, catching 45 for 782 yards and 11 TDs. That would have been a 16 game pace that would have placed him as the WR3 in 2018.
However, a new kid came to town in 2018 in Keke Coutee, a later-round WR I like in 2019. Coutee took some of Watson’s attention away from Fuller in 2018, resulting in severely reduced production in games they played together. In three games without Coutee on the field, Fuller projected as the fantasy WR1. In the four games with Coutee on the field, Fuller was the WR38.
Fuller is also coming off of a torn ACL in week 8 of 2018. While he is expected to be ready to start the season. However, there are complications that can come with recovery from an ACL. Many who return from a torn ACL deal with compensation injuries like hamstring strains. FFStatistics’ resident physical therapist Ethan Turner (@ETurnerFF_PT) explains why you should be wary of Fuller in 2019.
” An ACL tear in Week 8 of last year ended what could have been a breakout year for Will Fuller. Typical return to play for this injury is 9 months, however, pre-injury production can take 11-13 months. Fuller’s history could heighten his risk of a compensatory injury, such as a hamstring strain, as well. I’d only be drafting him in leagues where I can get a steep discount.”
– Dr. Ethan Turner
With Fuller’s risk of compensation injury and the presence of Coutee, Fuller is going to underperform in 2019.
TY Hilton will finish outside of the top-24 WRs
Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement has turned the fantasy football world on its head. This is especially true for the fantasy assets on the Indianapolis Colts, who have rightfully seen a downturn in their outlook for the season. Arguably the hardest hit is star wide receiver, TY Hilton. While new starter Jacoby Brissett is no slouch, he is no Luck. And Hilton is not the same without Luck.
Since entering the league with each other in 2012, Luck has helped Hilton to two RB1 seasons and four top-20 seasons. The only exceptions were their rookie seasons and the two seasons that Luck played less than half of the season’s games due to injury or missed the season altogether. In 2017, when Luck missed the entire season to a shoulder injury, Brissett was a starter. Hilton finished as the WR27.
Things have changed since 2017. The offense as a whole has subjectively gotten better. Brissett could also have gotten better. However, there is also more competition for targets. In 2018, Hilton really only had tight end Jack Doyle to contend with in terms of targets. Sure, Donte Moncrief was there, but he only garnered 47 targets to Hilton’s 109. In 2019, Hilton has to contend with Doyle again, as well as tight end Eric Ebron who is coming off of a 110 target season, running backs Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack, newly signed free agent Devin Funchess, rookie Parris Campbell, and a third tight end in Mo Alie-Cox.
The loss of quarterback Andrew Luck and target competition means that TY Hilton will not be a WR2 in 2019.
Nick Foles will be top-10 in passing attempts
The Jacksonville Jaguars have finished 19th and 21st in passing attempts in each of the last two seasons respectively. They also finished 17th and 32nd in pass-to-run ratio. The Jags were built around defense and running the ball. Their offensive philosophy may be changing in 2019, however.
In the 2019 offseason, the Jaguars hired John DeFilippo as their offensive coordinator. DeFilippo had been fired as the Minnesota Vikings OC, largely due to the Vikings wanting to run the ball more. In 2018, the Vikings pass-to-run ratio was the fourth-highest in the league under DeFilippo. Since 2012, offenses that DeFilippo has coached, whether as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, have been relatively pass-heavy. In every season since 2012, QBs have attempted over 500 passes; over 600 in five of the seven seasons, including his two seasons as the offensive coordinator.
In 2018, the 10th most attempts were 583 by the New York Giants. Despite the presence of Leonard Fournette and the team still being built around its defense, the offensive scheme will become more pass-heavy in 2018. Nick Foles will easily break 550 attempts and could very easily throw over 600 passes on 2019.
Kansas City Chiefs
Damien Williams will finish as a top-5 RB
Damien Williams has been one of the more divisive players this offseason. There was a lot of disbelief that Williams is a good running back and can repeat the performances we saw at the end of the 2018 season and in the 2018 playoffs. This was especially true after the Chiefs signed Carlos Hyde and drafted Darwin Thompson. However, there are several reasons to believe that Williams can and will repeat his performances last season.
After Kareem Hunt was suspended in Spencer Ware injured, Williams took over the starting RB role. The final five weeks of the season, Williams was the RB5. The final three weeks he was the RB2. In the Chiefs’ two playoff games, Williams accumulated 159 yards on 35 carries and 2 TDs while catching 10 of 14 targets for 91 yards and 2 TDs.
Since 2000, head coach Andy Reid’s RB1s have averaged 204 carries in a season. Meanwhile, Reid’s RB2s have averaged 73 carries. His RB1s have eclipsed 200 carries in 11 seasons since 2000 as well. On top of that, RB1s have averaged 73 targets under Reid since 2000. The point being that Reid tends to lean heavily on his RB1.
Finally, Reid wants Williams to be the guy. Even after missing valuable training camp days with a hamstring injury, Williams started practicing with the starting offense almost immediately after returning to practice.
Williams has demonstrated that he is the Chiefs best running back. Being the starting RB in a high scoring offense that uses a bell-cow back, Williams is in line to finish as a top-five RB in 2019.
Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams will finish outside of the top-24 WRs
Mike Williams had a semi-breakout season in 2018 with 664 yards and 10 TDs on his way to a WR31 finish. This has led many to believe he is on the verge of becoming a star in the NFL in 2010, especially in the wake of Tyrell Williams signing elsewhere. Not so fast.
The biggest issue hindering Williams from breaking into the top-24 is his quarterback. Philip Rivers has only supported two top-24 WRs in his career once, back in 2007. Rivers’ WR2s have come close a few times but never been inside of the top-24 sans that one season.
A big reason for this is that Rivers likes to target his tight ends. Since entering the league, Rivers’ TE1 has averaged 81 targets per season. Last season, Rivers only targeted the entire TE position 73 times. This led to more targets for the RBs and WRs and thus Williams. With Hunter Henry back healthy in 2019, things should go back to normal.
Williams caught 10 TDs on just 66 targets for a touchdown rate of 15.15%. This is the third-highest rate for WRs with 50 or more targets since 2000. This is bound to regress in 2019.
There are a lot of things working against Mike Williams in 2019. Rivers has only had one WR2 inside of the top-24 in his 15-year career, Hunter Henry is returning and will likely take on a significant role, and finally, Williams’ TD% will likely regress in 2019. All of this amounts to Williams finishing outside of the top-24.
Albert Wilson will finish as a top-24 WR
Another guy I have been harping on all offseason. In fact, I have a bet with Yahoo’s Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) (Oooo, look at that name drop) that Wilson will be a top-24 WR in 2019 or I have to wear a Dolphins colored wrestling singlet and eat a child-size birthday cake. There are many reasons I am in love with “Bert” this season. In the interest of your time, below is the condensed version. Find more detail here.
Bert was on track to have the best year of his career in 2018 before going on IR for a hip injury. Before his injury, Wilson was on a full-season pace of 59 receptions on 80 targets for 894 yards and 9 TDs. All would have been career highs. Through the first seven games, Wilson was the WR27 in fantasy football.
Wilson has also been extremely efficient throughout his career. He has been at the top of the league in every season in yards after catch per reception and forced missed tackles per reception. He has also been one of the more efficient WRs in the league in terms of fantasy points per opportunity in the range of superstars like Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins.
Over the past 2 seasons, and of 78 qualifying receivers, #Dolphins WR Albert Wilson ranks:
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) June 24, 2019
There has been a lot of turnover in Miami this offseason. Slot wide receiver Danny Amendola was released, opening up the slot position for Wilson where he excels but only played 29% of his snaps in 2018. Through Week 6 of 2018, Wilson led all wide receivers in terms of yards per route run out of the slot.
#Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (@iThinkIsee12) has been the most productive slot WR in the league (and third overall) this season in terms of yards per route run⬇️👀#FinsUp pic.twitter.com/9ThCEPZUHJ
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) October 16, 2018
The Dolphins coaching staff also turned over. New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores was hired and he brought along Pats wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea. The Patriots emphasized the slot receiver during O’Shea’s tenure in New England with Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. The Dolphins also signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and traded for Josh Rosen. Fitzpatrick has targeted the slot receiver the most of any quarterback since 2009 with a 26% target share. Rosen targeted the slot 24% in his rookie season in Arizona.
Good news for Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson? 👀
Over the past decade, Ryan Fitzpatrick has targeted a WR running a route from the slot on 26.4% of his total attempts. That leads all 65 QBs with at least 600 pass attempts over this span#Dolphins #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/xb7aTQrd2v
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) June 27, 2019
All of the changes this offseason means Albert Wilson has a legitimate chance as a breakout candidate in 2019. Thus, he will finish as a top-24 WR.
New England Patriots
Sony Michel will be a top-10 RB
This may not seem like much of a bold take considering the way Sony Michel ended last season. However, Michel is being taken as the RB23 in redraft leagues, behind guys like Melvin Gordon, David Montgomery, Josh Jacobs, etc. This presents a very good return on investment opportunity.
We all know about Michel’s health, specifically knee issues. There were concerns about Michel’s knees being bone-on-bone entering the draft. He then had a procedure to drain his knee of fluid in training camp, causing him to miss the season opener. Michel then proceeded to miss 2 games in the middle of the season to a knee injury. Before training camp in 2019, Michel had his knee scoped and started on the physically unable to perform list. So the concern is fair. Ethan Turner (@ETurnerFF_PT) has some thoughts:
“Two knee surgeries in 12 months is never a good thing. That said, both procedures were minor cleanup jobs. In the grand scheme of things, they shouldn’t impact Michel’s ability to be healthy Week 1. Is he at a higher risk of being injured this year than most players? Yes, but he always will be given his extensive injury history dating back to highschool. To me, he’s a buy at his current price because of his potential to be a Top 12 RB.”
– Dr. Ethan Turner
There is reason for optimism, however. In all but one game played, Michel received double-digit carries. He was given over 15 carries seven times in 13 games. His numbers in those 13 games projected over a full 16-game season would have been 257 carries for 1146 yards and 7 TDs. In 2018, he would have ranked sixth in rushing yards and tied for 14th in rushing TDs. After the Patriots bye week in Week 11 including playoffs, Michel eclipsed 100-yards on the ground four times in nine weeks. He also ran for 94 yards in the Superbowl. Michel also scored 8 TDs in the Patriots’ final 10 games, including the playoffs.
Beyond health, the big issue that Michel will have to overcome is his usage in the passing game. In 13 games last season, Michel was only targeted 11 times, catching seven. It’s not that he can’t catch, he just is contending with one of the premier pass-catching backs in the league in James White. In college, Michel had back-to-back seasons of over 20 receptions.
Now we hear news from training camp that Michel is improving in the passing game and could be more involved in 2019. This is good news because what separates Michel from the 2018 top-10 is targets. The lowest targeted RB in the top-10 in 2018 was Joe Mixon with 55 targets.
We already know Michel is productive running the ball. If the news out of camp is true that Michel will have a bigger role in the Patriots pass game, he will be a top-10 RB in 2019.
New York Jets
Le’Veon Bell will not be a top-12 running back
This isn’t about the player himself, but his situation. Sure, one could and probably should be skeptical of Le’Veon Bell after a year removed from football, his injury history, and reportedly ballooning to 260 pounds during his time off. Regardless, he is one of the most prolific running backs of the last five years, so this is not about the player.
It’s about Bell’s new team and coach. Outside of weird interviews and smelling salts, Adam Gase is an issue. As a head coach, Gase has had one RB inside the top-12, Jay Ajayi in 2016. Ajayi was the RB 11. The other two years, Gase’s RB1 has finished as RB26 and RB14. This largely has to do with Gase wanting to split RB touches. In Gase’s six years as an offensive coordinator and head coach, his RB1s have averaged 192 carries to the RB2s 117. Targets are split 55 to 28. Of course, Gase has never had a dynamic RB like Bell, so that could all change.
Gase also has a reputation for playing at a slow pace. The Miami Dolphins had the second slowest time per play and the fewest offensive plays per game in 2018. In 2017, they ranked 17th and 22nd. In 2016, the Dolphins were dead last on both metrics. Obviously, fewer plays equal less opportunity for fantasy points.
Finally, the Jets offensive line has been abysmal. Last season, the Jets ranked last in the league in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards. They ranked 18th in pass protection. In 2017 they ranked 29th and 27th. The additions of Ryan Khalil and Kelechi Osemele may help. However, Kalil ranked 16th among centers according to PFF and Osemele 61st among guards. This is very different from his Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lines that ranked sixth, eighth, and seventh from 2015-2017.
Ultimately, there is a lot working against Le’Veon Bell. He is contending with being out for a year, a slow-paced coach, and a poor offensive line. This is why he will not be a top-12 RB in 2019.
Darren Waller will be a top-16 TE
Another take that does not seem so bold on the surface. However, Waller’s current ADP according to FantasyPros is TE26. So finishing top-16 is a huge return on investment.
First and foremost, Waller is a *cliche alert* physical freak. Originally a wide receiver out of Georgia Tech, Waller transitioned to a tight end in the NFL. He is 6’6′ 255 pounds and ran a 4.46 (!) second 40-yard dash, which was in the 100th percentile. He also produced a 99th percentile speed score, 89th percentile burst score, 82nd percentile agility score, and 96th percentile catch radius. News out of training camp is that he has been “unguardable“.
Waller is also stepping into a role that garnered 101 targets in 2018. It is not reasonable to expect that from Waller in 2019. However, Carr has targeted the tight end position relatively frequently, targeting TEs 19% or more in 4-of-5 seasons and 74 or more times in each season. Carr has targeted his TE1s 80 or more times in 3-of-5 seasons. In those seasons, those TEs finished in the top-15, including two. TE1 seasons in the last two.
It is a reach to expect Waller to be a TE1 in 2019. However, he presents a lot of matchup problems and is at a position that Carr likes to target. Therefore, he will be a top-16 TE in 2019.
Steelers will have top-10 players at QB, RB, WR, TE
This one is pretty straight-forward. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished as the QB3 in 2018 and QB10 in 2017. He threw a league-leading 675 passes as well. With the loss of Antonio Brown and natural regression, you cannot expect him to throw that many passes in 2019. However, Big Ben is still surrounded by great skill players that will allow him to finish inside the top-10.
Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is arguably the top dynasty wide receiver. He has two top-24 seasons, including WR8 in 2018, and is only 22-years-old. In 2018, Juju was targeted 166 times, all while Antonio Brown was targeted 168 times. Brown is now gone and Juju is the WR1. While it is unreasonable to expect Juju to inherit all of Brown’s targets or for Ben to throw 675 times, Juju likely sees an uptick in target share. This very easily will result in a top-10 season.
Running back James Conner had a breakout year in 2018 with Le’Veon Bell’s holdout. While he dealt with some injuries that made him miss three games, Conner still managed to finish as the RB6 on the season. Conner was heavily involved both on the ground and through the air, finishing with 215 carries and 71 targets.
Many expect the Steelers to implement a timeshare in 2019. However, head coach Mike Tomlin has rarely used a timeshare. Tomlin’s RB1s have averaged 245 carries in his 12 seasons has the head coach of the Steelers. RB2s have average 84. Likewise, RB1s have been targeted an average of 58 to RB2s 20. So it is very unlikely that Conner relinquishes many touches and therefore should finish inside the top-10 in 2018.
Finally, tight end Vance McDonald had a top-10 season in 2018 despite being inconsistent. Of course, there was a big drop off after the top-three tight ends last season. Regardless, McDonald should have a chance to repeat his top-10 performance in 2018. Like Juju above, McDonald should see more targets because of Brown’s absence. Having already received 73 targets in 2018, that number could near 100 in 2019. McDonald also was one of Ben’s most reliable pass-catchers last season. An uptick in targets and Ben’s trust should allow McDonald to finish top-10 in 2019.
No wide receiver will finish inside the top-24
There is nothing to really like about the Tennessee Titans passing offense. All indications this offseason are that the Titans plan to “ride” Derrick Henry this season on the ground. This would just be a continuation of the Titans offensive mindset the past few seasons. The Titans finished second to last in terms of pass to run ratio in 2018. They were 25th in 2017 and 30th in 2016.
The most passes quarterback Marcus Mariota has ever thrown is 453. This obviously results in reduced production from Mariota’s pass catchers. Mariota has produced two top-24 WRs in his career, including Corey Davis in 2018. On the surface, it seems that Mariota has a decent chance at supporting a top-24 WR in 2019.
However, last season, Mariota was without his favorite pass-catcher in tight end Delanie Walker who finished as a top-five tight end in each of the previous three seasons. Davis also had the sixth-highest target market share and still only managed to finish as the WR24. everyone else in the top-10, except for Jarvis Landry (slot receiver) finished as a WR1.
The Titans also added pass-catching talent in the offseason. First, they signed Adam Humphries. Then they drafted arguably the best WR in the 2018 class in AJ Brown. There are *cliche alert* more mouths to feed on the Titans this season there were in 2018.
All said, the Titans will emphasize the run yet again, Walker is returning, and there is overall more target competition. This equates to no wide receiver finishing inside the top-24.