Ryan Tannehill: the efficiency specialist. That sounds like you’re drafting a plumber or a human resources representative, doesn’t it? I’ve noticed an interesting trend in a lot of tout drafts this year, especially in the wide receiver-heavy Underdog drafts: Ryan Tannehill is the QB target of choice for so many teams that believe he’ll just “be there.” The Tennesee Titans are a run-first team, so it stands that Tannehill’s upside is always capped because he won’t have those gaudy 600 pass attempt years like Patrick Mahomes. Yet, Tannehill’s efficiency factor has always boosted him to the point of being, well, almost as good as Mahomes. Don’t trust me? Then do you trust this guy?
Ryan Tannehill vs. Patrick Mahomes
– Last 24 games started pic.twitter.com/bi7FBBMBto
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) July 27, 2021
I mean, even if you don’t know who Scott Barrett is, you gotta trust that fancy graphic, right? So maybe we’re saying that Patrick Mahomes isn’t as good as we think he is, or that Ryan Tannehill is as good as Mahomes. Which is it? Let’s dive into the details and figure out if Ryan Tannehill should be your QB target for Underdog best ball drafts in 2021.
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Everything went right for the Tennesee Titans in 2020, or at least they did from a fantasy football perspective. After watching Ryan Tannehill resurrect his career in 2019 by supplanting Marcus Mariota as the starter in Tennesee, the 2020 year looked promising. With the offense putting up the 4th highest points by the end of the year coupled with the 2nd highest total yards from scrimmage, the Titans took an 11-5 record to the top of the AFC South. However, the Titans’ defense was another story altogether, allowing bottom-of-the-league stats in passing attempts allowed and passing yards allowed. With a defense allowing the 24th most points against in the league, Ryan Tannehill’s arm had to help the team more often than pundits predicted.
Ryan Tannehill had a tough start to his career, playing in a weak Miami Dolphins team under head coach Adam Gase. Tannehill missed extended time in 2017 with an ACL tear and suffered shoulder injuries in 2018. Yet, by the end of his time in Miami, Tannehill joined Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Bob Griese as the only Dolphins quarterbacks with 20,000 yards passing and 120 touchdowns. Tannehill had the lowest interception rate and the highest QB rating of that HoF group, by the way.
So saying that Ryan Tannehill resurrected his career in Tennessee is a bit misleading. Actually, he healed up, found a coaching staff that believed in him and catered to him, and had a bevy of receivers that could actually catch the ball. In Tennesee, Tannehill finished as QB9 in points per game in 2019, and QB7 overall in 2020. Of course, this was under an Arthur Smith offense, and Smith has since moved off to coach the Atlanta Falcons. The 2021 Titans offense will be helmed by Todd Downing, who had one unnotable year as an offensive coach in the Raiders organization before spending time as the tight ends coach for the Titans the past few years.
The Team Rise or Fall Underdog Projections envisions Ryan Tannehill as QB17 for Underdog best ball drafts in 2021, although he’s in the “efficient frontier” of QBs who are all within a few touchdowns of each other in terms of projections. For example, Kirk Cousins is at QB11 and projected for 316 fantasy points, while Daniel Jones is QB24 and projected for 284 fantasy points. In other words, that’s one garbage time game against a bottom-dwelling defense separating your starting QB in a 12 team league and your last backup in the same league. So, don’t sweat the small stuff, OK? Your job is to look at that efficient frontier of quarterbacks and see who has the most potential for big games over the course of the season.
But why should Ryan Tannehill be your target in 2021 best ball drafts? Of course, he’s a stack magnet. With A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the team, Tannehill has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league to catch his passes. And it’s a fairly easy stack to acquire: Brown’s ADP is 20, Jones’ ADP is 40, and Tannehill’s ADP is 112. In other words, you can have a build like Alvin Kamara, A.J. Brown, George Kittle, Julio Jones, and Ryan Tannehill by ADP. Me? I take that 9 times out of 10; of course, one needs to diversify!
Ryan Tannehill is an efficiency machine that enters 2021 with two of the best receivers in the league. His ADP is down because he’ll be under an inexperienced offensive coordinator on a run-first offense, but Tannehill’s already demonstrated that he doesn’t need volume to reach top fantasy QB status. In Underdog best ball drafts, you can take a risky QB1 like Dak Prescott (who has barely taken the training camp field so far) and back him up with Ryan Tannehill. Or, you can be bold and keep doing the QB free fall until you get to Tannehill, who has shown top 10 QB upside over his last 24 games. Tannehill is only 33 years old and has plenty of life left in his arm and legs to make your fantasy team a winner in 2021.
Original Image Source: Winslow Townson (USA Today)
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