Ryan Tannehill’s Fantasy Football Profile for the 2021 Season

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Ryan Tannehill has been one of the best fantasy football quarterbacks in the league since joining the Tennessee Titans prior to the 2019 season. Despite averaging just 20.3 attempts per game, Tannehill’s efficiency has been remarkable. With the addition of All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, Tannehill enters the 2021 season with the best group of offensive weapons of his career. What is Ryan Tannehill’s fantasy football outlook for 2021?

 

Ryan Tannehill’s Fantasy Football Outlook for the 2021 Season

Offensive Line Upgrade

Tennessee’s offensive line finished a respectable 15th in PFF’s end-of-season rankings. Their pass blocking struggles were balanced out by their performance as one of the top run-blocking units in the league. PFF ranked the Titans with the sixth-best run-blocking grade (77.5) but only 25th in pass blocking (59.4).

The Titans line performance was more impressive when you balance the off-the-field struggles of 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Wilson and the loss of three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan to a torn ACL in mid-October. If second-round pick Dillon Radunz can win the starting right tackle position, Tennessee should be healthy and greatly improved on the edge. Guards Rodger Saffold and Nate Davis were a microcosm of the line’s efficiency: Great against the run but struggled against the pass. Veteran Ben Jones garnered PFF’s fifth-best grade among all centers.

If Radunz develops quickly, Tennessee’s line should greatly improve on Tannehill’s 82.5 (24th best) protection rate per PlayerProfiler.

Offensive Upgrades

Tannehill couldn’t ask for a better wide receiver addition than seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones. This should convince new offensive coordinator Todd Downing to allow Tannehill to crest his 481 attempts from 2020, the third-fewest in the NFL. With Jones lining up opposite 24-year old star wideout A.J. Brown, the Titans have arguably the best wideout duo in the league. Tennessee lost athletic tight end, Jonnu Smith, to the New England Patriots, but should find increased efficiency from 26-year old Anthony Firkser. In 2020, Firkser had the second-highest (18.3%) targets per snap and sixth-highest (1.82) yards per route run among all tight ends. Former Los Angeles Rams receiver Josh Reynolds and fourth-round pick Dez Fitzpatrick round out the best group of offensive weapons Tannehill has had in his career.

The biggest asset to Tannehill’s efficiency is 247 pound running back Derrick Henry. Facing eight or more defenders in the box 31.7% of the time, Henry demands defensive attention which provides Tannehill with favorable passing opportunities. Eliminating unpressured throwaways and dropped passes, Tannehill’s 94.9% True Completion Percentage ranks third among all quarterbacks. His 0.64 points per dropback ranked only behind Aaron Rodgers (0.66).

Rushing Ability

Tannehill’s rushing ability is a sneaky part to his fantasy upside. He averaged 38 rushing yards per game and tallied five rushing touchdowns over Tennessee’s final three contests. His 4.70, 40-yard dash was in the 81st percentile coming out of college. Back in 2019, Tannehill found a way to reach 37 or more rushing yards in three straight games, finishing as a top-six overall quarterback twice. His 10 red zone carries ranked only 11th at the position but his seven rushing scores were good enough for fourth overall.

Projection

To project Tannehill’s 2021 season, I examined the Tennessee offense as an whole in Mike Vrabel‘s three seasons as head coach.

Year Run Plays Rank Pass Plays Rank
2018 454 9th 437 31st
2019 445 10th 448 31st
2020 521 2nd 485 30th

The Titans ranked among the bottom in total passing plays and ranked only ahead of New England and the Baltimore Ravens in neutral game pass rate (50 percent). Despite their running tendency, Tennessee does not play slow. Per FootballOutsiders, the Titans were the third-fastest team in seconds per play in neutral situations. The Titans 28.6 seconds per play only trailed the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals in 2020.

Using the 17-game season, Tennessee could project to have 535 rushing attempts and 515 passing attempts in 2021. With the addition of Jones, expect Tannehill’s completion accuracy to rise from last season’s 65.3 percent, but be less than his almost-perfect 70.3 percent mark in his 12 games from 2019.

For his rushing projection, Tannehill should average around 5.8 yards per carry, a conservative estimate from his 6.2 yards per carry average last year.

Assuming career average catch rates from A.J. Brown and Jones, Tannehill’s numbers should be around the following for the 2021 season:

Atts Comps Passing Yards TDs INTs Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
Ryan Tannehill Projection 505 343 4266 30 9 278 5

This projects to 19.3 fantasy points per game, which should be a solid QB1 in any format. These numbers are conservative estimates, with the possibility of an even higher ceiling if Tennessee sees an increase in negative game script or an injury to Henry.

Ryan Tannehill’s fantasy outlook for 2021 makes him one of the safest fantasy selections at the quarterback position. He has demonstrated incredible efficiency with low pass volume and limited weapons. With the huge addition of Jones and the possibility of even a slight increase in passing attempts, Tannehill represents an attractive high-floor/high-ceiling fantasy pick in any format for the 2021 season.

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