Ryan Tannehill Is a Superb Value in Fantasy Football
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was quietly one of the best players in the league last season. The 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year started the season backing up Marcus Mariota but took over as the starter in Week 7 and never looked back.
In Week 6 last season against the Denver Broncos, the Titans benched Mariota in favor of Tannehill. The Titans lost that game but won 7 of their final 10 regular-season contests with Tannehill under center.
From a fantasy perspective, Tannehill was a beast. In terms of fantasy points per start, he finished the 2019 season third behind only Lamar Jackson and Christian McCaffrey, both of whom put up elite, outlier level seasons.
So what can fantasy owners expect from Tannehill in 2020? Let's take a look.
According to BestBall10s, Tannehill is currently being drafted at an average draft position (ADP) of 143.3. That's a sample of 1,122 Best Ball drafts since the start of May.
That ADP seems egregious considering his performance last season.
Tannehill was, quite frankly, a monster last season. He finished the campaign ranked top-three in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown rate, passer rating, and on-target percentage per Pro Football Reference. He ranked seventh in numberFire’s Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back and second in Passing Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of drop backs that led to positive NEP for a team’s offense).
In other words, he was really good.
Unfortunately, as many analysts are quick to point out, Tannehill is likely to face regression in 2020. His efficiency metrics, especially his 7.7% touchdown rate, will almost certainly decline. The only quarterback this decade to post a touchdown rate higher than 7% in back-to-back years was Aaron Rodgers in 2011 and 2012.
It’s certainly possible for Tannehill to have another very good season, but to expect a second straight year of elite efficiency after seven seasons of mediocre production in Miami is irrational.
Tannehill is likely to regress in part because he got a lot of help from his receivers -- his teammates had the second-lowest drop rate and the third-highest yards after catch in the league last season.
Tannehill also faced the 7th-easiest schedule of opposing pass defenses in 2019 but will face the 15th-hardest schedule in that department this season, according to Sharp Football metrics.
So, it’s fair to assume that Tannehill will not be as great in 2020 as he was in 2019. But with that being said, Tannehill is still worth consideration in fantasy drafts. His current draft position is the 18th quarterback off the board, which seems quite low even when accounting for the looming regression.
numberFire projects Tannehill to post 3947.1 passing yards, 24.5 touchdowns, 12.6 interceptions, 271.5 rushing yards, and 2.6 rushing scores. That line would have amounted to the overall QB9 in 2019, and QB12 on a points-per-game basis. That's well ahead of where he's currently getting selected.
Tannehill is a great target for those using the late-round quarterback strategy. Worst case, he busts, and he can be swapped out for a similarly-priced quarterback on the waiver wire.
However, as Tannehill proved last season when he finished as the QB2 in fantasy points per start, his best-case scenario is worth the minimal investment.