NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Don't expect a repeat of 2019 with Ryan Tannehill returning to Titans
It's not fair to expect Ryan Tannehill to do what he did in 2019 for a variety of reasons.
My expectation has always been that Ryan Tannehill would return to Tennessee in 2020. How could they not bring him back after his spectacular 2019? The team won seven of his 10 regular season starts and then upset both the Patriots and the Ravens before getting bounced by the eventual champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. In Fantasy, he may have even been better.
From Week 7 on, Tannehill scored more Fantasy points than any quarterback not named Lamar Jackson. For the season he had a quarterback rating of 117.5 and averaged 9.6 yards per attempt. His touchdown rate was a career-best 7.7%. And there's absolutely no reason for you to believe he'll come close to repeating those numbers.
For one thing, Tannehill had thrown nearly 3,000 passes in the NFL before 2019. His quarterback rating (87.0), yards per attempt (7.0) and touchdown rate (4.2) were closer to mediocre than spectacular. As a rule it's a good practice to bet against 31-year-old breakouts repeating. If that's not enough, take a look at recent history.
Four quarterbacks topped a 7.5% touchdown rate (minimum 250 attempts) from 2014-2018. Here's how each player's rate changed in the following year:
And here are the four quarterbacks who topped 8.5 yards per attempt over that stretch, with their change the following year:
No quarterback in NFL history has managed a career with efficiency like Tannehill's 2019, and we certainly shouldn't expect him to be the first. My initial projections have Tannehill at 8.0 yards per attempt and a 5.3% touchdown rate. Those are both better than 2019 league average. At his 2019 attempt total, those rates would have cost him 500 yards and seven touchdowns. That would have cost him his place among the top-10 quarterbacks in Fantasy.
Tannehill is a fine guy to draft as part of a two-quarterback strategy, but you should not expect him to be a Fantasy starter unless the Titans bump their pass attempts at least 20%. I projected about a 10% bump. Here are the rest of those Titans' projections:
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