One of the biggest second-half storylines last year was the Tennessee Titans’ run to the AFC Championship Game. We’ve all heard how impressive Ryan Tannehill was when he became the full-time starter (noted in the chart below) and how Derrick Henry bulldozed his way to a rushing title. The A.J. Brown truthers (myself included) have been out in full force this offseason and expectations are high for this team.
One under-the-radar player for the Titans over the second-half of 2019 was their second-string tight end, Jonnu Smith. Smith, who took over for the injured Delanie Walker after Week 6, finished the season on a high note.
Now atop the depth-chart after the release of Walker, what fantasy value can owners expect from Smith in 2020?
For all the visual people out there, it’s hard not to get excited when players’ athletic testing measurables stack the charts. The concept of a player being “built in a lab” is fun to talk about, but it needs to translate to the field. That being said, Smith, a three-year veteran, tested exceptionally well back at his combine.
Testing at or above the 50th percentile in nearly every category, it’s difficult to see those high marks and not imagine him owning the field. Thankfully for fantasy owners, we got to see a taste of that this past season after Smith became the full-time tight end for the Titans.
Incumbent tight end Walker, who missed nearly all of 2018 with an injury, only managed six games in 2019 before being placed in injured reserve again. The aging vet, a former model of consistency at the position, had played his last games for the Titians. This opened the door for Smith to take on a larger role.
Oddly enough, Smith and Tannehill both took over full-time starting roles in Week 7. The splits for Smith both before and after this transition take into account both his prior role behind Walker but also his role with Marcus Mariota as his quarterback.