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Fantasy Football: Is Ryan Tannehill set up to thrive in 2021?

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) passes in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.

The Ryan Tannehill story should eventually be turned into a dope documentary. Most know that he started his career at Texas A&M as a wide receiver, but the fact that he turned in 55-844-5 and 46-609-4 receiving lines as a freshman and sophomore before transitioning to quarterback demonstrates the sort of high-level athlete at hand.

Tannehill was then immediately slotted as an NFL starting quarterback after the Miami Dolphins acquired his services with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Yes, Tannehill didn’t have a great six years in South Beach. Also yes, his demise has been a bit overstated over the years. A popular narrative this offseason has been the idea that Sam Darnold will thrive upon getting away from Adam Gase in a similar manner as Tannehill; just realize the latter quarterback was at worst an average signal-caller with his first team while the former was objectively awful.

Even in Miami it was clear that Tannehill possessed the sort of skill set that is rare to find from any mere mortal.

Fast forward to 2021 and discussion around Tannehill typically includes the words “underrated” and “baller.” What follows is a breakdown on just how good he’s been over the past season and a half as well as what we should make of his fantasy stock ahead of next season.

PFF's 2021 College Football Preview Magazine offers a one-of-a-kind deep dive into every team and every conference in the FBS. You'll get PFF grades, position breakdowns, betting predictions, accuracy data and more, making it the only resource you'll need to prepare for the 2021 college football season.

Tannehill has been nothing short of elite since taking over in 2019

It took just six weeks for the Titans to move on from Marcus Mariota in favor of Tannehill in 2019. Ever since, Tanne has looked the part of a truly great professional quarterback.

  • PFF passing grade: 92.8 (No. 2 among 59 quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks since 2019)
  • Big-time throw rate: 5.2% (tied for No. 10)
  • Turnover-worthy play rate: 3.1% (tied for No. 20)
  • Yards per attempt: 8.6 (No. 1)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 76.5% (tied for No. 17)
  • QB rating: 110.6 (No. 2)

The Titans certainly make a habit of flowing the offense through RB Derrick Henry, but the idea that Tannehill is simply a game manager is patently false. This was particularly true in 2020, as Tannehill put the team on his back on more than a few occasions while engineering the league’s fourth-ranked scoring offense.

Tannehill’s accuracy downfield was particularly uncanny. Overall, only Derek Carr (53.5%) and Baker Mayfield (51.8%) had a higher adjusted completion percentage on throws 20-plus yards downfield than Tannehill (51.3%).

It’s fair to leave Tannehill outside of the league’s top five quarterbacks at the moment due to the reality that we haven’t seen him fully carry this offense; his 528 dropbacks in 2020 ranked just 18th among all signal-callers. Still, there really hasn’t been a demonstrated flaw to his game. Tannehill is the single-highest graded passer when operating out of a clean pocket over the past two seasons, and he ranks 10th among 63 qualified signal-callers when pressured.

More good news for Titans and Tannehill faithful: The improvements inside of this offense ahead of 2021 can’t be understated.

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