Marcus Mariota – In my Way Too Early Post Super Bowl Rankings, I talked about Mariota having Top 5 potential. That prediction was cool and trend-setting at the time, but just like my Nirvana tee shirt in high school, it’s quickly become less original than a Starter jacket. When I finished my projections, Mariota was a QB1 but not quite Top 5. With Decker’s arrival, Mariota sees a slight boost. We all know how talented Decker is in the red zone, and Mariota has been the best red zone quarterback in the league since his arrival. Yes, the top quarterback in the NFL. Take that, Tom Brady. Mariota finds himself in the seventh spot at quarterback with the passing touchdown boost (around two) and is now an even better threat to the Top 5.
Running Game – Little to no impact. Given everything just mentioned with Decker, Mariota and the red zone, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry may lose a few red zone attempts, but it’s not significant enough to bump either down.
Eric Decker – Again, the man is a touchdown machine. There is a reason that Twitter was filled with “All Decker does is catch touchdowns” tweets nearly every week of the NFL season. Health is a significant concern, but if Decker is even near 100 percent, he will be one of the top two options for Mariota in the red zone. He won’t be the team’s No. 1 receiver, but he’ll be on the field in every two-receiver set and will move to the slot in three-wide sets. Consider Decker a good bet for 700-800 yards and 6-7 touchdowns, which puts him in the WR4 range.
Corey Davis – Don’t concern yourself Davis fans; he’s still the No. 1 receiver for the Titans, and your fanmanship is safe. I’ll say it again. Davis has Terrell Owens ability, and you don’t bench that or a pick that early in the NFL Draft. Davis will line up outside whenever he’s on the field and will be the other major red zone threat for the Titans. Davis should lead the team in receptions, and yards and battle Decker for the most receiving touchdowns. Davis is a Top 35 receiver and could easily reach WR2 status as he develops, becoming this year’s Michael Thomas. Both Davis and Decker have slightly more value in non-PPR thanks to the touchdown weight.
Rishard Matthews – He takes the biggest hit, as Matthews will see little two-receiver set work due to his effectiveness being best out wide. While you will hear and see reports that the Titans ran the fewest number of three-receiver sets last year, let’s remember a few things. First, people make the mistake of using previous year’s numbers far too often to project a new season. Second, the Titans ran a ton of two tight end sets, but Anthony Fasano (a terrific blocker) is no longer on the team. Look for the Titans to run more three-wide this year, which helps Matthews retain some value. Numbers in the low-50s for receptions, around 700 receiving yards and four touchdowns are doable. That’s a bit of a drop from his initial projection, and it pushes Matthews down into WR5/6 territory and makes him a better best ball option.
Delanie Walker – As with Matthews, Walker loses a bit with the Decker signing. Don’t forget that it takes very little to be a Top 10 tight end these days, though. Walker had a breakout 2015 season with 94 receptions, 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. Walker isn’t sniffing those reception and yardage numbers, but he can still haul in 5-6 touchdowns. Unless it’s a four-wide set (which should be rare), Walker is going to be on the field a high percentage of the time. Mariota and Walker have great chemistry, and projecting Walker for around 60 receptions and low-700 yards with those touchdowns keeps him inside the Top 7 for tight ends. Understandably, with Walker’s age and this situation, he carries slightly more risk than some, but the tight end position reads like a who’s who from MASH.