Make Up or Break Up: Ryan Tannehill (Fantasy Football)
Oh, Ryan Timothy Tannehill III, what a complicated ride we have been on together. You caught my eye after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2012. Already a seasoned fantasy player, I would not jump the gun and draft an untested rookie, but I decided to keep my eye on you from afar. You had an average rookie year, finishing as QB14 with just over 3,000 passing yards and 12 TDs and 13 INTs. Your sophomore outing was a big step up as you started, found your footing, and threw for almost 4,000 yards finishing as QB11. You really piqued my interest in a long-term relationship during your 2014 season. With your 27-to-12 TD to INT ratio, over 40,00 yards, and over 66% completion rate, you were the perfect QB6. I had drafted you late, and you finished with the likes of Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Big Ben in his prime. You were not flashy by any means, but you only had four weeks outside the top-20. The following season was when the wheels started to fall off for us.
In 2015, other fantasy owners and I were disappointed with your blah QB17 finish. You only averaged 16 fantasy points that season and most weeks you hovered between 12-14. Our relationship was starting to feel sour. In 2018 I left you – what I thought was for good, Ryan. After a year sat out due to an ACL tear (I sent you a muffin basket) and the news of you heading to the Tennessee Titans – one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL, I had thrown away the promise ring. I felt pretty good about this choice until the back half of 2019. You came on strong starting in week eight, and for the rest of the season, you clocked only one week outside of the top twelve.
This on-again, off-again has to stop Ryan. On the back of a superb second half of 2019, I fell back in love again and drafted you in 2020. With a career-high 34 TDs, you finished as QB7. Still not the MOST consistent partner, but you had eight weeks in the top ten and seven weeks in the top 24. Stable enough for a fantasy owner who likes to draft their QBs late. We had worked through our problems. I had given you a drawer. With the excellent draft capital from 2020 (you were going as the 21st QB off the board and finished as QB7), people were willing to go in on you again in 2021. And you were…blah. Bland. You had three games with over 20 fantasy points, one of which was a throwaway week 17 matchup against Houston, and you just could not win me weeks. Heck, you barely prevented me from losing weeks.
The weird thing is when you look at the numbers, you weren’t BAD per se. You were just exceedingly average.
In 2021, ten QBs (playing 12 or more games) averaged over 20 fantasy points a game. In 2015 with the same parameters, that number was four. FOUR averaged over 20 fantasy points a game. The position of QB has transitioned so much just in the last five years with the combination of rushing upside with the NFL’s passion for pure passing offense. When these things combined, we started to see QBs scoring 30 or 40 fantasy points a game. Not every week, mind you, but more regularly. Years ago, this would have been unheard of. Now, if you draft someone like Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, you are actually banking on this happening several times in the season. In 2021, there were 27 times that a QB scored 30 or more fantasy points in a week. Average QB scoring is no longer average, Ryan. It is hard to say, but the needle has simply moved, and you have landed on the wrong side of it.
So, where do we stand heading into 2022? After a rough playoff run with the Titans as the number one seed, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com you aren’t even projected to go as one of the top-20 QBs this season. I certainly do not want you as my starter and not even my backup. People are scared, and rightfully so. The Titans traded away their best pass catcher in AJ Brown and are building their passing attack around rookie Treylon Burks, seasoned veteran Robert Woods, and “I wish he would catch more passes” aging Derrick Henry. I can’t say I have a lot of hope.
Are we missing something, Ryan? Is there a glimmer of hope there? Still a slight twinkle in that eye? I want to be able to consider you in 2QB leagues and maybe even as a streaming possibility in 2022, but I cannot ignore the red flags. It does not mean that I am not still rooting for you; I will just be doing so from afar, and trust me, I will be the first one to send you congratulations if you prove me wrong.