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2022 Fantasy Football Opportunity Tracker: Titans and Jaguars

The 2022 Opportunity Tracker is where fantasy managers come to discover fantasy value and potential sleepers. We uncover value by analyzing team target distribution and adjusting for offseason additions and subtractions. Many players will have new homes in 2022-23 and leading up to the NFL Draft (April 28th-30th), this series provides some high-level insight into the fantasy impact of important offseason moves for each team. Using this insight, we can help managers stay ahead of the curve in dynasty leagues and uncover vacant roles where teams may rely on newcomers and/or rookies to make an impact.

One of the main concepts we use in this series is “Weighted Opportunity“, created by Scott Barrett at Pro Football Focus. Weighted Opportunity (wOpp) is a great way to equalize the value between targets and carries, particularly for running backs. The calculations for this series were done manually, using statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.

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Tennessee Titans: Return of the King

Key Additions: Robert Woods, Austin Hooper

Notable Losses: D’Onta Foreman, Anthony Firkser

Vacant RB Weighted Opportunities: 216

Vacant WR/TE Targets: 189

Derrick Henry has the most secure workload in the NFL. In addition to his 27.4 carries per game, he saw 32 red-zone carries (in nine games) for a wOpp per game of 20.2 (led the league). He finished 10th in total carries and 18th in red-zone carries, despite only playing NINE GAMES. He did have a plate surgically inserted into his foot midseason, which caused some visible discomfort, so perhaps expectations can be slightly tempered for dynasty. A full offseason of injury-rehab should have him steamrolling multiple defenders per game again in 2022. He has RB1-overall upside in 2022.

Austin Hooper is objectively more talented than any tight end the Titans have rostered in recent memory. Two seasons ago, Titans TEs had a 29% target share, which dropped to 20% in 2021, due to a myriad of injury issues. With Julio Jones and both of Tennessee’s most-targeted TEs leaving 189 available targets behind, Hooper is firmly on the fantasy radar. He is only two years removed from back-to-back 70+ reception seasons in Atlanta. He is a TE2 with upside in this role.

Ryan Tannehill has a 17.3% red-zone carry share and the Titans call designed QB runs for him. With two excellent perimeter weapons and a pass-catching tight end, teams can no longer blitz the Titans at will. Tannehill is an excellent deep-thrower and should be able to capitalize often against single coverage, with his receivers. He has low-end QB1 upside in 2021 and should go under drafted.

Robert Woods joins the Titans with a clear path to a 20+% target share. The Titans targeted WRs on 58.7% of pass attempts in 2021, and 65% of those targets are now available. A slight dip in production should be expected for Woods, but he is still a solid WR2 in this role.

AJ Brown is an elite talent and dynasty asset. His 20% target share last season would have been considerably higher if not for lingering injuries. A ‘bounce-back’ is in store for Brown, after averaging 13.3 wOpp per game in 2021. His floor will remain consistent, but the presence of a second talented receiver will alleviate some of the double-coverage that teams threw at him last year. Remember the AJ Brown hype last season, when the Titans brought in Julio Jones? This situation is better, and won’t garner as much attention. Take advantage while you can.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Game of Jones

Key Additions: Evan Engram, Zay Jones, Christian Kirk

Notable Losses: Carlos Hyde, DJ Chark

Vacant RB Weighted Opportunities: 136

Vacant WR/TE Targets: 239

Doug Pederson will be on the sidelines for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022, so this analysis will use data from his seasons as the Philadelphia Eagles HC.

In each of his five seasons in Philly, Pederson used a committee approach to his backfield. There are two consistent elements in his committee(s):

  1. A early-down back; also gets the majority of goal-line work, more game script dependent (James Robinson)
  2. A 3rd-down back; gets the majority of 2-minute drill work (Travis Etienne)

This pattern was consistent until Miles Sanders was drafted – he was the first true 3-down back that Pederson had in Philly – and even then, Pederson was reluctant to use only one running back.

If the backfield shakes out as suggested above, Travis Etienne will have better season-long value, as the Jaguars likely wont be leading in many games. James Robinson will still have a solid role, and will score several touchdowns – Dougie likes to run near the goal-line – but his game log will be volatile. Etienne should have plenty of opportunities and was an excellent college running back, but these two will likely cannibalize each other’s fantasy production, capping their upside.

The Jaguars are likely to run several 2-TE sets, with both Dan Arnold (blocking-TE) and Evan Engram on the field. Engram is the superior value, as he will likely play the Zach Ertz role in this offense. All that stands in the way of a solid fantasy season from Engram, is his ability to catch the football. He is an upside-TE2 in this projected role.

New Faces in Duval

Pederson likes to throw the ball, and his offense can support two and sometimes three pass-catchers. In 2017, the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl, they had three pass-catchers eclipse 95 targets. That team had peak Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz, which are big shoes to fill, but the Jags will need to throw the ball a lot in 2022.

Christian Kirk got 9.9 wOpp per game in Arizona last season, in a similar three-pass-catcher offense. That is a fair median projection for his role in this offense. He did get paid the third-highest APY WR contract of all time (at the time) to join the Jags, so perhaps they have a slightly larger role in mind for the speedster. Kirk projects as a WR3 with upside, thus far.

Marvin Jones is the biggest winner coming out of the Pederson hiring. Alshon Jeffrey and Jones have very similar player profiles – big route-runners with great hands – which lend themselves toward red-zone usage. Jones had a 34% red-zone target share last season, so he already has that trust built-up with Trevor Lawrence. Jones can be drafted as a WR3, but at a far better value than Kirk in 2022.

Laviska Shenault makes a lot of sense as a post-hype sleeper this season. He got 10.5 wOpp per game last year, but he got the ball near the line of scrimmage rather than down the field. Pederson will be able to spread the field to get Shenault in space. Don’t be afraid to draft him in the late rounds in 2022, while other managers lament his poor 2021 season.

Don’t be surprised if the Jaguars use an early pick on a pass-catching TE or WR in this month’s NFL Draft.

Carson Wentz was the front-runner for MVP in 2017 with Doug Pederson as his coach. Trevor Lawrence has a similar build and playing style but is a far superior prospect. He should be near the top of dynasty-QB rankings with Pederson in town and should finish in the top-15 for fantasy QBs in 2022.

Check back again as we finish off the AFC South with the new-look Colts and the Houston Texans.

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