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DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 14: Jonnu Smith #81 of the Tennessee Titans runs against the Denver Broncos after a catch in the first quarter of a game at Empower Field at Mile High on September 14, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Fantasy Football

Does Jonnu Smith remain a must start in a difficult fantasy matchup?

The Tennessee Titans are coming off their best offensive performance after scoring 33 points on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. Tight End Jonnu Smith continued to be a focal point of the offense and has his best day of the season. Now facing a difficult Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, does Jonnu Smith remain a must-start in fantasy football?

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Jonnu Smith has been the breakout tight end of 2020

Currently TE3 in PPR scoring, Jonnu Smith has been the tight end breakout so far this year. Please don’t say that I didn’t try to warn you about this. Back in August, I claimed Smith as my tight end that everyone needed to target in the draft as he was my breakout candidate and someone who I saw finishing inside the top six at the position. So far, so good for the ultra-athletic Smith.

Through two games, Smith has caught eight of his 12 targets for 120 yards and three touchdowns. It was Week 2 that truly set him apart and was a showcase for his skillset. Going against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Smith caught four of his five targets for 86 yards and scored two touchdowns. The part of Smith’s game that is continuously on display is his athleticism and what he can do after the catch. 86 of Smith’s 120 receiving yards (71.66%) have come after the catch. 

Smith’s fantasy value being so reliant on what he does after the catch rather than targets is what can make me worry about a potential drop off if he is injured. While he is TE3 in PPR scoring, he is tied for 11th amongst tight ends in targets and is on a team that will not throw the ball 40 plus times if they can help it. 

Jonnu Smith raised red flags by missing practice on Wednesday

Take a deep breath. Everything is okay. Coming into a short week of practice, it appears that it was a rest day for their star player. What is curious is the team listed Smith with an ankle injury even though nothing happened in their previous game. Unless something popped up out of nowhere, this doesn’t seem like anything significant. On Thursday, Smith was a full participant, so I don’t believe there is anything to worry about regarding his health and availability. I will keep an eye out for their Friday report and post an update if anything changes in his status.

Jonnu Smith’s Fantasy Consistency Score

A metric created by Pro Football Network fantasy analyst Phillip Caldwell, Consistency Score doesn’t look at overall points scored, but instead looks at how consistent each player is throughout the season. More consistent fantasy producers are better season-long investments than inconsistent boom/bust prospects since they produce more “starter quality” weeks.

Players need to have at least four games on record for an adequate sample size. To start the season, the last three weeks of the prior years’ fantasy season, Weeks 14-16, are added in the first three weeks of the current year. That means prior to Week 4 of the season, last year’s production will be part of the calculation.

Jonnu Smith’s consistency score has to be explained a bit as we saw a change in situation in 2019. First, Smith was not even the starter at the beginning of the season. He was behind Delanie Walker, who missed the second half of the year. Also, his quarterback changed. 

Since Week 7, when Ryan Tannehill took over as the starter, Jonnu Smith has a CS of 3.13. That would rank 9th among TEs over that same period. This number is being brought down due to his performances in Week 12 and 13. These are the only weeks where Smith scored less than 7 PPR fantasy points while being in the double-digits in six of the 11 calculated weeks.

Is Jonnu Smith still a TE1 in fantasy this week?

Jonnu Smith does not have an easy matchup in Week 3, and some people might be considering fading him. The Minnesota Vikings currently give up the 10th-fewest points to opposing tight ends. Personally, I am not concerned and still believe Smith is locked in as a must-start in Week 3. Take for example, what Indianapolis was able to do against them in Week 2.

After losing Anthony Barr, Colts’ TE Moe Ali-Cox had six catches for 111 yards against them. Barr’s injury will force Eric Kendricks to both call the defensive adjustment and attempt to guard Smith while being worried about stopping Derrick Henry. Kendricks won’t be able to do this all at one time while trying to guard arguably the most athletic tight end in the NFL who sees a target on 28% of his routes. 

I expect more of the same from Tennessee and Smith in Week 3 as the team will likely be missing A.J. Brown once again, forcing them to lean on Smith and Corey Davis in the passing game.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PFN365 to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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