Entering the third year of his NFL career, Jonnu Smith will be the TE1 for the Tennessee Titans for the first time. This isn’t just a new thing for him, but it’s a new thing for the Titans as well. Delanie Walker has been the starter for the Titans since 2013, although he was injured most of 2018 and 2019. Now with Smith set to take the reigns, what is his 2020 fantasy football floor and ceiling?[sv slug=mocksim]
Jonnu Smith was one of the most efficient tight ends in 2019
When Smith filled in for Walker as the starter after his injury, he was one of the most efficient players in the NFL. Fellow Pro Football Network writer Lucas Ellinas has this to say about Jonnu and his productivity in 2019:
“What Smith did with his limited targets was remarkable, something we can determine by looking at PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM). The OSM shows how responsible a player was for the statistics they produced, allowing us to gauge how successful players were, even if their targets were limited. A number of Titans players performed very well on this metric. Henry’s overall grade of 21.27 led all players at his position, as did Tannehill’s at 34.36.
However, while those grades deserve praise, Smith out-performed them both by a significant margin. His grade of 44.32 was the highest recorded by any player during the four-year period for which PFN has OSM data. In other words, Smith got more out of his opportunities in 2019 than any player has during the last four years.”
That’s some very strong praise for Smith, and by looking into his stats, we can start to get a feel for what the fantasy floor and ceiling are for Jonnu in 2020.
Drafting Jonnu Smith at his fantasy floor
The consensus on Smith appears to be in the TE17-20 range on various fantasy websites. Last year, he finished as TE19, but these numbers are misleading because of the existence of Walker through the first six weeks.
While Smith did show a lot of promise in 2019, there were games where the Titans didn’t involve him in the offense. Even with Smith starting the final 11 games of the season, he posted seven or fewer fantasy points for five of those contests. This is definitely an area of concern and should be considered when projecting Smith’s floor for 2020.
Smith was a boom or bust streaming option last year, and the floor for him this year can be looked upon as the same. He will be starting at the tight end position all year for the Titans if healthy, which should boost his stats significantly, but there could still be games where he is overlooked in this run-heavy offense.
Last year, Smith was targeted 44 times. Those targets are set to rise, and I don’t see any scenario where a healthy Jonnu Smith doesn’t command at least 50 targets in 2020. If he can convert on those 50 targets as he did in 2020, that would easily make him a top 15 TE for fantasy football in 2020 at his floor.
2020 Floor: 40 receptions, 540 total yards, 3 TD’s. This would have ranked Smith as TE15 in 2019.
Jonnu Smith’s fantasy ceiling is a top 5 tight end
If Jonnu Smith can take that next step in 2020, we have found this year’s Mark Andrews. Andrews, TE for the Ravens, was last year’s breakout candidate at the tight end spot, and that is Smith’s ceiling for this year.
While he isn’t going to overtake A.J. Brown as Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target, the ceiling for Smith would be for him to become Tannehill’s second-best receiving option. If he commands 75+ targets and converts them with the same success rate as last year, that would give him 750 or more receiving yards for 2020.
The Titans could also draw up more designed runs for Smith like they did last year. He was incredible when they utilized him out of the backfield. He had 78 rushing yards last season, and with more designed touches for him out of the backfield, he could easily compile over 100 rushing yards in 2020.
Smith should also see an increase in red zone targets, which will translate into more touchdowns. Derrick Henry (18) and A.J. Brown (9) accounted for most of the Titans touchdowns last year, but that should even out more this year.
Smith has already shown what he can do in the red zone, and if given the targets, he could become one of Tannehill’s go-to options near the goal line.
2020 Ceiling: 65 receptions, 930 total yards, 7 touchdowns
Jonnu Smith’s 2020 Fantasy Outlook
There is no doubt that Smith will outperform his ADP this year. The real question is how close he can get to his ceiling. The main obstacle between Smith and a breakout year is the Titans game script.
If they continue to run the ball like last year, he is going to produce at his floor. If the Titans decide to exploit defenses for stacking the box like they should, look for Jonnu Smith to produce at his ceiling and become the breakout candidate of the year at the tight end position.
Fantasy Floor and Ceiling is a segment I will be doing all offseason leading up to the start of the 2020 season. The floor for a player is the worst that he could do this upcoming season and his ceiling is the best that he could do this season.