The wide receiver unit for the Tennessee Titans has been quite the disappointment for the past decade. The Titans have arguably had the worst receiving unit in the entire NFL over this period. It is no wonder why a few highly drafted quarterbacks have struggled to find success, but that is a story for another time. This receiver room is suddenly full of talent and potential, and I will dive into which Titans receiver is most likely to exceed expectations in 2020, particularly as it pertains to the expectations set by the betting market.
The exciting wide receivers of the 2020 Tennessee Titans
Will A.J. Brown have another big season?
A.J. Brown burst onto the NFL scene in 2019 and gave the Titans the top wide receiving option that they have been missing for a long, long time. He totaled 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns, punishing every team that let him slip to the 51st pick in the 2019 Draft.
While “punishing” would not be a word typically used to describe a productive receiver in the modern era, it does describe Brown’s rookie season that saw him lead the league in yards after catch per reception at 8.9, the highest mark by any player since 2010. For his efforts, he’s also on the board as a longshot MVP possibility going into the 2020 season, at +25000. At 224 pounds, Brown showcased that he can run not only around you, but also through you regularly.
AJ Brown is a gd tank (this was 3rd & 13) pic.twitter.com/53Eouoodgt
— Ben Baldwin (@benbbaldwin) July 13, 2020
Are there reasons to doubt A.J. Brown in year two?
Nevertheless, there seems to be a lot of skepticism in the media on whether Brown can repeat his success in his sophomore season. DraftKings certainly does not believe in him progressing in year two, setting his over/under at a paltry 975.5 yards.
Yes, the Titans have a run-first scheme. Yes, Brown will face heightened attention from opponent secondaries in 2020. There are certainly concerns that Brown will not see a standard number of targets for a team’s WR1.
However, he simply does not need these targets to break 1,000 yards in 2020. His 2.67 yards per route run was third in the league in 2019, and I see no reason for this incredible efficiency to regress significantly. He has another year to build on his seemingly outstanding connection with Ryan Tannehill and continue to get better individually.
Will A.J. Brown see more targets in 2020?
Brown has shown the internal fire it takes to be great since his time at Ole Miss and took it to another level in his rookie season with the Titans. While many analysts may scoff at a rookie year yards per target of 12.5 and declare it irreplicable, they are not considering what Brown truly brings to the table.
Brown is too strong for your corner and too fast for your safety. Expect to see Brown’s targets in the 100-120 range in 2020, allowing us to easily hit our over mark, even if we do see a natural regression to 10-11 yards per target.
While odds on Brown’s yards have been released, I am going to hold off on betting this because it is his over on receptions and touchdowns that are more appealing to me. Odds on his receptions and touchdowns are yet to be released, but we will check back in on Brown when they are.
Will Adam Humphries have a resurgence in 2020?
Humphries did not have the year he or the Titans expected him to have when they signed him to a four-year deal worth $36 million during the 2019 free agency period. He was hampered the majority of the year with an ankle injury that only allowed him to play 12 games and garner 47 targets. If he can remain healthy, can Humphries produce to the level that his contract would suggest he is capable of?
Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM) would certainly suggest that he is capable. The train of thought behind OSM, which is what makes it so valuable, is that it is based on metrics that are solely within an individual’s control, things like separation and yards after catch vs expectation. PFN’s own Oliver Hodgkinson vouches for a larger role for Humphries in 2020 after he was the sixth-ranked receiver in OSM.
I believe Humphries is an incredibly valuable asset for this Titans team for his ability to create separation anywhere on the field. However, I do not believe he will see the targets necessary to put up large numbers simply due to the offensive scheme that is built on the run and play-action.
He is vital to this team because you can almost guarantee he can get himself open on third down and short/medium, but I do not believe he is the most likely Titans receiver to exceed expectations in 2020 almost completely due to the Titans scheme.
Can Corey Davis finally live up to the hype?
As the former fifth overall pick, Corey Davis has failed to live up to the hype he entered the league with. This led to the Titans declining his fifth-year option that was simply unjustifiable given his production. Davis has all the tools to be a highly successful receiver, and he has flashed this potential at times over his three-year career. Is this the year that Davis escapes mediocrity and lives up to his pre-draft hype?
It is perplexing why Davis hasn’t produced more early in his career given his physical ability. While I don’t think a lack of focus or determination has been the driving factor in Davis’ lack of production, he will certainly be playing with an additional chip on his shoulder in 2020.
With the Titans declining his fifth-year option, Davis is officially in a contract year where he knows he must produce to land a solid contract next year considering his first three years were uninspiring.
Furthermore, Davis quietly battled injuries in 2019. While it didn’t show up on the injury report, it was revealed that he was dealing with a nagging turf toe all year. Additionally, he had a hip issue that held him out of Week 10. Perhaps Davis chose to not reveal his injuries to avoid being labeled as “injury-prone” in his upcoming contract year. Regardless, I believe these injuries did hold Davis back in 2019.
What does Corey Davis need to do in 2020?
Davis is the clear-cut WR2 in for the Titans and therefore will see plenty of time on the field as a result. Despite Brown’s aforementioned extraordinary efficiency, it was Davis who caught the higher percentage of his targets at 62.3%.
So with such an efficient catch rate, all we need is for Davis to get more targets and he should produce. Well, the Titans will have to fill the targets left behind by Tajae Sharpe and Delanie Walker. While these will be split amongst the receivers and tight ends, PFN Titans analyst Myles Underwood and I both believe Davis will be the largest beneficiary of this void in targets.
Ultimately, Myles puts Davis’ 2020 projection at 105 targets, 69 receptions, 975 receiving yards, and five TDs. While these numbers are certainly optimistic, they soar over the over/under yards presented on DraftKings of over 600.5. Davis is the Titans receiver most likely to exceed expectations in 2020, and therefore I have placed the following bet on DraftKings sportsbook.
Official bet: Corey Davis over 600.5 yards, 3 units