By: Little Italy (Publisher)
Follow on Twitter: @LILITALY853
In this series I will take one player from each team to add to my All 32 Bust Team for 2021.
TE: Anthony Firkser
I was just about to publish this article yesterday morning with a different player selected, and then the big Julio Jones trade was announced. The player that originally was going to be featured here was quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who I felt was too pricy for my liking in drafts. However, now I think Tannehill is going to be the best backend QB1 to target in drafts. That article, along with two hours of Sunday Funday time went out the window quicker than teen Mary’s half-dressed boyfriend when dad knocked on the bedroom door. So, then it was back to the drawing board to find the next likely bust candidate. The easy choice would have been Josh Reynolds, but he was already a bust in my eyes. Was it Derrick Henry, hell no, this trade helps Henry and his quest for the 3k season. I decided the person who will likely bust is the same guy that has been generating a lot of buzz over the last few weeks, tight end Anthony Firkser.
Look prior to this bigtime trade for Julio I could see a clear path for Firkser to be that nice late round draft pick who finishes the season as a top ten option at a position that is brutal for fantasy. The reports in camp have been good, as he has been catching target after target from Tannehill, as that Jonnu Smith replacement. On top of that the Titans new OC, Todd Downing, spent the past two seasons with the team as their tight ends coach, so that should bode well for Firkser. Downing has stated he does not want to change much of what former OC turned Atlanta HC Arthur Smith had put into place. This means a continued run heavy approach (51.8% in 2020), as well as heavy two tight end sets, which the team ran on 35% of their offensive snaps last season. Not to mention last season Tennessee’s 29.6% tight end target share was fourth best in the league to go along with their sixth ranked 138 targets. So how could Firkser be a bust with all that said?
The thing with guys like Firkser, much like Robert Tonyan last season, is touchdowns are huge in not only fantasy relevance but production. Firkser himself only had one touchdown all season to his credit, but former Tennessee TE1, now future New England TE1, Jonnu Smith scored eight in 2020. Those red zone targets should fall to Firkser now right, which opens a path to fantasy relevance. Yes, it “could” have, but with Julio now on the team, the days of being Tannehill’s primary red zone target (team high 17 in 2020) are done. I have seen where “Analysts” have made the statement where after the top five tight ends in fantasy we are chasing touchdown upside anyways, which I say is lazy analysis. What leads to a top ten tight end finish isn’t the chasing the touchdowns, it’s all about roster makeup. In looking at the top ten fantasy tight ends from last year they all have one thing in common, and that is their respective teams didn’t have a viable #2 wide receiver. Think about it, Kelce, Waller, and Hockenson all were the first or second most targeted on their teams because of the lack of a true #2, which can be said for the rest of the top ten as well. Therefore, to think that Firkser comes in and becomes heavily targeted, especially, in the red zone again is a pipe dream, because those red zone looks are going to be hard to come by with the two studs at wide out, and that horse in the backfield.
With Tannehill throwing fewer than most quarterbacks a game (AVG 30 in 2020), with the Titans run heavy approach, I feel those banking on Firkser to be this year’s Robert Tonyan are going to be left feeling displeased with the outcome. As the Titans tight end two last year Firkser averaged just two receptions for 18 yards a game, outside his monster week six game against a trash Texans’ defense that saw him catch eight of nine for 113 yards and a touchdown. This game made up for 29% of his season yardage total. Even absorbing Jonnu’s numbers from last season (AVG 2.9 Rec. in 14 games) will not be enough to make him a top 10 option this year, which with the all offseason hype being generated for Firkser will make him a bust. Instead of Firkser, I would suggest targeting the Saints anointed every down tight end Adam Trautman late in drafts in his place, as Trautman has a clearer path to a backend TE1 fantasy finish in 2021 then Firkser does. So to sum it up: