What to expect of Corey Davis for FF
Corey Davis was to be one of the significant rookies in 2017 fantasy football. He was the fifth pick in the NFL draft and the first wide receiver drafted. In many dynasty leagues, he was also a top five picks. In redraft fantasy football leagues, Davis was selected as a WR2 or WR3.
As the preseason came, the top rookie wide receivers became a bit of a dice roll. Mike Williams and Davis were widely considered the top two rookies wide receivers. The alternate “fun” pick was a “speed-demon” named John Ross. Davis had ankle surgery in the spring and a hurt hamstring during preseason. Williams injured his back and was initially thought to be out for the year after surgery. The Chargers decided not to place him on injured reserve and hope for the best. Williams returned three weeks ago. He has two catches and averages 15 snaps per game. Ross fumbled the only pass he caught and has been recovering from injury til last week. Davis was the only one of the three to produce. During week one, he had six catches for 69 yards. As has been the theme here, Davis pulled his hamstring in week two. The preseason guesswork of the top rookie wide receiver for the first eight weeks, despite anemic production by all, wound up being Davis.
For the second half of the season, Davis should produce as many expected and be the clear top rookie wide receiver. Ross doesn’t offer much hope yet. Williams isn’t receiving enough snaps to become overly productive. As if often the case in fantasy football, opportunity equals success and Davis has the most opportunity.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey announced this week that Davis would be starting. The Titans start veteran Rishard Matthews who was one of the top third down targets in the NFL last season. They also start Eric Decker who has more than 400 catches and 5400 yards during his 8 year NFL career. To put words into Mularkey’s mouth, “The Titans feel Davis is better than one of Matthews or Decker.”
During week one, even after no preseason action, Davis had more targets than any other Titan included pro bowl tight end Delanie Walker.
The Titans quarterback, Marcus Mariota, threw the ball to the rookie wideout once out of every four snaps in week one. No Titans player has had anywhere near as favorable a ratio of targets to snaps in 2017.
For the rest of the season, it appears the expectations should be lofty. I would suggest trading for Davis if one owns Ross or Williams in fantasy football.
This week, the Titans face the Baltimore Ravens sixth-rated pass defense. The rookie is likely to be matched up with Jimmy Smith. Smith is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Do you remember all of the draft hype about Davis? How he is either too tall, too strong, or too fast for NFL cornerbacks to cover? We shall see on Sunday. Smith offers a terrific test for the rookie wideout, as do the Ravens.
A reasonable for projection for Davis for the second half of the season (nine games) would be 44 catches for 450 yards and 5 touchdowns.
One interesting hmmm thought for this week is that Delanie Walker is injured and possibly missing this week’s game.
Coach Mularkey is a former tight end that has an affection for the position. During the prior two seasons, the Titans base offense was a three tight end set. The Titans only have three tight ends on the roster this season and their base offense is a two tight end set. If Walker sits, the Titans have no depth at the position that bears a lot of Mularkey’s attention.
Walker has been one of the best tight ends in football and one of Mariota’s favorite targets. Of course, he often lines up alongside right tackle Jack Conklin as a traditional tight end. The Titans have also moved Walker around plenty. He lines up in the slot often and even lines up out wide. Occasionally, Walker lines up in the backfield and shifts presnap.
The Titans drafted Jonnu Smith and he has been an impressive rookie tight end. The expected plan is for Phillip Supernaw to slide into Smith’s spot while Smith replaces Walker in the receiving tight end role. Will both tight ends be expected to play every offensive snap?
The Titans have been using a double-wing package at times this year. (CreativeCommons image below)
In the double-wing set, the entire alignment is “in tight.” The receivers line up caddy-corner to the tight end as split ends commonly do in high school offenses. Davis already lined up “in-tight” during week one and his brief appearance in week two.
Considering Davis may have a difficult time with Jimmy Smith covering him and that the Titans will need to give Jonnu Smith “a breather,” and Davis’ brief history of lining up “in-tight”, it seems likely that Davis could fill in as the move tight end role. To reiterate, he can emulate Delanie Walker in the slot and shifting out of the backfield, while Jonnu Smith replaces Walker’s snaps when he lines up next to the right tackle.