When Delanie Walker signed with the Titans in 2013, he was coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl with the 49ers but he only caught 21 balls for 344 yards. Walker knew he wanted to go to a team with a bright future but he wanted to be a main option for the offense. Walker found the latter half with the Titans from 2012-2015 and now he is poised for the former but he will no longer be the main option on offense. That does not mean that Walker will be a forgotten man on offense this year but in Fantasy Football it could be a tough road.
Walker is a consummate veteran player who commands respect in the locker room. He is a great mentor for Jonnu Smith and Luke Stocker but he still wants the ball. Walker’s role in a Matt LaFleur offense is an interesting question. In 2017, the Rams leading tight end had 25 receptions. In looking at LaFleur’s history, most of his time has been spent as a quarterback coach besides his year as the Rams OC in 2017. It is hard to extrapolate exactly how he will use the Titans tight ends this year.
As Titans fans, we are used to the two tight end sets with Walker being in motion looking for the match up with a linebacker and the other tight end used primarily as the blocking tight end. When we drafted Jonnu Smith last year, I think many of us hoped to see two tight end sets where both got involved in the passing game. Unfortunately, our previous offensive coordinator did not see that as a viable option.
Since LaFleur is bringing a modern offense to Tennessee, I think we will see Walker being a nice option in the red zone but he might not match his numbers from last year. Walker can be a very good tight end for the Titans on the field this year but in the world of fantasy football, you might want to stay clear. If you are in one of those leagues who force you to draft a tight end then Walker is obviously in the top 10 but if it is an optional tight end league, I would look elsewhere. I think with Smith’s athletic ability and Stockers reliable hands, the Titans will have an excellent group but that will hurt Walker in the stat book.
In 2017, Walker had 74 receptions for 807 yards but only 3 touchdowns. In a PPR league, that was enough to be just below Evan Engram and Jimmy Graham which put him in the high end tight end category. With Walker in a contract year, he will be motivated to put up numbers. I think he is an important piece to the puzzle for the Titans and I can see him being brought back next year, despite his age, as the window for a Titans Super Bowl run is opening wide.
As mentioned, if you are in a tight end optional league, stay away from drafting Walker. If a tight end is mandatory, he should be around the 10th tight end off the board.
2018 Projection: 13 games, 41 receptions, 502 yards, and 8 touchdowns.