In your fantasy draft, if you drafted a receiver in the 13th round that had 945 receiving and 9 touchdowns, I think it would be safe to say that would be considered a steal in fantasy football circles. Well, that is how much respect Rishard Matthews is getting in mock drafts for 2018. The question people have is how much his role will be reduced with the coming out party that Corey Davis had in the playoffs against New England. I believe the answer is not very much.
The Titans have rarely had a difference maker at the wide receiver position. One could argue that Derrick Mason was the best receiver that the Titans have had since they have been in Tennessee and that we may have to go back to the days of Haywood Jefferies to have a receiver that was among the league’s best. That being said, I think Corey Davis is the real deal and he will require double teams and teams to game plan ways to slow him down in this high powered Matt LaFleur offense. Due to that, it will leave Matthews matched up against the teams number 2 or 3 cornerback and with his skills, he could at the very least match his numbers from 2017.
As every Titan fan is doing when trying to see what our offense will look like in 2018, let’s check out the 2017 Rams. The leading receiver was Todd Gurley with 64 receptions. It is fair to say that Dion Lewis could match what Gurley did but the Titans leading receiver won’t be a running back. The Rams had Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, and Cooper Kupp as their main targets at the receiver position. They did not have a legitimate tight end like Delanie Walker so the Titans definitely have more mouths to feed. Jared Goff averaged 20 completions a game over the season. Mariota in a down year and in a pathetic 2003 style offense averaged almost 19 a game. So it wouldn’t be a leap to say he will average 25 a game in 2018.
Matthews has great hands and he will be relied upon to help Mariota out in the 7 to 15 yard range. It appears that LaFleur loves to run crossing routes and quick posts which really work to Matthews strengths. He is rarely jammed off the line and is a good one cut runner. I can see lots of patterns where Walker or Davis clears out the middle and might even be the primary target but Mariota makes such quick decisions that it will be tough to pass up Matthews for an easy 9 yard completion.
With Matthews going in the 13th round of most fantasy mock drafts that means people think of him like they think of Josh Doctson, Mohammed Sanu, and rookies like Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton. That is utterly amazing when you look at what Matthews has done in his career and that he is still the number 2 receiver on a Titans team that is offensively poised to take a big step forward this year.
Start thinking about drafting Matthews around the 10th round as your WR4 and be very happy with the results.
Projected Stats: 16 games, 64 catches, 960 yards, 6 TD’s