Eric Decker Solidifies Marcus Mariota as a Top-10 Fantasy QB
Some major news came out of Tennessee on Sunday night, as the Titans managed to sign free agent wide receiver Eric Decker. The obvious question for 2QB fantasy leaguers is what does this do for Marcus Mariota, one of the best young quarterbacks in the game? Let’s investigate.
The Final Piece
Decker is the last of what has been a major overhaul of the Titan pass-catchers. Last year, the team brought in Rishard Matthews to be their top target. While Matthews was productive, Tennessee decided that they needed reinforcements — a lot of them.
This offseason, the Titans drafted Corey Davis inside of the top-five, and Taywan Taylor in the third round. They also selected athletic play-making tight end Jonnu Smith in the third. Now with Decker, the team has added three legitimate talents at wideout and one at tight end. Along with Delanie Walker and DeMarco Murray, the Titans now have potentially one of the best sets of receiving weapons in the NFL.
TDs + TDs = More TDs
Since he entered the league in 2015, there have been only three quarterbacks with a better touchdown rate than Mariota. Here’s a look at the top five.
In the red zone, Mariota has been the best quarterback at converting pass attempts into touchdowns. Again, here’s a look at the top-five.
With elite names up and down both lists (except for Blake Bortles), it’s evident Mariota is one of the best young passers in football. While there’s always some expected regression when someone puts up crazy efficiency numbers, I’m not sure we have to worry about that as much with Mariota now that he has Decker.
Decker is tied with Terrell Owens for the fourth-best touchdown rate since 2000 (minimum 500 targets). Much like Mariota, he has also excelled in the red zone.
Decker is one of the most prolific touchdown scorers at the wide receiver position ever. That should help to stave off any regression for Mariota. As Kevin Cole pointed out, quarterbacks throwing to Decker have seen over a one percent bump in touchdown rate.
— Kevin Cole (@Cole_Kev) June 9, 2017
A similar bump for Mariota would make him the best touchdown thrower in football.
The only real strike against Mariota right now is a lack of pass attempts. Through 27 games, the young gunslinger has only attempted 30.44 attempts, a 487 attempt pace over the course of a full season. However, with all of these additional weapons, one has to wonder if the Titans throw more in 2017. Let’s take a look at some potential touchdown outcomes for Mariota based on his current touchdown rate, the bumped touchdown rate, and his number of pass attempts.
|Attempts||15-16 Rate||Bump Rate||Average|
As you can see, 30 passing touchdowns should come fairly easily to Mariota if he experiences the same bump to his touchdown rate that previous quarterbacks have had. Even if Mariota sees just half of that bump, he would hit 30 touchdowns at 500 attempts. Should Mariota maintain his upgraded touchdown rate over 550 passes, he would throw about 36 touchdowns!
The addition of Decker doesn’t just improve Mariota’s outlook, it cements him as a top-10 fantasy quarterback for 2017. His touchdown upside combined with the rushing ability he provides — about 23 yards and 0.1 touchdowns per game for his career — means that the sky is truly the limit for Mariota this season. It would not surprise me if this time next year we were talking about him coming off of a top-five season.