Nothing went quite right for the Tennessee Titans last week, and a lot of that can be attributed to their neglect of Delanie Walker. For just the third time in the last sixteen games, he had fewer than six targets (five) and had the iffy production to match (42 yards). He sat well below the 11 targets per game he averaged down the stretch last season. They were taking on a stout Vikings defense that obliterated exotic smash mouth and Marcus Mariota. Should you trust Walker in your fantasy football lineup this week against Detroit?
Well, for the targets, Mike Mularkey has already admitted that giving him similar targets to Andre Johnson and Harry Douglas was probably a mistake, so you don’t have to worry about that. The Titans will turn back towards Walker this week, clearing out the targets that were previously sent towards Johnson and Douglas. The offense will also open up more, since the Lions’ game plan is dissimilar from the slow-down, drag-out Vikings offense.
In those seven games down the stretch where Walker averaged 11 targets, he had 90 yards or a touchdown in all but one, which means if the Titans tilt back towards Walker, he’s a shoo-in for top-five tight end production. The targets alone are reason enough for you to slide Walker back into your lineup (or eschewing one-week wonders like Jack Doyle). The Titans needlessly diluted their offense and a lot of that was likely equal parts exotic smash mouth and getting smashed in the mouth by Minnesota.
Speaking of Jack Doyle, Walker’s opponent this week, Detroit, just got finished being completely incapable of stopping the tight end position, including the two scores to Doyle. In fact, one-third of all tight end touchdowns last week came as a result of the Lions being complete garbage against TEs. It’s not a new problem, either, since they yielded twelve touchdowns to tight ends last season or 6% of TE scores.
Considering that each team is about 3% of the league, that means they gave up twice their allotment of tight end scores. They’re miserable against the tight end, meaning that Delanie will feast this weekend. While Doyle is the backup TE, Dwayne Allen also scored and kicked in 53 yards. He did this on only six targets, so if Delanie gets the targets rebound we anticipate, he should exceed those numbers.
Walker is the perfect week two bounce-back candidate, and if you’re thinking of straying from him, don’t. He has the perfect confluence of talent, opportunity and opposition. He’ll end the week as a top-five TE. Do not end the week kicking yourself because you sat him.