Rishard Matthews wound up being the Titans number one wide receiver last season. Raise your hand if you saw that coming? Anyone? Yeah me either. I, like most of the football universe, expected Corey Davis or Eric Decker to fill that role. In a season forecasted to be filled with sunshine, Matthews was a lone ray of sunlight in an otherwise cloudy sky of receivers. The key to projecting Rishard Matthews 2018 future lies in the past and the present. One might say they are connected?
Last season Matthews filled an obvious void that was likely meant to be commanded by rookie Corey Davis. Matthews finished the season with 87 targets. That was good for a 17.5 percent share of the team’s targets. Matthews certainly didn’t let those targets go to waste. He snagged 53 percent of those targets for 795 yards and four touchdowns. Matthews was very efficient with his targets, averaging an impressive 15.0 yards per catch. Matthews’ impact goes beyond the numbers. He made many key catches that kept Titans drives alive and was a major cog in their playoff machine.
Connection With Mariota
Last season, Matthews and quarterback Marcus Mariota were in sync. Matthews caught 61 percent of his targets and did it on all sides of the field. Mariota clearly had a lot of faith in Matthews last season. Mariota threw to him frequently against man coverage and zone coverage, each was rewarded with a high success rate. Last season, Matthews ran 146 routes against man coverage and boasted a 71.2 percent success rate. Comparing that to his zone coverage stats, Matthews ran 95 routes for a 78.9 percent success rate. With 83 targets now available after Eric Decker was released, Matthews should obviously be in the running for a larger workload next season.
Looking to the Present
Matthews has not currently been active for teams on the field activities so far while recovering from a knee injury from last season. However, Matthews’ role on the team is as secure as Fort Knox. In fact, Titans General Manager Jon Robinson went so far as to say he doesn’t expect to add any marquee receivers to the team this season. This reflects confidence in the weapons the team currently has, meaning Matthews’ role is safe. There is no proven alpha dog, Rishard Matthews will be given every opportunity to assert himself as the number one receiver. Expect Matthews to return healthy, hungry, and rejuvenated by all of the buzz surrounding this season.
Projecting Matthews in 2018
In his two seasons with the Titans Matthews has averaged 870 yards and 6.5 touchdowns. Expect Matthews to be a consistent producer and live up to his billing this season. I am projecting a slight regression in YPC due to an uptick in targets. Expect 60 catches on 95 targets for 900 yards and six touchdowns on the season. This makes Matthews a dangerous number two wide receiver and an absolute steal in fantasy this coming season.