XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 17 starts with the Cowboys visiting the Titans for a 41 total game in which Dallas is favored by 10 (on the road!). That means the poor Titans are implied for just 15.5 points (yikes), but rookie quarterback Malik Willis has really not played well, as the Titans put up just 14 against Houston last week, so perhaps this total is a fair one. This game has a weird complication for the Titans as the outcome will not change their playoff status. Whether or not they get into the playoffs will come down to their Week 18 matchup against Jacksonville. So, it’s entirely possible that we get word later this week that some Titans players will be resting.
UPDATE: Henry has been listed as doubtful so we can safely assume he’s out. Jonathan Ward was elevated from the practice squad so their RBs for the game will be Haskins, Chestnut, and Ward. I think what we’re likely to see is some kind of split between Haskins and Chestnut with Ward as the reserve, but I don’t know what that split will look like. Frankly, not much would surprise me here. Haskins is the safe choice as the primary RB since he’s been on the team and has had backup work for Henry this season, but if the Titans are just mailing in this game, maybe they view Haskins as Henry’s backup and would prefer to save him as well.
The Titans chance to win this game really comes down to Derrick Henry (and their defense). Henry is listed as questionable but he played the full game last week, so my best guess is that he plays here, and he should handle 20+ carries as the engine of the offense . . . I think. But, as noted above, while Henry will likely play this game, there’s a chance the Titans do something weird here. If Henry is active and if we don’t get any news to the contrary, he’s probably in his regular role but they might bail out on the game more quickly if they’re down than they otherwise would, or they COULD potentially surprise us by having him active but in more of a reserve role. We’re entering the part of the season in which we have to embrace more uncertainty. The Dallas defense is 2nd in overall DVOA, but we’ve been seeing some cracks lately due to injuries as they allowed 19+ points to Indy, the Giants, the Texans, the Jaguars, and the Eagles (with a backup QB). Not exactly a murderer’s row of offenses here, but the Titans with Willis at quarterback might just be the weakest of those matchups. Assuming that Henry is healthy, and assuming that the Titans play this game straight up, he’s one of the top skill position plays on the slate, but there’s more risk than normal with him based on the matchup, the spread, and on the potential for the Titans to rest key guys. Whew. If Henry does get rested (or misses the game), Hassan Haskins is likely the primary backup, and at $3,000, he would be a smash value play. Or, if things get really weird, we could see Julius Chestnut or Jonathan Ward in a real role. We really need to watch to see who’s on the active roster on game day.
Showdown Ownership Projections!
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, you first need a quarterback who can pass the ball. Malik Willis has 61 NFL pass attempts and just 276 passing yards with no touchdowns and three picks. Eek. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be tough to get excited about any Titans pass catcher here but they’re also all wildly inexpensive, with Treylon Burks the priciest at just $5,400. We’ll see Burks, Robert Woods, and Nickeil Westbrook-Ikhine as the primary wideouts with Chris Conley as the likeliest fill-in rotational guy. But again, there’s some possibility of rest so look out for how many WRs are active on game day (the Titans may not have roster space to make someone like Woods inactive, but if there are more than five active WRs, that means we could see at least one veteran playing a smaller or even no role). The matchup here is #notgreat, the roles are a bit uncertain, but the prices sure are nice. I’ll rank these guys as Burks, then Woods, then Westbrook-Ikhine. At tight end, Chigoziem Okonkwo has been having a nice run while playing only around half the snaps, splitting with Austin Hooper. I will lean towards Okonkwo here as he’s shown a significant amount of per-target upside whereas Hooper has one good fantasy game on the season and it took two touchdowns to do it. Geoff Swaim will also be on the field, primarily as a blocker (14 targets on the season), but he can be included in MME pools. My TL;DR here is that the entire Titans passing attack is awful but the prices give at least a decent chance of someone finding their way into the optimal lineup. I wouldn’t play more than two Titans pass catchers here and would keep my total ownership of this group under 100% so that a good chunk of my rosters have none of these guys.
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