Kickoff Sunday, Oct 21st 9:30am Eastern

Titans (
19.5) at

Chargers (
26)

Over/Under 45.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Titans Run D
8th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O
30th DVOA/21st Yards per carry
Titans Pass D
26th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O
6th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
Chargers Run D
18th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O
22nd DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D
11th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O
9th DVOA/24th Yards per pass

TITANS // CHARGERS (LONDON) OVERVIEW

Two weeks ago, the Titans were complaining that they were not getting enough respect from the national media. (The quote from Taylor Lewan was something to the effect of, “There are 32 teams in the NFL, not 31.”) The Titans have since lost to the Bills and gotten pasted for a shutout by the Ravens. They sit at 3-3 in a bunched-up AFC South, and they will travel across the pond to take on a powerful, 4-2 Chargers team that has only lost to the Chiefs and the Rams.

Unsurprisingly, Vegas has been generous to the Chargers, installing them as early 6.5 point favorites, with a middling Over/Under in this game of 45.5. Each team ranks toward the bottom of the league in both pace of play and plays per game. Each team also ranks in the bottom eight in pass play rate.

Tennessee’s strength is defense, where they rank eighth in drive success rate allowed and third in red zone touchdown defense. The Chargers’ strength is on offense, where they rank sixth in drive success rate and 10th in red zone touchdown rate.

TITANS PASS OFFENSE

I am guessing that most of us have not made a habit of targeting the Titans’ offense this year, and this will be a tough spot for them to bounce out of their funk, vs a Chargers defense that has looked solid against every team but the Chiefs and Rams. Their one big issue has been downfield passing, which the Titans have not yet managed to get going outside their game against Philadelphia.

Upside-hunters can point to the elevated pass rush and coverage prowess of the Bills and Ravens as the main culprits for the backtracking this offense has done over the last two weeks — with pass rush being an especially important part, vs a Titans line that ranks 31st in adjusted sack rate allowed. The Chargers rank 19th in adjusted sack rate on defense — right next to the Eagles (20th), who yielded the only good game Marcus Mariota has had this year. The Chargers have a better secondary than the Eagles, but their zone defense does continue to break down 15 to 20 yards downfield when pressure fails to get to the quarterback, so there is a chance Mariota mixes in enough downfield strikes to Corey Davis to make him a sneaky-viable play this week on slates that include this game. His upside is undeniable, and he continues to hog air yards in this offense (his 41.3% share of team air yards ranks fourth in the NFL), though his raw volume in this broken, dink-and-dunk unit has been all over the map, with two games already of only four targets, and with two games of 13 or more looks. Game flow dictates Davis’ workload less than simply “whether or not this offense can actually sustain drives on a given Sunday.”

Taywan Taylor has disappointed the last couple weeks, but Tennessee has run only 54 and 44 plays in games against Buffalo and Baltimore. The slowed-down nature of this game should prevent the Titans from truly spiking in play count, but they should be able to move the ball better this week than they did the last two, creating a few extra opportunities for the offense. Taylor played under 50% of the snaps in Week 5, but he played 75% last week, and he’s a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands, making him an upside play in his price range, though with a low enough floor to be a total dud if things don’t go his way.

It is shocking that Taylor is not seeing more schemed touches, as this passing attack rounds out with an ineffective Tajae Sharpe and an invisible Jonnu Smith.

TITANS RUN OFFENSE

The Titans’ offensive line has also sunk their run game, ranking 29th in adjusted line yards six weeks into the season. This is otherwise a good matchup for the Titans, vs a Chargers defense that ranks a middling 15th in yards allowed per carry and 21st in adjusted line yards.

Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis continue to split time, with Henry seeing more work when the Titans have a lead, and with Lewis seeing more work when the Titans fall behind. Henry has yet to top 60 rushing yards in a game this year, and he has only four receptions through six games. Last week was the first time this year Lewis failed to see double-digit touches, and with the Titans likely to run more than 44 plays this week, he should bounce back to eight to 12 carries and three to five receptions. Incredibly, these two backs have combined for only five carries inside the 10-yard-line all year, with Henry seeing three looks and Lewis seeing two. If they ever get down to the goal line, Henry is likeliest to get the call — but until that point, both backs are in play for the Titans, giving Lewis the higher floor/ceiling combo of the two. Neither is “likely” to hit, of course; but one of them “could.” Incredibly, the Titans have only seven offensive touchdowns on the year.

CHARGERS PASS OFFENSE

Only two teams in the NFL are allowing fewer yards after the catch than the Titans (on a per-reception basis), but this defense is otherwise a middling to below-average unit through the air — ranking below-average in adjusted sack rate, below-average in aDOT, and average in catch rate allowed. With the solid tackling, Tennessee does rank fourth in yards allowed per pass attempt, but the big key has been limiting the big play. Only five teams have allowed fewer pass plays of 20+ yards.

For the first time in a while, this is a matchup that sets up better for Keenan Allen than for the Chargers’ downfield threats. With an aDOT on the season of only 8.1 and the Titans tackling well after the catch, Allen will either need high volume or a multi-touchdown game to post a week-winning score (neither of which is the likeliest scenario), but he’ll carry solid floor with locked-in usage.

Tyrell Williams has seemingly supplanted Mike Williams as the primary deep threat on this team at the moment, though each guy will continue to be involved. Tyrell has an aDOT of 15.5 and 22.5% of the Chargers’ air yards, while Mike has an aDOT of 16.5, with 27.1% of the team’s air yards. Tyrell has not topped five targets on the year, and Mike has not topped four targets in three consecutive weeks. The ceiling is high on these two, but the floor is low.

Tight ends are afterthoughts in the Chargers’ offense, behind the wide receivers and the running backs. With low YAC ability vs a team that tackles well, it will be difficult for Virgil Green or Antonio Gates to post a big game in a dumpoff-driven role.

CHARGERS RUN OFFENSE

The Chargers have been great on the ground this year, ranking seventh in adjusted line yards, fourth in yards per carry, and sixth in yards per game — and this week, they get to take on a Tennessee Titans team that has been happy to give up yards on the ground in order to protect against the pass. As noted over the last few weeks: this “poor run defense” of the Titans is driven more by scheme than by personnel (the Bears and Ravens are the only teams in the NFL that have allowed fewer touchdowns to running backs than the Titans), but against such a dangerous passing attack, the Titans are not going to suddenly turn their attention to the run — which opens an opportunity for another big game from the dynamic pairing of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Gordon has 19 or more touches in all but one game this year (the only game below that mark was a blowout win in which he was rested for much of the second half). Ekeler has gotten seven touches per game the last three weeks, and last week he showed his floor — averaging an incredible 6.8 yards per carry, but still yielding a low DFS score due to his limited role. He’s always a bet for monster price-considered upside, however, as he can score any time he has the ball in his hands.

JM’S INTERPRETATION

Outside of large-field, hope-and-pray plays, I wouldn’t take anything on the Titans if this game were on the main slate (obviously, Corey Davis would be the most appealing option, followed by Lewis — with Taylor, Mariota, and Henry all behind him), and my interest on the Chargers would be limited to Gordon and (in tourneys) Ekeler. Keenan could also have a case made for him, but I like more guaranteed upside on my higher-priced guys.

As of this writing, there are no Showdown slates posted for this game, but assuming the sites get one up, I would rank scoring expectations in the following order :: Gordon // Rivers // Keenan // Mariota // Davis // Ekeler // Lewis // Tyrell // Mike // Taywan // Henry. Obviously, that’s a simplified approach that accounts for only baseline expectations without layering in Floor/Ceiling thinking, but the writeup above should help you figure out how to rearrange your own list based on the type of contest you are entering, and the type of upside/ownership balance you are needing to hit. The Chargers’ defense is likely to outscore the Titans’ D. Each kicker would obviously be in play as well.

SATURDAY EVENING UPDATE // Full “Updates” List

Melvin Gordon appears unlikely to play in the early-morning game on Sunday. If Gordon misses, Austin Ekeler becomes a clear Tier 1 play for me. He should step into most of Gordon’s role, and we know what sort of per-touch upside he boasts.