XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Oh boy, Sunday night has the poor Titans visiting the Chiefs. This game has a 45-point total (awfully low for a Chiefs game) with Kansas City favored by 12.5 (ahhhhh, now it makes sense). The Chiefs are projected for 28.5 points, a nice healthy total, and what you would expect from them. The Titans are projected for . . . 16.5 points. Eek. But keep reading because there are some interesting angles here.
We’ll start with the Titans: things depend on the quarterback situation. Ryan Tannehill is questionable as I write this on Friday morning, having practiced Wednesday before missing Thursday. If he’s in, the Tennessee total should go up a bit, as Malik Willis did not look at all ready for the NFL in week 8. Facing the awful Texans, Willis only attempted 10 passes, completing six, and rushed five times. That’s 15 quarterback touches. He wasn’t asked to do a lot as the Titans leaned on their run game and cruised to a comfortable win, but if Willis starts, expect a lot of Chiefs-heavy rosters. Vegas expects Willis to start, so that’s how I’m going to write this one up, and then if Tannehill is in I will either update this article (if we know ahead of time) or share thoughts in our Showdown Discord channel (if we don’t get the news until Sunday).
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Regardless of who’s in at QB, we know the Titans will lean on Derrick Henry to the greatest extent possible. Henry’s workload has been ticking up, after averaging just shy of 20 carries per game in the first four weeks. He’s seen 28, 30, and 32 carries in his last three games, that’s more like the Henry workload that we’ve come to expect. As long as the game is close, we can expect something similar here. The Chiefs defense ranks 24th in overall DVOA and while they have been slightly better against the run than the pass, this is not an imposing matchup. I think you can play Henry on any type of roster, but if you’re going to captain him, you need that roster built around the idea that the game remains competitive throughout. Behind Henry, backup Dontrelle Hilliard has a modest backup role. He’s averaging about two carries and two targets per game, and while he’s also averaging 9.4 Draftkings points per game, that’s buoyed by three touchdowns on his 31 total opportunities this season, clearly an unsustainable rate. Hilliard is fine as a tourney option, and if the game gets out of hand we could see more of him in a passing-back role. If it gets REALLY out of hand, we could potentially see Hassan Haskins get some garbage work, but that’s drawing very thin and only for large-field MME play.
In the passing game, we can expect to see Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Cody Hollister get most of the wide receiver snaps, possibly with Chris Conley as the WR4 (he was active last week, but it’s bounced around this season). This is a very low passing volume offense and an overall bad passing offense. Woods, the WR1, is averaging just 7.5 Draftkings points per game (all three of the Chiefs primary WRs are ahead of that). At tight end, Geoff Swaim is playing most of the snaps but is primarily a blocker with just nine targets on the season, Austin Hooper is the primary receiving tight end but that has led to two targets per game on average, and Chig Okonkwo will get some receiving work and is a kind of interesting punt play at what I expect to be sub-1% ownership. This is such a low passing volume offense that Tannehill has only exceeded 30 pass attempts in one game! The entire Titans passing game, to me, falls into the “tourney only play, mostly MME” bucket . . . these guys are all super fragile. Woods is the strongest on-paper play, but the most expensive. My favorite plays are probably Cody Hollister, Chris Conley, and Austin Hooper, in that order, because they’re all cheap. Hooper has decent red zone equity, Conley has good per-target upside if his role grows, and Hollister should get some high catch-rate targets, but every single one of these dudes is thin and a real threat for a zero. Good luck.
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