Sunday, Feb 11th — Late
Bye Week:


Game Overview ::

  • Joey Bosa, Austin Ekeler, and Eric Kendricks all missed practice Wednesday. Ekeler and Kendricks both carried NIR (not injury related) designations alongside their respective ankle and hamstring injuries, introducing some speculation and uncertainty surrounding their respective statuses for Sunday.
  • I get the feeling the field and industry might put too much weight into how the Chargers chose to attack in Week 1 – I’d be extremely interested to see the reaction to this team should Austin Ekeler practice Thursday.
  • I also get the feeling the field and industry might put too much weight into how the Titans managed their offense in Week 1 – I’d be extremely interested to see the reaction to this team throughout the week.
  • Both teams have a very clear path of least resistance – the Titans on the ground and the Chargers through the air.
  • The Titans are likely looking to slow this game down while the Chargers are likeliest to want to speed things up.
  • DeAndre Hopkins missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury – water is wet and ice is cold.

How los angeles Will Try To Win ::

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the collective fantasy community is likely going to be spewing some (incorrect – maybe) hot takes this week regarding Kellen Moore and these Chargers. On the surface, it appears as if Moore’s promises of a more downfield approach with elevated pass rates were a farce. Friends, that simply is not the case (or maybe it is, I dunno – we have a sample size of one). To me, the Chargers devised an offensive game plan that gave them the best chance to win the game against Vic Fangio and the Dolphins. Fangio is someone that doesn’t blitz heavily (below average 19.4 percent in Week 1), plays heavy rates of zone through Cover-2 and Cover-3 (even some quarters and quarters press), and shifts his situational play-calling tendencies to confuse a quarterback throughout the game. The Chargers still played with pace (10th-ranked situation-neutral pace of play and sixth-ranked seconds per play), but simply took what their opposition gave them (20th-ranked pass rate over expectation) – and it was working, to boot! The Chargers gained 233 yards on the ground against the Dolphins, so you can’t tell me the game plan was flawed here. Okay, so how does that relate to what to expect against the Titans? The matchup is about as polar opposite as one could expect. Yes, the Titans run a ton of zone converage and blitz at comparable rates (21.2 percent in Week 1), but they have consistently challenged for league-worst marks in defensive aDOT and explosive plays allowed through the air. All of that to say, if I’m sitting in Moore’s shoes on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m drawing up a game plan to play with pace and attack the intermediate-to-deep areas of the field against Tennessee.

Austin Ekeler missed practice on Wednesday with a listing of “Ankle/NIR – personal.” Your guess is as good as mine as to what that means as far as his true status goes. We know he picked up an ankle injury in Week 1 because he missed two drives, the last of which was the team’s final possession of the game, but we don’t know how serious the ankle injury is just yet. That said, his immediate backup and regular change-of-pace back Joshua Kelley has proven to be more than capable for what the team is asking of their running back position. Either way, the matchup on the ground is far from ideal, which, in my mind, shifts the likely plan of attack towards the air. In typical Mike Vrabel fashion, the Titans allowed the Saints to rush for just 2.6 yards per carry (Jamaal Williams had just 45 yards on 18 carries) in Week 1. Their 3-4 base with heavy Cover-2 utilization allows seven men in the box on most plays, a number that can grow to eight or nine depending on situational play calling. Spoiler alert – it’s difficult to run against the Titans.

Those same tendencies also expose their secondary on a regular basis, and the team is now dealing with injuries to strong safety Amani Hooker (concussion) and cornerback Kristian Fulton (hamstring, the year of our Lord, 2023). In the 2022 season, the Titans faced the most pass attempts against (671, or 39.5 per game!) and ceded a moderate 7.9 defensive aDOT against. If that doesn’t scream “Keenan Allen,” I don’t know what does. As we’ve continued in this journey for how we expect the Chargers to attack the Titans, we’ve been building towards this moment. And that would only grow should Ekeler miss this contest. Keenan was the only Chargers pass-catcher to play more than 77 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 1, but fellow wideout Mike Williams left briefly after a scary collision (meaning he likely would have been up there in snaps as well). Behind those two, Joshua Palmer saw 64 percent of the offensive snaps, Quentin Johnston saw 27 percent (lolz), tight end Gerald Everett saw 68 percent, and tight end Donald Parham saw 27 percent.

The Titans ranked 20th in explosive play rate allowed through the air a season ago – still bad, but not as bad as the industry would lead you to believe. Allen saw 46 percent of the team’s available air yards on the back of nine targets (27.27 percent target market share) in Week 1. All that said, Keenan represents the best path for the Chargers to move the football, but that does not necessarily mean he is a top-range- of-outcomes play on this slate due to where he is priced and his relative low likelihood of providing a score you couldn’t win without. More on that in the DFS+ section. That leaves Mr. Soft Tissue and Concussion, otherwise known as Mike Williams. Whereas Allen is priced for his median with a low probability chance of outlier production, Williams is priced for a shaky median with an elite top-end present in his range of outcomes in this spot.

How TENNESSEE Will Try To Win ::

I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that the collective fantasy community is going to be spewing some (incorrect – maybe) hot takes regarding the Week 1 usage split between Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears. The first glaring notable piece to realize about the Titans is that they no longer boast a top-five offensive line. In fact, they have fallen from grace in the trenches about as fast as I have seen in recent history, all the way down the a unanimous bottom-five unit for the 2023 season. That could help explain why Spears out-snapped Henry 54 to 48 percent. Another explanation I think might go overlooked is the offensive game plan against a Saints team that we knew was likely to try and take away what the Titans do best – power runs and short-area passing. The Saints defense operates from a 4-3, inside-out base alignment whereas the Chargers defense operates from a 3-4, outside-in base. As such, expect the Titans to see a completely different defensive philosophy against them in Week 2. I would not be at all surprised to see Henry back up around a 70 percent snap rate as the focal point of the offense here.

Breaking that down further, Henry saw 18 running back opportunities on just 30 offensive snaps, good for an absolutely ridiculous 60 percent opportunity-to-snap rate. Compare that to seven opportunities on 34 snaps for Spears (20.6 percent opportunity-to-snap rate) and we can begin to make the case for Henry’s ceiling should his snap rate increase due to the matchup. Using basic math, if Henry jumps to a 70 percent snap rate on an NFL-average 65 offensive plays run from scrimmage for the Titans, he’d be looking at 27 running back opportunities (assuming that lofty touch rate remains static – which is a tall ask, to be fair). Look, I’m not saying Henry will see 27 opportunities against the Chargers, I’m saying that it is firmly within his range of outcomes here, and the field is highly likely going to overlook that part of his range of outcomes after what happened in Week 1.

JM and I both spoke to the weird marriage of DeAndre Hopkins and Ryan Tannehill this offseason. Tannehill is a “throw you open” type quarterback that thrives on timing and anticipation. Hopkins is an aging wide receiver that wins with body positioning and contested catches at this point in his career. Even so, Nuk went out and commanded 13 targets in the season opener, although he caught only seven for 65 yards. Somehow, some way, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine finished second on the team in targets with seven when Treylon Burks led the team in snaps (90 percent, compared to 81 percent for NWI and 78 percent for Nuk). The team played primarily from 11-personnel in Week 1 but did mix in both 12- and 21-personnel. On paper, Burks is the piece that meshes best with his quarterback, but as was shown last week, that could mean very little moving forward. Considering the shortcomings of the Tennessee offensive line, the presence of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack on the Chargers off the edge, and the presence of more in-your-face corners on the Chargers in J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel, and Michael Davis, it is likelier than not that Nuk finds the sledding equally as difficult in this spot when compared to the Saints and their secondary. The Titans ran just eight plays from the red zone in Week 1 even though they kicked five field goals. Six of those were passes and two were carries by Derrick Henry. That said, they had a 3rd-and-12, 2nd-and-20, 3rd-and-10, and 3rd-and-seven in those eight plays.

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