Hilow’s SHOWDOWN SLANT
Welcome to week 11, friends! We kick things off this week with the 6-3 Titans visiting the reeling 4-6 Packers at Lambeau. Tennessee is coming off a 17-10 victory where they scored their first second-half touchdown since a Week 5 game against the Colts, while the Packers sit a game and a half behind the 49ers for the final playoff spot in the NFC.
We know the drill by now with the Titans – expect a snail’s pace, extreme rush rates, and an offense built around Derrick Henry. We did, however, see this offense open up a bit more with the return of Ryan Tannehill last week after two consecutive weeks of 16 or fewer pass attempts with Malik Willis in behind center. During that game, Tannehill attempted 36 passes to just 23 team rush attempts, which made Week 10 their highest individual pass rate of any game this season. That said, a Packers defense allowing a startling 5.05 yards per running back carry this season highlights the path of least resistance for Derrick Henry and the Titans, which should govern their offensive game plan here. Furthermore, the Titans have almost completely taken their foot off the proverbial gas in the second half this season, ranking dead last in second half points scored at just 4.8 per game (truly disgusting). Yet, here they are, sitting at a comfy third seed in the AFC at a 6-3 record. Most of their game plan revolves around both the offensive and defensive lines, where Derrick Henry can wear down an opposing defense through repeated beatings, and their defensive line can keep the opposition from achieving any semblance of rushing success (league-low 3.57 adjusted line yards allowed and just 3.89 running back yards per carry allowed). A game against a Packers team largely devoid of both chunk-yardage specialists and consistent chain movers through the air provides the Titans with a perfect on-paper matchup to be able to run their preferred game plan. Expect a healthy dose of Derrick Henry early, with a large emphasis on game flow-dependent design in the second half. As for Henry, not much additional needs to be said – the dude just keeps on rumbling and destroying linebackers and safeties with devastating stiff arms along the way. Of note here, Dontrell Hilliard had established himself right around the 30% snap rate range for the better part of the last six weeks before seeing 42% of the offensive snaps against the Broncos a week ago. Whether that was due to the game flow (where the Titans didn’t take a lead until five minutes remaining in the third quarter) or a decision to lighten Henry’s workload remains to be seen. Overall, expect Henry to be the focal point throughout the first half, with the eventual game flow likely to dictate the final snap rate split between Henry and Hilliard. We’ve seen the per-touch upside Hilliard brings to the table in this offense, keeping him very much in the mix, particularly considering his basement $3,200 price tag on DK (Henry is the most expensive player on the slate at $11,600).
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Rookie Treylon Burks returned from the injured reserve to a tidy 56% snap rate in Week 10, but it was Nick Westbrook-Ikhine who stole the show with a 5/119/2 line on eight targets. NWI has consistently played the heaviest snap rate in this offense, playing alongside fellow starter Robert Woods throughout the season. That said, Week 10 marked his first game above a modest four targets all season, was the first time he scored this season, and was only his third game all year over 13 yards (119 in Week 10, 72 on two catches in Week 5, and 40 in Week 3). His price has spiked up to $6,200 after the two-touchdown game, making him a boom-or-bust option at an inflated price. Robert Woods, the acting “alpha” on this team, managed only two catches on seven targets a week ago and leads the team with 43 targets. Even then, he has maxed out at only four receptions this season and has scored one touchdown. Consider him in the same bucket as NWI – a high variance, touchdown-dependent pass-catcher on a low pass volume offense. As for Burks, who immediately stepped back into the “gadget and designed touches” role for the Titans coming off of injured reserve, expect a snap rate floor of 55-60% without much room for that to increase as the clear third option through the air. That said, Treylon should carry the highest targets per route run value for the rest of the season on this offense as the highest per-touch upside player on the field outside of Derrick Henry. Even with his return in Week 10, this is still an offense that ran 78% 12-personnel. When you combine that with the low expected pass volume, all three of the primary wide receivers should be considered wide range of outcomes plays that are likely to be heavily reliant on efficiency and touchdowns. Expect all of Geoff Swaim ($200), Austin Hooper ($4,600), Chigoziem Okonkwo ($2,600), and even Kevin Rader ($200) to rotate through at tight end, all cannibalizing the upside of the bunch in the process. The biggest thing to note here is that this offense typically has two tight ends on the field, and all four have been utilized near the end zone, keeping all four deserving of consideration. Rader is without a reception this season and is primarily used as a blocker, Swaim has a ridiculously low 28.8% route participation rate (16.4% targets per route run rate), Okonkwo is in a route at a startlingly low 19.3% clip but has seen a robust 31.7% targets per route run rate, while Hooper has run routes at the highest rate (61.3%) to go with a modest-yet-not-terrible 18.5% targets per route run rate. Any of these dudes can pop in a touchdown, which should be considered the primary contributor to their respective values.
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