Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans
- Spread: Titans -3.5
- Total: 36.5
- Panthers implied points: 16.5
- Titans implied points: 20
Will Levis: There are boom/bust options at every position, and Levis embodies that at QB more than any other option that is even remotely on radars. His average length of touchdown passes this season is 33.7 yards, a stat that can be read two ways.
He’s amazing! Those splash plays are going to win me my matchup.
That’s too unsustainable for me. What happens if he doesn’t hit a home run?
The Panthers’ defense isn’t intimidating in the least, but they do have a 6.9-yard opponent aDOT (seventh lowest), and that’s not ideal for a big-armed QB like Levis who wants to stretch the field.
Levis hasn’t finished better than QB20 since his historic debut against the Falcons, and while I think he has a chance to break that streak, he’s of no interest to me in any 1QB format.
Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders: With Frank Reich back calling plays, Hubbard’s role as the lead man in this backfield evaporated, and we’re back into a full-blown committee situation that needs to be supported by one of the worst units in the league.
In Week 11 vs. Dallas, Hubbard led Sanders in snaps (29-17) and routes (15-13).
This is a classic “if you have two, you don’t have any” spot. A bell-cow role on this offense was interesting, not because of my belief in the player or situation, it was solely a volume play. These two backs have combined for 230 touches this season and have zero gains of over 21 yards.
There’s little yardage upside in this backfield, and with the Titans owning the second-best red-zone defense (TD allowed on just 37.8% of red-zone drives), the lack of scoring equity has both of these backs outside of my top 30 at the position with confidence.
Derrick Henry: Last week was brutal (10 carries for 38 yards against a Jaguars defense that he has killed in the past), but don’t allow that failure to turn into two lost weeks by overreacting and benching Henry this week.
The Panthers miss more tackles than anyone (8.6 per game), a flaw that has 41.9% of opponent yards coming on the ground (second most). Tyjae Spears gets onto the field, but as long as the Titans can keep this game tight, I’m not at all worried about Henry’s quality or quantity of opportunity.
Tyjae Spears: The rookie doesn’t have more than 10 touches in a game this season and has found paydirt just once on 76 touches. The snap share is enough to convince me that he’s the Henry handcuff to the roster, but the low touch-per-snap route has him way off of my Flex radar, especially in a game that figures to be competitive.
Adam Thielen: Bryce Young posted a single-digit QBR last week and again looked lost. But his one-target reads were enough to get Thielen the needed numbers for PPR managers (eight catches for 74 yards, all other Panthers totaled eight catches for 49 yards).
We were spoiled by the high-floor stylings of the veteran receiver early this season. Production is certainly possible, given his role in this offense, but the limitations are going to result in just as many down weeks as productive ones.
I settled on Thielen as my WR20 this week in a plus matchup. Game flow is usually going to work in his favor, but this is likely as high as I have him ranked in any week moving forward unless we see some serious growth from Young that I’m not currently projecting.
Jonathan Mingo saw five targets on 34 routes, while DJ Chark got a nice afternoon of cardio in (zero targets on 29 routes). Mingo is the flier in very deep leagues or a DFS punt play if you want a cheap way to get access to this matchup, but not worth your time in standard-sized leagues.
DeAndre Hopkins: That’s three long TD catches in four games with Levis for Hopkins, a level of upside that lands him on the Flex radar. The downside?
Four games with Will Levis for Hopkins:
- Three long TDs: 32.6 fantasy points
- All other catches: 24.3 fantasy points
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Much like Thielen, you’re assuming plenty of risk when you walk in the door with a rookie QB. Also like Thielen, this is the right spot to take the calculated risk of him paying off your trust.
Nuk is a top-30 WR for me this week, and the schedule lines up nicely for him to have a productive stretch run.
Betting on either of these pass games is risky as it is, and that’s not what I’m looking for when I’m throwing darts at the tight end position. I often say that there is no such thing as a bad TE streamer based on how little it takes to prove viable at the position — this game challenges that change of thought.
Should You Start Rachaad White or Derrick Henry?
It’s important to remember that this is a Week 12 discussion, not a rest-of-season one. With that said, Rachaad White projects as a safer option than Henry, but against such a poor run defense, Henry’s upside is lucrative. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been effective enough to aid our lineups, but Tennessee’s inconsistencies should scare managers.
White is my RB12, while Henry is my RB21 for Week 12.
Should You Start Adam Thielen or DeAndre Hopkins?
Counting on receivers with a rookie QB is risky business, but that is going to be the case either way here. In a vacuum, I prefer Will Levis, but Bryce Young has established more of a connection in terms of consistent volume with Thielen and I lean in that direction.
Also in Thielen’s favor is an offense with less potential in the run game. The target volume should be similar, and I trust the catch rate of Thielen over the upside on a per-catch basis of Hopkins this week.
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