The Tennessee Titans are not in a good place. Fresh off back-to-back losses, they now sit only 1.5 games ahead of the Colts in the AFC South. A once-thriving offense is now without Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones (although the latter may return on Sunday). With one game left before the fantasy football playoffs begin, how should managers approach the Titans’ backfield? Should Dontrell Hilliard or D’Onta Foreman be priorities on the Week 14 waiver wire?
How can we decide between Dontrell Hilliard and D’Onta Foreman?
Remember when Henry went down earlier this season, and everyone tripped over themselves attempting to claim either Adrian Peterson or Jeremy McNichols on the waiver wire? Ah, those were simpler times. Peterson has already been released and signed elsewhere, McNichols has missed two games with a concussion, and the Titans’ backfield now seemingly belongs to Hilliard and Foreman.
“Seemingly” is the operative word there because there’s really no evidence-based way to differentiate between Hilliard and Foreman. Based on their recent usage, it’s entirely possible that their split work continues. Or maybe one back starts taking the majority of the touches. Or perhaps McNichols comes back and throws a wrench in things. We don’t really know, but we can look at Weeks 11 and 12 for some help.
Facing the Texans in Week 11, Hilliard played 63% of the snaps, rushed 7 times for 35 yards, and caught 8 of 10 targets for 47 yards. Foreman only played 19% of the snaps, but he was still sharing time with Peterson as Tennesee’s early-down back.
Things changed the following week after Peterson was cut. The Patriots, by design, let the Titans run wild in Week 12. Ryan Tannehill completed only 11 passes for 93 yards, but Hilliard and Foreman had field days. Hilliard handled 12 carries for 131 yards and a TD, while Foreman took 19 attempts for 109 yards. Neither was a factor in the passing game as they combined for 3 targets.
Should you claim Hilliard or Foreman?
Any running back who projects to see meaningful action is worthy of a waiver wire claim. That much we know. But as the final week before the fantasy playoffs begin, Week 14 is absolutely critical. If you are locked into a postseason spot, you probably don’t need to add one of the Titans’ backs. Tennesee has struggled offensively, and it’s hard to see either Hilliard or Foreman providing enough value down the stretch run that they need to be priorities.
But if you need a win in Week 14 in order to get into the playoffs, I think there is a clear addition in the Titans’ backfield — it’s Foreman.
As noted, McNichols has already missed two games with a concussion, and he also got the benefit of a Week 13 bye. It seems incredibly likely that he’ll be able to return to action against the Jaguars in Week 14. Sure, it’s possible that he’s sidelined even longer, but it’s rare to see any player miss a month with a head injury.
Assuming McNichols comes back, Foreman should be the top waiver addition in Tennessee’s backfield. He’s much more of an early-down bruiser, and I don’t think McNichols will be much of a threat to his workload. Instead, McNichols should take back much of the receiving work that has fallen to Hilliard. While Hilliard has been surprisingly solid over the past two weeks, McNichols is much more familiar with the Titans’ scheme and coaching staff and figures to regain his role.
The Titans’ Week 14 matchup against the Jaguars is enticing
The other factor that makes Foreman the more appealing option for Week 14 is the Titans’ matchup against the division-rival Jaguars. Remember when Jacksonville held the Bills to just 9 points back in Week 7? I don’t know where their defense went, but it doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
The Jaguars have given up at least 120 rushing yards in each of the last four weeks. Over that same timeframe, they’ve allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Yes, the Titans recently lost to the Texans, but the Jaguars are in a whole different class of bad. Tennessee is a 9.5-point favorite at home, and this seems like a get-right game.
If that’s the case, the Titans are going to pound the rock — and the 240-pound Foreman is a much better option for that type of usage than the 200-pound Hilliard.