Some might call the Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns an ugly game, but we fantasy football managers know that there is no such thing. Every game matters for our matchups and this one actually offers some sneaky upside that some will overlook!
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Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Browns -3.5
- Total: 39.5
- Titans implied points: 18
- Browns implied points: 21.5
On a week where he scored on his only rush attempt and completed 83.3% of his passes, Tannehill was still not a top-15 fantasy QB. That should tell you all you need to know.
You’re losing ground on the competition if you’re starting him in a Superflex league, and that’s hard to do. He’s on the short list of QBs that I won’t have on my radar, regardless of the matchup, when bye weeks begin to kick in.
Watson, the stoppable force who had as many touchdowns as interceptions and recorded a completion rate under 56%, faces the very movable force of the Titans’ pass defense, which has allowed 300 passing yards in both games this season after a shaky 2022.
In 2023, I’m always going to back the offensive player in a spot like this – the rules are simply set up that way. With Nick Chubb out for the season, Cleveland may not have a choice but to put more on Watson’s plate, and if he’s going to get 40-45 opportunities, I’m in on him as a top-12 QB.
Full disclosure: Starting Watson comes with plenty of risk. I’m optimistic for a breakout game, but there is certainly a world where both of these teams melt the clock, and this is a low-possession game that results in zero fantasy value for those not named Derrick Henry.
As long as the Titans are playing these nip-and-tuck games, such as the one-point loss in Week 1 or the three-point OT win last week, Henry’s fantasy floor is among the highest in the game. He racked up 28 touches over the weekend, and while he was far from efficient, it was 95 total yards and a score – standard stuff for the “Tractorcito.”
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Am I worried that against one of the worst running defenses, the Los Angeles Chargers, he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry – a number that dips to under 2.4 if you remove one outlier run? A little bit, but Henry has always been a volume play, and with seven targets through two weeks, his fantasy value isn’t in real danger as long as the game is close.
Don’t forget that we should get a highly productive version of this man when it matters most in Weeks 14-17. He’ll be playing at the Miami Dolphins, vs. the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, as well.
His 10 touches last week against the Chargers were good to see, and I don’t think it’s a fluke when the games are tight. The Titans simply don’t want to put their fate in the hands of Tannehill. Can you blame them?
Spears’ 14 touches this season have picked up 83 yards, and he has a 14+ yard carry in both games. As impressive as that is, playing behind Henry has him valued as nothing more than a nice handcuff in our world.
He’s a poor man’s version of Atlanta Falcon, Tyler Allgeier – the RB behind an elite back in a run-centric offense. Allgeier has a season of lead-back production on his resume, and that’s why I prefer him of the two, but neither will be ranked as a fantasy starter for me while the star atop the depth chart is active.
As a reminder, Chubb suffered a significant knee injury on Monday night and will miss the remainder of the season. You can safely drop him in all redraft formats. If you need help with a roster question – be it a trade, a waiver wire add, or anything else – check out our PFN Fantasy Discord or swing by our PFN Fantasy YouTube channel on Sunday morning!
OK, so you just spent a bunch of FAAB or burned a top waiver priority on acquiring Ford. Now what?
You have a viable Flex option on your hands. In a better matchup, he’ll be a RB2, but this is a tough spot. The Titans were the best run defense on a yards-per-carry basis last season and currently rank second this season. Ford showed out in a relief spot last week in Pittsburgh with 19 touches for 131 yards and a touchdown and should see the vast majority of carries in this backfield.
My concern here is his lack of a role in the passing game. When thrown into action last week, he hauled in three of four targets – something I need to see more of before projecting it. Ford averaged more than 10 carries per catch during his collegiate career, which makes him a one-dimensional back in a tough matchup.
In a game that went to overtime against an iffy defense, no player on this team saw more than five targets. Such is life in this offense. Ryan Tannehill looked much better this week than last, but even a “good” version of him is not fantasy-friendly.
Hopkins is a good bet to lead this team in targets on a regular basis, but not every team target leader needs to be in fantasy lineups. I’m treating him in a very similar fashion to the Atlanta Falcons, Drake London – an ultra-talented player whose situation prevents him from holding consistent value in fantasy.
NFL target share leaders (min 2 games):
Puka Nacua 39%
Davante Adams 35%
Michael Pittman Jr. 33%
Chris Olave 33%
Tyreek Hill 32%
DeAndre Hopkins 32%
Deebo Samuel 31%
Garrett Wilson 30%
A.J. Brown 29%
DeVonta Smith 29%
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 19, 2023
For me to put a receiver on my radar, I want a reasonably clear path to seven-ish targets. Either that, or he has to be a part of an absurdly efficient offense. I think we can agree that the Titans certainly don’t check that second box, and when it comes to the first, Burks has a total of seven targets this season.
The 70-yard catch against the Chargers was good to see, but we aren’t talking about the most sustainable of plays in a Tannehill-led offense. Outside of that play, his six targets this season have netted 24 yards and no scores.
Burks is a talented player and a fine dynasty stash, but counting on him to break out this season isn’t wise. If you want to take a flier occasionally in your DFS lineups, I’m OK with it as your only exposure to him in fantasy.
The veteran receiver aggravated a groin injury on Saturday ahead of their Monday nighter in Pittsburgh, but he battled through the injury and produced in a nice way with seven catches for 90 yards on 10 targets.
It was an exhibition in receiver talent – sharp routes and contested catches. He did it all, and that has him as a top-20 receiver this week for me, as long as his health sustains.
If Watson irons things out as a passer, Moore is the player set to benefit the most. He has turned his 16 targets into just 79 yards this season. These numbers have made him unusable up to this point.
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The WR position is a deep one, and that has Moore ranked outside of my top 35, but I do think there’s appeal in this spot. The Browns have handed him the ball three times and continue to look his way on short passes. They clearly want him to emerge as the WR2.
I like the idea of floating out a buy-low trade offer ahead of this game. It’s a good way to get cheap exposure to a Watson bounceback.
Peoples-Jones is a 6’2″ receiver who rarely comes off the field in an offense with upside and should be someone we target. The profile and 15.8 yards per catch stat over his career are intriguing, but with 19 yards this season, it’s tough to justify rostering him – let alone starting him.
That said, I am keeping Peoples-Jones at the end of my bench. I’m not cutting ties. I’m too loyal to the idea of him being a thing in this offense. If Cleveland airs the ball out more moving forward, the snap share should translate to fantasy production sooner rather than later.
I’m not confident in the quality or quantity of targets when it comes to Okonkwo. We all fell in love with the athletic profile during his strong run last season, and the talent is still there, but the situation just isn’t one that can maximize it.
With Hopkins soaking up targets at a high level, there simply isn’t enough meat on the Tennessee bone to roster Okonkwo.
Njoku has caught six of seven targets this season, a level of efficiency that is interesting when facing a defense like Tennessee.
I have him ranked as a fringe top-10 player at the position with the thought that Watson gains confidence by way of short-to-intermediate passes – something that should allow Njoku to flirt with 10 PPR points.
Who Should You Start in Week 3?
Should You Start DeAndre Hopkins or Rashid Shaheed?
How crazy would this question have sounded less than a month ago? We are at this point and I’m siding with the Saints burner as a way of chasing high-end upside. With a 40-yard catch in five of his past seven games, Shaheed should have his chances down the field against a Green Bay Packers defense that has coughed up its fair share of big plays over the past season-plus.
Should You Start Jerome Ford or Joshua Kelley?
The popular add from Week 2 is up against the popular add of Week 3, and I’ll actually side with Joshua Kelley here, even after the dud of a performance. Listen, I get it. You were burned. It happens, but the process was right, and I’ll trust it again.
He’s going to get the lion’s share of the work in an offense we expect to flirt with 30 points. Ford’s relief appearance last week was great, but in a tough matchup, don’t be surprised if this is a more pass-centric attack than what we saw on Monday night.
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