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Titans @ Jaguars
TEN -1.5, o/u 38.5
Implied Team Totals: Titans 20 | Jaguars 18.5
Both of these teams operate at a snail’s pace, with Jacksonville ranking 30th and Tennesee 23rd. With the slow pace and low 3rd down conversion rates (Tenn, 32nd – Jags, 18th), this projects for a very low play volume game. Still, we are all going to bet on props and play the showdown slate, so let’s get prepared.
Titans offensive line has not protected well, allowing Mariota to be sacked at the 2nd highest rate (13.3%).
Derrick “Tractorcito” Henry is a tough guy to handicap, he is so awesome when on the field, but that has only been 59% and 50% of plays through the first two weeks. Watching your guy stand on the sidelines for 56 snaps (2 games) is very frustrating.
His opportunity share is up from 50% to 78% this season, with him touching the rock on 37 of his 66 total plays. This is dumb on many levels, as they are telling the defense what they are doing by what personnel they have on the field. When they are in 3 & 4 wide sets, they bring in Dion Lewis and pass on 68% of plays (Lewis and Henry have 5 targets each). Then they predictably run out of their 1 and 2 TE sets at a 65% rate, so you don’t have to be a football genius to figure this out. Defenses can load up the box against Henry (7 defenders in the box on average, the highest rate in the NFL in 2018) and take their chances against this young WR core.
Mariota has needed play-action pass to do anything this season, but because of it he has been efficient at over 8 average adjusted net yards (ANY/A).
Henry really is a “Little Tractor”. He is averaging 7 YPC against stacked fronts, after 4.7 YPC in the same situation last season (1st). Most RBs see their YPC plummet against stacked fronts.
Behind a good offensive line (5.03 adjusted line yards), Henry has nine evaded tackles PER GAME this season (1st), leading him to 1.12 FP per opportunity (12th). These ridiculous efficiency numbers are nothing new, last year he was 4th in evaded tackles, 3rd in broken tackles and FIRST in yards created per carry, at over 2.39 YCPC.
All that said, he has 3 TDs in two games which have hidden the low usage (30% of his FP production), with him only seeing the 50% of snaps and relying on TDs, he will have to continue to be ultra-efficient.
The Titans passing game is hard to endorse, but on these one-game slates every player matters, so here ya’ go…
Marcus Mariota practiced in full should be good to go (quad).
Delanie Walker (12 targets, 9 catches) looks healthy and is back to being Marcus Mariota’s #1. Walker has 37% of Tennessee’s market share air yards, or “MS Air yards” and a 60 “WOPR” (weighted opportunity rating), per AirYards.com.
With Mariota only averaging 200 yards passing this season and (184 yards per game against Jacksonville over his last eight starts), there aren’t many yards to go around, but Delanie is the guy.
After Walker, it gets very sketchy for DFS. Corey Davis is the full-time WR, playing 74% and 87% of snaps. But he only has a 15% target share, less than rookie AJ Brown. The Titans first-round pick has only run 27 routes on his 45% snap share but has 9 targets (33%). Compare that to Davis that has run 41 routes and has 8 targets (19.5). It gets worse for Davis, who is 84th in yards per route (4.8), compared to Brown’s 13.9 (11th). Yards per route has been proven to be one of the most predictive WR stats we can look at for future production.
One of the next two target share guys are the running backs, with just 5 each. Tajae Sharpe and Adam Humpries have a combined 7 targets in two games.
CB A.J. Bouye has been limited all week with a hip injury. Not being able to quickly rotate to hang with WR cuts explains why he struggled so badly in week one (27 FP in coverage/DK). If he can’t go, Tre Herndon will be back in the lineup, Herndon grades out as one of the worst coverage CBs, it is just a matter of whether or not Mariota (and his offensive line) can hold off the Jags pass rush.
With the Ramsey news and a 0-2 start, it will be interesting to see the moral of the team. I am an analytics guy, but I also played football and know running the ball and especially stopping the run is a lot of teamwork (communication) to execute the coach’s plays/schemes and then determination to tackle the ball carrier. When a team lacks that will, and the RB is Derrick Henry, you can see a game is what we saw last year on Thursday night football, when he rushed for 700 yards and 9 TDs (it seemed like that many).
It’s only two weeks (feel like I need to say this over and over), but Football Outsiders has the Jags run D ranked 28th (24th in adjusted line yards allowed per carry).
Under new OC John Difilipo, Jacksonville has passed at 65.4%, the 11th highest rate (56% in 2018). Even in a neutral game script at Houston they only ran it 21 times, and 6 of those were Gardner Minshew.
Leonard Fournette has averaged 14 carries in his first two games with Difilipo, down 2.6 carries per game from last season. Luckily for fantasy owners his targets have gone up from 3.2 to 6. It’s a wash in regards to total touches, but targets are worth more than rushes in the fantasy game, so I am all for this trend continuing. Even with the higher passing rate, I fully expect the Titans to load up the box and take their chances with Minchew.
Fournette played 97% of snaps last week, with Tyler Ervin being the only other back to see the field. On a short week, I would think it would be back in the 85-90% range, with Ryquell Armstrong (no snaps in week 2) being the guy who would give him a play or two off (14% week one). Still, Fournette is going to have a top 5 usage rate RB this season if he stays healthy.
Titans pass D has allowed the 4th lowest YPA versus Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett, registering 5 INTS. That said, they also have up three TD passes to Jacoby Brisset at home so they are FAR from a shutdown D.
DeFilippo has gone with more 3-wide sets, increasing from 69% to 80%. That has Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, and Chris Conley all playing between 75%-85% of snaps. I really like this trio, but now that Marqise Lee practiced in full on Tuesday, it puts him on track to screw up this tight WR rotation. Lee is an outside WR (4% slot in 2018), so he will likely eat into a little Chark and Conley.
Conley has impressed, which is mind-blowing. Not sure you can struggle in KC with Mahomes and then finally start breaking out in Jacksonville with Minshew and a quarter and a half of Big Dick. It is a mystery, but we can’t ignore his 18% target share (10 catches, 12 targets, 85 yards per game, 16.5 FPPG). If you aren’t familiar with him, he is a FREAK athlete (97th percentile SPARQ) so he’s a guy I have been tracking since the combine. He is going to be volatile (see Dede Westbrook in Week 2), but is a relative bargain in the Showdown slate at $10.5k (captain spot), especially considering his upside. He is too fast for any of these CBs, and along with Chark, has moved around enough that we don’t need to worry about any particular CB matchup.
I wrote about Adoree’ Jackson having foot surgery and how he was likely going to be someone to pick on early in the season. Teams got the message, targeting him 16% of pass plays (17th) after ranking 77th in that category last year. QBs have a 117 pass rating when targeting him this season, so don’t shy away because of the brand name. I have heard some sites saying they think he will shadow Chark, which I think is wrong. Their rationale was he followed speed WRs, TY Hilton, Robbie Anderson, and Josh Gordon last year. Well, they played TY Hilton LAST WEEK and he didn’t shadow, so not sure why a rookie is going to change that. CB/WR matchups have become so en vogue that they are now something to attack from an ownership perspective. For one, even when a CB “shadows”, they don’t end up on the WR for the entire game. For example, in one of Jackson’s “shadow” games versus Anderson, he only lined up in front of him on 56% of plays. Another reason to ignore it is again shown with Jackson. Last year in his “shadow game” versus TY, he gave up 8 catches for 146 yards and 2 TDs (8 targets).
Gardner Minshew has been solid (8 ANY/A) to start his NFL career. He finished with only 213 yards in Houston thanks to his poor offensive line (20th in adjusted sack rate), but he had two long completions (over 50 combined yards) reversed due to some suspect penalties. Despite not playing a full game in Week 1 and the so-so game in HOU, Minshew has finished as QB13 and QB15 during the first two weeks of the season.
The Titans D/secondary has been very opportunistic to start the season. Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler are savvy veterans that will take advantage of young QBs mistakes. Tenn has forced 5 turnovers in two games (6.06% interception rate/1st). They have also been getting after the QB, recording 8 sacks (10.81% sack rate-4th), while Jacksonville has allowed Minshew/Foles to be sacked at the 11th highest rate.
Tenn has been strong against the run, holding two very talented backs down in consecutive weeks (Chubb – Mack). I don’t see this Jacksonville OL line having a ton of success against this front seven, which should keep the passing rate high and these WRs active.
Lots of folks (myself included) were burned by Dede Westbrook last weekend. He had a great matchup with a guy that wasn’t playing football last week (literally was not in the league), but the combo of a young WR and rookie QB isn’t something we hang our hats on in DFS. I’ll take the L on this one, however, it should be noted that he ran more routes than in week one (31 to 25), got five targets (6 in week one), and had a questionable offensive PI call that wiped out a 20-yard reception.
For this week, there is nothing in his stats other than routes that says to play him over DJ or Conley. Working from the slot, he will have the toughest matchup with Ryan.
Dede only has 34 Air Yards in two games compared to 179 and 156 for DJ/Conley respectively. He is ok in YAC (3.3 in 2018, 25th), but will need a lot more volume to make us happy, whereas DJ/Conley can catch a long go-route and put up 12-14 FP on one play.
James O’Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim have accounted for 25.8% of the Jags total targets, with both getting at least four per game thus far. I wouldn’t touch these guys on a full slate, but both are salary savers and either could always luck into a TD. Swaim is $1.2k cheaper on DK so I would give him the edge, though anyone telling you this is anything other than a dart throw is full of shit.
(all formats, even on the Thu-Mon slates)
- OK fading this game entirely in cash, “core 3/single entry” GPP lineups
GPPs & 1-Game Slates
(in order of exposure)
- Henry (if you are playing the Thurs-Mon slate, get some Henry exposure)
- D.J. Chark
- A.J. Brown
- Geoff Swaim
- James O’Shaughnessy