Week 9 Game Hub: Ten-LAR

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Week 9 Game Hub: Ten-LAR

Tennessee Titans (6-2, 6-2 ATS) at Los Angeles Rams (7-1, 4-4), 8:20 p.m., SNF

Brolley’s Titans Stats and Trends

  • Tennessee has four straight outright and ATS covers, and they’ve covered in their four chances as an underdog.

  • The Titans are 10-1 toward overs in their last 11 road games.

  • The Titans likely lost Derrick Henry (foot, IR) for the rest of the regular season, and this rushing attack will likely rest on the shoulders of 36-year-old Adrian Peterson with Jeremy McNichols figuring in behind him as the team’s passing back and change-of-pace runner the rest of the season. Peterson is unlikely to go from his couch to 20+ carries in his first game so D’Onta Foreman, who played in the offense last season, could actually lead the Titans in carries this week. Peterson averaged a decent 3.9 YPC on 156 carries with seven rushing TDs in a bad Lions’ offense last season. McNichols hasn’t seen more than two carries in a game but he’s averaging 3.4 targets per game this season, and his role should grow, especially if the Titans skew more pass-heavy moving forward. McNichols is looking slightly better than the rest this week with the Titans entering as 7.5-point road underdogs. The Rams are giving up the 15th-most FPG (24.4) to RBs.

  • Ryan Tannehill has posted 20+ FP in consecutive games, and he’s coming off just his second game with multiple TDs passes last week. The offense is going to be on his shoulders a little more this week, and he should have the opportunity to throw for a few more TDs moving forward with Henry no longer available — the Titans have scored rushing TDs at the fourth-highest rate (50%) this season. The Rams are giving up the 11th-fewest FPG (18.4) to QBs this season, but they haven’t exactly been tested of late against Davis Mills, Jared Goff, and Daniel Jones.

  • A.J. Brown’s slow start to the season is a distant memory with three consecutive season-best performances (16.1<27.3<31.5). He’s posted 7+ catches and 90+ yards in three straight games, and he’ll now be the focal point of the offense with Henry out for at least the next two months. He’ll likely draw the attention of Jalen Ramsey this week, but Julio Jones could help him out some if he actually dresses this week. The Rams are giving up the 12th-most receiving yards per game (172.5) to WRs.

  • Julio Jones (hamstring) is trending toward playing this week, but he hasn’t reached 70% of the snaps in his last three games because of his injury. Julio has reached 9+ FP in just one of his five games in the lineup after posting 2/38 receiving on four targets in Week 7 while playing a season-low 43% of the snaps. The Rams are giving up the 14th-most FPG (36.9) to WRs this season.

Brolley’s Rams Stats and Trends

  • The Rams are 7-2-1 toward overs in their last 10 games.

  • Matthew Stafford has thrown for 3+ TDs and reached 24+ FP in three straight cake matchups against the Texans, Lions, and Giants. The ideal matchups keep rolling in this week against the Titans, who have given up the sixth-most FPG (21.3) and the seventh-most passing TDs per game (1.9) to QBs.

  • Cooper Kupp reached 23+ FP for the sixth time in eight tries last week, which was his third consecutive game with 110+ yards and 1+ TDs. He’s leading the league in yards (924), targets (90), and receiving TDs (10), and he trails Tyreek Hill by only one catch with 63. The Titans are giving up a league-high 16.5 catches per game to WRs.

  • Robert Woods has reached 11+ FP in five straight games and in 7-of-8 contests after posting 3/35/1 receiving yards and 3/22/1 rushing last week. He has failed to reach 50+ receiving yards in 5-of-8 games with Kupp hogging much of the production. The Titans are giving up a league-high 216.0 receiving yards per game to WRs.

  • Van Jefferson is officially a full-time player with the Rams releasing DeSean Jackson this week. He’s run just one fewer route than Kupp and Woods (72 to 71) over the last two weeks, and he’s scored 11+ FP in both contests with a combined 7/131/1 receiving on 13 targets. The Titans are giving up the most FPG (47.6) to WRs.

  • It’s just not happening for Tyler Higbee after flopping in a great matchup against the Texans last week. He managed just 3/25 receiving last week, which means he’s fallen below double-digit FP in five straight games despite running the sixth-most routes (157) at the position in that span. The Titans have given up three TDs to TEs in the last four weeks.

  • Darrell Henderson has hung 16+ FP in four of his last five games, and he’s posted 15+ touches in every game this season. He’s averaging a healthy 4.6 YPC but he’s yet to reach 30+ receiving yards in a game this season. Jonathan Taylor posted 16/70/1 rushing and 3/52 receiving in this matchup last week.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Titans

Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.7 (16th)

Plays per game: 73.1 (2nd)

Pass: 55.2% (28th) | Run: 44.8% (5th)

Rams

Pace: 27 (9th)

Plays per game: 64.0 (26th)

Pass: 58.4% (22nd) | Run: 41.6% (11th)

Pace Points

Pour one out for the King. With Derrick Henry out, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Titans want to play this. This week, OC Todd Downing said that “[he’d] be doing the offense a disservice if I jerked the wheel on our identity” which, to me, is a nothing burger. Downing and the Titans gain nothing if Downing comes out and says “hey, we’re going to pass more and this is how we’ll do it!”

Anyway, I’m expecting the Titans to use Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman on early-downs and still stick to a fairly heavy play-action plan – they’re using play-action on 29% of their pass plays (12th). The big question then becomes how often the Titans actually run the ball on early-downs. Through eight weeks, the Titans are the third-most run-heavy team on early-downs (54%) behind only the Bears and Saints (55%). Tennessee is going to have to adjust and put way more on Ryan Tannehill’s plate.

The Rams are the Rams and they’re going to do what they do. HC Sean McVay has catered the Rams play-calling to the situations they find themselves in this year and they do the same thing every week. When the game is close (within a score in 1st-3rd quarter), the Rams are 66.5% pass-heavy (third-highest rate) and when they build a lead after throwing the ball down their opponents’ throats, they slow down and run. L.A. has gone 51.8% pass | 48.2% run when leading, which is the definition of balance.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

NOTE: Each week, Huber’s Key Matchup Notes in the Fantasy Points Game Hubs are little snippets from Wes Huber’s industry-best, comprehensive Advanced Matchups bible. A DFS-slanted article typically available to only our Premium Subscribers, we are making this week’s edition FREE to coincide with our midseason price drop, with rates reduced by 50%. There is still plenty of time to get on board!

Deebo Samuel, DK Metcalf, and A.J. Brown represent the three most physical wideouts in the game. Now that it appears AJB’s surgically-repaired knees are fully healed, opposing defenders looking to man-up on the former Ole Miss Rebel beware. But Brown will need to tap into his zone skills in Week 9. The Rams are featuring the third-highest rate of Cover 4, fifth-highest of Cover 6, and eighth-highest of Cover 3. Los Angeles’ 13th-highest FPG allowance to WRs is supported by reception- and yardage-heavy numbers. They’ve limited WRs to the fourth-fewest TDs/game (0.63). But Brown is far from the typical WR, willing to allow challenging TD rates stand in his way of hitting paydirt.

During his career against Cover 3, Brown ranks seventh with 0.57 FP/Rt. He’s also generated 3.00 YPRR (sixth-best) and a 12.82 YPT (fifth). When opposed by Cover 4 during his time in the NFL, Brown ranks fourth-best among all WRs with 0.58 FP/Rt, third with 3.61 YPRR, second with 15.4 YPT, and fifth with a 33% increase to his air yards/target. The alignment rates tell us a portion of Brown’s Week 9 challenge will be provided by the coverage from David Long Jr. He’s limited his coverage to 0.99 YPCS (22nd), 0.20 FP/CS (12th), 0.16 AY/CS (sixth), and a 95.7 TPR (44th). With Derrick Henry likely out for the season, the Titans will need Brown to continue the dominant play that’s resulted in him averaging 32.4 FPG over the last two weeks.

But this is also a spot of nuclear potential for Robert Woods. Tennessee is distributing the most FPG to opposing WRs this season (47.5). And they are also handing out the most red zone touches to WRs (2.38). Bobby Trees will square off with Jackrabbit Jenkins on just under two-thirds of his reps. Jenkins has permitted 1.11 YPCS (31st), 0.26 FP/CS (42nd), 0.19 AY/CS (18th), and a 115.4 TPR (69th). The Titans are featuring the eighth-highest Cover 2 rate, 13th-highest of Cover 1. With FP/Rt averages over the last three seasons at 0.37 vs. Cover 2 (23rd-best), but Kupp is clearly superior in Cover 1 situations. Tennessee is very stingy against the run. And that is a factor that should require the Rams taking to the air.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

NOTE: TITAN WR AJ BROWN WAS LISTED AS QUESTIONABLE WITH A KNEE INJURY AS A SURPRISE ADDITION TO THE PRACTICE REPORT ON FRIDAY. THOSE WITH BROWN ON THEIR ROSTERS SHOULD HAVE A REPLACEMENT READY TO GO FROM THE SUNDAY NIGHT OR MONDAY NIGHT GAMES IN THE EVENT HE IS A GAME-TIME DECISION.

Obviously, the loss of Derrick Henry is the dominant storyline for the Titans this week, and it should be. No team is as reliant on the run game as the Titans, and that run game has been heavily reliant on one player for three years.

Still, the Titans’ offense — at least schematically — isn’t going to change.

So… who is going to realize that identity? Based on FAAB wagers this week, fantasy players think it will be the legendary Adrian Peterson. And indeed, Peterson in the past was the closest thing we’ve seen to Henry in 2021, but I can’t imagine he’ll all of a sudden be able to come in and handle 25 carries. But he’s impressed in the early going.

Still, our Greg Cosell heard tale that the Titans could give some not-insignificant work to practice-squad RB D’Onta Foreman, who has been in the building, and I just fundamentally believe the Titans are going to have to throw the ball more with Ryan Tannehill to have any shot of moving the ball consistently.

If the Titans do throw the ball more, that obviously means Jeremy McNichols will get more work. I wouldn’t be shocked if he starts to get 5-7 targets per game as an extension of the run game, almost in a JD McKissic type of role. And if Peterson is dust — he’s 36, which makes it a completely plausible outcome — McNichols could be the most valuable back here rest-of-season. And this week, in particular, is a good week for McNichols, with the Titans pretty hefty road underdogs. If I had to play one Titan RB this week only, it would be him.

The Titans could also get Julio Jones back in some fashion from his hamstring injury this week, though they have all the incentive with such a heavy lead in their division to be cautious since they need him deeper into the season.

One guy our whole staff loves this week — Wes above, Scott Barrett from Start/Sit — is AJ Brown, who is likely the Titans’ most important offensive player going forward. Here’s Scott:

“I think most still instinctually panic when they see their WR1 is set to face off against the Rams, but that is probably a mistake. Jalen Ramsey hasn’t shadowed once this season, and he’s spending over 50% of his coverage snaps lined up against slot WRs. The Rams, understandably, rank 6th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs, but they’ve given up the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (+5.0). And that’s undoubtedly Brown, who, also, may be in line for a much larger workload, as Derrick Henry leaves behind a whopping 28% XFP market share (3rd-most among all players).

Brown has seen at least 9 targets and reached at least 90 receiving yards in each of his last three games, averaging 9.7 targets, 126.3 yards, and 25.0 FPG over this span. And, keep in mind, that’s with Brown playing on just 78% of the team’s snaps over this span (though he was back up to 91% last week.) Despite the perceived tough matchup, Brown should be started as a WR1 this week.”

The Rams are obviously of the belief that they’re the best team in football — they have now dealt away their first four picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, most recently sending 2nd- and 3rd-round picks to the Broncos for Von Miller to supplement their excellent defense. And they obviously have an elite offense led by Matthew Stafford. It does seem like the only thing that could derail the Rams’ Super Bowl hopes right now is health. So the Rams are being cautious.

Anyway, you know Cooper Kupp has been a dominant fantasy asset this year. But how dominant? Scott lets us know from the Week 9 XFP Report:

“Through the first eight weeks of the season, Kupp has scored 215.4 fantasy points as a receiver, the most by any player all-time. He leads all players in FPG (26.9) and ranks behind only Diontae Johnson (among WRs) in XFP per game (21.0).

There’s not really much else to say here. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be viewing Kupp as a slightly richer man’s 2020 Davante Adams. Better yet, with fantasy football’s No. 1 power law player (Derrick Henry) now possibly out for the year, Kupp easily appears to be the most valuable player in fantasy football. I wouldn’t be surprised if something like 40% of all Kupp-owners (in ESPN leagues) made it to their league’s championship game.

Impressively, Kupp scored 24.5 fantasy points on a (season-low) 16.0-point expectation last week. Interestingly, this was actually a brutal matchup. Kupp runs 68% of his routes from the slot, and the Texans came into last week ranking 6th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (10.3), but 11th-worst against outside WRs (24.2). And, still, Kupp found the end zone and led the team in targets (9), catches (7), and yards (115). This week, he gets a Titans defense that ranks dead-last in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (23.3, 1.78X the league-average rate).”

Presuming Robert Woods plays with his foot injury, both Kupp and Woods are fantastic options — Wes outlined above why he likes Woods even in a smash spot for Kupp. And while the Titans have been limiting opposing RBs, Darrell Henderson has the bell cow role on lockdown that makes him next to impossible to sit in season-long formats.

One guy who has been disappointing despite his extreme usage has been TE Tyler Higbee. Here’s Scott from Start/Sit:

“Whereas the Chargers are the league’s top TE-funnel defense, the Titans are something of a reverse-TE-funnel matchup. They rank 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs (+8.2), but 7th-best against TEs (-3.3). And just 13.2% of the total receiving production they’ve allowed has gone to TEs (4th-fewest).

So, clearly, the matchup isn’t great. But I think, more than anything, we’re just finally ready to admit defeat on Higbee after he flopped in a best-possible matchup last week. Despite being a full-time receiver — running a route on 81% of his team’s dropbacks (5th-most among TEs) — for the best offense in football, Higbee ranks just 16th in XFP per game (8.4) and 20th in FPG (8.7). He’s just a mid-range TE2 this week.”

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