Thursday Night Football Preview
Spread: Steelers -2.5 Over/Under 36.5
The Tennessee Titans, fresh off a big win against Atlanta, travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. The Titans have momentum on their side after Will Levis threw four touchdowns in his NFL debut, putting 28 points on the scoreboard, their highest output this season. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, lost at home to Jacksonville in Week 8 and has generally been playing over their heads. The -2.5 point spread seems about a point too high to me, but I'm assuming the Steelers' defense going up against a rookie quarterback has something to do with that.
This game has the lowest total of the week, putting both defenses and kickers in play when building lineups. We're not likely to see many touchdowns, so it's important to be selective when compiling a player pool this week.
I think Vegas has it mostly right. I'm expecting a low-scoring game. My model shows the total at 37 points and the Steelers -1.5. Any other week, I'd be on the home team here, but Levis' performance last week turned everything upside down. Suddenly, the Titans' offense has upside! In a large-field tournament, I want to roster the players with the most upside, so I'm more likely to go heavy on the Titans' offense in my lineups this week.
Captain Choices (1.5x salary, 1.5x points)
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans, $17,400
Henry is one of the few bell cows in the NFL. He's 4th in carries and 5th in rushing yards. He also has explosive potential, ranking 2nd in breakaway run rate. In a low-scoring game, and with Levis behind center, I expect the Titans to be run-heavy. I have the team projected for 132 rushing yards, and Henry should get the bulk of those. The three-point bonus for 100-yards rushing is definitely in play for Henry.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Titans, $16,800
Hopkins has a good matchup against the Steelers' corners this week. He has obvious chemistry with Will Levis after catching three touchdowns from him last week, two of them over 45 yards. He's 8th in the league in red zone targets as well, making him a threat from anywhere on the field. Pittsburgh has allowed four receivers to reach 100 yards this season, so Hopkins has blow-up potential in this matchup.
George Pickens, WR, Steelers, $13,200
Pickens is 4th in the league with 18.6 yards per reception. He has a good matchup against Tennessee, which gives up the 29th most adjusted fantasy points to wide receivers. I think it's generally a good idea to pay up for the WR1 of a favored team in a game with a low total.
Steelers Defense, $8,400
A home favorite defense in a low-scoring game is always a good play. Pittsburgh is second in the league in takeaways. Will Levis struggled against pressure last week, so the Steelers' D has a great chance to create turnovers. I would not be surprised to see a pick-6 from them this week. If I do choose them as my Captain, then I'm using Najee Harris in my flex, for certain, and I'm not starting Will Levis.
Top Flex Options
Will Levis, QB, Titans, $9,600
It's hard to argue against Levis' performance last week. Four touchdowns in a first start is beyond impressive. However, Levis did show some cracks, especially when facing pressure. He only completed 30% of his passes when pressured. The Titans ran the ball 56% of the time last week and protected Levis with short, high-percentage passing play calls. He did let it rip a few times, though, with great success. The upside is there for another good day for Levis; however, I think he's more likely to put up Tannehill-type numbers in this game. I do prefer him over Pickett even though his salary is $400 more. If you think Levis will have another multi-touchdown game this week, by all means, use him in your Captain role.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers, $9,200
I'm cautious about using Pickett this week. Usually, the quarterback on a home favorite is a slam dunk play, but I am concerned about his ribs and the possibility of leaving the game if he gets hit. Pickett is 30th among quarterbacks in fantasy points and red zone attempts. There's not a lot of upside to rostering him, but if you go with a Steelers receiver in the Captain spot, you kind of have to.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers, $8,400
Johnson offers a $400 discount from George Pickens, but I'd rather pay up in this matchup. The matchup is good enough, but Johnson only has one red zone target this year.
Najee Harris, RB, Steelers, $7,200
It's all about volume for Harris. The matchup isn't good. Tennessee is 6th in adjusted fantasy points given up to opposing RBs, and Harris only has one touchdown this year. But Harris should get a lot of touches, and it's possible he can do something with those.
Jaylen Warren, RB, Steelers, $6,400
I don't anticipate this game script to be favorable for Warren, but he is 6th in receptions among running backs, so if you're on Tennessee to win this game, Warren is a good value at his salary.
Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans, $5,400
As a general rule, I like to target third-down backs on the underdog team. Spears could see an increased workload if the Titans get behind. He's made the most of his opportunities this year, ranking 10th in fantasy points per opportunity. He's also 2nd in juke rate and 3rd in breakaway run rate.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, Titans, $3,400
Westbrook-Ikhine had 77 air yards on two targets last week, including one end zone target. Levis seems to like throwing the ball deep, so it's worth the dart-throw to put Westbrook-Ikhine in your lineup and hope for a touchdown.
Chris Boswell, K, Steelers, $5,000 Treylon Burks, WR, Titans, $3,800
- DeAndre Hopkins (Captain)
- Will Levis
- George Pickens
- Tajae Spears
- Chris Boswell
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
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