Texans vs. Titans
Was it rust or is this the start of some regression for Watson?
We talked plenty about what Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson did, statistically, last Sunday against the New England Patriots in our QB List Reviews. He fumbled, he was intercepted, he threw a late touchdown and he was willing to run – a pretty mixed bag from the promising young gun. Now, remember, he is still recovering from that horrible ACL injury. We can certainly put some blame on rust. A shortened season also means less time building a lasting chemistry with receivers, albeit this has to be reestablished each offseason. This matchup against the Titans should allow for plenty of opportunities. This Tennessee team lost to the Dolphins. Maybe Miami isn’t as bad as they were predicted to be, but that’s still a step back for Mariota and Co. Look for Watson to let it loose against a suspect secondary. If he can recapture that connection with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, watch out. If he doesn’t do a good job of identifying defensive packages, it could be another up and down outing. I think the former prevails.
Can Hopkins break out against the Titan’s DBs?
DeAndre Hopkins had 78 yards last Sunday against the Patriots. That’s certainly a pedestrian number for one of the best in the league, but the Patriots do have a very impressive unit, it seems, and, of course, one of the best minds guiding that side of the ball in Belichick. There’s something to be said for keeping Hopkins to the just about the same amount of yardage in back -to-back matchups (77 in 2017, 78 in 2018). He’ll most likely match up against Malcolm Butler who got roasted by Kenny Stills last week. If Stills can, Hopkins will. Chalk it up: 10 catches, 107 yards, 1 touchdown.
Lamar Miller in for big day?
Lamar Miller isn’t going to have many crazy good games. In fact, he did not cross the 80 yard threshold once last season. It says a lot about both the offensive line and maybe the scheme they like to run – simply keep defenses honest? Who knows, but it’s certainly not for a lack of touches, for the most part. The positive side to this matchup in Tennessee is that they allowed 35 yr-old Frank Gore to gain 61 yards on 9 carries. I’m pretty sure Lamar Miller could manage those numbers.
With the status of Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota up in the air, things do not bode well for a Tennessee offensive line that cannot keep him upright. If Blaine Gabbert makes the start, Houston is a potential top 5 defense this week. Yes, the Titans bring a decent one-two punch in Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis, but will it be enough? I’d role with Houston’s D/ST in a heartbeat and are primed for some serious production. Having JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, DJ Reader and Whitney Mercilus helps tremendously.
Is it time to give up on Marcus Mariota?
I’ve been a Marcus Mariota apologist for the last year. He had some bad injury luck. It was a dysfunctional offense. There weren’t enough weapons and Corey Davis wasn’t ready for the big time yet. However, the Titans took a great matchup against the Dolphins and turned it into a loss. I had the Dolphins as a bottom 10 team this year, so that’s not a good sign. Mariota, for his part, didn’t look very good either. He was 9/16 for 103 yards and 2 interceptions before being knocked out. Blaine Gabbert finished the game and managed to accrue less than half of Mariota’s QBR. I am hesitant to trust Mariota unless he proves this was a fluke. Stay away for now.
Which running back do I want this week?
The Titans head home for week 2, but they will be facing the Houston Texans–another team desperate for a win. I think the Texans offense bounces back while the Titans have a long day. If Houston jumps ahead, I don’t like Derrick Henry to be a factor. I would bench him this week if possible as he faces a strong Texans defense. For Dion Lewis, I would start him as usual and feel confident. If the Titans fall behind, expect Lewis to eat up targets and they chase points. He is the perfect dump-off pass now that Delanie Walker is gone.
If Mariota is out, can I still start Corey Davis?
I like what I saw from Corey Davis, and I am happy to roll with him in week 2. Sure, there is a chance Blaine Gabbert completely blows it and the offense stalls all day. Still, Davis saw 13 targets in week 1. If you promised me that volume with any player I’d start them. I now past performance does not dictate future success, but who else are the Titans throwing to? It’s not like Rishard Matthews looked promising last week. Like Dion Lewis, Corey Davis is helped by the unfortunate injury to Walker and he should see a weekly target bump as a result.
What’s going on at tight end now since the Delanie Walker injury?
Jonnu Smith. If you had Delanie Walker and are scrambling for a replacement, know the name Jonnu Smith. He is an athletic 2nd year player out of FIU, and he should be starting moving forward. Smith saw 3 targets during his playing time, and I could see this jumping to around 5 per game. I want to see him in action before I start him, but this is a name to watch. The hope would be that Smith takes Walker’s role and is able to end up with roughly the same targets/ stats/ TDs. In dynasty, I would grab Jonnu now as a stash moving forward.
How about the remaining weapons on offense?
Beyond Corey Davis, Dion Lewis, and maybe Jonnu Smith, I don’t see much else here to consider. I like Taywan Taylor, but his stock goes down if it’s Blaine Gabbert behind center. I also like Rishard Matthews, but he may not be ready yet as last week he was limited. After missing the offseason, he doesn’t know the whole playbook yet. Short of desperation, I’m leaving the rest of the Titans squad far from my lineups. That being said, I dream of a Mariota return to form and brighter days on the horizon.