Titans vs. Jaguars
Who will be behind center this week?
The latest news shows Marcus Mariota still recovering, slowly getting feeling back in his elbow. He threw at practice this week, though I personally wouldn’t want to put him out there against Jacksonville’s fierce defense. I definitely would not start Mariota this week as better options are available, and I’m curious to see what the team does next year in terms of a new deal. I don’t believe Mariota has shown himself worth what the free market would likely pay, but we have a lot of games to go. Still, this will be an interesting subplot to follow.
What should we do with the running backs?
Intimidating defense? Check. Timeshare between two running backs? Check. Thus far unimpressive offense? Check. Quarterback questionable to even play? Check. If you haven’t noticed, I’m just running through all the reasons this may be a rough week for the Titans running backs. They are playing a strong Jaguars team that just thrashed the Patriots. They may be without Mariota, so all Jacksonville would have to worry about would be stopping the run game. Finally, we factor in the uncertain touch numbers for each back. I would play Dion Lewis if I was desperate, but I would be very hesitant to play Derrick Henry based on what we’ve seen so far.
How about the wide receivers?
When a team is potentially without its QB, all the receivers take a downgrade. As such, I have no interest in starting Rishard Matthews, Taywan Taylor, or tight end Jonnu Smith who was held targetless last week. However, I will still ride with Corey Davis. Whoever is behind center, they will inevitably throw to someone. While I don’t like any option, I feel that Davis is the best bet here. He has proven capable, and I think he should still see a handful of targets. I like him more in PPR than standard, but I could play him.
And that defense…is it worth a flex?
The Jaguars expect Leonard Fournette to be ready, though he could be limited in both snaps and touches. Still, Fournette was inactive last week and it didn’t matter much. I could see the Jaguars doing just what’s necessary to win, but it also wouldn’t surprise me much to see them win by a couple touchdowns. While I like what the Titans defense has shown so far, I am staying away this week in favor of flex options on waivers.
Can the BOAT and Co. continue hot start in Duval?
RB Leonard Fournette figures to be reinserted to the starting role in the backfield after missing last week with a hamstring issue. His usage rate remains a mystery. Without Fournette and facing Bill Belichick’s Patriot’s, the Jacksonville running game was mostly secondary to the passing game. I am among the side that trusts QB Blake Bortles to continue this stretch of aggressive play execution. Teams will now have to respect the potential pass from all kinds of formations. This should give way to a more evenly split and balanced attack. Led by WRs Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook, Bortles has plenty to work with, as it seems he has the trust and chemistry to march down on almost every drive. Add in TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is very capable of making plays, and it’s going to be tough sledding for Tennessee. Cole is a borderline flex play in fantasy, while the others remain stashes. The Titans, who somehow pulled out a win against the favored Texans a week ago, are far inferior to the Jags. They might be able to cover a little better than the Patriots did, but I’d still give the edge to a more consistent offense (who knew we’d call the Jaguars that five years ago?).
Is there any doubt the Jacksonville defense will eviscerate Tennessee?
NO. Start this defense forever. It’s the deepest and most athletic defense in the AFC and is in my mind, tougher than the Rams. It’s already a broken record, but it bears repeating just how awesome and fun they are to watch. Whether it’s QB Marcus Mariota or Blaine Gabbert, it doesn’t matter – they will be sacked and hurried into awful throws. Star CB Jaylen Ramsey will get an interception in this one. Their confidence was already high going into last week’s game, but now, oh boy, Tennessee better keep their heads on a swivel.