Kickoff: Sunday, December 6th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: LP Field, Nashville, TN
Betting Odds: TEN -5.5, 54 total via Oddsshark
Baker Mayfield (Sit)
Baker Mayfield has basically had one good game for fantasy managers in 2020 (Week 7 against Cincinnati) and has ZERO passing TDs in three of Cleveland’s last four games. Browns HC Kevin Stefanski was known for his rushing attack when he was the OC in Minnesota and he has carried that philosophy to Cleveland this season. Mayfield is ahead of only Lamar Jackson and Cam Newton in pass attempts per game among full-time QBs but doesn’t have the rushing upside those two bring for fantasy managers. Tennessee is one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses but Cleveland is one of the NFL’s worst pass offenses so those two essentially cancel each other out. Mayfield might have to take on a heavier load if the game goes as Vegas expects it to, but I don’t see enough volume for Mayfield to warrant a spot in starting lineups this week.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB2), Kareem Hunt (Start, RB2)
We’re going to see a theme throughout this game that centers around a position group that has two or more players that are good enough to be a detriment to each other for fantasy purposes. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have RB1 upside but neither sees enough volume because of how good each of them is. Chubb and Hunt have played in six full games together. Here are their touches in those six games:
- Week 1 – Chubb, 11; Hunt, 17
- Week 2 – Chubb, 23; Hunt, 12
- Week 3 – Chubb, 20; Hunt, 18
- Week 10 – Chubb, 20; Hunt, 22
- Week 11 – Chubb, 20; Hunt, 14
- Week 12 – Chubb, 22; Hunt, 10
As you can see, Chubb generally paces the team in touches and has seemingly done more with them but Cleveland insists on utilizing Hunt regardless of the game Chubb is having. Chubb has exceeded 100 rushing yards in each of his last three games, so RB1 upside is there, but he only has six TDs on the season. Chubb also loses almost all of the passing down work to Hunt, further diminishing his value in PPR leagues. The good thing for fantasy managers is both should provide no worse than RB2 numbers this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jarvis Landry (Start, WR2), Rashard Higgins (Sit), KhaDarel Hodge (Sit), Austin Hooper (Start, TE2)
We’ve already touched on how few attempts Mayfield averages per game (26) so it might be surprising to see one of his receiving options recommended as a WR2 but that’s exactly the case for Jarvis Landry. Landry is far-and-away the most targeted Cleveland receiver with nearly 50% more targets than the next healthy option – Austin Hooper. Landry has seen 11 targets in two of Cleveland’s last four games and found the end zone for the first time last week. Tennesse is near the bottom of the league in pass defense allowing 268 passing yards per game and has given up at least 15 fantasy points to a WR in nine of their 11 games. Landry is the only reliable Cleaveland WR for fantasy managers this week.
Since Odell Beckham‘s injury, Cleveland has utilized both Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge to try and replace a portion of the production Beckham provided. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, there just aren’t enough targets to go around for any other WR to make a dent in the fantasy scorecard. Fantasy managers can safely ignore both Higgins and Hodge in Week 13.
If there is another player on Cleveland’s roster that can provide any sort of meaningful fantasy production it’s Hooper. Hooper doesn’t see a lot of volume but is still the second-most targeted player for Mayfield. The fantasy landscape at the TE position is littered with a bunch of guys who could finish anywhere from 15th to 5th in any given week and Hooper is one of those guys. Tennessee has allowed seven receiving TDs to TEs this season, so Hooper does have TD-upside this week. It’s not going to feel good to plug Hooper into your starting lineup, but he should provide high-end TE2 production with TE1 upside in Week 13.
Ryan Tannehill (Start, QB1)
I’ve been touting Ryan Tannehill as a QB2 nearly all season during these writeups but I like his chances to finish as a QB1 this week for fantasy managers. Cleveland is a much better defense against the run than the pass, surrendering 246 yards per game and have allowed 22 passing TDs on the season. Cleveland has been better the last few weeks, but that was against teams with bad QBs (Mike Glennon) or bad offensive lines (Philadelphia and Houston). Tannehill and the Titans are at least above average in both of those areas and have some serious weapons at WR. If the Browns can continue to be at least serviceable against the run, near the 108 yards per game they allow, then Tannehill will have to lead the team through the air. Look for a QB1 finish in Week 13.
Derrick Henry (Start, RB1), Jeremy McNichols (Sit)
The moniker “King Henry” is looking like a good fit as Derrick Henry has been dominant in Tennessee’s last three games. Henry has rushed for 414 yards and four TDs over that span with his most recent effort (178 yards, three TDs) against a Colts defense that has been better against the run than Cleveland has this season. Henry is getting plenty of opportunities as well, with back-to-back games of 27+ carries. Henry is the focal point of the offense and should continue to see a heavy workload as Tennessee is nearly a touchdown favorite. Fantasy managers drafted him to be their RB1 and that should continue to be the case this week. Start him with confidence.
This sounds like a broken record, but Jeremy McNichols is nothing more than bench fodder for fantasy managers as long as Henry is healthy.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR2), Corey Davis (Start, WR2), Adam Humphries/Kalif Raymond (Sit), Jonnu Smith/Anthony Firkser (Sit)
Here’s a fun little stat for you: A.J. Brown is 10th in fantasy points per game at 17.5 in PPR formats. Brown is averaging seven targets per game. The nine players ahead of him average more than nine targets per game. Brown does more with less than almost every other WR in the NFL. Brown reached 100 yards when these teams faced off in 2019 with Marcus Mariota at QB and have scored a TD in each of the last two games against two of the better pass defenses in the NFL. Volume is Brown’s only opponent which is why he lands as a WR2 this week. Brown almost has to score a TD to make it to the WR1 tier and those are too hard to predict especially with so few targets.
There was speculation before this season that the Titans would move on from former #5-overall pick Corey Davis after three lackluster seasons. This season, however, Davis looks like a different person as he is on pace to obliterate his season highs. Davis certainly benefits from having Brown and Henry occupy a lot of the defense’s attention but Davis seems to have become a more nuanced route runner as well. Much like Brown, however, Davis suffers from a lack of volume to an even greater extent and he has struggled to find the end zone. Davis should still creep into the bottom of the WR2 tier for fantasy managers in Week 13.
Adam Humphries is still not certain to return this week but the lack of production at WR beyond Brown and Davis makes whoever ends up as Tennessee’s #3 WR nearly useless for fantasy managers. Look elsewhere for fantasy production this week.
It’s been disheartening to see Jonnu Smith go from a fantasy darling in the early part of the season to almost the second option on his own team. Smith hasn’t looked right since his ankle injury and has been losing snaps and targets to Anthony Firkser. Smith is still one of only three TEs with seven TDs on the season, but his production is so TD-dependent now it’s hard to trust him in fantasy lineups. Smith and Firkser cannibalize each other’s statistics to the point where neither is a recommended option for fantasy managers this week.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)