Kickoff: Sunday, January 3rd at 4:25 PM ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Betting Odds: TEN -7.5, 55.5 total via Oddsshark
Ryan Tannehill (Start, QB1)
In a win-and-you’re-in game for the Titans, Ryan Tannehill will try to replicate his success from the first meeting between these teams in which he had his best game of the season passing for 366 yards and 4 TDs to just 1 INT in leading the Titans to a six-point victory. Houston’s defense has been among the worst in the NFL this season defending both the pass and the run, allowing 260 passing yards per game (26th) and 151 rushing yards per game (31st). Tennessee’s defense has been almost equally as bad, so there should be plenty of opportunities for Tannehill to accrue stats if the game stays close. Tannehill has been down against good defenses this season, but this is not a good defense and Tannehill should return QB1 numbers for anybody relying on him in Week 17.
Derrick Henry (Start, RB1)
Unless this game gets out of hand, expect to see a full complement of Derrick Henry this weekend as he stares down a 2,000-yard rushing season. Henry needs 223 yards to hit 2,000 and he nearly reached that number when these teams met back in Week 6 as he rumbled for 212 yards and two TDs. There’s even a chance the coaching staff will try to get him to that magical number if the game is well in hand, but there’s always an injury risk and that is one injury the Titans can ill afford. Against one of the worst rush defenses in football, Henry is an easy RB1 this weekend.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR1), Corey Davis (Start, WR2), Jonnu Smith (Start, TE1)
The only game in which A.J. Brown had multiple TDs this season was in Week 6 against the Texans when he converted seven targets into five receptions for 58 yards and two TDs. Brown has four or more receptions in each of his last six games and has scored in four of them as he remains the #1 option in the passing game. It looks like both teams will be able to score fairly easily in this game, which bodes well for all the offensive skill players and Brown should once again benefit. Lock Brown into one of your starting WR slots and enjoy what should be a WR1 performance in Week 17.
Corey Davis has quietly put together the best season of his career in 2020 with 60 receptions for 945 yards and five TDs and may have earned himself a new contract with the Titans in the process. If we overlook last week’s goose egg in less-than-ideal conditions, Davis has three 100-plus yard games in his last five and has a pair of TDs over that same span. Davis has earned the trust of Tannehill and the porous Houston defense should allow Davis to reach WR2 status this week.
What started out looking like a great fantasy season turned sour after Jonnu Smith injured his ankle in Week 6 against this same Houston team. Smith struggled for several weeks but it looks like things may be trending upward after the last two weeks. Smith is still the third option in Tennessee’s passing game but is a threat in and around the red zone as he trails only Brown in TD receptions with eight. Smith should provide enough production in a must-win game to crack the TE1 tier in Week 17.
Deshaun Watson (Start, QB1)
Despite his offensive line surrendering the sixth-most sacks in the NFL, Deshaun Watson is still having his best season as a pro tossing for 4,458 yards with 30 TDs against just six INTs. Watson has also chipped in 432 rushing yards and an additional three TDs this year. Watson had one of, if not THE, best fantasy games of his season against the Titans in Week 6 as he passed for 335 yards with four TDs and no INTs and rushed for 26 yards in the close loss. Tennesse has struggled more than Houston against the pass this season, ranking 28th in the NFL by allowing 271 passing yards per game. Watson seems to not have any lasting effects from the hit to his throwing hand late in last week’s contest and intends to play against one of his most-hated teams. Unless he’s ruled out, Watson should finish as a QB1 this weekend.
David Johnson (Start, RB1)
David Johnson saw nearly every snap at the RB position last week and it seems as if that will be the case as the Texans close out their 2020 season. Johnson easily had his best game since joining the team, tallying 128 rushing yards and a TD along with an additional 11 receiving yards and a TD. The week prior, Johnson was targeted a season-high 11 times, catching all 11 for 106 yards which shows the trust Watson has in him. Johnson has a solid floor with no real competition behind him this week and should produce no worse than low-end RB1 numbers for fantasy managers unfortunate enough to have a matchup in Week 17.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandin Cooks (Start, WR2), Keke Coutee (Start, WR3/Flex), Chad Hansen (Sit), Jordan Akins (Sit, TE2)
The pickings look mighty slim at the WR position for Houston once you get past Brandin Cooks as a result of injury or suspension. Cooks is pacing the team in all statistical receiving categories except for TDs as he has accumulated 70 receptions on 103 targets for 984 yards and four TDs. Cooks had one of those TDs when these teams first met in Week 6 along with 68 yards on nine receptions. Cooks has a solid floor given the lack of options behind him on the depth chart and should approach the WR1 tier but ultimately end up as a solid WR2 this week.
The biggest beneficiary of the last few weeks in the absence of Houston’s other WRs has been Keke Coutee. Coutee flashed at times in the past but has been solid if unspectacular since his promotion into a starting spot. Coutee seems locked into a role in which he will see 6-8 targets and turn those into five receptions for 50-55 yards and might wind up in the end zone. His floor is too low to trust as a viable option but is a solid choice if you can stomach a potential dud for a “boom” type game. Coutee should serve as a solid WR3 or flex play on Sunday.
From Weeks 13 through 15, Chad Hansen looked like a late-season pickup that might win a league for any fantasy manager sly enough to scoop him off waivers once Will Fuller was suspended. Hansen put together three weeks of 12-plus fantasy PPR performances before crashing back to Earth last week with only a lone eight-yard reception on the day. Now, Hansen may recapture that lightning in a bottle for one more game, but if you’re looking for a starting option in a fantasy league with a Week 17 game, you should look elsewhere. Hansen is not a recommended play this week.
In a TE landscape that is littered with question marks, fantasy managers might take a shot on the upside Jordan Akins provides. A third-round selection for Houston in 2018, Akins just hasn’t been able to become a consistent producer for the team. Akins has been splitting time at TE with Darren Fells as well, further dampening his appeal. Akins has been a bit more involved in the offense the last few weeks, but just doesn’t provide enough upside to warrant anything other than a TE2 designation in Week 17.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)