Kickoff: Sunday, September 19th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA
Betting Odds: SEA -5.5, 54 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter, @bsweet0us on Reddit)
Ryan Tannehill (Sit, QB2 in Superflex)
Week 1 was a struggle for the entire Tennessee offense and Ryan Tannehill seemed to spend as much time running for his life as he did in trying to find open receivers. Tannehill was sacked six times on Sunday, knocked down after the throw five more times, and was responsible for three turnovers (two fumbles, one INT) as the Cardinals steamrolled the Titans 38-13. Tennessee’s offensive line looked lost at times and the path gets no easier this week against a rebuilt Seattle defense. Seattle was able to generate pressure (hurry, knockdown, or sack) 14 times in their victory over Indianapolis which, by most accounts, has a better offensive line than Tennessee. Tannehill did contribute with both a rushing and passing TD last week, but he is still captaining a team that prefers the run over the pass and has a tough task ahead this weekend. Tannehill looks like he’ll finish as a mid-QB2 this week, which is OK for leagues that allow for starting two QBs but should be benched in traditional one QB leagues.
Derrick Henry (Start, RB1), Jeremy McNichols (Sit)
After being selected among the top-five RBs in fantasy drafts this year, Derrick Henry promptly went out and finished Week 1 outside the top-24 in most leagues. Henry saw just 17 carries and was able to generate just 58 yards on those attempts (3.4 YPA). It was encouraging to see Henry get four targets in the passing game, catching three of them for 19 yards, but that will almost certainly be the exception as opposed to the rule going forward. More encouraging news for Henry is that the Colts were able to generate yardage on the ground despite being behind for the majority of the game. Indianapolis carved out 113 yards on 30 attempts against Seattle last week, which should give fantasy managers who are relying on Henry some relief. Assuming Tennessee’s offensive line plays up to the standard it can, Henry should return RB1 value in Week 2.
With Darrynton Evans on injured reserve to start the season, Jeremy McNichols is tasked with backing up Henry. McNichols is more suited for passing down work and saw 23 snaps in Week 1 as the Titans found themselves in an early hole. McNichols won’t see much action in the running game regularly and he has more value to the Titans than to fantasy managers. McNichols is not a reliable fantasy option and should be on the bench in all leagues.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR1), Julio Jones (Start, WR3), Chester Rogers (Sit), Anthony Firkser (Sit)
The entire Tennessee offense struggled against a stout Arizona defense in Week 1 but A.J. Brown was able to salvage his day with a 13-yard TD to close out the scoring for Tennessee. Brown was Tannehill’s most-targeted receiver with eight on the game and he converted four of those for 49 yards and the aforementioned TD. Brown averaged 7.5 targets per game in 2020, so it was good to see his target share remain constant despite the arrival of Julio Jones. It’s hard to make any assumptions about the success of Tennessee’s WRs this week as Carson Wentz preferred to target his RBs over his WRs in Week 1 against Seattle. Zach Pascal was able to get inside Tre Flowers from the left side for a 13-yard TD, but most of his damage came when Pascal lined up in the slot. Brown will likely be the defense’s top threat in the passing game but should see enough volume to sneak into the low-end of the WR1 tier this week.
It was a bit of an underwhelming day for newcomer Julio Jones in his Tennessee debut as the veteran was able to corral just three of his six targets for a scant 29 yards. Jones’s six targets tied for second-most on the team, so the Titans and Tannehill looked for ways to get him involved but the Arizona defense was just overwhelming at times. If Jones remains the #2 option in Tennessee’s passing game, he will have weeks where he can put up WR2-type numbers. Until that becomes a trend, however, fantasy managers would be well served to consider Jones no better than a WR3, at least for Week 2.
Perhaps the most surprising WR from Tennessee’s Week 1 game against Arizona was Chester Rogers. Rogers spent his first four seasons with the Colts before signing with the Titans in free agency this offseason and lead the team in receiving yards last week with 62. Rogers matched Brown with four receptions and matched Jones with six targets and did most of his damage on a 39-yard pass play down the right seam in the second quarter. Given the success of Pascal out of the slot last week it would seem Rogers could have another good week but the Titans just can’t be trusted to throw enough passes to confidently tout Rogers as a viable option this week. Rogers looks like a sit but might be an upside Flex option for large leagues.
The departure of Jonnu Smith left a big red-zone hole in the Titan’s passing game and the team tabbed Anthony Firkser as Smith’s replacement. Firkser put up numbers similar to Smith, but without a TD which makes him unattractive as a fantasy option. Firkser did see four targets, catching three, but unless he finds the end zone Firkser isn’t likely to crack many starting lineups for fantasy managers. Pass on Firkser again in Week 2.
Russell Wilson (Start, QB1)
Let. Russ. Cook. Russell Wilson’s line from Week 1 looked a lot like the first half of the 2020 season before Pete Carroll reigned the offense back in during the second half of the season. Wilson was efficient with his throws, going 18-for-23 for 254 and four TDs without an INT. Wilson was able to pick apart Indianapolis’s defense at every level of the field and control the game with ease. Of course for fantasy managers, Wilson still provides additional upside with his ability as a runner although that wasn’t a necessity in Week 1. Tennessee was shredded by Kyler Murray last week (309 total yards and five TDs) and the task gets no easier against Wilson this week. Wilson should easily finish among the top QB options again in Week 2 and can be started with confidence in all leagues.
Chris Carson (Start, RB1), DeeJay Dallas (Sit), Alex Collins (Sit)
Just another workmanlike day for Chris Carson as he provided Seattle with 91 yards on 16 carries and chipped in three receptions for 26 yards. Carson did fumble late in the third quarter but turned in a solid fantasy performance otherwise. Carson was spelled by Rashaad Penny during the early part of the game, but Penny aggravated a calf injury and missed the remainder of the game. Penny has already been ruled out for Week 2 and there is speculation he could miss multiple weeks. That should lead to a bigger role for Carson as the backups are uninspiring and unproven for the most part. Carson should see plenty of work against the Titans and looks poised to turn in an RB1-level performance for fantasy managers this week.
The injury to Penny opens the door for DeeJay Dallas or Alex Collins to step into the backup role to Carson, but neither is expected to see enough volume to make a dent for fantasy managers. Collins was inactive for the team’s Week 1 game and Dallas was only in for three snaps. Look elsewhere for help at the RB position this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tyler Lockett (Start, WR2), D.K. Metcalf (Start, WR1), Will Dissly (Sit), Gerald Everett (Sit)
If fantasy managers were concerned before the start of the season whether or not Wilson and the Seattle offense could support two WRs drafted among the Top 20, those fears certainly should have been assuaged by the performances of Tyler Lockett and D.K Metcalf last week. Their stat lines are eerily similar: Five targets for each, four receptions for each, and each found the end zone at least once. Lockett turned in the slightly better day by outpacing Metcalf in yardage 100 yards to 60 and scoring a second time, but fantasy managers who started either were satisfied with the outcome. Lockett is still Seattle’s top big-play threat as his ADOT was 21.6 yards to Metcalf’s 15, but Metcalf is the more physical of the two able to outmuscle and overpower defenders. Tennessee struggled to contain DeAndre Hopkins last week and Metcalf is the better comparison of Seattle’s two WRs to Hopkins. As such, I expect Metcalf will slightly outperform Lockett this week and finish just inside the WR1 tier while Lockett is a solid WR2 with WR1 upside. Start either, or both if you have them, without hesitation in Week 2.
Seattle also has two weapons Wilson can employ from the TE position in Will Dissly and Gerald Everett. Both have a role in the passing game, though their contributions are dwarfed by the attention Lockett and Metcalf demand from Wilson. Fantasy managers are hoping for a TD when starting either Dissly or Everett but it was Everett that got the red-zone look and TD in Week 1. It’s hard to predict who is most likely to score of these two, but Everett would be the preferred option of these two if fantasy managers are forced to start one of them. Better options are available and neither Dissly nor Everett should be considered quality starting options this week.
D’Wayne “Dee” Eskridge’s status is uncertain as of this writing as he suffered a concussion during the Week 1 contest against Indianapolis. Eskridge is a complementary piece to Seattle’s offense but did see some action before the injury. I can’t recommend Eskridge as a viable starting option but wanted to mention the injury in case fantasy managers were considering him in any format this week.