Kickoff: Monday, September 19th at 7:15 PM ET
Location: Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Betting Odds: BUF -10, 48 total via Oddsshark
Ryan Tannehill (Sit)
Ryan Tannehill was efficient if nothing else last week, but was unable to overcome the juggernaut that is the New York Giants. Tannehill finished with 266 passing yards and two TDs but had to stand helplessly as Tennessee’s defense was trampled by Saquon Barkley. It’s a return engagement for the Titans and Bills on Monday Night Football as these two teams had a classic last season that ended in a victory for the Titans by the final score of 34-31. Despite putting up 34 points last season, Tannehill was mostly a non-factor throwing for just 216 yards and tossing one INT, though he did have a short TD run to help his final numbers. The Bills just trounced the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 1, forcing three Matthew Stafford INTs and I suspect more of the same might be coming for Tannehill and the Titans. Bench Tannehill this week.
Derrick Henry (Start, low-end RB1), Dontrell Hilliard (Sit)
Was Week 1 a case of letting Derrick Henry get reacclimated to life in the NFL after his season-ending injury last season against an ill-perceived inferior opponent or is all the punishment Henry’s endured over his career finally catching up with him? It’s too early to know that answer but a sub-4.0 rushing average and a disappearing act in the passing game (one target) is at least a little concerning. Henry feasted against the Bills in the 2021 meeting (20 carries, 143 yards, 3 TDs) but the Rams could manage just 52 rushing yards against a stout Buffalo defense last week. Henry is a more established asset than any of the Rams’ RBs, but another poor showing could be troublesome for fantasy managers who selected Henry early in their drafts. Henry has shown he can dominate this defense and should see an uptick in attempts now that he’s got a week under his belt, but the double-digit spread might lead to a heavier emphasis on the passing game from Tennessee which caps Henry’s upside. Start him as your RB1 for at least another week, but know he could dip into RB2 territory if the game gets out of hand early.
A waiver wire darling after his Week 1 performance, Dontrell Hilliard had two somewhat surprising trips into the end zone courtesy of Tannehill finding him in the short passing game. Should Hilliard have a spot on your roster? If you’ve got room for him, absolutely. Should he be in your starting lineup? I don’t think so – yet. Those two receiving TDs were the first two of his career and he’s only had more than the four targets he received last week twice prior, both after Henry’s injury last season. If Tennessee makes Hilliard a part of the game plan like they did last week, he might warrant some attention going forward, but I’m going to assume last week’s outburst was an aberration and he should remain on your bench for another week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Robert Woods (Sit), Treylon Burks (Sit), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (Sit), Kyle Philips (Sit), Austin Hooper (Sit), Geoff Swaim (Sit)
It was not a good debut for Tennessee’s newest veteran WR as Robert Woods only managed two targets in Week 1, good for one reception for 13 yards. Tannehill spread out his targets to 10 different players but it was surprising to see Woods get such little attention. Perhaps the Giants’ secondary played a part or perhaps the two haven’t made that QB-WR connection yet, but it is concerning for the fantasy future for Woods this season. Tennessee already employs a run-heavy offense, which limits the upside for all receivers, but unless we see Tannehill begin to trust Woods it may be time for fantasy managers to cut bait on the former second-round pick. Woods simply can’t be started in this offense at this time.
On the bright side, the Titans may have snagged an important piece of their passing game for years to come in the 2022 NFL Draft, but it’s not the guy you’re thinking. Rookie fifth-round pick Kyle Philips was the most productive Titans receiver last week, leading the team in targets with nine and converting six of them for 66 yards (both also team highs). Philips started the day with a 46-yard punt return before his big role in the offense (even better for leagues with return points), but did muff a punt late that was recovered by the Giants. How will the WR rotation in Tennessee shake out going forward? I imagine Philips has secured a larger role but I can’t be sure at whose expense. Despite the showing last week, it’s too early to tell if Philips will continue to be a regular contributor and is best reserved for the bench until we get some clarity.
Now on to the rookie Titans fans everywhere will compare to A.J. Brown – first-round pick Treylon Burks. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses when Burks first showed up to training camp, but as the season drew closer things began to look up for the rookie. Burks trailed only Philips in targets with five and posted a respectable three receptions for 55 yards. Again, I’m not sure what the WR rotation looks like against the Bills but I suspect Burks and Philips will be a part of it for at least one more week. Still, a low-volume passing offense doesn’t translate to fantasy success for pass catchers and we need to temper our expectations for these rookies until we see consistent production. Keep Burks out of your starting lineup this week as well.
The showings by the two rookies could be bad news for Nick Westbrook-Ikhine who secured the #2 role during training camp and the preseason. Westbrook-Ikhine saw the second-most snaps (44) behind only Woods but posted the same line as Woods with two targets for one reception and 13 yards. It sounds like a broken record, but this offense struggles to sustain a reliable pass-catching option for fantasy football and Westbrook-Ikhine could see his playing time decrease if Philips and Burks continue to look like real weapons for Tennessee. Like the others in this section, look elsewhere for help at WR this week.
Austin Hooper was behind Geoff Swaim in every statistical category last week but neither could produce anything fantasy managers could get excited about. Unless one clearly separates from the other in this offense, they’ll continue to cannibalize each other’s stats, making both useless for fantasy purposes. Monitor the situation to see if Swaim or Hooper make the other irrelevant, but avoid both this week in your starting lineups.
Josh Allen (Start, QB1)
Heading into fantasy draft season, Josh Allen was the back-to-back QB1 in fantasy football and he looked the part last week in a dismantling of the defending Super Bowl champions. Despite two INTs, Allen finished as a QB1 again last week with 297 passing yards, two passing TDs, 56 rushing yards, and one rushing TD. The dynamic Allen brings to the game with his legs and the weapons the Bills have at the key receiving positions have Allen positioned to defend his crown for the third season in a row. Allen was stellar against the Titans last season (353 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 1 INT, 26 rushing yards) and there are no indications this week will be any different. Confidently start Allen as your QB1 and rest easy.
Devin Singletary (Sit, possible low-end FLEX), Zack Moss (Sit), James Cook (Sit)
Every year it’s tough to predict which, if any, of Buffalo’s RBs will be worth tying up a roster spot because Allen is so efficient at scoring with his legs when the Bills near the end zone. One week into the 2022 season didn’t help clarify much of anything. The facts tell us Devin Singletary was the preferred option as he led the team in snaps at the position with 35 (59%) and rushing production with 48 yards on eight carries but Zack Moss saw the most work in the passing game with six targets that resulted in 21 yards but lost a fumble on his final touch. Then we have the rookie, James Cook, who was thought to be a threat to both Singletary and Moss who promptly fumbled his first NFL touch and saw just two snaps the rest of the game.
With Singletary being the only RB not to lose a fumble, that should keep him atop the RB depth chart for at least another week, but the explosiveness of Buffalo’s passing game and Allen’s penchant for vulturing rushing TDs makes even the best option only a decent one for fantasy managers. Singletary carries some appeal as a FLEX option given the injuries that struck several skill position players in Week 1 and the expectation of an easy Buffalo victory leading to more running attempts late, but keep Moss and Cook on your bench for Week 2.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Stefon Diggs (Start, WR1), Gabe Davis (Start, WR2), Isaiah McKenzie (Sit), Jamison Crowder (Sit), Dawson Knox (Start, low-end TE1)
What an opening-week statement by the Buffalo Bills and their incredible playmakers at the WR position. Stefon Diggs picked up right where he left off last season with an impressive showing against Jalen Ramsey to the tune of eight receptions on nine targets for 122 yards and one TD. Diggs has been an auto-start every week since his arrival in Buffalo and this week should be no exception. The Titans held the Giant WRs mostly in check last week with the exception of a 65-yard TD to Sterling Shepherd, but I don’t think they’ll be able to slow down Diggs Monday night. Diggs had nine catches for 89 yards and a TD when these teams met last season. You started him then and you should start him now as an easy WR1 in Week 2.
The hype for Gabe Davis was at a near fever pitch as the preseason came to a close and it looks like the hype was warranted. Davis trailed only Diggs in the major statistical receiving categories last week, hauling in four passes on five targets for 88 yards and one TD. Davis has really come into his own over the last few games of 2021 and into 2022 and might turn out to be one of the biggest steals in fantasy drafts this season. Look for Allen to continue to find ways to get Davis the ball this week and treat Davis like a solid WR2 for your fantasy teams.
There was some speculation about how the slot WR role in Buffalo would shake out between Isaiah McKenzie and Jamison Crowder and Week 1 didn’t provide much insight into how it will end. McKenzie saw more snaps (26 to 18) but saw his second target go through his hands and result in a Terrell Lewis INT. Allen found McKenzie later for a seven-yard score, but you have to wonder if the INT led to a larger role for Crowder than intended. Crowder saw more targets (four to three), had more receptions (three to two), and outgained McKenzie 28 yards to 19 but McKenzie had the aforementioned TD. It’s a waiting game to see if one of these guys takes over the slot receiver role and as a result makes both unstartable this week.
It was a frustrating week for fantasy managers who dropped Dawson Knox in their starting lineups last week only to see him become a non-factor with just two targets and one reception for five yards. We all know Diggs is going to get his looks and with the way Davis played he’s going to demand more attention from Allen as well, but Knox will have games where he is a big part of the offense. Are there better options out there this week at the TE position? Sure, but getting a piece of the Buffalo passing attack has its advantages and Knox is right on the TE1/TE2 line this week. I think he plays well enough to earn another week starting for your fantasy team.