Kickoff: Sunday, September 27th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Betting Odds: TEN -2.5, 47.5 total via Oddsshark
Ryan Tannehill (Sit)
One month ago the Vikings defense looked like it would be a premier unit with the acquisition of Yannick Ngakoue from Jacksonville. Since then, however, the team has placed Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr on injured reserve and struggled mightily in losses to Green Bay and Indianapolis. Ryan Tannehill has been excellent in Tennessee’s two wins this season, completing more than 70% of his passes and tossing six TDs to zero INTs. Despite all this, the fact remains this is a run-first team and Tannehill typically doesn’t have the volume to warrant a start in most fantasy leagues. Tannehill looks to be a low-end QB2 this week, so he’s worth a look in two-QB leagues, but fantasy managers in traditional leagues should look for another option.
Derrick Henry (Start RB1), Darrynton Evans/Jeremy McNichols/Senorise Perry (Sit)
Fantasy managers who drafted Derrick Henry in the middle of the first round likely have been disappointed as the reigning NFL rushing leader has been held out of the end zone through two weeks despite a nice workload. The good news is the team is committed to Henry and getting him touches, so another game with 25+ carries seems likely. With that level of volume, the TDs will come and it may start as early as this week. Minnesota sits in the bottom-five of the NFL in rushing yards allowed (309) and has surrendered one rushing TD in each of their first two games. Fantasy managers can confidently start Henry again this week as a solid RB1.
Rookie Darrynton Evans has been unable to take the field yet this season as he has struggled with a hamstring injury. Even if he is active, it’s hard to believe he’ll get a large enough workload to warrant attention from fantasy managers. If Evans were to miss again, Jeremy McNichols and Sinorise Perry will split the backup duties. McNichols and Perry have fewer combined snaps, 46, than Henry’s carries, 56, and also are not in consideration for fantasy managers for Week 3.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown, (Start WR3/Flex if healthy), Corey Davis (Start WR3/Flex), Adam Humphries (Start WR3/Flex if Brown scratches), Jonnu Smith (Start TE1)
As of this writing, the status of A.J. Brown for Week 3 is still unknown. The speculation is Brown is likely closer to doubtful than questionable and likely misses one more game before returning to the lineup. If Brown were to be medically cleared, he has the skills to be a viable option as a WR3 or flex option for fantasy managers. Monitor reports coming out of Tennesse throughout the next two days but fantasy managers should have a plan in place on Sunday if he is a late scratch.
Former first-round pick Corey Davis is having his best season as a pro to this point and has become a borderline trustworthy option for fantasy managers weekly. Davis didn’t have a big yardage game in Week 2 with Brown out but did salvage his day by scoring a TD. Davis is still the second option in the passing game behind Jonnu Smith but should see enough targets to be a viable option for at least one more week for fantasy managers as a WR3 or Flex option.
Speaking of Smith, he’s lived up to the preseason expectations of a breakout TE this season as he’s made the most of his eight receptions to the tune of 120 yards and three TDs. Smith has become a reliable option for Tannehill and a legitimate red-zone threat. As is the common narrative with the Titans, however, the passing game is low volume and thus lowers the ceiling of the whole receiving corps. Assuming Brown is out, Smith should finish as a TE1 for fantasy managers in Week 3. A healthy Brown puts Smith on the edge of TE1/TE2 production.
Adam Humphries is another reliable target for Tannehill as he does most of his work close to the line of scrimmage and across the middle. Humphries is purely a volume play as his ceiling is limited given the routes he runs and the offensive tendencies. Humphries is a viable option as a WR3 or flex option for fantasy managers in Week 3 if Brown misses, but becomes a more risky option if Brown is cleared.
Kirk Cousins (Sit)
A common narrative throughout the Titans analysis was how they are a low-volume passing offense predicated on running the football and shortening the game. Would it surprise you to learn Kirk Cousins has thrown 16 fewer passes than Tannehill? Would it also surprise you to learn Cousins has a 1:2 TD: INT ratio? You read that correctly. Cousins has thrown two TDs this season and four INTs while completing lass than 60% of his passes. Tennessee is in the bottom third of the NFL in passing yardage allowed and has allowed four passing TDs this season, so the opportunity is there for Cousins to improve but it’s hard to trust him as a starting option until he proves otherwise. Cousins is a recommended sit this week in all formats.
Dalvin Cook (Start RB1), Alexander Mattison (Start Deep Flex)
There was a concern heading into the season that Dalvin Cook might elect to hold out if a new contract wasn’t agreed to by the start of the season, pushing him later in the first round of fantasy drafts that took place closer to the start of the season. The two sides worked out a deal and Cook has been reliable for fantasy managers as a low-end RB1 so far. Unfortunately for Cook, his stats have been a bit undermined by turnovers and negative game scripts through two weeks. Cook still has the explosiveness to make the most of the 12-15 touches he gets in a game, but he was closer to 20 touches last season. Fantasy managers likely don’t have a better option than Cook as their RB1 and I see him maintaining that low-end RB1 level of production against Tennessee in Week 3.
Alexander Mattison looks like a fine NFL running back but he is a stash and a hold RB for fantasy managers. Mattison is very clearly the backup to Cook in Minnesota and only plays sparingly when Cook is healthy. Mattison has the athletic ability to be a reliable starter but that likely won’t happen without an injury to Cook or a change of scenery. As a result, Mattison is reserved for a spot in the Flex for fantasy managers in the largest of leagues or if injuries have decimated your lineup.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Adam Thielen (Start WR1), Olabisi Johnson (Sit), Justin Jefferson (Sit), Irv Smith, Jr. (Sit)
Despite the lack of pass attempts for Cousins, Adam Thielen seems all but guaranteed to see the majority of those passes. Thielen has eight targets in each of Minnesota’s first two games and there is no reason to expect a downward change this week. Thielen struggled last week only able to secure three of his targets for 31 yards but was a WR1 in week one with six grabs for 101 yards and two TDs. Expectations for Thielen can reasonably be somewhere between those two outputs and he should still finish in the WR1 ranks for Week 3. Fantasy managers should slot Thielen in as a starter without reservation.
The departure of Stefon Diggs opened up nearly 100 targets in the Minnesota passing game but those look like they may be divided up equally between Olabisi Johnson, Justin Jefferson, and Irv Smith, Jr. Johnson has been the most productive of the three through two weeks, but he still only has seven targets resulting in four receptions for 80 yards. Jefferson follows with seven targets with five receptions for 70 yards and Smith has two catches on five targets for 14 yards. The three have combined for zero TDs. Unless Cousins begins to show a preference for one of them, it’s hard to trust any of them as a viable fantasy option. As such, Johnson, Jefferson, and Smith all carry the “sit” moniker for Week 3 for fantasy managers.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)