Kickoff: Sunday, November 7th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Betting Odds: LAR -8, 54 total via Oddsshark
Ryan Tannehill (Sit, Solid QB2)
There are two names that fantasy managers who have Ryan Tannehill on their roster are most concerning for this week and those two names are Derrick Henry and Von Miller. Henry suffered an injury in Week 8 that looks like it will sideline him for most, if not all, of the rest of the regular season and the Rams sent 2nd-round and 3rd-round draft picks to the Broncos for Miller, strengthening their defense. The loss of Henry can’t be understated when it come to Tannehill’s projection as Henry kept defenses honest and forced them to account for him on every play. Opposing defenses can now play a bit more freely and not dedicate as many resources to the run game. Tannehill should see a slight uptick in attempts but don’t expect a jump in production to follow. Tannehill has just one game with more than 300 passing yards and has more than one TD pass in just two games this season. Tannehill is a fine option in leagues that allow for two starting QBs but the loss of Henry combined with what should be an improved defense keeps him just outside the QB1 tier this week.
Jeremy McNichols (Start, RB2/Flex), Adrian Peterson (Start, RB2/Flex)
The task of replacing Henry’s production is not a one-man job and will likely fall to a combination of Jeremy McNichols and newly-signed Adrian Peterson. Peterson comes in with the pedigree and Hall of Fame resume, but McNichols brings experience in the system and a larger pass-catching role to the table. It’s hard to envision Peterson stepping in and immediately assuming the majority of Henry’s workload in less than a week, further bumping McNichols up in the rankings for this week. If age hasn’t caught up to Peterson, he should become Tennessee’s lead back soon, but he still won’t see Henry’s 30+ touches a game. Expect close to a 50/50 split in touches this week as Peterson acclimates himself to the offense, giving both low-end RB2 viability and Flex consideration at the worst. Peterson probably has more long-term appeal, but we’ll have to see how he looks this week before cementing him as an every-week RB2.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR1), Julio Jones (Sit), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine/Chester Rogers/Marcus Johnson (Sit), Anthony Firkser/Geoff Swaim/MyCole Pruitt (Sit)
An argument could be made that two of the best WRs in fantasy will be on opposite sides of the field in this game. On the Titans’ side, A.J. Brown has put together the best three-game stretch of his career as he has seen 29 targets that have resulted in 25 receptions for 379 yards and two TDs. With injuries and inconsistency at the other WR positions, Tannehill has become laser-focused on Brown and he’s beginning to look like the WR1 he was drafted as before the start of the season. One of the best current comparisons for Brown in the NFL right now is D.K. Metcalf, who posted five receptions for 98 yards and two TDs against the Rams in Week 5. Expect Brown to continue his run as a WR1 again this week and can be started with confidence.
The WR starting opposite Brown is still up in the air as of this writing. Julio Jones was able to get in a limited practice yesterday, but there is still enough concern that his hamstring injury will flare up again so it’s hard to expect much until he does it on the field. If Jones can play, he might be a vital part of the offense with Henry out, but it’s all speculation at this point. Jones might provide some low-end Flex appeal for fantasy managers who have seen their roster get decimated by injuries or other absences, but don’t expect Jones to post the WR1-level numbers he did for so many years.
If Jones is unable to play, the start will likely go to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine or Marcus Johnson. Johnson saw more snaps and targets than Westbrook-Ikhine last week but did less with his opportunities with just one catch for eight yards. Westbrook-Ikhine doubled Johnson in receptions and yards but boosted his fantasy day with a TD. It’s hard to get excited about either player as a reliable option, especially with Brown soaking up the majority of Tannehill’s targets. I can’t recommend either as a startable option this week. Chester Rogers has been the primary option when Tennessee elects to play three WRs, but he’s going to see a lot of Jalen Ramsey this week, lowering his appeal. Rogers is likely the fourth option in the passing game and is a sit for Week 9.
At TE, the Titans have a revolving door of three players as Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim and MyCole Pruitt all see snaps. Swaim has seen the most snaps over the past three weeks but has been the least productive throughout the season. Pruitt brings an athletic profile to the position that Tennessee might elect to utilize more with Henry out and leads the position with two TDs on the season. Firkser was the early-season expected starter but has lost snaps and targets to the other two in recent weeks. All this to say I simply don’t know if any of these guys will have a fantasy week worth considering because of how Tennessee uses them. If I had to rank them for fantasy purposes, I’d probably have Swaim at the top simply because of his snap share, but I can’t recommend him as a starting option yet.
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford (Start, QB1)
It’s never been a question of talent with Matthew Stafford but the talent around him that held him back. After toiling away in Detroit for 12 seasons, Stafford got a new lease on life when he was traded to the Rams. Paired with an offensive-minded HC in Sean McVay and an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions has Stafford playing at his peak statistical seasons with Detroit. Tennessee ranks 24th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing an average of 267 yards per game, and has surrendered multiple passing TDs in five of their eight games. Stafford has thrown for fewer than two TDs just once this season and has eclipsed 300 yards five times while throwing just four INTs this year. Stafford should continue to shine for fantasy managers this week and slots in as an easy QB1.
Darrell Henderson (Start, RB1), Sony Michel (Sit)
When Cam Akers went down with an Achilles injury during the preseason, Darrell Henderson was ready for his time to shine. Henderson is turning in a career season and benefits from the presence of Stafford as Los Angeles has virtually no limitations in the playbook. Henderson hasn’t turned in a 100-yard rushing performance yet this season but is seeing 15-20 touches per game and has found the end zone seven times. Henderson also has a role in the passing game, further raising his floor. Defenses have to respect the receiving options for the Rams, giving Henderson and the running game more open lanes as fewer defenders are in the box. The Rams are playing at an elite level right now and Henderson should continue to shine in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. Drop Henderson in one of your RB slots and rest easy as he should finish comfortably in the RB1 range this week.
After the Akers injury, the Rams gave the Patriots two later-round picks for Sony Michel to bolster their depth at the position. Michel has been a nice complement to Henderson and the offense doesn’t see a dropoff when Michel is in the game. He is clearly behind Henderson on the depth chart but has seen 10 or more touches in half of Los Angeles’s games. Unfortunately, he’s not seeing quite enough volume consistently to trust in fantasy lineups. Michel might be a Flex option in larger leagues but no more. In most leagues, Michel is recommended to stay on the bench in Week 9.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Cooper Kupp (Start, WR1), Robert Woods (Start, WR2), Van Jefferson (Sit, low-end Flex), Tyler Higbee (Start, TE1)
We discussed earlier how Tennessee has one of the best WRs in football in Brown, but it’s hard to state just how good Cooper Kupp has been this season. Kupp has fewer than seven receptions and 65 yards in just one game this season and has failed to score in just two. Kupp leads the NFL in receiving yards (924) and TDs (10), is tied with Tyreek Hill for the lead in targets (90), and trails only Hill in receptions (63). He and Stafford have developed an incredible connection and Kupp is simply the best WR right now and can’t be benched in any circumstance. Start him.
As was evidenced in Week 5, Robert Woods has the talent and ability to take over a game and post overall #1 WR numbers as he dominated the Seahawks for 10 receptions on 15 targets for 150 but, somehow, failed to score a TD. Despite the increased opportunities for Kupp, Woods is still on pace to match his average numbers since joining the Rams in terms of targets while only slightly off the pace when considering receptions as yards. Woods has finished as a WR2 every season in Los Angeles and there is no reason to expect him to finish otherwise this year. Woods brings WR1 upside to the table every week but trusting him as a solid WR2 is the preferred option and is how I’m projecting him this week.
The arrival of Stafford has unlocked the potential of Van Jefferson as Stafford can utilize the downfield presence Jefferson gives to this offense. Jefferson is behind Kupp and Woods in the passing pecking order but has done much with little as he leads the team in yards per reception (16.3) and has three TDs on just 24 receptions. Jefferson is sporadic when it comes to fantasy production as he has four games with 12+ PPR points but the others have produced no more than eight points in any of them. Jefferson is a valuable part of the offense for the Rams but is no more than a low-end Flex this week against Tennessee.
If nothing else, Tyler Higbee has been consistent when it comes to fantasy production. Higbee has one game above 12 PPR points and one game below six while the rest have fallen somewhere between those two values. Higbee has taken over the primary TE duties this season and is a reliable target for Stafford in the middle of the field. Despite being the third option in the passing game, Higbee sees enough volume to stay relevant in PPR leagues because of the pass-happy offense. Are there better options than Higbee at the TE position every week? Sure, but there is comfort in knowing your starting TE is probably not going to lose your week for you. Higbee is a viable TE1 in Week 9.