What We Saw: Week 6

Jaylen Waddle feasted and Jonathan Taylor beasted

Bills @ Titans

Final Score: Titans 34, Bills 31

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter) and Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)

 

The Titans rode the hot hand of Derrick Henry and the second-half surge of A.J. Brown to hang on for a huge win at home in a game that the Bills let slip away late. Buffalo had a chance to at least tie the game late in the fourth quarter, if not win outright, but Josh Allen slipped on a fourth-down quarterback sneak with 22 seconds left on the Titans’ three-yard line and suddenly, the game was over. Buffalo had some issues in pass protection, and their defense looked very ordinary after a hot start to the season, but the story as always was Henry, who looked shot out of a cannon on his 76-yard touchdown. When Henry gets rolling in a game, the Titans can hang with anyone, and that was on full display on Monday night. Both teams now find themselves at 4-2 and with a good shot to reach the postseason going forward.

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Quarterbacks

 

Josh Allen: 35/47, 353 yards, 3 TD, INT, 3 Sacks | 9 carries, 26 yards

 

Josh Allen spread the ball around to his three most reliable receivers for what seemed like most of the night, but he wasn’t without his struggles. On their first drive, Allen surgically dismantled the Titans’ defense all the way down to the red zone only to be forced to scramble and throw it away on third and short, leading to a Buffalo field goal.

Later on, after an interception gave them good field position deep in Tennessee territory, Allen made a couple of mistakes. First, he hit Dawson Knox for a short gain in the red zone but missed a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders who had broken free from the coverage in the end zone. Just a few plays later, on third and goal, Allen had Stefon Diggs wide open at the goal line but he made an off-balance throw and the ball came out of his hand awkwardly, with the pass ultimately coming up short and Buffalo had to settle for a field goal once again. In a game that ended up being decided by a field goal, the points on that drive could have been the difference-maker.

Allen had a few throws come out of his hand wobbly for some reason. He also made a bad throw deep into double coverage late in the game that should have been intercepted.

 

 

His lone interception wasn’t really his fault, though. The right tackle got beat by a defender, who came in and hit Allen as he threw.

 

 

The last of my negative talk about Allen will be my mention of the fourth and inches “sneak” that Allen couldn’t convert at the end of the game. I think he just flat-out slipped.

 

 

Besides all of that, Allen was exactly what you’d expect Josh Allen to be. He did sling it around for most of the night, hitting open receivers and fitting the ball into tight spots. After the missed connection with Sanders in the end zone, he made sure to get the ball to him twice on the next drive. He used his legs to extend a play before the half and find a wide-open Cole Beasley in the end zone for a touchdown.

 

 

Allen was very good overall and he was the reason Buffalo had a chance to win the game against a feisty Titans team. He likely won plenty of fantasy matchups with this performance.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Zack Moss: 8 carries, 24 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards

Devin Singletary: 5 carries, 27 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 16 yards

 

The highlight of the night in the Buffalo backfield was this ridiculous run by Devin Singletary on their second play from scrimmage.

 

 

Zack Moss out-snapped Singletary 42-35 on the night, and both ran nearly the same amount of routes as well. Singletary did catch all five of his targets but they were a quiet five, as I didn’t realize he caught that many until I checked the box score after the game. The Bills didn’t need to get the backs involved in this one since Tennesee’s defense struggled to stop the pass all night, so if you were forced to start one of them you’re disappointed once again.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Stefon Diggs: 11 targets, 9 receptions, 89 yards, TD

Emmanuel Sanders: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 91 yards

Cole Beasley: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 88 yards, TD

Dawson Knox: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 25 yards

Gabriel Davis: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Isaiah McKenzie: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards | 1 carry, 5 yards

Tommy Sweeney: 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard, TD

 

Let’s once again get the negatives out of the way early. Dawson Knox left the game in the 4th quarter with a hand injury. I don’t recall seeing the injury during the game (I was trying to keep track of ALCS Game 3 at the same time), but it was bad enough that he had to leave a close game and that’s not a great sign. He did throw a pass on a successful two-point conversion just before the end of the third quarter, and apparently, it was bothering him then.

 

 

 

Hopefully Knox is okay. He wasn’t really involved much otherwise. Both Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley were involved from the first drive on, and they led the team in targets while both scoring a TD. Diggs appeared to injure his hand/wrist at one point late in the fourth quarter, visibly shaking it after fighting for extra yardage. He took a play off but came back to make a great, contested catch to convert third and long so I think he’s fine.

Diggs was targeted on a bomb from Allen and was interfered with inside the five-yard line, giving Buffalo 1st and goal. Beasley then caught a pass right on the goal line that he couldn’t quite poke in for the score, and Buffalo quickly ran to the line of scrimmage to catch Tennessee off guard for a quick score. It wasn’t successful, and the replay showed a clear look of Beasley being able to reach the tip of the ball over the goal line. It looked like a touchdown to me, but Buffalo didn’t even think about reviewing it. They would end up scoring anyway on a pass to Tommy Sweeney on the next play.

 

 

Sweeney was the only other tight end to earn snaps in this game and would likely be Knox’s replacement should he miss time.

Gabriel Davis was only targeted twice in the box score, catching both for a measly 25 yards. He was targeted a third time on a seam route with a defender draped all over him. Tennessee was called for pass interference, giving Buffalo excellent field position inside the five-yard line, but it was yet another missed connection for Davis.

Isaiah McKenzie made the play of the game until he didn’t. After Tennessee took the lead with under three minutes to play, McKenize returned the kickoff to the house for the go-ahead touchdown, that is until it was called back on a holding penalty. It was an unfortunate turn of events that contributed to Buffalo losing the game.

 

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Tannehill: 18/29, 216 yards, INT | 2 carries, 3 yards, TD

 

Even with his primary receiving options back on the field, albeit a bit limited, Ryan Tannehill had yet another uninspiring performance. Tannehill faced frequent pressure, often through the middle of his line, forcing him to leave the pocket and buy time looking for options that would never come open. Tannehill threw a bad interception to Bills’ safety Jordan Poyer as he tried to force a seam route to Julio Jones into double coverage. The pass was a poor decision as well as being inaccurate, and was a mistake that Tannehill can’t make that early in the game.

Tannehill was continually forced out to the right of the pocket, and in one instance was bailed out on a deep ball where Jones was interfered with but made a spectacular catch on a deflected ball. Tannehill would later throw too hard and too high on a short pass to Jones on 3rd and 6 that went incomplete, but it could have been a first down and more with a better pass.

Tennessee was later set up with a short field on an interception, and Tannehill took advantage by displaying some of his rushing prowess that we have come to expect. He faked a handoff to Derrick Henry on an option, made a nice cut, and powered through a defensive back for a rushing touchdown. It was his second rushing touchdown of the year and a much-needed boost for fantasy managers.

 

 

But to show where the trust lies on this team, head coach Mike Vrabel chose to run the ball and take it to the half with 34 seconds and three timeouts left in the second quarter from their own 19. Vrabel often looked like he wanted to fight someone during this game.

 

 

In the second half, Tannehill had an early deep play-action opportunity that was immediately shut down, as the pressure was right in his face and he had to throw the ball away.

Tannehill did heat up in the second half, however, as A.J. Brown finally got on the stat sheet and took over the game, catching pass after pass over the middle to help win this game for Tennessee. Tannehill rifled in a tight completion on third and five at the beginning of the fourth quarter on one of his best throws of the night, and Brown’s continued improved health will be a huge step on Tannehill’s fantasy recovery. It wasn’t pretty for Tannehill tonight, but Brown’s impressive play may be the most important takeaway for his rest of season outlook.

 

Running Backs

 

Derrick Henry: 20 carries, 143 yards, 3 TD | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

 

Derrick Henry played all but one running back snap in this one, and he dominated this game throughout, looking like the NFL’s best running back. Henry exploded up the middle on a first down run in the early second quarter, and the rest is history.

 

 

Not only is Henry not slowing down as his career workload climbs to ridiculous levels, but he appears to be getting faster than ever, according to Next Gen Stats.

 

 

Henry was a battering ram on the ground, scoring his second touchdown on a nice patient run from three yards out, and knifing through at full speed from 13 yards out to give the Titans the eventual game-winning touchdown for his third score of the day. Henry was targeted three times in the passing game on relatively well-designed screens and even had a nice swing pass called back on a holding penalty for another potential opportunity. He’s the fantasy RB1 for good reason, and there is little reason to see this ending after his performance against the stout Bills defense.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

A.J. Brown: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 91 yards

Julio Jones: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 59 yards

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 27 yards

Anthony Firkser: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards

 

A.J. Brown led the Titans in snaps (42), routes run (26), and targets (9), but at halftime was held to zero catches and fantasy managers were panicking. Already coming off of a hamstring injury over the past few weeks, Brown came down with food poisoning this weekend and was limited in the first half. He made a trip to the medical tent, had a pass broken up by Marcus Johnson that he maybe should have brought in, and had zero fantasy points at the half.

But Brown gutted it out in the second half when his team needed him, and he began to take over this game. It started with a couple of short in-breakers, which is where Brown made his living in this one, and Brown broke loose with a 15-yard catch on 4th and 2 to extend a drive on a pass over the middle. From there, Brown was hit over the middle repeatedly, including on a few crossers off of play-action that looked an awful lot like the Titans of old, racking up chunk plays as the opposing defense sold out to stop Henry.

Brown seemingly escaped the game healthy, and his arrow is pointing directly up in an offense that will likely have to put up points to stay in games. The buy-low window on Brown is quickly slamming shut.

Julio Jones returned to action for the first time since September 26, and was second among receivers in snaps (35), routes run (19), and targets (5). He was eased in early, as he watched from the sidelines along with Brown on an early third down. Jones played from the slot a bit in the first half and was the downfield target of Tannehill’s interception. He was open on a third-down where Tannehill missed him as well and really made his day on one fluky, crazy, spectacular catch.

 

 

Outside of that play, however, Jones was bottled up, and to make matters worse was forced from the game late with a potential reaggravation of the hamstring injury that forced him to miss the previous two games. It looks like we are a ways away from trusting Jones in our lineups.

Otherwise, there’s not much to see with the Titans’ pass-catchers. Anthony Firkser caught a pass where Tannehill bought time and shoveled him the ball late, but it was a play that cannot be counted on often. He had an out route in the red zone for a first down that was designed for him, but otherwise was a non-factor. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine caught three passes in quick succession after Jones left the game late, and would be the one to keep an eye on in deep leagues if Jones continues to miss time. He worked primarily over the middle of the field as a possession receiver, and earned some trust catching passes on an important late drive.

 

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