If you’re a Titans fan that also plays fantasy football, then check out which players in this week’s game could help your fantasy team.
Mariota is coming off a monster 30 point fantasy performance that saw him throw for three touchdowns and run for another. His day could have been even bigger if he had thrown for more yards, but it was still one of the best quarterback performances of the year. This week, he gets another mouthwatering matchup against the Browns, who are giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Mariota is a strong streaming option because of his high upside and relatively high floor in a good matchup.
Murray is the No. 2 overall running back in fantasy football and it’s not looking like his run will let up anytime soon. He’s taken complete control of the backfield after many believed Derrick Henry would force a timeshare. While Henry has been effective when given touches, Murray has been uber-effective. He looks rejuvenated and is contributing in all phases of the game.
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Last year, this matchup would have had current Murray owners foaming at the mouth. The Browns run defense was nothing short of atrocious last season, but this year has been a bit different. They are giving up the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the running back position, but they’re only giving up 3.9 yards per carry and have given up a modest four rushing touchdowns. This isn’t the prime matchup it once was, but Murray is still a top five play as he is every week.
Given that the Browns are giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, it’s no surprise that the Browns also give up the most fantasy points per game to tight ends. And that number isn’t just skewed because of Martellus Bennett’s three touchdown eruption last week. Rob Gronkowski also went off for 109 yards in that same game. The week before that, Jordan Reed racked up 73 yards and two touchdowns against them. Dennis Pitta went over 100 yards against them and Zach Ertz and Dion Sims both had respectable days as well.
When looking at that data, it’s hard to imagine that Walker won’t have a big fantasy day against the Browns defense. Walker’s talent alone and his role as this offense’s most reliable and explosive pass-catcher makes him a weekly start regardless of matchup. Getting a great one is just a plus.
The Titans run defense has stifled opposing running backs when it comes to fantasy production. They’ve given up the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. But over the past few weeks, they’ve started to spring a few leaks. The Oakland Raiders running back committee gashed the Titans at a 5.55 YPC clip, then Lamar Miller went 19-82, and last week Jay Ajayi went 13-42 with a touchdown.
Enter Crowell, who is coming off a pitiful week where he gained just 22 yards on 13 carries against the New England Patriots. But he was averaging 6.46 YPC in the four weeks before that game, and had taken three of his carries to the house. After a down week, I expect Crowell to have a decent but not big game against a still good Titans run defense. He should be treated as an RB2.
We’re only one big hit on Cody Kessler from Pryor being the Browns primary quarterback. Kessler is coming into this game hurt. Josh McCown, who was the backup when the season started, has been ruled out of this game. Titans legend Charlie Whitehurst, who played in relief of Kessler last week, has been cut. Despite all that, let’s remember that Pryor is a wide receiver and a pretty good one.
His development from quarterback to legitimate receiver has been one of the best storylines of this NFL season. That development has resulted in a solid fantasy season for Pryor to this point, as he’s currently the No. 17 WR in fantasy football. That standing is helped some by a rushing touchdown (out of wildcat) and some passing yards (from quarterback), but he has 338 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown with musical chairs at quarterback in the offense. Even in a tough matchup like this one, Pryor should be considered a strong flex option.
In a very down year for the tight end position, many have had to stick with Barnidge through trials and tribulations. A rough initial two weeks have been aided by a couple of consistent, albeit not inspiring, fantasy performances since Week 3. He’s finished as the 10th, 15th and 10th overall tight end over these past three weeks (higher in PPR). Kessler has been looking for him pretty often as he has 21 targets over the last three weeks.
Considering the matchup, I think you should feel comfortable starting him. The Titans haven’t defended the tight end position well for the last year or so. Kyle Rudolph went 4-65, Eric Ebron went 4-53, and the Houston Texans duo of C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin combined for a 7-102-1 line against the Titans defense. There will be opportunities for Barnidge to produce this week, especially with how thin the Browns pass-catching corps is right now.