This Monday Night features a doubleheader that results in a nice featured two-game slate and two separate showdown slates. So, instead of the normal showdown piece, we will go into each matchup and give a player pool for each respective game.
TEN @ BUF
Vegas Line: Bills – 9.5
Over Under: 47.5
Titans: RB Dontrell Hilliard (Out), WR Kyle Phillips (Questionable), CB Kristian Fulton (Out),
Bills: WR Gabe Davis (Questionable), CB Dane Jackson (Questionable), DT Ed Oliver (Out), DT Tim Settle (Doubtful)
Titans Offense vs. Bills Defense
The sooner the Titans allow their rookie wide receivers to get a full workload, the better. Last week against the Giants, Kyle Phillips and Treylon Burks averaged more than 3 yards per route run. They both led the team in air yards but ranked third and sixth, respectively, in routes run. Robert Woods, Austin Hooper, Geoff Swaim and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ran more routes than Burks but were non-factors in the offense.
The Bills ran zone coverage on 90 percent of plays against the Rams and didn’t blitz. I don’t anticipate that being a weekly agenda for them, but with how their pass rush performed, I expect them to have a low blitz rate. This will be an issue for Ryan Tannehill. In 2021, Tannehill threw for 8.2 yards per attempt against the blitz. Against four or fewer rushers, he threw for 6.6 yards per attempt. Tannehill is my least favorite quarterback on the slate, and he should be avoided in the showdown contest.
The backfield for the Titans will be without pass catcher Dontrell Hilliard. This means Trenton Cannon becomes an option in the showdown contest because he is a better pass catcher than Hassan Haskins, which was Hilliard’s role. The Titans will look to slow this game down and utilize Derrick Henry early and often.
The Bills are without two primary defensive tackles, so the Titans will want to take advantage of that. Henry was a top-end running back and dominated the Bills last season, running for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns the last time they played. If I play Henry, it would be at the multiplier position, which is my only interest in him. With the ten days of rest, I anticipate the Bills will come out and get a lead early to avoid tackling Henry in the fourth quarter.
Bills Offense vs. Titans Defense
Josh Allen played a perfect game against the Rams in Week 1 and looked as though he had no problems adjusting to the play calling of Ken Dorsey. Against the Rams’ zone coverage, Allen had a 73 percent completion percentage and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt. The Titans went full zone coverage against Allen in last year’s matchup, and we should see a lot of zone this time as well. In Week 1, Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis had 11 catches for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns against zone coverage.
If Davis cannot go, Isaiah McKenzie will see snaps out wide, and Jamison Crowder will be in the slot. Jake Kumerow and Khalil Shakir will likely get snaps off the bench as they are both bigger players than McKenzie and Crowder. Overall, I think Dawson Knox is the player who could have the biggest game in the absence of Davis. Knox ran a lot of routes in Week 1 but wasn’t needed in the passing game.
Against the Rams, Devin Singletary led the running back room with Zack Moss next in line and James Cook in for just three snaps. Moss managed to get 6 targets in Week 1 and continued getting targeted even though he was averaging just 3.5 yards per reception. Half of the targets in the running back room came against zone coverage.
With the amount of zone the Titans run, both running backs will be check-down options if nothing opens up downfield. Additionally, their rushing value is severely limited as Allen is the goal-line running back, and the Bills have a high pass rate in the red zone. Cook is a large-field tournament player, but it’s difficult to expect him to have a role in this offense anytime soon.
Multiplier Pool: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Derrick Henry, Dawson Knox
Flex Pool: Treylon Burks, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie, Bills DST, Tyler Bass, Randy Bullock, Zack Moss, Austin Hooper
Large Field: James Cook, Trenton Cannon, Khalil Shakir, Jake Kumerow
MIN @ PHI
Vegas Line: Eagles -2.5
Over Under: 50.5
Vikings: CB Andrew Booth Jr. (Out)
Eagles: DE Derek Barnett (Out for Season)
Vikings Offense vs. Eagles Defense
The Vikings put Justin Jefferson in the same role that we saw Cooper Kupp featured in last season, and he put on quite the show against the Green Bay Packers zone coverage. Jefferson was targeted on 32 percent of his routes run and averaged 6.6 yards per route run in Week 1. The Eagles will primarily run zone coverage, and we should anticipate another big game from Jefferson.
The next two players in line for targets will be K.J. Osborn and Adam Thielen, who will be role-specific players. Osborn will be a low aDOT target and someone to help get short yardage. Thielen will be the player they will go to in the red zone and someone with multiple touchdown upside. Johnny Mundt ran more routes than Irv Smith this past week, and I am intrigued to see if that remains the same going forward. Smith missed a lot of time with injury, which could have played a factor in his Week 1 role.
Dalvin Cook did not have a big game in Week 1, but this is a spot for him to thrive against an Eagles front that gave up 6.5 yards a carry against the Lions. Alexander Mattison is the clear backup, and will only play when Cook needs a breather or is injured. Cook averaged 4.5 yards a carry, and the only downside to his role is the mismatch Jefferson presents in the red zone.
Eagles Offense vs. Vikings Defense
Jalen Hurts had one mission when passing the football in Week 1—get it to A.J. Brown. Brown consistently won in man coverage against the Detroit Lions, where he managed to get 100 of his yards receiving. The Vikings played zone coverage on 28 of Aaron Rodgers’ 31 passing attempts, and Hurts saw zone coverage on 8 of his 22 attempts last week.
DeVonta Smith was targeted on 7 percent of his routes and did not record a stat. This matchup bodes well for Smith because Brown was so big of a mismatch in man coverage that it was easy to feature him, and for zone coverage, it’s all about finding the soft spot. Quez Watkins is the only other wide receiver of note. Watkins was not targeted, but he did run 20 routes last week. Dallas Goedert is still a strong tight end option, and I expect him to get utilized plenty on play action in the red zone.
This running back committee will have a three-way share with Miles Sanders leading the way. Sanders looked explosive and made the most of his 15 touches, going for 104 yards and finding the end zone for the first time since 2020. Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott will get carries here and there but are not a priority over Sanders.
Hurts ran the ball 17 times in Week 1, but all of his high carry games have come against teams that run a lot of man coverage. The Vikings do not run man at a high rate, and I do not anticipate this game being one where we see him take a high number of carries. However, I do expect him to be utilized in the red zone and will be a threat to have a rushing touchdown. The Vikings’ run defense gave up 6.3 yards a carry and looked susceptible in the running game.
Multiplier: Dalvin Cook, Miles Sanders
Flex: Justin Jefferson, Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith, Jake Elliott, Eagles DST
Thoughts on the game:
Whichever team wins on the ground will win the game. Both of these run defenses looked susceptible in Week 1, and with the Eagles being the favorite, my lean is a game script where the Eagles win on the ground. I think Sanders has multiple explosive runs against this Vikings defense and gets close to 100 yards on the ground.
This will be a big test for Hurts as a passer since he will have to read the coverage and find the spots to go with the football. Brown is still the dominant wide receiver, but I think Smith bounces back and shows up on the stat sheet. The Vikings’ offense is still dependent on Jefferson, but Thielen is the wide receiver that ends up scoring the touchdowns preventing Jefferson from being the multiplier.