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Newsletter 299 Can A.J. Brown Kickstart The Titans?

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In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Monkey Knife Fight, we preview Thursday Night Football, look at air yards and expected play charts for Week 16, and check out Cooterdoodle’s favorite tweets. It's 12/23. Take it away, Peter Overzet…


Hopefully you made it through that long, dark stretch we endured yesterday with no football. But fear not, football is finally back on tonight with the Titans hosting the 49ers as 3 point home underdogs in a game with a 44 point over/under.

The big news for tonight’s game is the expected return of A.J. Brown, who gives the Titans a much-needed offensive boost. 

On the Niners side, Eli Mitchell is out for another game, which leaves Jeff Wilson Jr. and a little Deebo Samuel to shoulder all the rushing work.

With Brown back and Julio off the injury report, I love taking more on Tannehill’s 205.5 passing yards prop…

* Marquez Valdes-Scantling has really come on as of late and has secured his role as the WR2 in Green Bay. Over the team’s last four games, Valdes-Scantling has a team-leading 42% air yards share and is second with a 22% target share, both very solid marks. He can confidently be fired up as a flex option this weekend against a middling Browns defense that’s still missing some key pieces in the secondary.

* Speaking of the Browns, Donovan Peoples-Jones has had a similarly impressive stretch of games. Since Week 11, Peoples-Jones is running a route on a team-high 90% of dropbacks. He’s averaging just over 92 air yards per game, and has clearly established himself as the team’s deep threat. He hasn’t found the end zone in any of those games, but a breakout game is just around the corner.

* The Tennessee Titans will hopefully get star receiver AJ Brown back in their Thursday night matchup against the 49ers and Julio Jones is off the injury report. In any case, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has stepped up in a big way recently. In his last three games (all without Brown), Westbrook-Ikhine has earned an 18% target share on top of a whopping 39% air yards share while running a route on 91% of dropbacks. At this point, I’d rather rely on him than Julio in a starting lineup.


In this next chart, the team's bar shows the number of plays per game that team has averaged. Then the teams that play each other in the upcoming week are combined to show the total average between that week's matchup. With more plays come more opportunities for fantasy points, so use teams at the top of this chart as a tie-breaker when making your start/sit decision.

* The Seahawks and Bears have been two of the least exciting teams to watch this season and now they play each other. Both teams have thrown the ball on fewer than 55% of plays in neutral game scripts the last month and are averaging fewer than 21 points per game over that span. This may be a game to avoid as you try to secure a berth in your fantasy football championship.

* When the Bengals and Ravens met in Week 7, Cincinnati blew the doors off the Ravens, outscoring them 41 to 17. There is still concern, however, that Lamar Jackson is unable to play and as good as Tyler Huntley has been in his absence, Jackson has unmatched talent. The Begals have also leaned more run-heavy the last several weeks with a 55% neutral-script pass rate since Week 11. This game could be a trap when it comes to upside for fantasy.

* The game I’m looking most forward to this weekend comes between the Rams and Vikings. Though the Rams are not a fast-paced team, they make up for it with efficiency. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins is playing some of his best football as he’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of his last seven games. With a 49.5-point game total (the highest of the week), this game is set to shootout.


For more of Sam’s great work, follow him on Twitter, read his terrifically titled “Hoppen to Conclusions” pieces on 4for4, and watch him break down the most relevant fantasy data and charts on Stat Chasing



We’ll be back tomorrow to check-in on all of the COVID situations in flux. 

I’ll also be doing a Q&A on the Fantasy Life app tonight at 6:15pm ET if you want to swing by and pepper me with questions.

Enjoy the game.




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