Welcome to the NFL Week 16 Thursday Night Football Showdown Slate!
As COVID rips through the NFL, we’re still moving ahead with the beginning of Week 16 and thus looking for some showdown madness. The San Francisco 49ers head to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans in a very interesting match-up. The 49ers may have the edge based on the health of their play-makers, but Tennessee is getting back A.J. Brown from injured reserve, so he may be able to generate a much-needed spark for this Titans team. It doesn’t profile as a high-scoring affair as both defenses have been good as of late. But again, as we always say, it doesn’t matter how many points get scored in the game, so long as you have the right guys in your lineup.
Now before we begin, please take a moment to understand what exactly you are getting yourself into by playing single-game Showdown Slates. We love to have some skin in the game, for sure, but these slates are, for all intents and purposes, a lottery ticket. Sure, there are times when the chalk hits and everyone shares in the prizes, but, more often than not, you need to hit on that random dart-throw that differentiates your lineup from that of the herd in order to claim the top prize. As a result, we encourage you to play responsibly and not over-invest. Stick to the GPP contests (single-entry preferred), don’t blow your whole bankroll, and understand that, unless you are a max-entry player, you should prioritize having fun.
OK. Lecture over. Let’s get to tonight’s action.
San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans
Spread: 49ers -3
Weather: clear skies with temperatures in the low-50s with winds blowing S at 10mph
San Francisco 49ers
Elijah Mitchell, RB – concussion (out)
Maurice Hurst, DT – calf (out)
Dre Greenlaw, LB – groin (out)
Azeez Al-Shaair, LB – elbow (questionable)
Talanoa Hufanga, SS – knee (out)
A.J. Brown, WR – chest (IR – expected to play)
Dez Fitzpatrick, WR – COVID
Roger Saffold, LG – COVID
Taylor Lewan, LT – back (out)
Elijah Molden, DB -- COVID
DVOA Defensive Rankings
San Francisco 49ers
vs Pass: 21st
vs Run: 2nd
vs Pass: 15th
vs Run: 17th
**Please note that players not listed below are not necessarily a complete fade and any player listed can certainly be used as the MVP/Captain. These are merely suggestions for players to use when setting Showdown lineups.
Deebo Samuel, WR SF – With no Elijah Mitchell, we know Samuel is going to see a handful of carries out of the backfield, particularly inside the red zone. In fact, over his last five games, he’s seen eight red zone touches which he’s turned into seven rushing touchdowns. But what’s even better is that last week he actually caught four passes for 60 yards, something he hadn’t been doing lately with his new role. If he continues to see the receptions, then he’s less touchdown-dependent and that makes for a great captain.
George Kittle, TE SF – Since returning from injury just seven games ago, Kittle has three 100-yard efforts with six touchdowns while averaging just over eight targets per game. Those numbers are just ridiculous and while Tennessee does a good job guarding the tight end, Kittle is a totally different animal. Start him here with confidence.
A.J. Brown, WR TEN – How’s this for a contrarian captain play? The offensive line is taking a major hit with the loss of Saffold and Lewan, and that could end up forcing Ryan Tannehill into a more pass-heavy scheme – quick, shot passes, that is, which will hopefully get Brown in a situation where he can pick up yards after the catch. It’s a longshot, but not totally out of the realm of possibility.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB SF – The numbers are never eye-popping, but Garoppolo has been pretty efficient over the past few games and actually has a 10:3 TD:INT over his last six. He’s got the receiving weapons he needs to succeed and if he and Samuel can continue to connect on a few passes even with all the rushing efforts, he’ll be a solid play.
Ryan Tannehill, QB TEN – The last three games have been rough and it doesn’t get any easier with the offensive line issues. He’s going to have to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid the pass-rush and get it into the hands of his play-makers. The ground game isn’t expected to be effective here, so it’s Tannehill or bust for this team.
D’Onta Foreman, RB TEN – You can hope for some short-yardage work if the Titans get near the goal-line, but the running game is going to find it tough to get going. The 44.5 over/under indicates a low-scoring game, so if you can get a touchdown out of him, the yardage won’t really matter too much.
Jeffery Wilson, RB SF – While Deebo Samuel is currently poaching most of the red zone work, Wilson remains an option for short-yardage plays near the end zone as well. He’s not going to rack up a ton of yards, but if he can score a touchdown, that might be all you need on a showdown slate such as this.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR SF – Having Samuel in the backfield has helped increase the target share for Aiyuk, though last week was a major bust. Still, he’s offered steady production over the past several games and has a decent floor as a role-player in showdown lineups.
Julio Jones, WR TEN – He’s risky because of the injury history, but he’s been cleared to play tonight and having A.J. Brown return will likely draw the tough coverage away from him. If he can catch a few passes and get some work inside the red zone, maybe he’s worth the cost.
Jauan Jennings, WR SF – He’s seen 11 targets over the last two games which he’s turned into six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, so he’s a little more than just a dart throw. If you’re in need of saving some salary and want to play for some upside potential, then he’s right behind Aiyuk on that list.
Geoff Swaim, TE TEN – We expect the Titans to employ more of a short-passing game-plan which should help Swaim get some extra looks his way. The 49ers do a good job against the tight end, but with so much attention going towards Brown and Julio, perhaps things open up more for the tight end.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR TEN – He’ll go back to being the third receiver in this offense and will split snaps out of the slot with Chester Rogers. However, he’ll probably see the lion’s share of the snaps in the three-receiver sets, so with the 49ers ranking 27th in DVOA against the slot, he could have a decent game.
Kyle Juszczyk, RB SF – Kyle Shanahan loves his gimmick plays and while we saw Juszczyk score last week, there’s nothing wrong with taking another stab at it and see if lightning can strike twice.
MyCole Pruitt, TE TEN – Everything I said above with regard to Swaim plays here for Pruitt as well, though he does see fewer snaps and run fewer routes. But inside the red zone, how many times have we see than random touchdown throw to the back-up tight end? A few more than we’d like to admit.
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