Monday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Titans vs. Broncos

The second of Monday's two games has the Titans as three-point road favorites against the Broncos with a modest 40.5-point total on FanDuel Sportsbook. The Titans were last season's playoff darlings, storming their way to the AFC Championship Game before succumbing to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, while the Broncos are theoretically looking up after a few years of rebuilding. 

Unfortunately for Denver, they will be without superstar edge rusher Von Miller, who could miss the entire season because of an ankle injury that will require surgery. That absence is obviously built into the line already, but it's still a solid defense overall that won't be easy for the Titans to dominate. These teams previously met in Week 6 last season, a 16-0 Broncos home win in which they held running back Derrick Henry to a season-low 28 rushing yards on 15 attempts. The Ryan Tannehill era basically began in that game, as he replaced Marcus Mariota in the third quarter, and he's been the starter ever since. Tannehill's impact cannot be understated, as he accounted for multiple touchdowns in all but one of his 13 starts (including the playoffs) after that Broncos loss.


DERRICK HENRY

Henry ($11,600 DK, $15,500 FD) is the most expensive player on both sites, as he has basically the highest floor and ceiling in the game. His usage increased significantly as last season progressed, including 32, 34 and 30 carries in the three games before the AFC Championship Game, when he was limited to just 69 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.

Given the expected production (DraftKings' rushing yards prop is 91.5 while he's -155 for an anytime touchdown), Henry is likely to be the most drafted player on the slate, and probably the most popular captain/MVP because he's not overly expensive. The salary multiplier on DraftKings will push Henry's cost to $17,400, which leaves an average of just $6,520 for the five flex spots. However, given that a lower-scoring game is expected, there may be some salary helpers to make it easier to afford Henry.


QUARTERBACKS Tannehill ($10,000 DK, $15,000 FD) trails Henry in salary on both sites, but he's ahead of everyone else, which isn't surprising because he's the second-most consistent player for the favored team. As noted earlier, Tannehill accounted for multiple touchdowns in all but one game since taking over as the starter, but he also reached 300 passing yards only three times in that span, and he even failed to reach 100 yards in two of their three playoff games last year, throwing 15 and 14 passes in the wild-card and divisional games, respectively. Henry's huge usage during those games obviously affected Tannehill, and while he threw 31 passes in the AFC Championship Game, he managed just 209 passing yards. Meanwhile, Broncos quarterback Drew Lock ($9,600 DK, $14,500 FD) is expected to make a bit of a leap this season after starting the final five regular-season games last year, with his high mark coming in Week 14 at Houston when he completed 22 of 27 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he maxed out at 208 passing yards in the other four games, and he threw for zero, one and one touchdowns in each of the last three. While he is expected to improve now that he's had more time to figure things out, the Broncos' offense doesn't really rely on Lock's arm. For comparison sake, Tannehill's passing yard prop is 229.5 while Lock's is 224.5, with the former -104 for more than 1.5 passing touchdowns and the latter +115. It's not worth using those as direct projections, but their somewhat useful side-by-side. With Henry expected to be so highly used as a captain or MVP, Tannehill would be a somewhat reasonable pivot for those looking to differentiate, while Lock isn't likely to be nearly as popular, thus providing more leverage against the Titans as a whole.

RUNNING BACKS Henry is expected to dominate the Titans' backfield, but the Broncos' one is very different, with Melvin Gordon ($8,000 DK, $13,000 FD) and Phillip Lindsay ($7,600 DK, $10,000 FD) expected to split the touches, with third-stringer Royce Freeman ($1,000 DK, $7,000 FD) also around. Gordon is generally expected to get a majority of the opportunities, but we could still be looking at a 60/40 or 55/45 split, which obviously hampers the upside of both players. Gordon dealt with a rib injury during training camp, but he isn't listed on the injury report, so theoretically it shouldn't be an issue. The salaries on FanDuel obviously expect Gordon to get more of the work, while DraftKings makes it a bit more of an issue about which one to select, if either. A lack of trust in Lock should put the ball in the hands of the running backs more, but a committee approach doesn't make that any easier for fantasy players. It's unlikely both get enough volume where it doesn't matter there's a split, especially if they share the red-zone work, so neither player really provides much safety and their upsides are limited by the other guy. You can take advantage of that uncertainty in GPPs, as even limited touches can be beneficial if they end up in the end zone in a low-scoring game, but those in cash games have a tougher time. Given Gordon is generally expected to get the bigger workload, he's likely to be more popular overall.

PASS CATCHERS Both teams have excellent No. 1 receivers, though Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton ($9,000 DK, $12,000 FD) is officially questionable because of a shoulder injury, and the latest news is that he's a true game-time decision. Even if he does manage to make the active roster, you have to assume he isn't 100 percent. Sutton's spot on the top of the depth chart didn't really make him a dominant fantasy contributor last season, and Lock still under center doesn't really change that. Given the injury issues, fantasy players may be more willing to take a chance on rookie Jerry Jeudy ($7,200 DK, $8,000 FD), who is much more attractive from a salary standpoint on FanDuel as the 11th-most expensive player as opposed to the eighth-most on DraftKings. Zero pre-season games obviously means we didn't get to see Jeudy run routes for Lock, but the expectation is that he'll be the top guy if Sutton is unable to play. In fact, he has the same anytime touchdown odds (+240) as Sutton, trailing only Gordon (+190) among Broncos (Lindsay is +320, further pushing the expectation that Gordon will run the backfield), so the expectations aren't actually that different from Sutton anyway. Tim Patrick ($2,800 DK, $6,000 FD) is the third guy on the wide receiver depth chart, and while he could make some random contributions, it's tough to rely on him for those who make few or only one lineup. The same can be applied to DaeSean Hamilton ($1,800 DK, $6,500 FD) even if he moves to the No. 3 spot in a Sutton absence, while KJ Hamler ($200 DK, $5,500 FD) seems like the ultimate punt if he can make the active roster despite coming in questionable because of a hamstring injury. Tight end Noah Fant ($6,200) is likely to be the more popular receiver for the Broncos, though you're going to have to pay for him. The nice thing about Fant is that he provides big-play potential despite being a tight end, which we saw in Week 9 against the Browns when he caught three passes for 115 yards and a touchdown and Week 14 at Houston when he caught four for 113 and another score. If Sutton doesn't play, surely Fant should see some extra balls thrown his way. Captaining any of the Broncos' pass catchers seems like the ultimate GPP move because none of them are really expected to have dominant performances, but you really have to question the upside of any receiver on a team with a quarterback barely expected to throw for 225 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, the Titans' A.J. Brown ($8,600 DK, $11,000 FD) has shown plenty of upside and is the clear top receiver for Tannehill, likely making him a popular flex play on both sites and potentially an excellent captain/MVP pivot away from Henry. The Broncos' defense is still very solid, but Brown can turn nothing into something very quickly, which could be just what we need in a game that isn't expected to have a plethora of points. This being said, Brown's 56.5-yard receiving prop on DraftKings Sportsbook isn't overly high, but his +165 anytime touchdown odds are the best of any receiver. Corey Davis ($6,000 DK, $7,500 FD) is expected to play despite being questionable because of a hamstring injury and he's...fine. Having still not lived up to the lofty early career expectations, Davis at least now can comfortably be the No. 2 guy behind Brown and hope to make a splash on some kind of long pass play, as he's unlikely to get a load of targets. You can put No. 3 wide receiver Adam Humphries ($2,200 DK, $6,500 FD) in that same boat, though he's less likely to break off a long play like Brown or Davis due to his role and speed. If random touchdown speed is what you're after, Kalif Raymond ($200 DK, $5,500 FD) could be the guy if he's actually active and gets on the field. Then again, Cody Hollister ($400 DK, $5,000 FD) could get the call, but he's equally as random to actually produce. Similar to the Broncos, the Titans have a solid pass-catching tight end in Jonnu Smith ($5,800 DK, $7,000 FD), though he's more a traditional tight end in the sense that he isn't likely to break off long plays like Fant. Because of that, he doesn't really have the upside to make for a good MVP/captain pick, though you could make he argument he's the second-best Titans receiver.


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