As the second leg of the opening MNF doubleheader, we have a matchup of two AFC teams looking to continue their late 2019 season success. Those owners with players left will be watching intently to see if they will help their team claim victory or seal defeat.
Monday Night Football Preview
Titans at Broncos (-3) | Over/Under 41
Vegas has this late-night Monday matchup going to Denver as a field goal favorite over Tennessee. This isn’t too surprising since this will be a more evenly matched contest than the prior MNF game. The Broncos are also the home team which gives them an obvious advantage. I would expect a close game and would take the Titans and the points. For the Over/Under, 41 indicates Vegas sees a low scoring affair, especially since neither team has a high flying offense to boost the score. I expect a ground and pound sort of contest, take the under. If you’re interested in betting on this game, look into a finding sportsbook with a great Promo Code, There are a lot of awesome first-time deals for the opening week in the NFL.
Both Drew Lock and Ryan Tannehill are streaming level quarterbacks this season after rising to the top of their depth charts in 2019. Tannehill was rewarded financially after his finish last season (signed a four year $118 million contract in March) while Lock was rewarded with a longer metaphorical leash in Denver’s offense. Both quarterbacks will be given the reins to start the season and expected to maintain and even exceed their 2019 numbers. It will be interesting to see if both players will be able to back up their production or show themselves as one-year wonders. In this matchup, neither quarterback has a distinguishable advantage over the other and should remain on your bench and waiver wires this week.
When looking at the Titans and Broncos’ backfield, you will find two different philosophies. In Tennessee, they use a singular workhorse in Derrick Henry, which has worked for both their team and fantasy owners alike. Last season Henry finished as the RB5 in PPR leagues and was a mainstay in the Titans offense and postseason success. They will look to continue that system in 2020 and will start against Denver. The Broncos were the 11th best defense against fantasy running backs (depending on scoring format) and made some big trades this offseason to improve their defense (acquired Jurrell Casey from Tennessee and A.J. Bouye from Jacksonville in March). But Henry is such an elite talent that he will still find a way to produce against Denver. Feel confident in starting Henry.
For the Broncos, they will handle their backfield completely differently. They will have to balance snaps between newcomer Melvin Gordon and last year’s backs in Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Gordon and Lindsay will be the lead backs but it will be interesting to see how they all work in this game and going forward into the 2020 season. For this matchup, the Titans are a positive matchup as they were the 18th ranked defense against fantasy running backs in 2019 (depending on scoring formats) and will be missing some players on their defense Monday night (Vic Beasley Jr. and Adoree’ Jackson will be out). While there is still a lot of dust to be settled for the Denver offense, both backs will be suitable starts on Monday. Leave Freeman on waivers, but start Gordon and Lindsay in your lineups and in DFS.
Courtland Sutton and A.J. Brown were slotted to be the big wide receiver matchup in this game but both seem like they will be less than 100% on Monday night. Sutton suffered a shoulder injury earlier this week and has been labeled a game-time decision for Monday night. This means rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler will need to step up along with fellow wide receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick. They should be able to take advantage of a depleted Titans secondary but without Sutton, it is not a group to be highly confident in, especially when the rookies did not have a preseason or regular training camp schedule to gain chemistry with Lock. The only one worth starting in this matchup is Jeudy due to his overall talent level, the others I would avoid. Sutton is a must-start if healthy, but if he is out Hamilton would be a great waiver wire replacement.
Brown also missed time this week at Titans practice but has seemed to bounce back enough to not be a concern for Monday night. He is the only Titans wide receiver worth starting at this point in the season. No one else on the depth chart made an impact in 2019 when Tannehill took over and there is no reason to believe they will now. Brown is a must-start, despite how he will likely get the Bouye treatment all evening. Brown has a WR2 floor and has the ability to exceed that on Monday night.
Noah Fant was an exciting rookie tight end last season that was able to flash in certain moments in 2019. His Week 9 performance against Cleveland was his first big fantasy showing where he caught three passes for 115 yards and one touchdown. Fant was able to exploit the weak matchups and will look to continue that trend in 2020. He will have an excellent opportunity on Monday night. The Titans were the fifth-worst defense against tight ends last season (depending on scoring format) and will provide Fant with a chance to make big plays on the national stage of MNF. Start Fant in your regular lineups and in your MNF DFS games.
For the Titans, they will be starting Jonnu Smith, a player who has shown lots of promise but has never been able to break out for fantasy owners. Smith has been selected by many to be a 2020 sleeper pick and will look to start on the right foot on Monday night. To reach that potential, he will look to continue his trend of connecting with his new quarterback. Smith received 81% of his total targets in the ten games after Tannehill took over. While that is a larger sample size than his time with Marcus Mariota in 2019, it still shows the role Smith played in an offense that was still developing in at the end of last season and should be more settled in 2020. For this game, Denver is a fairly tough matchup (the 13th ranked defense against fantasy tight ends) but Smith should be able to find a way to leave a mark, especially when you consider the fantasy tight end landscape. Look to start Smith in deeper leagues and even in DFS games.
This will be a game that relies on controlling the clock with good defense and solid running. Both Tannehill and Lock are not at a level where they are going to take over the game and make it a shootout. They just need to do their best to minimize mistakes and capitalize on plays when they develop. The combination of Henry and Tannehill is the one I will be betting on, despite being the visiting team. Expect a 24-13 game going to the Titans.
Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.