Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
It is Week 9, and the question is, what happens when two pass funnel defenses meet two tragically inept passing offenses? It is called the Thursday Night Showdown.
Week 9 begins with the Will Levis-led Tennessee Titans going to Pittsburgh to play the T.J. Watt-led Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans are coming off a 28-23 win against the Atlanta Falcons. The win brings the Titans to 3-4 for third place in the AFC South.
The Steelers are reeling from a 10-20 thumping at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, where the Steelers’ passing game managed 211 combined passing yards between Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky. The run game wasn’t better, with Najee Harris rushing for 13 yards and Jaylen Warren leading the team with 19 rushing yards. The Steelers are 4-3 and an astonishing second in the AFC North.
The lines are from Wednesday and can move by game time. Be diligent and check multiple sportsbooks to get the most beneficial line.
- Points Spread: Pittsburgh -2.5 , (-115); Tennessee +2.5 (-105)
- Moneyline: Pittsburgh -150; Tennessee +125
- Total: 36.5 Over (-105); 36.5 Under (-115)
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THE NECESSARY INFO
You can play either FanDuel or DraftKings. This article is specific to the DraftKings scoring system and single-entry Showdown Tournaments. The Showdown Tournament entries only require you to play six players, with at least one from an opposing team. So, you will be playing five flex players and a Captain. The player you designate as Captain will have their point total multiplied 1.5 times. The Captain’s salary will also be multiplied by 1.5 times.
The regular scoring system for DraftKings still stands. It is a PPR format with bonus points. Three bonus points are awarded when a quarterback passes for 300 or more yards, a running back or a receiver gets 100 yards or more.
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety, Hamstring, Out
- Levi Wallace, Cornerback, Foot, Limited Practice
- Damontae Kazee, Hand, Safety, Limited Practice
The Titans have several veterans on the injury report who were given “rest days” and are not a threat to miss the game. That being said, we know that Ryan Tannehill will not play Thursday.
- Chris Hubbard, Offensive Line, Concussion, Did Not Practice
- Jeffrey Simmons, Defensive Tackle, Ankle, Limited Practice
- Roger McCreary, Cornerback, Hamstring, Limited Practice
This game has the distinction of having the lowest predictive total of the week. The Steelers average 16.1 points per game; they rank 31st in the league. They have the fifth-lowest amount of passing yards at 192.0 per game. The Titans are 29th, averaging 180.7 passing yards per game. The Titans’ offense is 23rd in points per game, averaging 18.9.
Although both teams have marquee running backs, neither is blowing the doors in the run game. The Titans, with Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears, are better, averaging 115.9 rushing yards per game. The Steelers, with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, are averaging 79.7 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league.
The talk of the night will be Titans’ rookie quarterback Will Levis. Levis came in last week and threw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Atlanta Falcons. Levis went 19-of-29 for 238 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. Last week, Levis was pressured on 44% of his dropbacks. Under pressure, he had a 36.4% completion percentage for 42 yards and one first down. The Steelers allow a league-low 38.4% completion rate when they pressure the quarterback.
Levis was 3-of-8 with 141 yards and three touchdowns on passes that went 20 or more yards from scrimmage. The Steelers’ defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to have a 108.7 passer rating on throws 20 yards or more (29th in the league).
The Steelers’ defense has also been porous against the run. In Week 7, the Los Angeles Rams run game torched them for 132 yards and a touchdown. Last week, Jacksonville ran for 186 yards and a touchdown. Travis Etienne added 70 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Steelers offense isn’t a threat. They are not winning games because of their offense; they have been outgained in every game they have played this season. Their 16.1 points per game is second to last, and Levis’ four touchdowns in one game in one less than Pickett has thrown in seven games. Harris averages 3.73 yards per carry and has not had more than 75 rushing yards in a game.
T.J. Watt, Sacks, Over 0.75, -140:
The odds are crap because, well, it is Watt against a rookie quarterback on his first away game. Watt has nine sacks for the season, including 0.5 sacks last week.
Derrick Henry, Rush Attempts, 17.5, Over -105
Last week, Henry had 22 rushing attempts. With Levis under center, Henry had a season-high 81.3% backfield touches and 88% rushing attempts from the backfield. Steelers opponents are rushing on average 30.3 attempts per game against them. Last week, the Jaguars had 30 rushing attempts, Etienne had 24.
37 Under -110
As you see, the line has moved from 36.5 to 37. I am pretty comfortable going under on this game. Pickett says he will play, but he is injured. The Titans’ defense has the second-highest sack total of any of the Steelers’ previous opponents. And Mike Tomlin has only lost to one rookie quarterback at home (Dak Prescott). And this will be this rookie’s second game, first away game against a pressuring defense.
SHOWDOWN PLAYER POOL
Once again, this is a game where viable Captain plays are limited. I don’t see a blowout position in this game. It feels like a field goal/defensive game. Both teams have players capable of explosive plays on a defense that has given up explosive plays to that position.
The limited choice of Captain opens up your flex positions, allowing you to get different.
- Derrick Henry, $17,400: The obvious choice is Henry. He is going against the Steelers 27th ranked run defense, allowing 137 rushing yards per game.
- DeAndre Hopkins, $16,800: Hopkins appears to be the favorite choice of Levis. Last week, he scored three touchdowns and 128 yards on six targets and four receptions.
- George Pickens, $13,200: For the first time in three games, Pickens had less than 100 receiving yards. He finished last week with one reception for 22 yards. He did have a touchdown. Pickens has the highest ceiling of the two wide receivers for the Steelers.
- Diontae Johnson, $12,600: Johnson had 14 targets last week. He finished with eight receptions and 85 yards. Johnson hasn’t had a touchdown, so he is in store for positive touchdown regression.
I have heard it said it doesn’t make a difference if it is Mitchell Trubisky or Pickett under center. I disagree. If Pickett doesn’t start, Johnson is the better option with Trubisky. If Pickett is under center, Pickens is the better option.
The flex options are wide open. It depends on how you see the narrative of the game going. It will be an ugly offensive battle, with the Steelers winning by a field goal.
- Will Levis, $9,600: Levis’ strengths are the Steelers’ weaknesses. If he doesn’t fold under the pressure, he will surely get at least one long touchdown pass.
- Tyjae Spears, $5,400: Spears is a pivot from Henry. He was on the field for a 49.88% snap count and saw work in the passing game. Last week, he had four targets.
- Treylon Burks, $3,800: Burks has averaged 7.3 targets and over 60 yards when he plays in Prime Time per Fantasy Flex.
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, $3,400: Finished last week with two targets, one reception for 33 yards and a touchdown.
- Nick Folk, $4,600: If it is ugly and a kickers game, Folk went 4-for-4 on extra points. He didn’t have a field goal attempt for the first time last week.
- Tennessee Titans Defense, $4,400: Pickett has 17 sacks. The Titans have recorded 21 sacks, including six last week. It is worth a play if they can get to an injured Pickett and add an interception.
- Chig Okonkwo, $4,200: He has at least six targets in two of his last three games but only two targets inside the 20-yard line.
- Kenny Pickett, $9,200: Will not be in my player pool, but as a quarterback is an option.
- Najee Harris, $7,200: Will not be in my player pool. Harris had 13 rushing yards against the Jaguars’ fourth rushing defense. The Titans rushing defense ranks 16th and held Bijan Robinson to 62 rushing yards last week.
- Jaylen Warren, $6,400: Warren has a higher ceiling than Harris in the PPR format. He has 32 targets for 184 yards this season.
- Pittsburgh Steelers, $5,600: The Steelers’ defense has a wide range of outcomes. They can legitimately wreak havoc on the rookie, and they equally get burned on his deep passing attempts.
- Chris Boswell, $5,000: Because of the inefficiency in the offense, Boswell has only had 13 field goal attempts for the season. He is 12-of-13, with the only miss coming last week on a 61-yard attempt.
- Cameron Heyward, $2,800: Will be in all my player pools. Heyward was targeted six times last week. With the absence of Pat Freiermuth, he has run 67 routes with a 35.4% route percentage.
What is your narrative for this game?
Last week, both quarterbacks, three wide receivers, and a tight end were in the winning lineups. The final score was 24-18, for a 42 total.
Have your lineup tell your story of the game. Good Luck!
Gladys is obsessive about fantasy football, Pittsburgh Steelers, dogs/cats, pop culture movies and television shows, and Ben & Jerry’s 7 Layer Vegan Ice Cream (although not necessarily in that order). A writer about NFL, college ball, and fantasy football for more than 10 years, she attempts to combine her degree in statistical variance (BS Policy Analysis) with player knowledge and game script. Though her concentration is on IDP, redraft, and PPR leagues, all fantasy formats are fair game. Reach out whenever you can find me on Twitter @gladysLtyler. And remember, don’t suck and tip your bartenders well.