Thursday Night DFS Breakdown: Titans vs. Jaguars
Thursday Night DFS Breakdown: Titans vs. Jaguars

This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.

Thursday's game between the Titans and Jaguars comes in with a disgusting 39.5-point total (with the odds at -120 for under and +100 for over) on FanDuel Sportsbook, the lowest of all Week 3 games (Chicago vs. Washington on Monday night is next at 41.5). The visiting Titans, who barely lost to the Colts last week after beating the Browns by 30 in Week 1, are 1.5-point favorites against the winless Jags, and if there was ever a time to avoid watching Thursday night football, I'm not sure anyone would give you a hard time about this one.

QUARTERBACKS

Gardner Minshew ($9,200 DK, $14,000 FD) will be under center for the Jaguars again, and while he only has one full game under his belt after coming on for the injured Nick Foles in their opening game of the season, he already has more passing yards and more rushing yards than Tennessee's Marcus Mariota ($10,000 DK, $14,500 FD). With few points expected to be scored in this game, and the extremely reasonable assumption that the offenses will use their quality running backs to move the ball, fading both quarterbacks could be a viable strategy.

There is, of course, a small chance that this game becomes a Mariota-Minshew shootout and those brave enough to roster both quarterbacks would be rewarded handsomely, but the plethora of people betting on the game are surely not expecting that to happen, with Mariota's passing yard prop at 197.5 and Minshew's 220.5. Both players have shown an ability to chew up yards on the ground, but they are unreliable, at best, in that respect.

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

Understandably, the receiving-yard props are very low too, with FanDuel offering props on four receivers and not a single one of them reaches 50.0. Additionally, Minshew (and briefly Foles) have spread the targets out fairly evenly, with six players having at least eight targets, with D.J. Chark ($7,600 DK, $12,500 FD) leading the team with 13 while Chris Conley ($7,000 DK, $10,500 FD) has 12. Those two have been the most productive, as Chark leads the team with 11 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns (186 air yards) and Conley has 10 catches for 170 yards and one touchdown (172 air yards). Neither player is overly expensive, but it's a bit surprising how productive they've been given that Dede Westbrook ($7,400 DK, $8,500) was expected to be the top receiver for the team this year, but he's caught only six of 11 targets for 33 yards and one touchdown for a ridiculously low 4.5 aDOT and 49 air yards. Westbrook is always capable of breaking out, and his price is attractive in a vacuum, but you're ultimately hoping that Minshew starts to ignore the two players he's actually connecting with to focus on a guy who had better chemistry with Foles. There's always a possibility that someone like Marqise Lee ($6,600 DK, $6,000 FD) or Keelan Cole ($1,000 DK, $6,000) gets a few snaps and maybe a target or two, but they'd have to bust free for a long touchdown to make that risk worthwhile after combining for zero targets in three combined games (Lee was inactive Week 2).

The Jaguars' tight ends have also been used, with James O'Shaughnessy ($2,600 DK, $5,500 FD) catching eight of nine targets for 60 yards (24 air yards) and Geoff Swaim ($1,400 DK, $5,500 FD) seven of eight for 31 (five air yards), but both have aDOTs below 3.0 and there's little reason to think it'll explode based on their incredibly low air yards. You could certainly get a touchdown out of them, though at +650 and +950 to do so, it's obviously unexpected.

Eleven players have been targeted by Mariota this season, but four have only been passed to once while three players have had at least eight. Tight end Delanie Walker ($8,200 DK, $12,000) has been the most active, catching nine of 12 targets for 94 yards and two touchdowns (both coming against the Browns), but his 8.1 aDOT is only good for fourth on the team, as three wide receivers are unsurprisingly ahead of him in that category, even if he leads the team in total air yards. A.J. Brown ($5,600 DK,$8,000 FD) comes in with six catches on nine targets for a team-high 125 yards (90 air yards), while Corey Davis ($6,000 DK, $9,000 FD), who was expected to be the team's leading receiver this season, has only three catches on eight targets for 38 yards, but at least a somewhat encouraging 84 air yards and 10.5 aDOT. The team leader in aDOT is Tajae Sharpe ($800 DK, $5,000 FD), though he's only been targeted four times, catching two for 24 yards. The target depth is nice and all, but you need to actually have enough volume for those to pay off, and at this point any one of these guys could catch a decently distanced pass and take it to the house, making it exceptionally hard to choose one for single-lineup players. Given how much Mariota is spreading the ball around, Walker seems like the safest play of the bunch, and no Titans receiver has better any time touchdown scorer odds; unfortunately, +250 isn't that good.

RUNNING BACKS

While both passing games leave plenty to be desired, the Jaguars and Titans each have running backs they can rely on, and fantasy players will correspondingly have to pay up for their workloads. Leonard Fournette ($9,800 DK, $13,000 FD) has gotten off to a slow start, rushing 28 times for 113 yards while adding eight catches on 12 targets for 68 receiving yards, including a hilariously low two air yards. His 4.0 yards per carry is poor, and it becomes clear why it's not higher when you see he has zero rushes over 20 yards. Backup running back Ryquell Armstead ($400 DK, $5,000 FD) hasn't been any more successful with his limited touches, rushing once for seven yards and failing to catch his only target that was four yards behind the line of scrimmage. There's little reason to think Armstead will be given enough touches to justify inclusion in most lineups, even at his price, with Fournette fully expected to handle a majority of the backfield work. Fournette's +125 odds to score at least one touchdown are the second-best in the game, and he's certainly the most reliable Jaguar.

The Titans line up similarly in terms of how they want to move the ball, with Derrick Henry ($10,600 DK, $15,000 FD) the most expensive player on both sites. He comes in with a solid 34 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns plus three catches on five targets for 87 receiving yards and another score, though it's worth mentioning one of those was a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown that's resulted in a minus-3.0 aDOT. Given how much Mariota spreads the ball around to his wide receivers and tight ends, there's no reason to expect Henry to be a big part of the passing game. Backup running back Dion Lewis ($4,200 DK, $7,500 FD) is the one more suited for targets, but he's only caught four of five for 11 yards and a minus-3.4 aDOT while adding two carries for 16 yards. Lewis can be an exciting player when he has the ball out in space, but his +380 odds for a touchdown are significantly worse than Henry's -105, and he isn't likely to get enough volume, especially with Henry's game-high 73.5-rushing-yard prop, which is three yards higher than Fournette's. Ultimately, both starting running backs are the most consistent for their teams and figure to be pretty highly owned, with each having a very good argument for captain/MVP consideration.

KICKERS

You better believe kickers are in play Thursday night! We saw during Monday's dreadful game between the Browns and Jets that kickers can make an impact in low-scoring games, and this one has an even lower total than that one; that being said, Browns-Jets ended at 26 points, 19 below the final over/under thanks to the Jets losing starting quarterback Trevor Siemian to injury. Cairo Santos ($3,600 DK, ($9,500 FD) and Josh Lambo ($3,400 DK, $9,000 FD) could certainly be the highest-scoring players for their teams in a game expected to have few touchdowns in it, and while they are affordable on DraftKings, essentially being priced in the range with backup wide receivers, running backs and tight ends, choosing them on FanDuel means you're giving up the upside of a wide receivers who can bust a long TD at a moment's notice like Davis, Westbrook or Brown. Are they safer? Sure, but the lack of upside is tough to swallow for GPPs.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

Yes, kickers and team defenses, what fun! Jalen Ramsey's trade demand is obviously shaking things up a bit in the Jaguars' secondary, though an elite shutdown corner isn't the most pressing need when you're facing off against Mariota. While he's been responsible with the ball through two games, throwing zero picks and losing zero fumbles, the Jaguars' defense comes in after holding Deshaun Watson to 159 passing yards and forcing two fumbles last week. Meanwhile, the Titans' defense picked off Baker Mayfield three times in Week 1 and Jacoby Brissett once in Week 2 and now faces Minshew, who fumbled three times last week, though the Jags recovered two and he hasn't thrown a pick. A low-scoring game could have fantasy players considering both team defenses, a strategy that could certainly work if there are enough turnovers. Heck, don't be surprised when people put the Jaguars or Titans in the captain/MVP slot.

One popular build on DraftKings could be the two starting running backs, both kickers and both team defenses, all plays that seem to make sense in a game with a total under 40. However, it will surely test the resolve of those who focus on maximizing salary, as that strategy leaves $8,300 of the $50,000 salary cap on the table, and that's with the 1.5x salary multiple for Henry, the most expensive player. While there are no team defenses on FanDuel, you could still roster both starting running backs, both kickers and have any other non-quarterback player of your liking, but it's probably not going to be a unique lineup that can solely win a GPP.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Lairdinho.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a seven-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for the Football Writer of the Year Award.
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