Last updated: October 3rd at 4:55pm ET
Team Totals: Titans 20.5, Bills 18
With Josh Allen (concussion) questionable at best to play in Week 5’s lowest-totaled affair, the Bills will otherwise turn to Matt Barkley for game-managerial duties in Nashville. The Titans have allowed the NFL’s tenth-fewest yards per pass attempt (6.9) and fourth-fewest points per game (15.5) while limiting enemy quarterbacks to fantasy finishes of QB16 (Matt Ryan), QB12 (Jacoby Brissett), QB18 (Gardner Minshew), and QB24 (Baker Mayfield). Barkley is capable of completing a high percentage of throws but not consistently stretching the field or adding much with his legs. He’ll be a bottom-barrel two-QB-league start if Allen can’t go. … Devin Singletary appears likely to return from his two-week hamstring injury, reverting Buffalo’s backfield into a two- or three-man committee after Frank Gore dominated rushing work and T.J. Yeldon collected seven targets in Weeks 3-4. This is a fantasy situation to avoid against a Titans defense that held enemy backs to 54/123/1 (2.28 YPC) rushing in its past three games if you exclude two individual runs; a 55-yarder by Jordan Wilkins and Leonard Fournette’s 69-yard sprint.
John Brown’s vertical-oriented playing style doesn’t theoretically match Barkley’s shorter-area passing approach, but Barkley is more accurate than Allen and hit Brown for a gain of 28 yards on his first throw in last week’s game. With 50-plus yards in all four weeks and a 1,260-yard pace, I’m still rolling with Brown as a season-long WR3 play at worst against the Titans. … Cole Beasley catches a tough draw against Logan Ryan in the slot, although Beasley’s consistently high-volume role is more predictive from a fantasy standpoint. Albeit without a ton of upside, Beasley has drawn at least nine targets in 3-of-4 games and is PPR-specific playable as a WR3/4. … Zay Jones has 69 scoreless yards to show for his 17 targets. I’ll keep saying it; the Bills need to play Jones less and Robert Foster more. … The Titans yielded 4/37/1 to Browns tight ends in Week 1, 5/46/1 to Colts tight ends in Week 2, 3/26/1 to Jaguars tight ends in Week 3, and 9/130/0 to Austin Hooper in Week 4. Rookie TE Dawson Knox set season highs in playing time (67%) and routes run (40) in last week’s loss to New England and has 134 yards from scrimmage with a touchdown over the past two games. He is a legit streamer option in this plus draw.
Bills-Titans has Week 5’s lowest total, making it a game to fade in most lineup decisions. Buffalo has allowed the NFL’s fifth-fewest real-life points while holding Sam Darnold (QB25), Eli Manning (QB24), Andy Dalton (QB17), and Tom Brady (QB29) to unusable results. Marcus Mariota’s three-score first half in last week’s upset of Atlanta warrants descriptive recognition but is very unlikely to offer predictive value against the Bills, who’ve allowed just 39 touchdown passes in 36 games under coach Sean McDermott. … Derrick Henry has nine straight games of 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown facing a Bills defense that held its last three opponents to a modest 55/241/2 (4.38 YPC) rushing line. So far a matchup-proof RB1, Henry’s Weeks 1-4 touch counts were 20 > 17 > 18 > 28 as Tennessee’s offensive focal point. Dion Lewis has yet to top eight touches in a game. With Buffalo’s offense likely to struggle in this road affair versus a stingy Tennessee defense, expect Titans OC Arthur Smith to try to control this game by relentlessly putting the ball in Henry’s belly. The Titans also get back Taylor Lewan from suspension; fill-in LT Dennis Kelly is PFF’s No. 66 run blocker out of 72 qualified offensive tackles.
Mariota’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Delanie Walker 23; Corey Davis 18: A.J. Brown 17; Adam Humphries 15; Lewis 11; Henry 9; Tajae Sharpe 7; Jonnu Smith 5. … Walker has a brutal matchup; athletic at linebacker and safety, teams targeting tight ends against Buffalo have managed 84 scoreless yards on 14 targets (6.0 YPA). Walker does have some room for optimism as a TE1 streamer, popping as Week 5’s No. 2 buy-low tight end in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Davis and Brown’s big Week 4s were likely non-predictive; Brown’s playmaking ability is real and he deserves credit for getting the best of Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant, but Brown ran a season-low 16 pass routes on a season-low 42% of the snaps. Davis is averaging a sheepish 4.5 targets and has cleared 50 yards once in his last nine games. Fellow perimeter WRs Josh Gordon (3/46/0), Robby Anderson (3/23/0), John Ross (2/22/0), and Phillip Dorsett (2/10/0) have all produced below expectations against Buffalo’s lockdown secondary.
Score Prediction: Titans 20, Bills 17