Last updated: December 17th at 2:30pm ET
Team Totals: Titans 26, Saints 25
This is a high-key dangerous spot for the Saints coming off an emotional blowout national-TV win over the Colts wherein Drew Brees set several records, now heading on the road on a short week to face must-win Tennessee. LG Andrus Peat (broken arm) was already on the shelf, and RG Larry Warford (knee) got carted off against Indy. Brees has benefited from playing seven of his eight full games in domes in New Orleans or Atlanta; his only start-to-finish outdoor game came at Tampa Bay in Week 11. All told, Brees has a sparkling 17:3 TD-to-INT ratio with 8.3 yards per attempt in home games versus 4:1 at 6.4 YPA in away affairs. I’m taking the risk of almost fully fading Brees in Week 16. … Although Alvin Kamara’s inevitable positive-TD regression is quite real – he’s still scoreless since Week 3 – Kamara’s loss of explosiveness also needs to be embraced averaging nearly a yard and a half less per touch (5.17) than in his first two seasons (6.61). The good news is Tennessee allows the NFL’s third-most running back catches per game (6.2), and Brees won’t stop throwing to Kamara, who is on pace for 97 receptions. Despite his inefficiency, Kamara remains on the PPR RB1 fringe. … Latavius Murray’s touch counts since Kamara returned from injury in Week 10 are 7 > 12 > 7 > 4 > 9 > 11, leaving Murray bereft of flex appeal.
Brees’ 2019 target distribution: Michael Thomas 95; Kamara 56; Jared Cook 36; Ted Ginn 30; Murray 26; Tre’Quan Smith and Josh Hill 15; Taysom Hill 13. … As Christian McCaffrey is to running backs, as is Thomas to wideouts on a ridiculous run of 100-plus yards in seven of his last eight games. The Titans’ secondary should be no match for Thomas missing both starting corners while allowing the NFL’s 11th-most yards per game to wide receiver groups (171.4). Thomas has accounted for 73% of the Saints’ wide receiver yards this year. … With 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in eight straight games, Cook earned every-week TE1 treatment a while back. Tennessee is yielding the NFL’s sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends. … In a centralized passing attack that proactively funnels very few targets to players beyond Thomas, Kamara, and Cook, Ginn and Smith have failed to carve out any meaningful box-score value.
This is no time to turn away from Ryan Tannehill, who enters Week 16 with top-12 fantasy scores in 7-of-8 starts, including four top-six weeks. Four of the last five quarterbacks to face New Orleans banked top-12 results of their own, while the Saints’ year-ending losses of DE Marcus Davenport (foot) and DT Sheldon Rankins (Achilles’) are just waiting to be felt by an offense superior to Week 15 opponent Indianapolis. The Titans are averaging 30.1 points per game since Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota; for perspective, the 49ers rank second in the NFL behind Baltimore in points per game at 29.9. … After appearing labored due to a hamstring tweak in Week 14 against the Raiders, Derrick Henry showed no signs of lingering effects in Week 15’s 21-carry effort versus Houston. Henry’s box score disappointed because he didn’t catch a pass and didn’t reach pay dirt, reinforcing Henry’s touchdown reliance even when he’s running hot. None of the Saints’ run-defense metrics are favorable to Henry, but they only account for one game missed by Davenport and Rankins, and I think this is a script-friendly spot for the Titans for reasons outlined above. Henry’s weekly workloads remain among the most bankable for running backs with between 19 and 29 touches in five straight games. He’s a no-fear RB1 play here.
Tannehill’s 2019 target distribution: A.J. Brown 53; Corey Davis 37; Jonnu Smith 33; Adam Humphries 24; Anthony Firkser 21; Tajae Sharpe 17; Dion Lewis 14; Henry 13; Kalif Raymond 10. … Easily 2019’s most impressive rookie receiver, Brown takes on the Saints with 100-plus yards in three of his last four games and an upward-trending target share after spending most of the season fighting for scraps with his teammates. Brown drew targets on a whopping 32% of Tannehill’s attempts in Weeks 14-15 after commanding just 19% of the Titans’ targets in Tannehill’s first six starts. Brown’s biggest Week 16 obstacle is Marshon Lattimore’s potential shadow, theoretically lowering Brown’s floor but not his ceiling as an emerging WR1. … Davis’ Weeks 14-15 target share was 16%. He’s settled in as a low-upside WR4 who’s failed to show much of any popup capability even when his teammates encounter tough draws. … Smith’s Week 15 highlight play was a traditional running back carry he took for 57 yards, but he also ran 26 pass routes – Smith’s most since Week 9 – and parlayed five targets into 60 yards against the Texans. Smith’s usage and production have been all over the place in what amounts to a timeshare with Firkser, but his Week 16 matchup is attractive. Over their last six games, the Saints have given up useful fantasy results to fellow TEs Cameron Brate (10/73/0), George Kittle (6/67/1), Greg Olsen (5/44/0), Jaeden Graham (4/41/1), and Austin Hooper (4/17/1). Smith is a boom-bust streamer option.
Score Prediction: Titans 24, Saints 23