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Week 9 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchup Analysis

As bad as the Tennessee Titans (3-4) have been, they're currently second in the AFC South - sitting just one loss behind the division-leading Houston Texans. As bad as the Dallas Cowboys (3-4) have been, they're currently third in the NFC East - sitting just two losses behind the division-leading Washington Redskins... As bad as these two teams have been, we might actually have a good game on our hands as a direct result of wretchedness.

The Cowboys come into this game 3-0 at home while the Titans are a less than impressive 1-3 away from Nashville. Both of these teams rank in the Top-10 in run rate (percent of RB-designed runs - 44.8% in Tennessee and 41.6% for Dallas), the Cowboys have allowed the second-fewest points per game (17.6) while the Titans have held opponents to the third-fewest (18.1), and both of these offenses have been laughable. This one should have an old school feel -- defense and rushing -- so if you're looking for a fantasy explosion, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.

There are a few players worthy of consideration, however. Likewise, for the players to avoid. With that in mind, let's take a few minutes to break down some of the meaningful fantasy football matchups from this Week 9 Monday Night Football showdown between the Titans and Cowboys. Because... Well... Sometimes you have no choice but to play the hand you're dealt.

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Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys

Date and Start Time: Monday, November 5th at 8:15 p.m. EST
Game Spread: DAL -5
Over/Under: 40
Notable Injuries and Status:

Offensive and Defensive Rankings (per game):

Titans Cowboys
Passing Yards 30th 29th
Rushing Yards 19th 4th
Pass Defense 9th 3rd
Run Defense 19th 9th


Must Starts

Top Players That You Should Have In Your Lineup

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

Alex Collins found the end zone twice on the ground against the Titans in Week 6 - the only two touchdowns Tennessee has surrendered to the running back position all season (tied for the fewest). LeSean McCoy ran for 85 yards on the Titans in Week 5 - the most rushing yards they've allowed all season (McCoy is also the only individual back to put up 100 scrimmage yards on this Titans defense). In other words, this is not the most ideal matchup here for Elliott. However, only Todd Gurley has received more carries per game than Elliott's 18.9 and Marlon Mack joins Gurley as one of the two backs to have put up more rushing yards per game than Zeke this season. The Titans have allowed opposing backs to pick up 4.1 yards per carry -- which is middle of the pack -- and unless you play in a four-team league, you're starting Zeke based on talent alone.

Cowboys DST

This Titans offense has averaged 15.1 points per game (third-fewest), 280.9 yards per game (third-fewest), and they're in the Top-10 in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs. The Cowboys are at home in a game with the second-lowest opening point total of the week (42 - currently at 40), and while they don't accrue many takeaways, the inept Titans offense should be enough to produce a respectable fantasy performance from this Cowboys unit.


Must Sits

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup

Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)

San Francisco 49ers third-string, undrafted rookie quarterback Nick Mullens tossed as many touchdown passes Thursday night (three) as Mariota has compiled on the season, Mariota's 171.7 passing yards per game are good for the second-fewest among QBs with at least 100 attempts (only Josh Allen has put up fewer), and among those 34 QBs to have attempted 100 passes, Mariota's 11.3 fantasy points per game rank 32nd. He's been dreadful. The lone positive comes to us in the form of Mariota's 30.8 rushing yards per game (six-most at the position) - Dallas has allowed 20.6 yards per game on the ground to opposing QBs (seventh-most). However, the Cowboys have shut down opposing aerial attacks allowing just 217.4 passing yards per game (third-fewest) to go with just eight passing TDs on the season (tied for the fewest)... The rushing productivity isn't nearly enough to justify a start outside of the deepest of, most desperate of situations.

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

Henry found the end zone for the first time this season in Week 7, but he's yet to put up more than 65 scrimmage yards in a game and the 46 scrimmage yards a game he's averaged land him 49th at the running back position. Oh, and at 3.25 yards per carry, he sits 82nd. Dallas has limited opposing RBs to just 3.5 yards per carry (second-fewest) and the three rushing TDs they've surrendered are tied for the seventh-fewest. Henry hasn't been good, the Cowboys run D has been good... No thanks.

Corey Davis (WR, TEN)

Davis is probably the most physically gifted receiver on this Titans team, but he's put up 62 receiving yards (or less) in six of seven games. His 28.7-percent target share is good for sixth at the receiver position, but his 0.81 fantasy points per target are tied for 118th and his 53.6-percent catch rate ranks 91st among WRs with at least 10 grabs. He's been relegated to a WR3/flex option when combining his inconsistencies with the play of QB Marcus Mariota, and when you add in the Cowboys being one of the toughest matchups to be had for receivers this season, it's probably best to steer clear of Davis this week if possible.

Cowboys Wide Receivers Not Named Beasley or Cooper

I imagine this Cowboys passing game will look a bit better than it has thus far, but there's still plenty to be desired. Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Deonte Thompson all saw their fantasy values decrease when the 'Boys added Amari Cooper, and frankly, their value was virtually nonexistent prior to the deal. It'll be interesting to see how this situation plays out in Dallas, but this week? It's probably wise to look elsewhere.

Geoff Swaim (TE, DAL)

Swaim has put together a couple of nice games, but he's been far too inconsistent. He's also listed as doubtful and the Titans are one of just two teams to have not allowed a touchdown to the tight end position... There are far safer streaming options this week.


Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Sleeper - Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

After five-straight sub-200 yard passing performances (going back to last season) Prescott has gone over 200 in three of his last four (averaging 229.8 over that stretch) with six passing touchdowns (just two interceptions), two rushing TDs, and two Top-10 fantasy QB weeks (he's put up 20 fantasy points per game over that four-game stretch). At 15.6, Tennessee has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, but they've also managed to allow two passing TDs in four of their seven contests. Prescott re-enters the streaming conversation this week with six teams on bye.

Solid Option - Dion Lewis (RB, TEN)

Lewis finds himself in the RB2/flex conversation this week, but truth be told, it's extremely difficult to trust him at this point. I guess he's more like a "Mushy PPR Option". Lewis is coming off his best game in a Titans uniform and he's also seen 4.7 targets in the passing game - the Cowboys have been generous to opposing RBs through the air (6.6 receptions and 49.1 receiving yards per game). Lewis seems likely to finish the night around 75 scrimmage yards (he's averaged 68 on the season), and again, with six teams on bye, he's a guy you may have to plug in and just hope for the best.

Sleeper - Tajae Sharpe (WR, TEN)

Sharpe has seen 15 targets over the Titans last three, that number is 17 for Corey Davis. I'm not ready to proclaim Sharpe as the Titans wide receiver to own (they're all lousy options at this point), but the extra attention he's received in recent weeks is definitely worth noting. He's also been the most productive of the bunch with his 13.9 yards per reception, 9.3 yards per target, and 1.2 fantasy points per target pacing the Titans receiving corps.

Solid Option (PPR) - Cole Beasley (WR, DAL)

It seems logical that the addition of Amari Cooper will decrease Beasley's 20.9-percent target share. Cooper should also draw the type attention that no other Cowboys receiver has warranted to this point in the season which could open things up for Beasley to operate over the middle. Beasley is averaging 11.4 fantasy points per game (PPR) and a four-catch, 60-yard performance here definitely isn't out of the question.

Solid Option - Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

Speaking of Cooper, his first game in his new threads comes against a Titans secondary which has been... Meh. Cooper had the bye week to familiarize himself with the playbook, and while he won't be fully up to speed, I'd imagine Dak (and this Cowboys coaching staff) will be anxious to play with their shiny, new toy. I'm not expecting a monster debut, but I won't be the least bit surprised to see him exceed the 46.7 receiving yards he averaged over his six games in Oakland to begin the 2018 season.

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