NFL Grind Down: Week 9 - Monday Night Football

Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the statistics, insights and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.

Every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts. Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow.

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Tennessee Titans Dallas Cowboys

Tennessee Titans

Notable injuries and suspensions: Davis (Questionable)

Quarterback: I thought Marcus Mariota was going to be an awesome pro, but…he is not. Through 6 games the former Heisman winner has completed 66% of his throws for 1,030 yards with just 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He does have a little bit of upside with his legs, but he’s really only had one good game so far this season. Mariota has thrown more than 1 touchdown pass in just 1 game so far, while he’s finished another 4 games without one at all. He has also played 4 games in which he has failed to even crack 130 yards passing. The numbers have been terrible, but on a showdown slate you sometimes have to do some things you otherwise wouldn’t on a full slate. Quarterbacks tend to be the safest source of fantasy points. While Mariota hasn’t done a whole lot, I still think you can play him tonight. He’ll be somewhat contrarian as a captain, as well.

Running Backs: Derrick Henry has racked up 83 carries to 72 for Dion Lewis on the season, but Lewis has actually out-gained Henry 277 to 273. Lewis has been seeing more of the field over the last few weeks, and back in Week 7 he was far more effective. Lewis gained 91 yards on his 13 carries while Henry picked up just 33 yards on his 12 totes. Lewis also has the added benefit of being heavily involved in the passing game, which gives him a much higher floor. Do I trust Mariota to get it there? Absolutely not, but Lewis is pretty easily the best play on the Titans side of this game. He’s a solid option, especially given his rather cheap price tag. He’s my favorite captain option from the Tennessee side of this game, followed closely by Corey Davis and Mariota.

Pass Catchers: The passing game has been a nightmare for the Titans this season. Corey Davis is questionable to play thanks to a hamstring injury. He’s the top option here assuming he plays. Tajae Sharpe had a big day in London in Week 7, but that was the first game in which he saw more than 4 targets. Taywan Taylor has some big-play potential, and he’s the kind of guy that can win you a tournament if you slide him into your captain slot and he pops off for a big night. I’d rank the Tennessee pass catchers here Davis, Taylor and then Sharpe.

The Takeaway: Don’t forget the kickers or defenses on showdown slates. Neither of these offenses is anything special, and this one could turn into an ugly kicker’s duel. I definitely think it’s viable to play both Ryan Succop and the Titans defense in this one. Dion Lewis looks like the guy with the biggest upside from the Titans side here, especially given his upside in the passing game. Davis is right there with him, especially considering DraftKings gives you points for receptions. He has the target share, it’s just a matter of Mariota getting it there. It’s hard to say anyone is going to be “sneaky” on a one-game slate, but I like Taylor quite a bit, especially if Sharpe will draw more ownership.

Dallas Cowboys

Notable injuries and suspensions: Austin (Questionable), Swaim (Questionable)

Quarterback: Dak Prescott has been up and down this season, but this isn’t a bad spot for him. The Titans have been pretty mediocre against both the run and the pass, and we know part of Dak’s appeal comes with his mobility. Prescott has already rushed for 236 yards with 2 touchdowns on the year. His passing numbers are a bit shakier, as he’s only thrown 8 touchdown passes through 7 games. I like the matchup for him and he has pretty decent upside at his price point. I also don’t think it’s crazy to cram both QBs into your showdown lineups given the relatively low Vegas total here.

Running Backs: Ezekiel Elliott had a quiet afternoon a couple of weeks ago in DC, but a guy with his kind of volume is always going to be an appealing fantasy option. He has topped 20 carries and 100 yards 3 times in his last 5 games, and he’s caught 25 passes out of the backfield on the season. He has only scored 4 total touchdowns on the year, but I like his chances of finding the end zone against this middling Tennessee defense. Zeke is obviously the guy you want to prioritize in this one. He’s certainly going to see huge ownership as the top overall play in this game. Zeke, Prescott and Amari Cooper will presumably be the 3 guys most people make their captain on the showdown slate. Elliott is the safest of the 3, but making someone else your captain is a potential way to differentiate your lineups.

Pass Catchers: One big question if you’re playing the MNF showdown is whether you want to play or fade the new guy, Amari Cooper. Cooper is playing his first game with the Cowboys since coming over from the Raiders about a week-and-a-half ago. Will he be heavily involved in the passing game considering the Cowboys have a dearth of other weapons? One would imagine he can’t be all that familiar with the playbook as of yet. He’s going to be popular, so I think there is merit to pulling the Cooper fade in tournaments. He’s the best receiver taking the field for Dallas in this game, but that’s not really saying a whole lot. Cole Beasley will still see his fair share of targets, while Michael Gallup looks like the third-best option here. Nobody will play Allen Hurns, and with the way Prescott tends to spread the wealth I don’t hate him in tournaments.

The Takeaway: Again, kickers and defenses. I like Brett Maher a little bit better than Succop, but you can honestly play both of these guys in lineups together. Mariota has also been pretty terrible, which gives the Dallas defense a bit of upside. Elliott is someone I almost feel is a must-play, though putting someone else in your captain spot can give you a unique build to stray from the chalk. Remember you also don’t have to spend all of your salary, so leaving $1,000-plus on the table isn’t the worst idea. Prescott is a better play than Mariota, but he’ll also be more popular. I’ll also gladly take a wait and see approach with Cooper, especially if he’s going to be highly owned. Cole Beasley is an interesting option given the PPR format on DK.

About the Author

  • Taylor Smith (tcsmith031)

  • Taylor Smith is a native Texan (required by all fellow Texans to report this at all times) and Southern California-based sports writer. He has been playing daily fantasy sports regularly since 2012, going back to the days of DraftStreet (RIP). He specializes in MLB and NBA while dabbling in a few other sports like a true degen when the other two are out of season. He has written about DFS in the past at Bang The Book, and you can find some of his previous work on SB Nation and FanRag Sports.


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