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Daily Fantasy Week 9: Sunday night picks for Titans-Rams clash

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By Matt Savoca, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo is expanding its daily fantasy football options in 2021 with a single-game offering. Yahoo has a roster construction of one "Superstar" that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the "Superstar" salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

This week, the Sunday Night game is arguably the most exciting of the entire weekend, as the 6-2 Titans travel to SoFi Stadium to take on the 7-1 Rams. As the current fifth seed in the NFC, the Rams have a real opportunity to take over the top spot, with both the Packers and Cardinals starting backup quarterbacks in Week 9 against quality opponents. The Titans are the top seed in the AFC but are undoubtedly reeling from the loss of star running back Derrick Henry, who is out indefinitely with a broken foot. As such, this Sunday night will mark the first night of the Adrian Peterson comeback tour, but because of his late addition to the Titans’ roster, he won’t be available to roster in lineups. However, his usage will certainly affect the players we do ultimately choose to use.

Depending on the type of contest we’re creating rosters for, we’ll need to adjust our player selection strategy. If playing in a tournament with a huge amount of contestants, it will be vitally important to play something other than the optimal lineup based on projections. Differentiating yourself from the rest of the field is equally valuable. Once we understand the type of roster we need to be building for the specific contest you’re trying to take down, we can then focus on player selection, working to identify combinations of players that could all hit their respective ceilings together, based on specific game environments. Slow, run-oriented defensive battles often allow very different players to hit their ceiling score compared to when a game is fast-paced and pass-happy.

Vegas Total and Spread

The spread for this game has the Rams favored by 7.5 points. The Rams currently have 30 implied points, while the Titans’ implied total sits at just 22.5, a number they’ve hit in every game since Week 1’s 38-13 debacle against the Cardinals.

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Weather

SoFi’s dome luckily protects us from any weather concerns.

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

Even without Derrick Henry playing for the Titans, it’s extremely hard to imagine this game being low-scoring, and while a blowout by the Rams at home is possible, the most likely game flow involves a back-and-forth offensive battle, where the team that can hold the opposing offense to more field goals (rather than touchdowns) ultimately emerges victorious. The Rams, arguably the top defense in the NFL a season ago, rank well below-average in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, and have been more susceptible via the air than through opposing rushing attacks, which aligns with the quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s ($25) top available playmakers, A.J. Brown ($25) and Julio Jones ($16).

While the Titans are saying publicly that they plan on maintaining a “rushing identity” with Adrian Peterson and Jeremy McNichols, it’s highly unlikely the Rams’ offense allows Tennessee to play conservative and rush-heavy for long. Once the Rams start scoring, Tennessee will pick up the passing and pace to keep up with the high-flying Los Angeles offense. Expect Tannehill to lean heavily on Brown and Jones throughout, but particularly if the Titans get behind by two scores or more. There’s a high likelihood one of Brown or Jones earns double-digit targets. Jeremy McNichols ($15) should handle the passing-down role out of the backfield but is an extremely low-floor play with Peterson in the mix.

On the other side, the Rams will look to overwhelm the middling Tennessee defense with the most prolific offense in the league that currently ranks second in net yards per pass attempt and first in points scored per play. Matthew Stafford ($34) has pushed Sean McVay’s offense to new heights, and it’s put star receiver Cooper Kupp ($41) on pace to have one of the most prolific seasons in NFL history. Kupp’s reached “fade him at your own risk” level and has 30-point upside every time he steps on the field. Outside of Kupp, the Rams have an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, from the sure-hands of Robert Woods ($25) to the 4.39 speed of Van Jefferson ($16), whose usage continues to increase as the season progresses. In positive game scripts, Tyler Higbee ($14) and even backup running back Sony Michel ($12) could get enough usage to be viable this Sunday, as well.

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) catches a touchdown pass during a game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp has been a fantasy scoring machine this season, averaging 22.9 points per game. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Close, low-scoring game

  • Darrell Henderson

  • Ryan Tannehill

  • Cooper Kupp

  • Jeremy McNichols

  • Rams Defense

  • Titans Defense

  • Robert Woods

Close, high-scoring game

  • Cooper Kupp

  • A.J. Brown

  • Matthew Stafford

  • Robert Woods

  • Julio Jones

  • Darrell Henderson

  • Ryan Tannehill

  • Van Jefferson

Blowout for home team

  • Cooper Kupp

  • Darrell Henderson

  • Matthew Stafford

  • Robert Woods

  • Rams Defense

  • Van Jefferson

  • Tyler Higbee

  • Julio Jones

Blowout for away team

  • A.J. Brown

  • Julio Jones

  • Ryan Tannehill

  • Cooper Kupp

  • Titans Defense

  • Jeremy McNichols

  • Darrell Henderson

  • Nick Westbrook

  • Chester Rodgers

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Cheap/Unique Stack Options

Van Jefferson ($16) and Rams ($17)

Without Henry in the fold, the Titans certainly still have the capability of scoring enough to keep up with Los Angeles, but that’s far from a guarantee. If they get behind by enough, they could turn into an inefficient, turnover-prone squad in a hurry, which in turn could help give the Rams the ceiling score they need to be an optimal tournament play. Van Jefferson has run 25 or more routes and seen four or more targets in six straight games. He’s seen 189 air yards and 13 targets over the last two weeks, meaning he’s getting more than enough opportunity to be a value at his modest $16 salary.

Low Salary Volatile Plays

Tyler Higbee ($14)

Higbee has spent much of the season playing fourth-fiddle on an offense getting massive production out of their top-three players (Kupp, Henderson, and Woods), but is still involved on 75% of his team’s routes, the ninth-highest rate among all tight ends. Higbee’s 12 red-zone targets are the most at his position, and yet he only has two touchdowns, making him a prime positive-regression candidate in the touchdown department. Higbee has seen five or more targets in four of the Rams’ last six games.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($11)

Westbrook-Ikhine looked like he might be an exciting weapon within the Titans' offense earlier in the season when injuries forced him into the starter-level snaps during Weeks 3 and 4, where he saw a total of 12 targets, including 5 in the red zone. Since then, Westbrook-Ikhine has ceded snaps to the rest of the Titans’ receivers, playing on less than 50% of the team’s snaps in both Weeks 7 and 8. Still, he has three or more targets in four of his last five games and turned two catches into 8.6 fantasy points a week ago.

Marcus Johnson ($10)

The Titans gave Johnson a 66% snap share in Week 8, the most playing time he had seen since his season debut in Week 5. In four active games, Johnson has earned five targets twice already and has a solid 19% targets per route-run. If you’re looking to differentiate yourself in large-field tournaments, you could certainly do worse than Johnson who should be one of the least utilized options in either passing attack.

Superstar Picks

Cooper Kupp ($41)

There’s nearly nothing negative you can say about Kupp’s 2021 season. He has three top-10 wide receiver performances in the last three weeks, including weeks as the overall WR1 and WR2. He’s first in targets, seventh in air yards, first in red-zone targets, and first in touchdowns. He’s averaging a career-high 3.67 yards per route run, and despite running the 15th-most routes in the NFL, has the second-highest fantasy points per route run in the NFL. Kupp’s salary is on another level, but so is his play. Jam him into lineups however you can.

Darrell Henderson ($24)

Henderson is a near-lock to see the most opportunities of any player on the slate, and has averaged over 19.2 looks per game over his last four starts. His three games with two targets or less are a bit of concern, but he’s made up for that receiving volume with 8.8 yards per reception, top-15 in the NFL, and a healthy 5.1 yards per touch, which he’s maintained despite the eighth-largest opportunity share of any player in the league. The Titans have been susceptible on the ground, ranking bottom-10 in yards allowed per carry.

Julio Jones ($16)

The Titans’ major offseason acquisition is needed more than ever with the loss of Derrick Henry, but so far this season, Jones has disappointed, earning more than four targets twice, and not since Week 2. Jones has been held under 60 yards receiving in four of his first five games as a Titan, and currently ranks 55th among wide receivers in fantasy points per game. And yet, with A.J. Brown likely to see plenty of Jalen Ramsey in coverage, Jones could find himself with much more advantageous matchups. Double-digit targets might not be in the range of outcomes for Jones, but with an expected full-snap share, he's capable of turning even six to eight targets into a slate-breaking score.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position in middle school, Matt has been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, he loves to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone.

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