2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 16: Titans 20, 49ers 17 (By Ross Jacobs)
This one really irritated me. I had the 49'ers giving up points in our internal handicapping contest, and they were clearly the better team here...except the clock on Jimmy Garoppolo's good fortune ran out and he turned back into the pumpkin he is.
Anyone that read my various arguments concerning Jimmy and Trey Lance back in the summer will know my opinion of him. I think he's a game manager and not a particularly good one. I think his arm is shot, he's never been a very accurate passer, he makes some inexplicably awful decisions, and he's got no mettle whatsoever. If the going gets tough, Jimmy folds like a wet napkin.
First drive of the game the 49'ers go right down the field for a TD, and I'm feeling pretty good about my bet. The Titans are missing a couple of offensive linemen and get beaten up on their first drive. SF drives down the field again and are looking for a 14-0 lead.
And that's when the Jimmy BS began. He throws an INT in the endzone literally right to a defender hanging all over his target.
Next drive and SF is rolling again...until Jimmy misses an absolutely wide open Kyle Juszczyk. It should have been a walk in TD. Sam Darnold could have hit that pass. Not Jimmy G. So instead of a 21-0 lead, it's now only 10-0 thanks to Garoppolo.
At this point the Titans still can't do anything on offense, and I'm assuming that it's just a matter of time until the SF mistakes stop and they blow Tennessee out. Nope. Next drive for SF and Jimmy throws the ball right to a defender...who drops it luckily. Now I'm starting to get worried. Things are not improving.
The Titans kick a FG and it's 10-3 at the half.
SF gets the ball after halftime, and what do you think happened next? Jimmy throws another godawful INT right to a defender. Foreman takes the TD in and we have a tie game.
Penalties stall the next promising SF drive and the ball is turned over on downs. Until this point the Titans have done literally nothing on offense. And then they magically discover that AJ Brown is uncoverable. Tannehill throws up a prayer, Brown blatantly pushes Ambry Thomas away from him for a no-call, and Tennessee caps off the drive after Brown beats Josh Norman for a TD, 17-10 Titans.
SF would finally muster a scoring drive of their own to tie the game with 2:20 left, but it was too much time, and the Titans calmly marched down the field while Brown drubbed Norman over and over. The Titans kicked the go-ahead FG with 4 seconds left. Ball game.
The Titans get the big win that will very likely lead to them clinching the AFC South over the Colts. They still have to get by Miami this week, no easy task, but even if they lose and the Colts win out, Tennessee should still win the division on tiebreaks since they beat the Colts twice. They are most likely headed to the playoffs with a 2 or 3 seed, and if Derrick Henry comes back like we're hearing reports say, this team is extremely dangerous.
The 49'ers lost, but because the Vikings lost as well, their path remains open to make the playoffs. My guess is they beat Houston this week but lose to the Rams in week 18. That gets them to 9-7 which should be good enough for a 6 or 7 seed. Can they do anything in the playoffs? Maybe. I don't see this team making it all the way to the Superbowl, but perhaps they can upset a team or two. I doubt it though.
SF's defense is usable against the Texans this week. Davis Mills has been playing good ball, but they aren't going to be running Burkhead for 140 yards against this defensive line. Solid streaming option.
You could also try using Tennessee's defense against Miami, but I wouldn't. They will shut down the run game, but their pass defense is not good and Tua is very likely to carve them up with that quick passing game.
--So after the whole world witnessed the Garoppolo disaster, it should be time for Trey Lance, right? Well, not if Shanahan had his way. Garoppolo has officially been listed as doubtful after sustaining a thumb injury, and it sounds like Lance will get the nod, but I can assure you Shanahan isn't happy about it.
I drew a line in the sand with RC this summer by casting my lot in with Lance as the #1 QB from the 2021 draft class, and this is a great spot for him to show what he can do. He's had almost an entire year to prepare and grow, he faces a weak defense...what's not to love? For fantasy purposes you have to consider Lance a QB1. He's going to be running a fair amount, lots of option stuff, some nice safe throws to get him in a rhythm. I'd expect somewhere in the 20-24 point range in 4-pt passing TD leagues.
As far as his real life prospects go, I want to see growth from him. I want to see him reading the defense, at least better than he was in the preseason. I want to see him delivering accurate passes, less sailing throws, cutting down on throwing into coverage...your typical development QB milestones. If I don't see some of those things I'm going to be quite nervous heading into next year with him...
--One thing that would help Lance is getting Elijah Mitchell back on the field, but that's not a sure thing yet. Mitchell supposedly got in a limited practice Thursday but has still been dealing with the ankle that's kept him out the past few weeks. He's questionable for Sunday.
If he can play, I'd expect the 49'ers to be somewhat cautious with him. They should be able to get a lead on Houston, and if they do it would be smart to throttle back Mitchell's carries to keep him healthy for the playoffs. We'll continue to monitor this situation, but my best guess is that Mitchell will play and take a solid workload but probably rotate to a larger degree than usual. I'd consider him a borderline RB1 if he plays. RC might have a different read on this situation though.
*RC NOTE: I think you have two things to worry about with EMitch, if he’s back for Week 17…
1) He’s been out a couple weeks, and just getting back to limited practices. How healthy will he be come Sunday? And if they wipe out Houston quickly…is Mitchell staying in all game and taking 15-20+ carries just coming off missing 2+ weeks?
2) How much run game action will Trey Lance take from Mitchell (or Wilson) in the run game if everyone is ‘fine’?
If Mitchell is active and starting, he’s something – but questions abound, but they also face Houston’s awful run defense…so there may be enough to go around for everybody. How much we trust Mitchell is a decision going down to the wire with more info by Sunday kickoff.
--George Kittle had a stinker here after blowing up the past few weeks. I didn't see any particular reason for it other than Jimmy just not looking at him. He's still a top 3 TE this week.
--As I covered above, AJ Brown obviously had a monster day here, and the majority of it came against Josh Norman. Don't expect a similar performance this week against Xavien Howard and the Dolphins. You basically have to start Brown if you have him, but to me he's more of a WR1.5-2 this week than the top 5 guy most analysts are billing him as.
--This was looking like a good day for D'Onta Foreman early on, but he ultimately had to save his fantasy day with a short TD plunge. He actually had a potential 2nd TD called back for a hold right before halftime or it might have been even better. After that he got nicked up for a bit which allowed Jeremy McNichols to come in and spark the offense on a couple good runs.
Foreman is still the “lead” here, but it's become a pretty heavy rotation at this point and I see no reason why that won't continue against the Dolphins. If you play Foreman this week you're praying for a TD.
--It was nice to see Jordan Willis (2 tackles, 1 sack), an old favorite of RC's, getting a sack here. Unfortunately, it's not some new trend and I don't think he's really resurrecting his career the way RC hoped. It was just a case of Tennessee missing offensive linemen and SF taking advantage. Same deal for Samson Ebukam (4 tackles, 1.5 sacks).
Willis is still just a rotational pass rusher playing 20-25% of the snaps. Ebukam is much more involved and has grown his role from 35% early in the season to around 65% now. Still, this was more about Tennessee's line than anything. Of course, this week against Houston is another juicy matchup for all the SF rushers.
--Since Tennessee's acquisition of Zach Cunningham (4 tackles) a few weeks ago, he has played 76 snaps the past two weeks compared to Jayon Brown's 32. We can safely consider Cunningham the starter moving forward.
The stupid part is that despite outsnapping Brown 43-16 this game, Brown actually had 5 tackles to Cunningham's 4. That tells you all you need to know about their talent levels and who the better player is currently, but does that matter to head coaches? Not one bit. Vrabel has a previous relationship with Cunningham and that's all that matters. Just another reason why I refuse to cast my vote with him for Coach of the Year.