Immediate fantasy football takeaways from NFL Week 16 Thursday Night Football

Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) reacts after a first down during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans defeated the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in the last Thursday Night Football game of the season.

San Francisco’s offense dominated early, recording a touchdown, a red zone interception and a field goal. The 49ers offense couldn’t find its groove again until late in the fourth quarter, but then they scored too early, as Ryan Tannehill had enough time to lead Tennessee down the field for the game-winning field goal.

The news coming into the game was the return of the Titans' two All-Pro caliber receivers, and Tennessee's passing game made the difference, as A.J. Brown had a dominant performance.

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Table Notes
  • Snaps include plays called back due to penalties like offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
  • Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
  • Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.

San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans

  • A.J. Brown: 11 receptions, 145 yards, 1 TD (53.3% threat rate)
  • Deebo Samuel: 9 receptions, 159 yards (5.6 YPRR), 5 carries, 32 rushing yards
Tennessee Titans Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
A.J. Brown 46 30 16 0
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine 39 17 3 0
Chester Rogers 31 20 1 0
Julio Jones 31 24 1 0
Racey McMath 10 6 1 0
Geoff Swaim 39 11 3 0
MyCole Pruitt 27 8 0 0
Anthony Firkser 16 11 1 0
Jeremy McNichols 26 11 1 7
D'Onta Foreman 21 9 0 9
Dontrell Hilliard 13 7 2 5
Total 62 35 30 23
San Francisco 49ers Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
Brandon Aiyuk 56 35 5 0
Deebo Samuel 46 28 11 5
Jauan Jennings 28 18 5 0
Trent Sherfield 12 7 0 0
Travis Benjamin 4 2 0 0
George Kittle 60 33 3 0
Charlie Woerner 5 3 0 0
Ross Dwelley 1 1 0 0
Jeff Wilson Jr. 44 22 3 14
JaMycal Hasty 12 8 3 1
Total 60 37 35 21

A.J. Brown and Julio Jones‘ return: Brown returned after missing a month of football while Jones suffered an injury last Sunday but was surprisingly good to go. They were eased in on the first drive, but after that point, they both return to their usual roles. Tennessee's offense relied on Brown to succeed, and it was enough for the Titans to win. Brown can safely remain in fantasy lineups next week. 

Jones played plenty of snaps but still didn't score a touchdown. He hasn’t finished with more than 50 yards in a game in over two months. His playing time declined as the game reached the fourth quarter. He cannot be relied upon next week.

The 49ers' changing running back strategy: Elijah Mitchell missed this game due to the knee injury he suffered in Week 13. Trey Sermon was designated to return from injured reserve, but he wasn’t activated before this game. This left the 49ers with the same backs as last week.

Jeff Wilson Jr. was the primary back on first and second downs, which has been consistent since Mitchell’s injury. Wilson had an extended role last week as the third-down back as well. This week, the 49ers used both JaMycal Hasty and Kyle Juszczyk on third downs. Neither is a stranger to that role, but it’s rarely been split. This makes it less likely Wilson will keep a role in the 49ers offense once Mitchell is back. If Mitchell misses another week, Wilson can still be in fantasy starting lineups for Week 17.

The Titans RB trio: The Titans continued to use a heavy rotation of their three running backs. D’Onta Foreman was ineffective, gaining less than two yards per carry, which led to Jeremy McNichols receiving more opportunities in the running game. McNichols led the team in carries and put Tennessee's offense within striking distance, but Foreman vultured the touchdown to save fantasy managers.

The Titans have a difficult matchup against the Miami Dolphins run defense next week. It would probably be best to avoid all three backs, but Foreman remains the best bet for having fantasy value.


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