NFL Week 9 Recap: Immediate fantasy football takeaways from Titans-Steelers Thursday Night Football

2T5312H Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Keeanu Benton, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

• Both teams rely on their running backs: Derrick Henry and Najee Harris scored first-half touchdowns. They also caught more passes than usual and ran the ball 15-plus times each.

George Pickens has another quiet game: Pickens caught one pass for 22 yards last week and was limited to two catches for -1 yard this week.

Will Levis continued to trust DeAndre Hopkins: Hopkins is averaging 94 yards per game with Levis under center but only 63 yards per game with Ryan Tannehill.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

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WR:CB Matchup Chart

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers

The Titans' wide receivers were all relatively healthy to start the game: This was the second game all season where all five wide receivers were on the active roster.

  • Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips had missed significant time early in the season. Philips returned a few weeks ago, while Burks returned last week after the Week 7 bye.
  • DeAndre Hopkins has been on the injury report with a toe injury over the last two weeks, but that didn't stop him from leading his team in receiving yards in both games.
  • With all five players healthy, the Titans utilized a significant rotation at wide receiver. Hopkins and Burks rarely played three consecutive snaps outside of the two-minute drill, with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chris Moore often taking their place for a play or two.
  • Westbrook-Ikhine has been the primary wide receiver in 11 personnel in normal situations, with Kyle Philips taking the slot role in clear passing situations.
  • While all five wide receivers are getting rotated more than they are used to, Hopkins is having his best stretch of the season with Will Levis at quarterback. 
  • Last week, Hopkins saw a relatively low target rate but his highest average depth of target of the season, which led to big plays. This week, he produced his lowest average target depth since Week 2 but saw a high target rate.
  • Hopkins’ fantasy value might see a significant dip if they switch back to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. As long as Levis remains, he’s a must-start until we have a reason to bench him.

Monitor Treylon Burks’ health: Burks landed on his head after trying to haul in a deep pass late in the fourth quarter. He left the field on a cart. 

  • First and foremost, we hope for the best and wish him a quick recovery.
  • The injury happened late in the game, so there hasn’t been much time for us to get an update on his health. There were reports on the broadcast that he had full movement in all of his extremities, and he was able to give a thumbs-up while being carted off.
  • Nick Westbrook-Ikhine took over for Burks to close out this game. Chris Moore would also likely play more if Burks misses time.

Connor Heyward’s role declines again: Heyward had been the primary replacement for Pat Freiermuth, but Darnell Washington’s role has increased.

  • Washington had a slight lead over Heyward in the Steelers' first game without Freiermuth in Week 5. But after the bye week, it was clearly Heyward’s job.
  • Heyward played 81% of snaps in 11 personnel in Week 7. The Steelers also spent a lot of the game in 12 personnel, which also helped his playing time.
  • Last week, the Steelers stopped using 12 personnel as much, which continued in this game. Heyward’s playing time in 11 personnel dropped to 72.5%.
  • Tonight, it dropped to just over 50%, with the second-round rookie taking the rest of the snaps.
  • Rodney Williams took at least a few snaps over the last few weeks but didn’t have a role in the offense tonight.
  • Freiermuth has to spend one more week on injured reserve before he’s eligible to return. He is someone to buy low before he’s back.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Jaylen Warren set a career-high in rushing yards at 87 while beating his season-high in rushing attempts at 11.
  • Diontae Johnson caught his first touchdown since 2021.
  • Kyle Philips caught four passes for 68 yards as the fifth wide receiver, leading the Titans in receiving yards.
  • Chigoziem Okonkwo was held without a target until the last 80 seconds of the game despite being among the team leaders in routes run.
  • Tyjae Spears can be dropped in leagues with shallower benches now that Derrick Henry can’t be traded this season.


Table Notes

Snaps include plays called back due to penalties, including 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.


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