Daily fantasy football owners and analysts made a huge mistake and continued to do so through the first 10 weeks of the 2016 NFL season: Doubting or flat out forgetting about second-year Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. But for the last six games of the Titans schedule, FanDuel and DraftKings players should consider the emerging passer almost every week, especially in the upcoming Week 11.
Due to a solid offensive line, veteran running back DeMarco Murray, and tight end Delanie Walker serving as his deep threat, Mariota’s played exceptionally well this season and came up with a huge 47-25 win over Green Bay by tying his career-high of four passing touchdowns and the second-best passer rating of his career at 149.8 in Week 10. Green Bay is now No. 13 in fantasy against quarterbacks after ranking a little higher before Mariota’s onslaught, according to Yahoo.
Overall, Mariota’s seventh in the NFL in total passing yardage and passer rating, has already blown past his work as a rookie with 21 touchdowns to only eight interceptions, and his frontline has equally opened holes for Murray and protected their quarterback by allowing only 14 sacks all season. Titans general manager Jon Robinson clearly understood that when given time, Mariota can be a special player and he sacrificed one of his younger, blue-chip receivers in Dorial Green-Beckham for more offensive line depth, and it’s paid off beautifully for Tennessee despite losing lineman Chance Warmack, Josue Matias, Byron Bell to injuries.
But, Mariota’s often overlooked in DFS because he lacks a true deep threat or reliable wide receiver. Consider the Titans are actually ninth in the league in passing offense, but similar to the New England Patriots, Walker is far and away their leading pass-catcher. He’s caught 42 receptions for 571 yards and five scores off 62 targets, nearly 10 more than next leading receiver Rishard Matthews and his 36 catches for 483 yards and six scores. It’s Walker who’s served as Mariota’s main threat down field, snagging a team-best 11 catches for 20 or more yards.
Due to the failed development of receivers like Kendall Wright, the sudden retirement of Andre Johnson, and Murray also acting as a threat out of the backfield with 37 catches for 259 yards and two touchdowns, Mariota’s still found ways to score and is averaging 7.83. yards per completion, good for eighth in the NFL and 26.4 points per week for Tennessee (also No. 8 in the league).
The rest of the Titans schedule reflects not only a chance to make the postseason for the first time since 2008, but greatly inflates Mariota’s value. In Tennessee’s final six games Mariota will be at the Colts (No. 26 vs. opposing QBs), at Chicago (No. 14), then a late bye, then vs. Denver (No. 1), at the Chiefs (No. 19), at the Jaguars (No. 15), and then closes the season home against division rival Houston (No. 2).
The matchups against Denver and Houston, the two best in fantasy against QBs, are really the only times DFS players shouldn’t consider Mariota. But the four other matchups, even if the opponents aren’t ranked in the bottom third of the league, represent huge opportunities for those rare combinations that pay out the most on DFS platforms.
Mariota is part of our top five QB rankings for Week 11, and check out the rest of our rankings for every position below.
Byes: Atlanta, Denver, New York Jets, San Diego
1.Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
2.Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
3.Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
4.Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
5.Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
The late loss spoiled an incredible day for Roethlisberger in Week 10, with 408 yards and three touchdowns with no picks. And next, he gets the Browns, who are still the third-worst in fantasy against QBs with 21.5 points allowed per week. Brees has a short week but faces a Carolina D that let up 20 unanswered points in Week 10 and fourth-worst vs. QBs. Taylor has an intriguing matchup with a Cincy D that’s No. 27 against passers and lets up 17.6 rushing yards per week to QBs through nine weeks, which Taylor can greatly exploit. Newton can bounce back against the Saints, who are allowing more than 19 points a week to QBs.
1.LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
2.Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
3.DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
4.Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
5.Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
Blount still netted three scores against a tough Seattle D and next gets San Francisco’s last place work against RBs, while Bell has the second-best matchup of Week 11 vs. Cleveland, whose allowing 25.38 points per week to backs. Murray has the No. 24 ranked Colts but could be more expensive than even Blount so Crowell’s a reasonable and cheaper option since he faces the Steelers and their No. 29 running back defense coughing up 22.3 points a week. Murray gets Houston, which will be so focused on stopping Derek Carr that the Raiders back can take advantage of its No. 21 D vs. backs.
1.Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
2.Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
3.Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
4.Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5.Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Beckham has the best matchup of any star receiver as Chicago’s the third-worst in fantasy, while Bryant meets the Ravens No. 28 secondary and Cooks as the No. 27 Panthers. Evans has the Chiefs, who are allowing 14.8 catches for 184.8 yards and 1.3 touchdowns a week to WRs, according to Yahoo. Brown’s only this low because of his hefty price tag, otherwise Cleveland’s No. 24 against receivers.
1.Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
2.Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
3.C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
4.Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
5.Travis Kelce, Kansa City Chiefs
Fleener had only two targets in Week 10, but that’ll change with Carolina third-worst in fantasy vs. TEs. Walker we’ve already highlighted, and while Houston trimmed Brock Osweiler’s pass attempts to a season-low 27 in Week 10, five of those targets went to Fiedorowicz, who can throttle the Raiders D letting up almost five catches a game to TEs. The Saints are just one spot above the Raiders when it comes to tight ends, so Olsen’s has a good matchup this week.
1.Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
2.LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
3.Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
4.Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints
5.Ty Montgomery, WR/RB, Green Bay Packers
Miller directly benefits from the Texans pulling Osweiler back and he can pick apart Oakland’s No. 22 work vs. RBs. McCoy’s had a week off to rest and heal and his matchup with the Bengals (No. 21 vs. RBs) may make him a cheaper option. Snead is here over Michael Thomas because the rookie has some fumble woes, and Montgomery’s a slight sleeper pick since James Starks returned in Week 10. But the Packers duel threat faces a Washington D that’s No. 28 vs. RBs and No. 10 vs. WRs.
The Steelers are on top because the Browns are still winless, and New England should return to form against a 49ers squad ranked No. 23 in the league with 20.8 points per game. It was a toss-up between Seattle and Philadelphia in one of the best games of Week 11, but when pressed it’s hard to pick against the Legion of Boom’s matchup opposite a rookie quarterback who couldn’t throw a touchdown against Atlanta’s dreadful secondary. Meanwhile, Miami faces the Rams last-place offense and is quietly No. 11 in sacks and No. 10 in opposing passer rating.