From a fantasy football perspective, short turnarounds on the NFL schedule have prevented Thursday games from being particularly useful. That doesn’t bode too well for starting many guys that play for the Tennessee Titans or Pittsburgh Steelers come this Thursday in fantasy football.
Week 1 put Kevin Ogletree on the map, but that was a Wednesday game and he has yet to make any noise since.
In Week 2, the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler’s one passing touchdown came along with four interceptions. Half of the passing scores for the Green Bay Packers were thrown by the team’s punter and nobody on either side of the ball accounted for a rushing touchdown.
This pattern of bad news may prove discouraging with regard to starting fantasy players from the Thursday matchup of Week 6.
The Titans, however, have an obvious statistical weakness on defense: stopping the tight end has not worked out very well for them this season. Their own tight end, Jared Cook, may not fare too well statistically on Thursday. The most prolific yardage output from a tight end on Thursdays this year came from the Oakland Raiders’ Brandon Myers (four catches for 55 yards in Week 3).
Heath Miller of the Steelers should prove to be a fantastic start as this game may end up resembling the Week 3 Carolina-New York matchup more than the Bears-Packers defensive exhibition in Week 2.
Tennessee has only picked off three passes this year while allowing multiple touchdowns in each game, so that Ben Roethlisberger guy shouldn’t be too bad, either.
The Steelers have been pretty successful defending against fantasy quarterbacks even without the help of Troy Polamalu and James Harrison for the majority of the season.
Matt Hasselbeck probably wouldn’t be the best fantasy option against Pittsburgh; The highest yardage output came from the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning in Week 1 when the Steelers were without Ryan Clark as well.
Manning threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
Pittsburgh may provide yet another deterrent for fantasy owners to start the Titans’ Chris Johnson. The Steelers are allowing 4.1 yards per carry to running backs, which isn’t as frightening as years past.
The last time he faced the Steelers (during his disappointing 2011 campaign at Pittsburgh), Johnson carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards and—get this—a touchdown.
Could he do that sort of thing again? Sure, and the Titans will likely need him to in order to have success in this game.
The Titans are giving up 4.2 yards per carry to running backs this season and have allowed five rushing touchdowns to players at the position, as well. If you’ve suddenly found yourself relying on Rashard Mendenhall, he should be a decent start on Thursday.
Teams have generally gone to tight ends more for scoring plays in the passing game than wide receivers, so playing Antonio Brown or Mike Wallace might be rewarded only with yardage totals in standard formats.
Receivers facing Tennessee have been held out of the end zone three times in five games as a position group, while tight ends have scored on the Titans in four of five games.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ speedy tandem of Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson got just nine combined catches in the Steelers defense’s last appearance, totaling 97 yards. Using any of the Titans' guys (unless Kenny Britt is 100 percent—which is unlikely) is risky.
Given that the home Titans defense hasn’t been particularly impressive and the short-handed Steelers team will be on the road after a short week, using a defense from this game will likely produce undesirable results in standard fantasy scoring.
A low-scoring game doesn't necessarily mean that sacks and interceptions will abound.