“Thursday Night Football” is back to kick off another must-win fantasy football week. Week 16 brings an intriguing matchup between the 49ers (8-6) and Titans (9-5) in Nashville (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network). As always, you want to make the right fantasy start ’em, sit ’em decisions — especially during the second round of the fantasy football playoffs — by either deploying players who can give you a nice early lead going into the weekend or avoiding players who are bound to bust in prime time.
The 49ers’ offense is rolling with everyone key healthy, save for rookie running back Elijah Mitchell (knee). The running game has worked either with Deebo Samuel crossing over from wide receiver or Jeff Wilson Jr handling most of the carries. Tight end George Kittle has joined Samuel in dominating, and Brandon Aiyuk has found more relevance playing off both in the passing game.
The Titans’ best fantasy asset of late has been running back D’Onta Foreman, their top all-around substitute for Derrick Henry (foot). Their passing game will likely be opearting with hobbled wide receiver Julio Jones, who hurt his hamstring yet again in Week 15 vs. the Steelers. Wide receiver A.J. Brown (chest) is very iffy to be activated, keeping Ryan Tannehill in a tough spot.
Here’s breaking down the entire start ’em sit ’em picture for TNF, including a couple DFS lineup suggestions for FanDuel and DraftKings:
49ers: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Start: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo hasn’t exactly put up huge numbers the past three weeks, but he’s still finished as a borderline QB1 in 12-team leagues. Overall, with a slow start, he’s QB18 for the season. But he’s streamable here as the Titans tend to slow down the run and struggle on the backend when they’re not getting to the QB. San Francisco offers solid pass protection and Jimmy G gets the ball out quickly to his playmakers.
Sit: RB Jeff Wilson Jr.
Wilson has been getting some volume as their lone, healthy, early-down back, but it took until the Falcons game last week to add up to real production with 21 carries, 110 yards and a TD. However, the Titans allow the fewest fantasy points to running backs. Jonathan Taylor and James Robinson have had the biggest games against them, and those were in the first half of the season. The 49ers are likely to just pivot away from forcing Wilson between the tackles and lean on Samuel and the passing game.
Start: WR Deebo Samuel
Yes, please. Deebo steps into the second-best matchup for fantasy football wide receivers after ripping the Vikings and Falcons in similar spots. On Tyshun! On Raequan! He’s such a triple threat as a fantasy player, we deserve to know all three of his names.
Start: WR Brandon Aiyuk
Since Week 11, Aiyuk has been up-and-down with his production. He’s been mostly good but had the clunkers against the Jaguars and Falcons, as he wasn’t needed much in those games. He will get key targets here to exploit a cornerback group that can’t cover him either
Start: TE George Kittle
The Titans are one of the stingiest teams against tight ends led by Kevin Byard and others, but we don’t care about that one lick. Kittle isn’t the typical tight end — he’s more of a straight-up beast. Kittle also will be extra jacked playing in the city where he makes his home, Nashville.
Start: 49ers D/ST
Nick Bosa and the boys should have fun. The 49ers have some linebacker and secondary injury concerns, but they should make enough plays on the road vs. Ryan Tannehill.
Start: K Robbie Gould
Gould goes with Christmas gifts like frankincense and myrrh, whatever those less valuable things are.
Titans: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Sit: QB Ryan Tannehill
Tannnehill is QB14 on the season, but he has only one QB1 finish in the past six games. His production was best when throwing well downfield playing off Derrick Henry’s power running, but Henry’s been hurt along with Julio Jones (hamstring) and A.J. Brown (chest). Tannehill is now dependent on backs and a committee of wideouts, so his best source for TDs are his own legs. The 49ers were very giving to fantasy QBs for the first seven games, but they have been much tougher since Week 9. You cannot trust Tannehill with so much on the line.
Start: RB D’Onta Foreman | Sit: RB Dontrell Hilliard
Foreman has had a mild takeover of their backfield. After two straight strong RB2 finishes, he exploded as a volume-driven RB1 against the Steelers’ porous run defense. He will get fed often again with the momentum building, and by default he’s their best offensive weapon. The 49ers are middle-pack in terms of giving fantasy points to running backs. Hilliard isn’t getting enough touches to be considered.
Start: (if he plays): WR A.J. Brown
There was some optimism Brown’s return from a chest injury would be timed with Jones (hamstring) not being available again. Had this been a Saturday or Sunday game, he would have had a much better chance. Unfortunately, the window might be too short. But if the Titans feel good enough about Brown’s practice work to play him, you should, too. The 49ers’ cornerbacks have plenty of issues and just allowed a monster game to the Falcons’ Russell Gage.
Sit: WR Julio Jones
He’s hurting and wearing down. There’s not much production when healthy this season. The nagging hamstring has put him in out and of the lineup, so you can’t’ even guarantee a full game of action. So no.
Sit: WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
NWI sounds like a airport code or a bad NWA cover band. Westbrook-Ikhine, in theory, seems like a good play with not much else at wide receiver, but he’s had his chances and not done much. Tannehill also will likely spread the ball around a ton with no Jones and no Brown.
Sit: TE Geoff Swaim
Swaim, MyCole Pruitt, and Anthony Firkser have had the same relevance to fantasy football as Comet, Cupid and Vixen do in relation to Rudolph. Heck, we would take a backup Kyle Rudolph over these dudes.
Sit: Titans D/ST
Forget the Titans against a red-hot 49ers, and don’t chase their performance against the Steelers.
Start: K Randy Bullock
No, his name isn’t British slang. No, his game isn’t worth starting here.
49ers vs. Titans: FanDuel single-game lineup
- MVP (1.5X): WR Deebo Samuel $14,500
- AnyFLEX: QB Jimmy Garoppolo $14,000
- AnyFLEX: TE George Kittle $13,000
- AnyFLEX: RB D’Onta Freeman $11,500
- AnyFLEX: RB Kyle Juszczyk $6,000
The 49ers’ passing offense minus Aiyuk had great appeal here, and we also got Foreman in there to represent the Titans. The “Juice” was all we could afford at the end. Jimmy G should light up things more with the running game contained.
49ers vs. Titans: DraftKings Showdown lineup
- Captain (1.5X): RB D’Onta Foreman $11,400
- FLEX: WR Deebo Samuel $11,600
- FLEX: TE George Kittle $11,200
- FLEX: QB Jimmy Garoppolo $10,400
- FLEX: RB Dontrell Hilliard $2,800
- FLEX: RB Kyle Juszczyk $1,800
Look familiar? This is the same philosophy from the FD lineup except extending to Hilliard in the Titans’ backfield. Kittle has a tough matchup, but he’s hard to keep out because of big-game potential.