TENNESSEE TITANS UPDATE 

lBROWN HAS BEEN ON FIRE, BUT WR FACING A CHALLENGE

According to Buck Reising of AtoZSports.com, safety Kenny Vaccaro knows what to expect when the Titans (8-6) host the New Orleans Saints (11-3) on Sunday. Spending the first five years of his career in New Orleans gave the former 15th overall pick an intimate familiarity with quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas.

“(Michael)’s going to catch everything,” said Vaccaro of Thomas. “50-50 balls, (Brees) puts it up there for him. I think he trusts him that he’s gonna make the play. It’s his mentality. I’ve never met somebody as determined as Mike Thomas.”

The Saints are coming off an utter domination of the Indianapolis Colts (6-8) on Monday Night Football led by their passing attack. Tennessee will try to use Vaccaro’s familiarity with old teammates to their advantage in the effort to slow New Orleans down.

Thomas caught all 12 of his targets for 128 yards and a score to effectively end Indy’s season. On the year, Thomas leads the NFL in receptions (133), receiving yards (1,552) and is tied for fourth in touchdowns snagged (8). It is the work ethic of Thomas, though, that left its mark on the Titans’ transplant defender.

Vaccaro tries to instill the lessons learned from Thomas in a young Tennessee receiving corps.

“Kenny (Vaccaro) always reminds me,” rookie A.J. Brown said. “He’s like, ‘Thomas is working right now. He’s working.’ So, in between periods, he’s telling me ‘Go do something.’

“He was telling me that Thomas came in his rookie year demanding the ball, this and that. He tells me just keep working at it and keep building that confidence in myself.”

Reising went on to note that Brown’s development over the course of his first season cannot be ignored.

With eight catches for 114 yards and his 7th touchdown of 2019, the Ole Miss product has already surpassed Oilers/Titans Great Chis Sanders (823 yards) for the third-highest receiving yardage total by a rookie in franchise history. Brown (893 yards this season) became the first Tennessee player with consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Nate Washington against the San Diego Chargers in 2013.

Coordinator Arthur Smith will need that same kind of production if this Titans offense is to keep pace with the likes of Brees and Thomas. It helps that Smith’s top wideout and quarterback seem to be creating that same kind of chemistry.

But should we expect Brown to keep his roll going?

Although Brown's usage has been volatile, Ryan Tannehill targeted the rookie receiver 13 times last Sunday.

As ESPN's Mike Clay notes, that marks a career high for Brown and is his most since he saw eight targets in Week 7.

Fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver since Week 12 could draw Marshon Lattimore shadow coverage this week, but his strong play and the boost in targets are enough to make him a lock for fantasy lineups.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Field Yates advised readers this week that another name to keep on your radar if you've been struggling with the tight end: Athletic freak Jonnu Smith has back-to-back games with 10-plus fantasy points and has taken on a more prominent role with Delanie Walker on injured reserve.

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