By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
Normally I would break down which Houston Texans players you should start or sit in your fantasy football lineups, but since the team has an open week—bye week is an incorrect term for the regular season—I’ll shift gears some with the type of advice in this article.
The top five starts at each position will still be posted as they are every week, but in place of the start or sit recommendations for Houston Texans players, I’ll instead throw out some suggestions on non-star players you should look to target in trade or free-agency to improve your roster down the stretch.
Players to Add Through Trade or Free Agency:
Donte Moncrief (Owned in 78.7% of ESPN Leagues) –
In the two games he’s been fully healthy this season, Moncrief has been targeted 16 times—second on the team to T.Y. Hilton during those games—and has 10 receptions, for 105 yards, and two touchdowns. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he would have reached double-digits for fantasy points in each game.
Last season Moncrief ranked…
- Second on the team with 105 targets
- Second on the team with 64 receptions
- Second on the team with 733 receiving yards
- First on the team in receiving touchdowns with six
He’s clearly Andrew Luck’s second-favorite target, and the Colts will face some defenses down the stretch who are giving up a ton of passing yards. Those include matchups against the New York Jets in Week 13 (ranked 32nd), and the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 (ranked 27th) which is Super Bowl week for most leagues.
Charcandrick West (Owned in 59.8% of ESPN Leagues –
The running back situation for the Kansas City Chiefs has been a frustrating one for fantasy owners, but injuries might start to clear up the picture a bit. With Jamaal Charles going to see Dr. Death James Andrews, and Spencer Ware in concussion protocol, West could and should be their top back for a little bit.
In the two games this year West has been given over five carries, he’s run the ball for a combined 113 yards on 5.65 yards per carry. From Week 7 through the end of the regular season in 2015, when West was given 10 or more carries in all but one game during that stretch, he averaged 83 combined rushing & receiving yards per week, and scored five touchdowns over that nine-game span (he missed one game and the Chiefs had their open week in Week 9).
If West gets starter-level carries, second half of the season matchups against Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta, who rank 27th, 22nd, and 28th in rushing yards allowed per game respectively, could lead to big fantasy performances.
Eric Ebron (Owned in 54.1% of ESPN Leagues)
– If you watched last week’s game between the Texans and Lions, you saw Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford target tight end Eric Ebron early and often. Ebron has had trouble staying healthy over his career, but in the five games he’s played this season, he’s been targeted an average of seven times resulting in 57.8 receiving yards per game.
That receiving yards’ average of 57.8 per game ranks sixth among all tight ends this season ahead of guys like Travis Kelce.
To further show how big his role should be in the Lions offense going forward, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are first and second on the team in targets this season with an average of 7.7 and 7.3 targets per game, so Ebron has been right there with the leaders when he’s played.
Matchups down the stretch against Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Chicago should give Ebron a chance to shine.
Top 5 Starts of the Week:
- Aaron Rodgers (vs Indianapolis)
- Matt Ryan (at Tampa Bay)
- Jameis Winston (vs Atlanta)
- Andrew Luck (at Green Bay)
- Drew Brees (at San Francisco)
Surprised Drew Brees is ranked that low against a bad San Francisco defense? He’s a very good play this week because of that defensive matchup, but his home/road splits this year and over his entire career do raise a red flag.
- Home – 382.3 yards per game, 12 TD/2 INT (6/1 ratio)
- Road – 278.7 yards per game, 6 TD/3 INT (2/1 ratio)
- Home – 290.6 yards per game, 262 TD/101 INT in 113 games (2.3 touchdowns per game)
- Road – 271.7 yards per game, 184 TD/109 INT in 112 games (1.6 touchdowns per game)
- Ezekiel Elliott (at Cleveland)
- DeMarco Murray (at San Diego)
- Devonta Freeman (at Tampa Bay)
- Carlos Hyde (vs New Orleans) *
- Devontae Booker (at Oakland)
*Watch Hyde’s injury status.
So why no Jay Ajayi? This week his team faces the New York Jets rush defense which ranks first in rushing yards allowed per game (74.0), and first in yards per attempt allowed (3.3).
Same applies to Le’Veon Bell who faces a Baltimore Ravens rush defense which ranks fourth in rushing yards per game allowed (81.9), fifth in yards per carry allowed (3.5), and second in rushing touchdowns allowed with three so far this season. Though Bell does enough as a receiver to offset the problematic matchup.
- Julio Jones (at Tampa Bay)
- Antonio Brown (at Baltimore)
- Mike Evans (vs Atlanta)
- T.Y. Hilton (at Green Bay) *
- Dez Bryant (at Cleveland) *
*Watch the injury status for both T.Y. Hilton and Dez Bryant this week.
If those guys don’t play or look like they’ll be limited, the next best starts include…
- Jordy Nelson against Indianapolis who rank 29th in passing yards allowed per game.
- Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders against Oakland who rank 27th in passing yards allowed per game.
- Odell Beckham Jr. even though his matchup against Philadelphia isn’t all that favorable.
- Greg Olsen (at LA)
- Jimmy Graham (vs Buffalo)
- Delanie Walker (at San Diego)
- Kyle Rudolph (vs Detroit)
- Gary Barnidge (vs Dallas)
The Cleveland Browns defense has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season (10.8 per game), which suggests Jason Witten might have his first breakout performance of the season.
However, Witten—who was drafted the same year as Andre Johnson—has been trending downwards and is most likely past his prime. His 41.4 receiving yards per game average is his lowest mark since his rookie year in 2003, he only has one touchdown this season, and hasn’t topped 50 yards receiving in a game since the Cowboys’ Week 2 win at Washington.
Witten also hasn’t reached 1,000 receiving yards in a season since 2012, after averaging 1,018 yards over a six-year stretch between 2007-2012.
- Carolina (at LA)
- Seattle (vs Buffalo)
- Kansas City (vs Jacksonville)
- Dallas (at Cleveland)
- Minnesota (vs Detroit)