By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
Weeks like this can be surprisingly tricky for fantasy owners.
The Houston Texans face what most would call an “easy matchup,” but even if the Jacksonville Jaguars never threaten them on the scoreboard, that doesn’t necessarily mean our cup will overflow with a bountiful amount of fantasy points.
Over the last two seasons under Bill O’Brien, the Texans have won by 11 and 14 points respectively in their two games at Jacksonville, but blowouts don’t guarantee fantasy success.
If a team has a game under control in the second half, they’re likely to start playing more conservatively to milk the clock and avoid running up the score. In that situation, that usually means less pass attempts which could hurt your fantasy quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends.
Kickers can also suffer in fantasy if a coach is unwilling to kick late field goals in an effort not to run up the score.
In leagues where yards and points allowed are scored, fantasy defenses can also be hurt by the game-flow of a blowout, if those teams decide to start playing more zone and a prevent style defense to not give up anything big. They may not give up the long bomb, but quarterbacks like Blake Bortles have been known to rack up garbage time stats late in the second half and take away some of those yards and points allowed bonuses for your defense.
One position that can benefit from the game-flow of a blowout is running back, which usually sees their workload increase in that situation.
Sometimes, if the blowout is big enough, those players would have already run up enough stats to help you win, but the potential “game-flow” is always something to consider.
Not that we need to look at stats to know what to do here, but they do make a pretty strong case.
The Jaguars rank fifth in passing yards allowed per game, and are middle of the pack (17th) in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks at 15.9 per game. Again, those numbers could be semi-artificial with teams passing less against them in the second half while enjoying a big lead, but regardless of how it happens, the result is the same for your fantasy quarterback.
You should also consider how poorly Brock Osweiler has played on the road. In three road games this season, Osweiler is averaging 170.3 yards passing yards per game, completing just 52% of his passes, has an awful 58.9 QB rating, and has thrown just one touchdown and two interceptions.
His three previous road starts were against much better defenses than the one he’ll face this week, but he’s still a terrible option when playing on the road.
Verdict: What, are you crazy? Sit him in all formats.
In their last game against Detroit, Lamar Miller led the team in rushing attempts (17 to 9 over Alfred Blue) despite dealing with a sore shoulder and a short week after their Monday Night Football loss to Denver. In that game against Detroit, Miller reached double-digits in fantasy points for the fifth time in eight tries this season with 56 yards rushing and a touchdown.
So, if Miller can produce on short rest right after an injury, he should be fine after a week off.
Miller’s opponent this week ranks 24th in rushing yards allowed per game (116.9), is tied for 24th in rushing touchdowns allowed (9), and have allowed 26.9 points per game which ranks 25th in the league.
The veteran running back also still ranks inside the top 10 for both rushing attempts and rushing yards, so he’s a high-usage and productive back that should be kept active.
Verdict: Start in all standard leagues. For daily leagues, it’ll depend on his cost, but there are better high-priced options than Miller.
DeAndre Hopkins may be the most difficult decision each week for me writing this article, and is having one of the more frustrating fantasy seasons in recent memory.
Hopkins was projected to be a top 5 fantasy receiver this season, but is on pace for less than 1,000 yards (currently 868), and hasn’t reached double-digits in fantasy points since getting a garbage time touchdown against Minnesota in Week 5.
Even if Hopkins was playing great and had developed a rhythm with Osweiler, the Jaguars haven’t given up much to some of the better wide receivers they’ve faced this season.
- Week 1 vs. Jordy Nelson – 6 receptions, 32 yards, 1 touchdown
- Week 4 vs. T.Y. Hilton – 7 receptions, 42 yards, 1 touchdown
- Week 6 vs. Alshon Jeffrey – 7 receptions, 93 yards, 0 touchdowns
- Week 7 vs. Amari Cooper – 4 receptions, 29 yards, 0 touchdowns
The Jaguars didn’t shut those No. 1 receiver types down like Denver has this season, but that group only averaged 49 yards receiving against Jacksonville, and only one of them reached double-digits in fantasy points.
Verdict: Start as a flex or WR2 in standard leagues because you likely don’t have a better choice, avoid in daily leagues until he starts producing more consistently.
Way too inconsistent to trust in fantasy right now. Well he’s been consistent recently, but not in a positive way.
Over his last three games, Will Fuller has a catch percentage of just 35.3% (six receptions on 17 targets), is averaging 16 yards receiving per game, and hasn’t scored a touchdown.
Fuller has also struggled in road games this season with an average of 19 receiving yards per game, and zero touchdowns.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
Whether you start C.J. Fiedorowicz will likely depend on the size of your league, if your league uses multiple flex positions, and if your regular starter is off this week or injured, but the third-year tight end has played at a starter-quality level recently.
Over his last five games, Fiedorowicz has averaged five receptions for 54 yards, and has three touchdowns. Those averages multiplied out over a full season add up to 80 receptions, 864 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
That type of season would have been good enough to rank sixth among all tight ends last year in fantasy points ahead of players like Travis Kelce, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, and Zach Ertz.
All that being said, the problem for Fiedorowicz this week is his quarterback has been terrible on the road, and the Jaguars are only giving up an average of 4.3 fantasy points per game (just one TD allowed) to opposing tight ends.
Verdict: Only use as an injury or bye week replacement in standard leagues, good cap saver option in daily leagues if his price tag is still low.
Without J.J. Watt to provide more sacks and turnovers, the Texans defense has been a bit disappointing from a fantasy view this season—they rank 12th in fantasy points—but they’re a good start this week.
The Jaguars offense led by the turnover-prone Blake Bortles has given up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season, so that alone makes the Texans a low-end top 10 start.
Stopping the run has been a problem for the Texans this season, but the Jaguars top-two running backs are both averaging less than 40 yards rushing per game. As a team Jacksonville ranks 26th in rushing yards per game, and are tied for 29th in rushing touchdowns this season.
Since the Jaguars don’t appear to be capable of capitalizing on their biggest weakness, the Texans defense is a good fantasy play this week.
Verdict: Start in all standard leagues, but I’d use either Arizona against San Francisco, or Baltimore vs. Cleveland in daily leagues.
Verdict: Start in all formats.
Top 5 Starts of the Week:
- Matt Ryan (at Philadelphia)
- Aaron Rodgers (at Tennessee)
- Tom Brady (vs Seattle)
- Philip Rivers (vs Miami)
- Carson Wentz (vs Atlanta)
- David Johnson (vs San Francisco) *
- Ezekiel Elliott (at Pittsburgh)
- Melvin Gordon (vs Miami)
- Jordan Howard (at Tampa Bay)
- Jay Ajayi (at San Diego)
*David Johnson could have a historical game and is worth whatever the price tag is in daily leagues. His opponent this week, San Francisco, is giving up an AVERAGE of 193 rushing yards per game! Johnson faced the 49ers in Week 5 and ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns on the road.
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
- Mike Evans (vs Chicago)
- Julio Jones (at Philadelphia)
- Alshon Jeffrey (at Tampa Bay)
- A.J. Green (at New York Giants)
- Antonio Brown (vs Dallas)
- Rob Gronkowski (vs Seattle)
- Greg Olsen (vs Kansas City)
- Jordan Reed (vs Minnesota)
- Zach Miller (at Tampa Bay)
- Travis Kelce (at Carolina)
- Arizona (vs San Francisco)
- Baltimore (vs Cleveland)
- Houston (at Jacksonville)
- Los Angeles (at New York Jets)
- New York Jets (vs Los Angeles)