By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
While the advice on this article last week performed better than the Houston Texans on the field against the New England Patriots, there were still a few misses.
So where did we go wrong? The first thing we learned is that we can’t trust Brock Osweiler unless he has a home matchup against a very soft defense, and even then, he should only be used as a bye week replacement or as a cost-saving play in daily fantasy.
Osweiler flashed signs of potential during the Texans first two wins, but even during those games that didn’t translate into starter-worthy fantasy success.
Other than Osweiler, the rest of the advice on Texans players either hit or was an unfortunate example of bad luck or the sometimes fluky nature of fantasy football. Lamar Miller certainly didn’t win anyone their game last week, but he scored double-digit points with over 100 total yards, so he didn’t lose anyone their game either.
The Texans defense only scored three points in standard leagues, but that low point output wasn’t from something that could have been predicted. New England only gained 282 yards—which would rank 31st in yards per game this season—but two special teams fumbles resulted in 14 points for the Patriots, while only having to travel a combined 43 yards on those scoring drives.
The absence of J.J. Watt may change things, but that poor fantasy performance was flukier than it was a bad pick, and they’ll still be a good play most weeks.
Lastly, DeAndre Hopkins only scored five points in non-PPR leagues, but I’m still against benching elite players for any non-injury related reason. Elite players will be great in more games than they are bad obviously, so play the averages and keep them active every week. Trying to guess when your elite player might have a one game slump is a low-percentage play and in most cases will only lead to frustration.
As mentioned earlier, Brock Osweiler should only be played in the most optimal situations. While the Tennessee Titans are a bad team overall, their defense has played pretty well and does not provide an optimal matchup for Osweiler this week.
The Titans have only given up an average of 11.7 fantasy points per game—ranks seventh—to opposing quarterbacks this season, they rank second in completion percentage allowed, and 10th in opponent QB rating; not a soft-touch.
Considering the tough matchup and what we saw last week, Osweiler wouldn’t make my top 20 for fantasy quarterbacks this week and is only worth playing in those weird leagues that start two quarterbacks.
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Texans running game, but for now, those concerns aren’t great enough for me to bench Lamar Miller. His real game production has been inefficient so far this season with a 3.6 per carry average, but the volume of his workload is enough to keep him active as a low-end RB1.
The Titans rank fifth this year in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs—10.7 per game—but other numbers suggest their run defense is actually just average. Tennessee ranks 19th in yards per carry allowed, 17th in rushing yards per game allowed, and 31st in most 20+ yard carries allowed this season.
Miller is averaging 24.7 rushing attempts per game—ranks second behind only LeGarrette Blount—and ranks fourth in rushing yards per game, so continue to start Miller with confidence.
In two games against Tennessee last year, DeAndre Hopkins was targeted 22 times, with 15 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns; trust his track record.
The Titans have been solid on defense this year, but Hopkins is nearly matchup proof and he’s a WR1 start this week.
Verdict: A must-start every week.
After back to back 100-yard games to start his rookie season, Will Fuller’s production dropped off last week against New England to the tune of just three receptions for 31 yards and one inexcusable drop.
The Patriots are great at taking away something their opponent does well, and what they took away last week was the deep pass by keeping their safeties back for most of the game. Tennessee has a good defense, but expect more opportunities for Fuller this week, especially if he gets matched up against cornerback Perrish Cox who is much slower than Fuller.
Verdict: Top 30 WR, so he’s a solid start as a flex or in leagues that start three WR.
Ryan Griffin caught eight passes for 52 yards last week, so his role in this offense and the number of targets he receives over the next couple games is worth watching. Maybe Griffin will become a fantasy option, but for now it’s more likely those numbers were a result of garbage time coverage in a blowout loss, than a sign of a breakout.
Verdict: Continue to sit in all formats.
The Titans offense has been a great matchup for fantasy defenses this season. Through three games Tennessee is averaging just 14 points scored per game—tied for 31st—and has turned the ball over seven times which ranks 26th in the league this season.
Minnesota scored on two defensive touchdowns during their Week 1 game at Tennessee, but even if you take out the 21 points the Vikings defense scored that day, the fantasy defenses the Titans faced the next two weeks still scored seven and nine points respectively. That averages to eight points, which would rank 10th in standard scoring ESPN leagues.
The Texans are tied for 28th in rushing yards per attempt allowed at 4.8, so that is a concern against a Titans offense that features two powerful backs, but all other signs point towards a good day for the Houston defense this week.
The Titans are a good fantasy matchup for kickers, but I’d be nervous about starting Nick Novak.
Tennessee has allowed the 10th most points to opposing fantasy kickers this season with 9.7 per game, and this matchup between a struggling Texans offense, and a good but not great Titans defense, seems like it could lead to lots of field goal attempts from Novak like he had in a similar situation against Kansas City.
In a nutshell: I trust the Texans ability to move the ball, but I don’t trust that they’ll convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns, so that works in your favor if you have their kicker in fantasy.
Novak scored 11 and 13 points respectively in his first two games, but there are definitely 10 better options this week for leagues of that size.
Verdict: Sit in traditional leagues, but he’s a nice bottom-price, salary-saver in daily fantasy.
Top 5 Starts of the Week:
- Cam Newton (at Atlanta)
- Phillip Rivers (vs. New Orleans)
- Drew Brees (at San Diego)
- Matthew Stafford (at Chicago)
- Kirk Cousins (vs. Cleveland)
- David Johnson (vs. LA)
- Ezekiel Elliott (at San Francisco)
- DeMarco Murray (at Houston)
- LeGarrette Blount (vs. Buffalo)
- Melvin Gordon (vs. New Orleans)
- A.J Green (vs. Miami)
- DeAndre Hopkins (vs. Tennessee)
- Antonio Brown (vs. Kansas City)
- Marvin Jones (at Chicago)
- Allen Robinson (vs. Indianapolis)
- Greg Olsen (at Atlanta)
- Jordan Reed (vs. Cleveland)
- Travis Kelce (at Pittsburgh)
- Coby Fleener (at San Diego)
- Zach Miller (vs. Detroit)
- Cardinals (vs. LA)
- Bengals (vs. Miami)
- Broncos (at Tampa Bay)
- Seahawks (at New York Jets)
- Texans (vs. Tennessee)
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