By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
The Houston Texans players and coaches probably moved on from their loss last week at Minnesota as quickly as possible, but fantasy football owners don’t have that luxury. Bill O’Brien likes to say they’re on to the next opponent each week at his press conference, but fantasy football players need to look over what we saw and figure out if that performance should change their strategy going forward.
To the credit of this article, the advice found here last week did tell you to bench Brock Osweiler, the tight ends, and Nick Novak, and to look for better options than DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, and their team defense in daily leagues, but the decisions were and are a little more difficult for standard league players.
As I’ve said before, always starting your stud players regardless of the matchup is something I believe in for multiple reasons—read my explanation on this previous article—but it’s time to start re-thinking that approach if you have offensive players on the Texans.
I’m close to bailing like Saul Goodman headed to an Omaha Cinnabon on my “always start your studs” strategy, but since the Texans will face what should be a much softer defense this week against the Indianapolis Colts, I’m willing to give it another week as will be explained below.
The passing offense for the Houston Texans has been awful this year.
Currently they rank 27th in completion percentage, 29th in passing yards per game, 30th in QB rating, and have thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes this season.
No reason to overthink it; don’t even think about playing Brock Osweiler.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
It’s hard for me to tell you to start Lamar Miller with any confidence, but at least for this next week that’s still the right decision.
Last week’s 20-yard performance against the Vikings was a kick in the gut that likely has you feeling hesitant to put him in your lineup again, but before that Nickelback quality performance in Minnesota, Miller had posted 10 fantasy points or more for four straight weeks to open the season.
That likely wasn’t enough to convince you, so let me throw some other numbers your way.
The Colts are giving up 109.6 rushing yards per game (ranked 18th), and are tied for 28th in rushing yards per attempt allowed at 4.6 per carry. Their rank in per-carry average suggests that they’d be ranked near the bottom of the league in yards per game as well, but their pass defense has been even more awful and likely more inviting to opposing offenses.
Despite that 3 Doors Down quality performance last week, Miller still ranks fourth in the league in rushing attempts, and ninth in rushing yards. In other words, he’s a high-volume back with a favorable matchup, so keep him active.
One final reason to start Miller this week: The Colts are giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year—behind only the Saints and Chargers—at 22.4 per game.
Bold prediction: Lamar Miller will get his first rushing touchdown of the season this week.
Verdict: Start in standard leagues as an RB1, but I’d probably look elsewhere for daily leagues unless his price drops.
Most experts had DeAndre Hopkins ranked as a top five fantasy receiver coming into the season, but he’s averaged just three receptions for 39 yards and had only one touchdown over the Texans last three games.
Of course garbage time means just as much as the first quarter in fantasy, so his 56 yards and a touchdown last week against Minnesota was good enough for 11 points in non-PPR leagues and didn’t cost anyone their game.
Having said all that, forget the last three weeks because the Colts pass defense has been garbage this year.
Through five weeks, the Colts are giving up an average of 301 passing yards per game (ranked 28th), and rank 30th in opponent’s completion percentage, 30th in opponents QB rating, and 27th in sacks with just seven through five games.
Verdict: Start in all formats with confidence.
Here’s a great stat that will sum up my advice for players who have Will Fuller on their fantasy team:
- In home games this season, Fuller is averaging 5.3 receptions for 97.3 yards and has four total touchdowns.
- In road games this season, Fuller is averaging 2.0 receptions for 17.5 yards and has zero touchdowns.
So start him this week at home against the Colts’ SAWFT pass defense, but avoid him like the plague the week after when the Texans travel to Denver to face the Broncos.
Verdict: Start as a WR3 or flex in all formats.
Unlike some other players and positions for the Texans, the fantasy production of the tight ends and specifically C.J. Fiedorowicz, has surprisingly been trending in the right direction.
A week after posting a double-digit fantasy day with 48 yards and a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans, Fiedorowicz was targeted eight times against Minnesota and ended the game with 61 receiving yards.
While that is a sizable improvement to the tight end production from last season, Fiedorowicz and their other tight ends are still touchdown dependent.
The Colts defense has been pretty bad overall, but they’re only giving up an average of 5.8 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so I wouldn’t gamble on Fiedorowicz getting into the end zone this week.
Verdict: Continue to sit in all formats, but keep an eye on Fiedorowicz as a potential bye-week replacement.
The Texans defense has many great individual parts on their defense, but as a team I don’t trust them against the better offenses.
The Colts are scoring 27.4 points per game (ranks seventh), rank ninth in 3rd down conversion percentage, and rank fourth in first downs gained per game. It’s not that I think the Colts will slice the Texans defense up in their own building like Dexter Morgan, but even holding them to seven less points than their average wouldn’t be good enough for fantasy purposes.
Another problem for them as a fantasy defense has been turnovers on both sides. They’ve only forced five turnovers through five games on defense this season (ranks 23rd), while their offense has turned the ball over nine times (ranks 24th).
So they’re not getting the fantasy point producing takeaways on defense, and their offense is creating short-field opportunities for their opponents. As you know, touchdowns given up in short-field situations after turnovers count the same as 99-yard touchdown drives for your fantasy defense.
Verdict: Sit and look to stream a defense like the Lions or Titans this week.
This is the type of matchup that should lead to a big fantasy day for the Texans veteran kicker.
Actually, Nick Novak has been solid this year with two or more made field goals in every game except their shutout loss at New England. Novak was one of the top fantasy kickers after the first two weeks of the season with seven made field goals during that span, and depending on whether or not your league penalizes missed kicks with negative points, Novak has been starter worthy the last two weeks as well.
The Colts have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing kickers this season at 11.6 per game allowed.
The way I usually play my kicker situation after the draft is to keep one player until his bye week, and when the bye week hits—or earlier if the kicker disappoints—I start streaming them and play the best matchups week to week.
So if you have a top kicker like Justin Tucker, Adam Vinatieri, or Matt Bryant who hasn’t had their bye week, I wouldn’t drop them to play Novak. However, if you don’t have a top kicker and can afford to drop them, or your current kicker is off this week with a bye, then Novak is a nice play this week.
Verdict: Start in every format where possible, great value play/cap-saver in daily fantasy.
Top 5 Starts of the Week:
- Ben Roethlisberger (at Miami)
- Tom Brady (vs Bengals)
- Drew Brees (vs Panthers)
- Russell Wilson (vs Atlanta)
- Aaron Rodgers (vs Cowboys)
- DeMarco Murray (vs Cleveland)
- Le’Veon Bell (at Miami)
- LeSean McCoy (vs San Francisco)
- Todd Gurley (at Detroit)
- David Johnson (vs New York Jets)
- Antonio Brown (at Miami)
- Jordy Nelson (vs Dallas)
- Allen Robinson (at Chicago)
- Larry Fitzgerald (vs New York Jets)
- T.Y. Hilton (at Houston)
- Greg Olsen (at New Orleans)
- Rob Gronkowski (vs Cincinnati)
- Travis Kelce (at Oakland)
- Jimmy Graham (vs Atlanta)
- Delanie Walker (vs Cleveland)
- Arizona (vs New York Jets)
- Buffalo (vs San Francisco)
- Denver (at San Diego)
- Tennessee (vs Cleveland)
- Philadelphia (at Washington)