By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
The start ’em/sit ’em advice on this article last week was, unfortunately, nearly 100-percent accurate.
Last week’s recommendations were:
- Sit Brock Osweiler in all formats
- Start Lamar Miller as a RB2 in standard leagues, avoid in daily leagues
- Sit DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller
- Only use C.J. Fiedorowicz as a bye-week replacement
- Start Nick Novak
- Sit the Houston Texans defense
Brock Osweiler scored four points in standard ESPN leagues; only Cody Kessler and Brian Hoyer scored less among QB’s who attempted a pass last week.
Lamar Miller averaged over five yards per carry against Denver before suffering an early injury that limited his rushing attempts to just 11. This is just a guess, but if Miller hadn’t been hurt and was given the 21 carries he averaged before last week’s game, he would have topped 100 total yards and reached double digits in fantasy points.
DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller finished the game with 36 and 22 yards receiving respectively, while tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz caught 5 passes for 35 yards. All three failed to reach the end zone, and as a trio combined for only 9 fantasy points in non-PPR leagues.
Nick Novak finished fifth in fantasy points with 11 in ESPN standard leagues.
The Texans defense scored zero fantasy points in ESPN standard leagues, which tied for the sixth lowest total for fantasy defenses in Week 7.
It wasn’t hard to predict negative results for last week’s game, but nonetheless the advice was accurate.
For most quarterbacks, getting to face the Detroit Lions at home would mean they’re a must-start that week.
The Lions pass defense has been awful this year:
- 23rd in passing yards allowed per game (273).
- 32nd in completion percentage allowed at 74.2 percent!
- 32nd in opponents QB rating at 117.3, which is over 10 points higher than the 31st place Cleveland Browns.
- Have given up 18 passing touchdowns, to just three interceptions this season.
- Have given up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks at 23.1 per game.
If you took the numbers the Lions have allowed and grouped them together as one quarterback, they would rank 2nd in completion percentage (behind Tom Brady), 2nd in QB rating (behind Tom Brady), and first in passing touchdowns.
In fact, the Lions pass defense has been so bad, that they’ve allowed a QB rating over 100 to every quarterback they’ve faced this season.
- Week 1 vs Andrew Luck: 385 passing yards, 4 TD/0 INT, 119.5 QB Rating
- Week 2 vs Marcus Mariota: 238 yards, 2 TD/1 INT, 102.8 QB Rating
- Week 3 vs Aaron Rodgers: 205 yards, 4 TD/0 INT, 129.3 QB Rating
- Week 4 vs Brian Hoyer: 302 yards, 2 TD/0 INT, 120.1 QB Rating
- Week 5 vs Carson Wentz: 238 yards, 2 TD/1 INT, 102.8 QB Rating
- Week 6 vs Case Keenum: 321 yards, 3 TD/1 INT, 126.7 QB Rating
- Week 7 vs Kirk Cousins: 301 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 106.9 QB Rating
Osweiler should be better this week, and will probably post numbers like what he put up in Week 1 against Chicago (231 yards, 2 TD/1 INT), but even that effort was only good enough to rank 15th among quarterbacks in fantasy points that week.
If there is any week you could start Osweiler as a bye week replacement, this would be it, but why take that gamble?
There must be a better option, so continue to avoid Osweiler.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
Not surprisingly, the Lions defense hasn’t been very good against the run either.
Coming into this week, the Lions are tied for 26th in yards per attempt allowed (4.7), and 19th in rushing yards per game allowed (112.0). They’ve only given up two rushing touchdowns this season, but that might be a product of teams taking the easier path to points against their passing defense.
Lamar Miller is a high-usage back that still ranks sixth in rushing attempts, and fifth in rushing yards despite being limited to 11 carries against Denver after suffering an injury early in the game, so keep him active if he’s healthy.
This is a good matchup for Miller, but monitor his health updates as best you can. My guess is Miller will play, but if the Texans decide to give more carries to Alfred Blue to ease Miller’s workload, then starting him becomes risky.
Miller has only scored one rushing touchdown this season, and the Lions have only given up two scores on the ground, so if Miller doesn’t receive his normal workload, you’ll be relying on him to score a touchdown to be starter worthy.
Keep a close eye on this one.
Verdict: Start in standard leagues, but watch his health status closely. Avoid in daily leagues unless his health status is cleared up.
The numbers for the Lions pass defense posted earlier in the section on Osweiler apply here as well, so this should be the week DeAndre Hopkins breaks out of his slump.
That’s not to say the decline in his numbers are his fault, but for his fantasy owners the result is the same, so the reason doesn’t matter.
Hopkins has reached the minimum level for fantasy points by a starting receiver (10) in only three out of the Texans seven games this season—just once since Week 3—but he won’t be facing a great defensive mind like Bill Belichick, or a great defensive roster like the Denver Broncos this week.
Remember, Hopkins can have a great game even if Osweiler doesn’t, and even if the Texans lose. Osweiler could have another below average game with let’s say 210 yards, 1 TD/2 INT, but if 70 of those yards and that lone touchdown goes to Hopkins, that’s good enough.
In that scenario, he’d have 13 points in non-PPR leagues, which would have tied him for 12th in standard ESPN leagues last week.
Verdict: Start as a WR2 in standard leagues, but with his high price tag I’d look for more consistent options in daily leagues.
There are a couple factors working in favor of playing Will Fuller this week: First, the Lions are giving up the seventh most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers at 24.3 per game, and he’s been much better in games played at NRG Stadium than games played on the road.
- Home Games: 5.3 receptions per game, 97.3 receiving yards per game, 3 total touchdowns
- Road Games: 2.7 receptions per game, 19 receiving yards per game, 0 touchdowns
The matchup and the home/road splits suggest you should play Will Fuller this week, but because of how inconsistent he’s been, I wouldn’t call it a must start.
Verdict: Start as a WR3 or flex in standard leagues, play in daily if his price tag is still low.
As is the case with his other teammates on offense, C.J. Fiedorowicz has a SAWFT matchup this week against a Lions defense giving up the third most fantasy points to opposing tight ends at 11.4 per game.
Over the Texans last three games, Fiedorowicz has been targeted 22 times (8-7-7), which ranks second on the team during that span behind DeAndre Hopkins.
If Fiedorowicz continues to receive that many targets, he’ll be a low-level starter for 12-team leagues whenever he faces a favorable matchup like he does this week.
Verdict: Start as a bye week or injury replacement in standard leagues. Decent cap saver option in daily leagues if you want to spend your money on other positions.
The veteran kicker has been solid for fantasy owners this season and is another example of why you should always wait until the last round to select your kicker. Let other people grab the big-name guys a couple rounds too early, and then swoop in and select a guy like Nick Novak at the end of the draft who will only score 1 or 2 less points per game.
Novak ranks seventh this season in fantasy points by kickers with 60 through seven games.
Detroit ranks 21st in points per game allowed, 25th in yards allowed per game, and the Texans offense ranks 32nd in Red Zone scoring percentage (touchdowns only) at 37.5 percent, so those factors could create a perfect storm with a defense that gives up yards, and an offense that isn’t good enough to convert those yards into touchdowns.
Translation: Novak should get several field goal attempts and is a good start this week.
Verdict: Start in all formats.
The Texans defense has been solid on the field, but it hasn’t translated to great fantasy success this season. For that and other reasons I’m about to discuss, they’re a bad start for the second game in a row.
Opposing defenses are only averaging 3.3 fantasy points per game against the Lions offense this season.
The biggest reason for that? Matthew Stafford, who had been turnover prone in previous seasons, has 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions this year. Stafford ranks fourth in completion percentage, fourth in passing touchdowns, and third in QB rating this season.
They also have one of the better wide receiver combinations in the league with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, who will be going up against a banged up secondary. Denver targeted Kareem Jackson often last week, so expect Detroit to do the same.
So, they’ll be facing an upper-level quarterback without their top pass rusher and best cover-corner, but that’s not the only reason you should bench the Texans defense this week.
Most leagues give points for points allowed and yards allowed, but turnovers, touchdowns, and sacks are what separates defenses in fantasy football. The Lions offense has only five turnovers this season (tied for second fewest), while the Texans defense is tied for 27th in takeaways with just six through seven games.
The Texans pass rush has been good, but it hasn’t been so overwhelming that their sack numbers make up for the lack of turnovers.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
Top 5 Starts of the Week:
- Aaron Rodgers (at Atlanta)
- Matt Ryan (vs Green Bay)
- Russell Wilson (at New Orleans)
- Tom Brady (at Buffalo)
- Jameis Winston (vs Oakland)
- Ezekiel Elliott (vs Philadelphia)
- DeMarco Murray (vs Jacksonville)
- David Johnson (at Carolina)
- Spencer Ware (at Indianapolis)
- Jacquizz Rodgers (vs Oakland)
- Julio Jones (vs Green Bay)
- T.Y. Hilton (vs Kansas City)
- Mike Evans (vs Oakland)
- A.J. Green (vs Washington)
- Larry Fitzgerald (at Carolina)
- Travis Kelce (at Indianapolis)
- Rob Gronkowski (at Buffalo)
- Jimmy Graham (at New Orleans)
- Greg Olsen (vs Arizona)
- Gary Barnidge (vs New York Jets)
- Minnesota (at Chicago)
- Denver (vs San Diego)
- Arizona (at Carolina)
- New York Jets (at Cleveland)
- Tennessee (vs Jacksonville)