By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
Despite this week’s game against the Oakland Raiders being at a “neutral site,” and the Houston Texans flight to Mexico City being shorter than their opponent’s flight, all the same problems we’ve seen from the team on the road still apply for this matchup.
Yes, the Texans did win their first road game last week at Jacksonville, but Brock Osweiler didn’t play well, and their skill position players didn’t produce enough stats to be helpful for your fantasy team.
Each player will be broken down below, but to quickly summarize what you’re about to read, look for other options.
Brock Osweiler is a terrible fantasy quarterback, and has been awful on the road this season.
- 52.2% completion percentage
- 152.5 passing yards per game
- 3 TD/2 INT total
- 63.6 QB Rating
The Raiders rank 30th in passing yards allowed per game and 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed, but ignore those stats. Osweiler has shown an uncanny “ability” to underperform against some of the worst pass defenses in the league like Indianapolis and Detroit.
These stats are from Weeks 1-8 after the Texans had played both teams:
Indianapolis Pass Defense Splits
- 64.1 completion %
- 269 passing yards
- 2 TD/1 INT
- 90.7 QB rating
Vs. Every Other QB:
- 67.1 completion %
- 302.5 passing yards per game
- 12 TD/1 INT
- 104.8 QB rating
Detroit Pass Defense Splits
- 68.9 completion %
- 186 passing yards
- 1 TD/1 INT
- 83.4 QB rating
Vs. Every Other QB:
- 74.2 completion %
- 273 passing yards per game
- 18 TD/3 INT
- 117.3 QB rating
Verdict: You should be locked out of your ESPN/Yahoo/NFL.com account for even having Osweiler on your team. Sit him in all formats.
Like Osweiler, the matchup this week for Lamar Miller looks promising based on the stats, but other factors are cause for concern.
The Raiders rank 21st in rushing yards per game allowed, and are tied for 29th in rushing yards per attempt allowed (4.7), but workload, game-flow, and if he reaches the end zone will determine Miller’s fantasy value this week.
After averaging 23 rushing attempts and three receptions per game through the Texans first four games, Miller has averaged 15 carries and two receptions per game over their last five; a significant drop of nine less touches per game.
His value was in large part tied to his high-volume workload early on, so seeing that workload decrease should be concerning for fantasy owners who have Miller on their team.
Heartbreak hit fantasy owners last week after Miller got stopped at the one-yard line on a 45-yard run and failed to score a touchdown for the seventh time in nine games. Only two weeks out of nine has Miller reached the end zone; no consistency.
With 95 fantasy points in standard ESPN leagues through nine games played, Miller is averaging just over 10 fantasy points per game. He’s hitting the bare minimum for starter quality production, but the absence of goal line carries makes him a frustrating and nail-biting start each week.
You also must consider the game-flow if the Raiders control the game against the Texans like many—including myself—expect. If the Texans fall behind by several scores in the first half, will they stick with the run enough for Miller to produce for your fantasy team?
Verdict: Start as an RB2 or flex in standard leagues, avoid in daily leagues.
Which player would you rather have on your fantasy team?
Player A: Six receptions per game, 76 receiving yards per game, 3 touchdowns since Week 6.
Player B: Six receptions per game, 50 receiving yards per game, 0 touchdowns since Week 6.
Obviously, you’d prefer to have Player A on your team instead of Player B, right?
I don’t point that out to diminish Crowder because he’s had a great season, but it illustrates the reality of their production this season compared to pre-season expectations.
ESPN projections for 2016 predicted Hopkins to finish fourth in receiving yards behind only Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr., while Crowder was predicted to finish 105th with just 482 yards; one spot behind running back Le’Veon Bell.
With Brock Osweiler at quarterback, the struggle has been real for Hopkins.
The Raiders pass defense is ranked near the bottom of the league as pointed out earlier, but I don’t trust Hopkins with the road version of Osweiler throwing him the ball, and especially not until they develop a rhythm and connection.
Verdict: Sit in standard leagues if you have enough viable options, avoid in daily leagues.
Will Fuller was a surprise fantasy stud in three out of his first four games, but injuries and poor play have since made him untrustworthy for fantasy owners. He’s still worth having on your roster if you have the space, but keep him benched until he snaps out of it.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
C.J. Fiedorowicz is averaging six targets per game since Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans, which ranks second on the team during that time behind only DeAndre Hopkins. As a big-body target running the short and medium routes over the middle, Fiedorowicz has arguably been the most consistent and reliable option for Osweiler over their last six games.
In fact, check out this comparison of their stats since Week 4.
- Hopkins – 62 targets, 29 receptions, 259 yards, 1 touchdown
- Fiedorowicz – 39 targets, 27 receptions, 298 yards, 3 touchdowns
So, Hopkins has been targeted more, but Fiedorowicz has put up more fantasy points over the Texans last six games.
Fiedorowicz is still touchdown dependent, but the Raiders have struggled against the pass, they’ve given up the eighth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and Fiedorowicz has been Osweiler’s most productive target, so he’s a good play this week.
Verdict: Good bye week replacement in standard leagues. Solid cap-saver play in daily leagues.
Two missed field goals from 49 and 50 yards last week vs. Jacksonville were frustrating, but Nick Novak still has some fantasy value going forward.
So, not a must-start in standard leagues every week, but a good streaming option for those playing the matchups week to week. Novak is also a good option for daily leagues whenever he has favorable matchup since his price tag shouldn’t be very high.
So, is this week favorable enough to play Novak?
While the thin air of Mexico City should add distance to the long-range kicks that have been problematic for Novak, the Texans offense isn’t trustworthy on the road.
The offensive struggles have obviously impacted Novak’s fantasy value as these home/road splits will show (per game averages).
- Home – 5.5 combined field goal and extra point attempts with 9.8 points scored
- Road – 3.25 combined field goal and extra point attempts with 5.5 points scored
Verdict: Sit in standard leagues. I’d play Cairo Santos instead in daily fantasy.
Don’t play the Houston Texans defense this week.
This year the Raiders rank:
- Sixth in passing yards per game and have thrown for 17 TD to just 3 INT.
- Fourth in both rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns.
- Fifth in points scored per game.
- Have given up the second fewest fantasy points to opposing team defenses at 0.2 per game.
Yeah you read that right, fantasy defenses have averaged 0.2 points per game against the Raiders.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
Top 5 Starts of the Week:
- Ben Roethlisberger (at Cleveland)
- Tom Brady (at San Francisco)
- Marcus Mariota (at Indianapolis)
- Andrew Luck (vs Tennessee)
- Drew Brees (at Carolina)
- Le’Veon Bell (at Cleveland)
- DeMarco Murray (at Indianapolis)
- LeGarrette Blount (at San Francisco)
- Ezekiel Elliott (vs Baltimore)
- LeSean McCoy (at Cincinnati)
- Antonio Brown (at Cleveland)
- Odell Beckham Jr. (vs Chicago)
- Mike Evans (at Kansas City)
- A.J. Green (vs Buffalo)
- Dez Bryant (vs Baltimore)
- Greg Olsen (vs New Orleans)
- Delanie Walker (at Indianapolis)
- Jordan Reed (vs Green Bay)
- Tyler Eifert (vs Buffalo)
- Jimmy Graham (vs Philadelphia)
- Arizona (at Minnesota)
- Seattle (vs Philadelphia)
- Miami (at LA)
- Kansas City (vs Tampa Bay)
- Pittsburgh (at Cleveland)