By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
Fantasy football can sometimes lead to conflicted cheering for NFL fans each Sunday; do I root for my own team or for my fantasy player going against my favorite team?
It’s nice to match those two interests up by drafting players from your favorite team, but unfortunately that won’t be an option for fans of the Houston Texans this season.
The Texans rank 31st in yards and 29th in points on offense through two weeks, and without an unlikely dramatic change, most of their players will not only be unworthy of starting, they’re also unworthy of even having on your roster.
Things change week to week though with different matchups, so let’s go through the starts and sits for Week 3 against the New England Patriots.
Deshaun Watson’s fantasy value week to week—for now—is totally dependent on his production as a runner.
Look up the passing charts for his Week 2 game at Cincinnati and you’ll see the same things your eyes saw watching the game: If DeAndre Hopkins isn’t open, Watson immediately looks for the check down option to the running back.
That might be a wise decision by the young quarterback from a game managing standpoint, but it kills anyone using him in fantasy.
Watson so far has either been unable to or coached not to look deep down the field, so his fantasy production as a passer sits near the bottom of the league. Looking only at his passing stats, his 125 yards without a touchdown was only good enough for five fantasy points in most standard leagues.
However, his 67 yards and a touchdown as a rusher netted his owners 12 points, and saved the day fantasy wise.
So, do you trust him as a runner? My guess is Bill Belichick will scheme up a way to take that option away from the rookie, and force Watson to beat them with his arm.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.
The three running backs who have carried the ball for the Texans this season are averaging 3.6, 3.4, and 2.7 yards per carry respectively.
With the Texans using a run-first scheme volume could overcome the inefficiency, but a bigger problem exists for fantasy owners.
For now Lamar Miller remains their lead back, but the rookie D’Onta Foreman will continue to split reps and see his workload increase over the season. Until either player emerges as the clear feature back or the primary goal line option, neither player will be worth using as anything more than a flex.
Avoid running back by committee players as much as possible.
Specifically in this matchup against the Patriots, the odds of the Texans falling behind and having to abandon the run while playing catch-up is high. The Patriots will also know going into the game that the Texans will look to run first to protect their rookie quarterback, and in response likely load up the box until Watson proves he can beat them deep.
Not a favorable matchup.
Verdict: Sit both Miller and Foreman in daily leagues, look for better flex options than Miller in yearly leagues.
Do you own DeAndre Hopkins? Start him.
Do you own any other Texans receiver? Sit him.
Hopkins has been targeted 29 times this season—most in the NFL and four more than second place Dez Bryant—while the Texans’ second most targeted wide receiver—Braxton Miller—has only been targeted four times.
That being said, Hopkins’ struggles against the Patriots can’t be ignored. Likely due to the way they bracket and double him with safety help over the top, Hopkins has averaged just three receptions for 61 yards over three career games against the Patriots, and has yet to score a touchdown.
Verdict: Avoid Hopkins in daily, start as a WR2 in yearly, avoid all other Texans WRs.
With C.J. Fiedorowicz out until November with concussion problems, the Texans don’t have a tight end worth owning in fantasy football.
Verdict: Avoid all tight ends until Fiedorowicz returns.
The Texans defense is a top 5 option most weeks unless they have a bad matchup; this is one of those weeks.
Eventually J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will rack up sacks and help the fantasy value of the Texans defense, but Tom Brady and the Patriots are masters of masking protection issues with a quick passing game.
Their pass rush will be neutralized and without that you’ll be better off looking for a defense with a better matchup like Denver vs Buffalo, Miami vs the New York Jets, or Baltimore vs Jacksonville.
Verdict: Sit in daily leagues, look for one-week streaming options on the waiver wire in yearly leagues.
The Texans offense isn’t good enough to make their kicker relevant in fantasy football.
Ka’imi Fairbairn is a talented kicker with a leg big enough to make the 50+ yard field goals that get bonus points in some leagues, but his offense doesn’t consistently move the ball into scoring range enough to give him the attempts needed for fantasy.
Verdict: Sit in all formats.