By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)
It’s time to adjust our expectations, not just with the win-loss record for the Houston Texans, but also with the fantasy football production from their key players.
Doing something once is nice, but when a good performance like Deshaun Watson had against the New England Patriots in Week 3 is not only repeated, but topped in dramatic fashion, it’s natural to overreact.
My predictions and advice has moved in a positive direction, but I’ll stick to the numbers and try to keep the emotion out of these decisions.
Watson has been incredible the last two weeks, but the quality of the defenses he faced can’t be ignored.
The Patriots and Tennessee Titans rank 32nd and 31st respectively in standard ESPN leagues in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Watson’s tremendous skill is part of the reason why they rank at the bottom, not trying to discredit his accomplishments, but those teams gave up big fantasy production before and after they faced Watson.
His opponent this week is the Kansas City Chiefs who rank 11th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and are overall a much better defense.
Against a better defense and with another week of film available for veteran coaches to game plan against, expect Watson’s numbers this week to be closer to his production against the Cincinnati Bengals.
I’m not predicting he’ll be held to 125 yards passing again—they hadn’t put in the full Watson playbook yet with a short week Thursday night game—but I’d be surprised to see him pass for 300 yards or score 5 touchdowns like he did over the last two weeks.
Instead expect something like 225 yards passing and two touchdowns; good numbers, but not player of the week territory.
Remember that even if his total passing yards drop below 200, you build up fantasy points quicker with rushing yards than passing, so his ability to make plays with his legs will maintain his fantasy value.
Verdict: Fringe starter in yearly leagues with 10-12 teams. Great bye week replacement option, or cheap money saver in daily leagues if his cap number hasn’t been adjusted too high.
The Chiefs defense has been even tougher on opposing running backs this season, allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points per game in standard ESPN leagues.
Despite that concern, Miller has had enough volume with his touches to still be worth starting in almost every matchup. Miller was given 19 carries, caught four passes, and had 126 total yards with a touchdown last week against Tennessee.
There is still a concern of Miller being touchdown dependent, but he’s clearly their lead back and their new Watson offense featuring him more as a receiving threat makes him consistent and reliable enough to keep in your lineup.
Verdict: Start Miller as an RB2, but continue to sit Foreman in all formats.
DeAndre Hopkins still leads all NFL players in targets with 49—four more than Antonio Brown—and after Week 4 led all players in receptions as well.
Getting matched up with Marcus Peters this week is tough and should concern fantasy owners a little, but the numbers don’t back up that concern. In their two regular season matchups over the last two seasons, Hopkins has been targeted 24 times, has 16 receptions, 211 yards, and three touchdowns.
Even when he’s covered by an elite corner, the volume of targets Hopkins will receive each week makes him a no doubt WR1.
Will Fuller ranking in the top 10 for fantasy points by receivers again this week is unlikely, but I like him as a flex play. With Peters likely on Hopkins all game, Fuller should see an increase in targets both on plays where he’s the focus, and when Watson has to come off his first read and look for someone else.
In the Texans game against the Chiefs last season, Fuller had 104 yards on four receptions.
Verdict: Start DeAndre Hopkins in all formats as a WR1, consider Fuller a solid flex play.
The Chiefs have allowed an average of just four receptions per game by the tight ends of their opponents this season. Not four receptions by the primary tight end mind you, just four receptions combined for every tight end on their roster.
On top of the limited touches, the Chiefs haven’t allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end this season.
The Texans don’t have a tight end talented enough to overcome the matchup, or worth gambling that they’ll get a lucky redzone touchdown.
Keep them all benched until C.J. Fiedorowicz returns.
Verdict: Sit them all in all formats.
Boy was I wrong about the Texans defense last week.
Not only did they hold the Titans to a low enough point total to get fantasy points in leagues that award points allowed, but the turnovers and Dylan Cole’s late touchdown were enough to put them in a tie for first place with the Seattle Seahawks for the highest scoring team defense of the week in fantasy.
As awesome as last week was, my gut is telling me to be cautious about starting them this week.
The Chiefs also rank second in yards gained per game, and second in points scored per game.
Besides the numbers, the matchup of the Texans linebackers in coverage and their inability to set the edge consistently this year has me concerned against a group of very speedy offensive weapons with a creative coach like Andy Reid.
Verdict: Fringe starter in 10 or 12 team yearly leagues, avoid in daily leagues.
The Texans offense improving with Watson at quarterback has also upped the kick attempts for their rookie kicker.
Ka’imi Fairbairn ranks fourth in fantasy points by kickers currently thanks in large part to his 18 points last week.
I’d still rather have kickers like Stephen Gostkowski or Matt Bryant who are reliable veterans on teams who score a lot of points, and also probably Greg Zuerlein and Will Lutz who have done it for more than one year and are also on high-scoring teams, but Fairbairn has shown a strong leg and hasn’t missed a field goal this season on nine attempts, so he should be starting in most leagues with 10 teams or more.
Verdict: Pickup and start if your kicker has a tough matchup, is on a bye, or you’re a hard luck Justin Tucker owner being killed by the Ravens offense. Top 10 fantasy kicker so far this season.