What Houston Texans players still hold value at this point? It’s time to look at the Fantasy Football picture as the season is starting to wind down. The Top 5 matchups as well as whom to hire/fire from your squad are discussed.
After the New York Jets took a 22-19 lead in the fourth quarter on Saturday, many Houston Texans fans were in a panic. Houston was on the verge of losing their second game in a row and opening the door for Indianapolis and Tennessee to tighten up the race in the AFC South.
But while panic was in the mind of their loyal admirers, it never crossed the minds of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. The Clemson connection collaborated on a 14-yard touchdown pass that put the Texans back on top and on their way to a 29-22 victory after ace kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn added a 40-yard field goal. A crisis was averted and the celebration was on.
And then to make the weekend even better for Houston fans, Pittsburgh knocked off New England on Sunday to put the Texans in the number two spot in the AFC. If the Texans win their last two games, they will get a bye in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
With the Texans likely to win their season finale against a Jacksonville team that has largely turned into a joke, their battle with Philadelphia on Sunday will likely decide whether they get a bye or not. New England has two winnable games with Buffalo and the Jets at home.
And the Eagles, left for dead after a Week 14 loss to Dallas, are very much alive again after stunning the Rams in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Rallying once more around Nick Foles, who started his third game of the season in relief of Carson Wentz, the defending champions could give the Texans a very tough test.
The unlikely hero for Philadelphia was running back Wendall Smallwood, who scored two touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery, who had been a slump not that long ago, caught eight passes for 160 yards. Oddly, Zach Ertz, one of the best tight ends in the NFL, has just eight catches for 60 yards over the past two games.
Can Ertz rebound against the Texans? You bet he can, especially given Houston’s vulnerabilities against tight ends this season. He remains one of the best at his position and we would start him and Jeffery. While Foles is nothing more than a two-quarterback league option, at least he does not drain the life out of receivers like many other backups do. However, we would not start the other inconsistent members of Philadelphia’s pass game, such as Golden Tate, Nelson Agholor, and Dallas Goedert.
And we would have a hard time starting any component of Philadelphia’s backfield given how well the Houston Texans defend the run. Smallwood, Josh Adams, and seemingly ageless Darren Sproles have had their moments, but ultimately not enough of them. Normally, Adams is their biggest touchdown threat, but he was slowed by a back issue Sunday night, enabling Smallwood to steal his thunder.
The Texans have backfield issues of their own in the wake of Lamar Miller’s ankle injury and Alfred Blue’s unbelievably poor showing in relief of Miller at the Meadowlands. Signs are currently pointing towards Miller being able to play against the Eagles. Could we also see D’Onta Foreman make his 2018 debut? Until we have more transparency, Miller needs to be viewed as more of a flex, especially since Philadelphia is more attackable through the air. It could be another big week for Watson and Hopkins, with Demaryius Thomas a potential WR3.
And of course, you want to start Ka’imi Fairbairn and the Texans defense.
With this being Super Bowl week in most fantasy leagues, this will be our final fantasy column of the season. Thanks to all who have enjoyed reading this each and every week. With this representing a point of conclusion near the Christmas season, this will be a special edition as we will offer wishes for all 32 NFL teams. Some of the wishes will be steeped in fantasy while others in reality. Do not worry, we will still have some game previews and Hired/Fired, but we thought this would be a fun thing to do during this festive time of year:
CHRISTMAS WISH LIST:
Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen needs Santa Claus to bring him a legitimate number one receiver and some other playmakers. Allen, thought to be extremely raw coming out of Wyoming, has exceeded expectations as a rookie. It would be great if he actually had some help.
Miami Dolphins – Whoever coaches the Dolphins next year needs to utilize Kenyan Drake properly. Of course, I had that thought back in week one, so why change now?
New England Patriots – That Rob Gronkowski’s reputation is not further sullied by being out there on defense when he never should have been in the first place.
New York Jets – Much like Josh Allen, Sam Darnold has looked good enough to give the Jets hope for the future. As Texans fans saw, Robby Anderson has clicked with Darnold of late, but New York still needs to give Darnold a lot more support.
Baltimore Ravens – Lots of good tidings to the exciting Lamar Jackson. Let’s hope in 2019 that Jackson grows significantly as a passer, because he could be a major fantasy force if that happens.
Cincinnati Bengals – No injury issues for A.J. Green next year. The Bengals and fantasy teams are not the same without him. Green, who came into the league in 2011, should have still have some prime years ahead if his health cooperates.
Cleveland Browns – More people recognizing Nick Chubb is pretty darn good. While Baker Mayfield has impressed and earned hype, he is not the only rookie who has given Cleveland a bright future for the first time in quite awhile.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Hopefully Ben Roethlisberger will provide a few more years of good production. As long as Ben is out there, fantasy owners can count on the Pittsburgh offense.
Houston Texans – Can the jolly man from the North Pole give Will Fuller a Christmas gift of good health? The Texans operate at another level offensively whenever Fuller is on the field.
Jacksonville Jaguars – There are two wishes for Jacksonville. One is that the Jaguars find an adequate quarterback and the other is that Leonard Fournette is not a draft bust next year like he was this year.
Tennessee Titans – The Derrick Henry we have seen over the past two weeks is the Derrick Henry we see way more often in 2019.
Denver Broncos – For John Elway to finally find a quarterback who has the potential to be another John Elway.
Kansas City Chiefs – They have their own John Elway in Patrick Mahomes. Here is hoping that Mahomes stays healthy throughout his career, as he has brought so much fun to the NFL.
Los Angeles Chargers – Philip Rivers gets a much-deserved ring before he retires.
Dallas Cowboys – Continued growth from what looks to be a great partnership between Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott.
New York Giants – When the Eli Manning era finally ends, the Giants land a quarterback who can immediately flourish with all of the skill position talent they already have.
Philadelphia Eagles – That 2018 is just a bump in the road for Carson Wentz.
Washington Redskins – Once upon a time, the Redskins were a top organization and a fun one. There was the Over the Hill Gang, followed by the Hogs and then the Posse. Today, Washington is a joke with dwindling fan support that is praised for being 7-7. Dan Snyder may never get it, but it would be nice to see the Redskins regain respectability.
Chicago Bears – Further growth from Mitchell Trubisky as the Bears are ahead of schedule in their quest to win their first title since 1985.
Detroit Lions – Better health for Kerryon Johnson next year, as he looked to be the difference-making running back Detroit has been lacking for years.
Green Bay Packers – A new coach who makes Aaron Rodgers himself again.
Minnesota Vikings – That what we saw on Sunday is what we will see all of next season.
Atlanta Falcons – A new offensive coordinator who can get results consistently, not just some of the time. Also, it would be really nice to see a rebound from Devonta Freeman.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A full season from O.J. Howard. Yes, there are lots of other wishes that need to come true in Tampa, but we will keep it simple as we want to see more from the game-breaking tight end.
Arizona Cardinals – They have all struggled at times, but Josh Rosen has struggled more than any of the other first-round quarterbacks. With a coaching change potentially on the horizon in the Valley of the Sun, the future of the Cardinals will be a lot brighter if Rosen gets on track next year.
Los Angeles Rams – A return to health for Cooper Kupp would make the Rams whole again.
San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Shanahan’s teams have never quit throughout his first two seasons despite plenty of adversity. Hopefully Shanahan will coach some meaningful games next December.
Seattle Seahawks – A full year from Doug Baldwin next year. Up until this season, Baldwin had been very steady.
THREE FOR THE ROAD:
With our Christmas wish list special, there will be no “Take Five” this week, but we still wanted to spotlight some key contests that will make a major impact on the playoff race. Hired/Fired will follow, but as usual, some of the players mentioned in the game previews are capable of being hired or fired and will be looked at here as opposed to during that portion of this column.
Baltimore at Los Angeles Chargers:
While Los Angeles won in dramatic fashion in Kansas City and punched their ticket to the playoffs, the running Ravens churned out a 20-12 win over Tampa Bay to stay in contention for either the AFC North title or a wild card spot.
Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards took different paths to the NFL, with Jackson being a first-round pick and Edwards being an undrafted free agent. But during Baltimore’s 4-1 run since their Week 10 bye, the duo has worked in perfect harmony to resurrect a Baltimore offense that had gone stale. In the win over Tampa Bay, Edwards rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown while Jackson threw for a score and collected 95 yards on the ground.
It has been Jackson’s rushing ability that has given him fantasy respectability. He is still a work in progress as a passer. While the Chargers represent a stiff test, the Ravens will again crank up their running game to the point where Jackson will again muster up low-end QB1 numbers. Edwards is an RB2 against a defense that just gave up three touchdowns to Kansas City’s backfield. With the emphasis on the run, Baltimore’s wide receivers have lost their value and none can be trusted during Super Bowl week. Kicker Justin Tucker remains a solid starter, but this is not an ideal matchup for Baltimore’s defense. Feel free to search for a streaming defense with more upside.
There could be both good news and bad news for Los Angeles on the injury front. It appears as though star running back Melvin Gordon will be back for this one. Even though it is far from an ideal matchup and he will have to knock off some rust, Gordon is an RB1 for owners who survived the earlier portions of the playoffs without him.
However, Keenan Allen may be a game-time decision. Allen has to be started if active. Should he not be able to go, Mike Williams, who caught two touchdowns and the game-winning two-point conversion against Kansas City, may step to the forefront again, with home run threats Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin also capable of big games. We still would have reservations about starting any Charger receivers outside of Allen and Mike Williams, as worse-case scenarios are probable with Baltimore giving up only 202.6 passing yards per game. The haunting presence of Baltimore’s defense makes Philip Rivers a QB2.
Kicker Mike Badgley ought to rebound from a quiet night in Kansas City with points expected to be at more of a premium. Jackson has been vulnerable to turnovers, so if a more enticing streamer is not available, you can use the Los Angeles defense.
Pittsburgh at New Orleans:
Thanks to a tailspin by the Los Angeles Rams, the Saints need one win to earn homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Speaking of tailspins, fantasy owners not invested in New Orleans from a rooting perspective are hoping Drew Brees snaps out of a three-game funk. He has thrown only two touchdowns during that span, although he did have a rushing score in Week 14 against Tampa Bay. It is important to note all three of those games were on the road. Brees is a much better bet at the Superdome and ought to get back on track in a game where the Saints may need to keep up with Pittsburgh’s potent offense.
Like Brees, Michael Thomas is also a better bet in the Superdome and will be hoping to score his first touchdown since Week 11. As the passing game has not been as effective, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have helped keep the offense afloat. Kamara, now up to 16 touchdowns on the year, is always capable of overall number one RB1 production while Ingram has proven to be a relatively safe flex. All of the core Saints are good to go if you need to rely on them during title week, including kicker Will Lutz. We would steer clear of the New Orleans defense, even though Ben Roethlisberger is occasionally capable of hosting an interception carnival.
Roethlisberger, like Brees, is more of a magician at home than on the road. But with the help of Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster, he should be able to put the Saints under a spell at times and be an important cog in your team’s potential title machine. Of course Brown and Smith-Schuster are great starts, but it may be Smith-Schuster who has the bigger day. Brown was more productive in Sunday’s win over New England and sometimes the script turns the following game.
Jaylen Samuels, filling in for James Conner against New England, added more fuel to the “Who Needs Le’Veon Bell” fire, rushing for 142 yards while adding 30 yards through the air. Conner is not expected back in New Orleans, which ensures another productive outing for Samuels. The Pittsburgh defense needs to be parked on your bench. And while good offenses usually provide plenty of fantasy value for kickers, do not consider Chris Boswell for your lineup.
Kansas City at Seattle:
After a stunning loss to the San Francisco 49ers in overtime, Seattle needs to get back on track Sunday night against a Chiefs squad that squandered an opportunity to put the AFC West away against the Los Angeles Chargers.
One of the positives the Seahawks could take out of the loss was the performance of Doug Baldwin. Injuries have hampered Baldwin, but he fought a winning fight against the 49ers secondary, gathering in four passes for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Baldwin and running backs Chris Carson (six receptions) and Mike Davis (eight receptions) were Russell Wilson’s main targets. Tyler Lockett, Seattle’s leading receiver, was quiet, finishing with two catches for 45 yards.
We would advocate forgiveness for Lockett, who could win you a championship with one big play. Baldwin looks to be a trustable WR2 again and Russell Wilson is a compelling starter as Seattle may have to throw more than usual. That will not stop them from utilizing Carson, who can be found on the lower end of the RB1 scale, but at some point, teams inevitably have to chase points against Kansas City. We would not chase last week’s output from Davis, though. Third receiver David Moore has had his moments as a rookie, but should not be started during Super Bowl week. Nor should Seattle’s defense, especially after getting picked apart by Nick Mullens.
If you are in a fantasy league where players get points for tackles, last week proved kicker Sebastian Janikowski will not help you in that area. On kicking merit alone, Seabass is an acceptable choice.
In the loss to Los Angeles, Patrick Mahomes was quieter than usual. Mahomes still mustered up 243 passing yards and two touchdowns and his night would have been better had he and Tyreek Hill made connections on what would have been a long scoring play in the fourth quarter. Hill, who has not scored since Week 11, is probably due for a big game. Travis Kelce, who did not score against the Chargers, could do some damage against a Seattle defense that just allowed a long score to San Francisco’s Garrett Celek. Needless to say, all three superstars can be counted on in the quest for a championship.
Kicker Harrison Butker is another player you can count on, especially since this might be a week where the Chiefs try more field goals than usual. Continue to shy away from the Kansas City defense. We are not sure yet who will pace the Kansas City backfield. Damien Williams was a hero in the fantasy community last week with 123 total yards and two touchdowns, but if Spencer Ware returns, Williams is not going to offer the same production. If Ware plays, both are flexes. If Ware sits, do not hesitate to roll with Damien once again.
Welcome to Hired/Fired, our weekly rundown of who you need to bring onto your roster and who you need to release, or at least move to your bench.
RB Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers – With Aaron Jones now on injured reserve, Williams will lead the Green Bay backfield against the Jets. More functional than dynamic, volume will enable Williams to help fantasy owners.
RB Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins – Frank Gore is out for the season and we all know the Dolphins will not use Kenyan Drake, making Ballage intriguing, especially after a long touchdown run against Minnesota’s tough defense.
WR Robert Foster, Buffalo Bills – It has gotten a bit easier to roll the dice on a Bills player with Josh Allen on the rise. Foster has posted over 100 yards in each of his last two games. Undoubtedly, the Patriots will do what they can to slow Foster, but in a game where the Bills could see a fair amount of garbage time, he could enjoy a third straight showing of significance.
Cleveland Browns Defense – Oh how strange it is to be at the end of an NFL season and advocating for the Browns defense. However, with Cincinnati’s top two receivers sidelined and Jeff Driskel still starting at quarterback, all the Browns have to do is shut down Joe Mixon. While that is easier said than done, Cleveland gathered a big lead on Cincinnati earlier in the season and could do it again, reducing Mixon’s ceiling and setting themselves up for sacks and turnovers.
Tennessee Titans Defense – After shutting out the New York Giants, Tennessee gets another favorable draw with Washington heading to Nashville. It would be nicer if they were facing Mark Sanchez instead of Josh Johnson, but with the Titans chasing a playoff spot, they could notch some nice numbers.
QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The potential return of DeSean Jackson helps, but Winston has tailed off the past couple of weeks and Dallas will be in a bad mood after getting clobbered by the Colts.
RB LeGarrette Blount, Detroit Lions – It has been an up and down since for Blount, and it is closing on a downer as Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick are leading the Lions backfield with Kerryon Johnson out for the season.
WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers – While Moore has enjoyed some nice moments during his rookie season, the absence of Cam Newton takes him off the map.
How are you feeling going into the final weeks of Fantasy Football? Feel free to comment in the section below.
Interested in writing for Locked on Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Rob and Brian’s final sign-off from Locked on Texans
Brian and Robert say goodbye to Locked on Texans. After 540 episodes, we bid a tearful farewell to Houston Texans faithful, reminisce about our tenure and share some final thoughts on the Houston Texans future.
Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season
The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.
The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.
DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.
While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.
Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.
In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.
His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.
An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.
The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Identifying the team’s most glaring weaknesses
What are the Houston Texans biggest weaknesses going into the 2019 off season? Rob and Brian bring on State of the Texans’ BigRon to discuss what needs to be done to fix a team that has tons of potential to be dominant. What’s the best way to improve the offensive line? Is Julién Davenport still worth developing and what should we expect to see in additional development?
How about the thought of shifting Greg Mancz to center and Nick Martin to guard? The trio also discusses the future of Whitney Mercilus on the roster as well as certain defensive lineman not getting enough playing time. What else? Take a listen to find out more!
Houston Texans: Le’Veon Bell and plethora of free agent running backs
What’s the best way for the Houston Texans to fix the running backs position for the 2019 season? They certainly can do better than bringing back Alfred Blue. Rob and Brian talk about what the team needs to do and gives their top free agent running backs to help this offense flourish. Is bringing in Le’Veon Bell a possibility? Can the Houston Texans get the back they want in this season’s draft?
The duo discusses that plus gives their thoughts of Indianapolis Colts’ firing offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the interesting back story that likely factored into the move. Plus, Gary Kubiak finds a new job in the NFL. What else? Take a listen to find out more!