It’s time to wrap up Week 1 and gear up for Week 2! Who are the top fantasy football plays for the Houston Texans? Plus, take a look at the Top 5 matchups around the NFL and who to hire or fire for your fantasy squad.
Houston Texans fans, although Clemson is a national powerhouse in college football, the Tigers usually are not gathering a lot of attention in Texas unless they sign a big recruit or are playing for all the marbles.
But over the weekend, “Clemson” was a bad word for many Texans. First, the Tigers escaped College Station with a narrow 28-26 loss over the up-and-coming Texas A&M Aggies.
Then, the Clemson duo on the Houston Texans, Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, produced uneven fantasy days as the Houston Texans suffered another loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. Hopkins produced 78 yards on eight receptions, but his yardage took a tumble as he lost seven yards on a reverse. Watson was disappointing, throwing for just 176 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an interception, although he produced 40 yards on the ground. Nonetheless, at least out of the gate, Watson did not justify his high draft position.
There were some bright spots for Houston, such as Lamar Miller rushing for 98 yards and Bruce Ellington finding the end zone with Will Fuller out of action. The Houston Texans generated three turnovers and D.J. Reader, ironically a former Clemson player, had two sacks.
Fortunately, the Houston Texans have a great chance at rebounding this week against a reeling Tennessee Titans squad. The Titans lost to Miami in a weather-delayed game and also lost tight end Delanie Walker for the season. The status of quarterback Marcus Mariota may also be in doubt, although the odds seem to be decent he will start. If Blaine Gabbert is starting instead of Mariota, the Houston defense becomes an even better play than they already are.
As for the Houston Texans offense, it would certainly help open things up if Fuller returns. Because he would be coming back from injury, Fuller’s boom/bust identity would be further enhanced, but we must flash back to last season when the Houston Texans defeated the Titans 57-14 when their full cast was in place. Fuller caught two touchdown passes as Watson threw for four scores and ran for another. Miller and Hopkins also visited the end zone. This week should see the Houston Texans getting well and producing better fantasy days.
The top fantasy player for the Titans in week one was running back Dion Lewis, who generated 110 total yards and a score. Backfield mate Derrick Henry received the same amount of carries as Lewis and had a long touchdown run called back by a penalty. Corey Davis hauled in six passes for 62 yards to lead the Titans in receiving. If Mariota is out, the Titans would likely lean even more on Lewis and Henry, with Davis continuing to function as their top receiver with Walker lost for the season and veteran Rishard Matthews still getting up to speed after missing the preseason. Mariota would not be the greatest option even if healthy.
Now that we have concluded our takes on the Houston Texans, we will delve into five of the most interesting games of the week in our Take Five segment. After that, we will debut our Hired/Fired feature where we explore what players need to be acquired onto your roster and what players need to be removed. Some of the players featured in Take Five will be covered under the sphere of roster additions and subtractions and will not be duplicated in the Hired/Fired feature. Yes, it’s a ploy to get you to read everything. And yes, we promise it will be worth it:
Minnesota at Green Bay:
Anyone who saw Aaron Rodgers rally the Pack back from a huge halftime deficit against archrival Chicago will never forget it. Visions of Rodgers being lost for the season were replaced by Rodgers showing again that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. We all knew heading into the season that Davante Adams was cemented as Green Bay’s number one receiver. Adams was gold, going for 88 yards and a touchdown, but Randall Cobb had a game for the ages and eclipsed Adams by burning the Bears defense for 142 yard and the game-winning 75 yard touchdown.
One player who could be on your league’s waiver wire is Geronimo Allison. In his third season out of Illinois, Allison posted five receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. On the surface, Allison is behind Adams, Cobb, and tight end Jimmy Graham, who had a disappointing opener, in the Packers pecking order. But he has shown he can play, and when the bye week blues set in later in the season, players like Allison who have great quarterbacks and are always capable of big weeks become valuable. You can do a lot worse when it comes to players on your bench.
Running back Jamaal Williams had 15 carries and will again get a workhorse role with Aaron Jones serving the final game of a two-game suspension. Unfortunately, facing the Vikings is not an enjoyable task. There might be some mystery with Rodgers, as his knee obviously is not 100 percent. Still, if we are playing a hunch, we suspect he will play as he undoubtedly will want revenge on a Vikings defense, specifically Anthony Barr, that essentially ended his 2017 season.
Going into the season, Minnesota was regarded as a friendly fantasy team and they lived up to that reputation in a 24-16 victory over San Francisco. Kirk Cousins threw for 244 yards and a touchdown, with Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph hauling in his touchdown strikes. Adam Thielen had over 100 yards receiving. Dalvin Cook did cede some carries to Latavius Murray, but still pitched in 95 total yards and showed the promise he did as a rookie before suffering a season-ending injury.
All of the offensive entities will make fine starters once again. However, the Vikings defense, despite notching a pick six against San Francisco, will not be regarded as highly as they normally are in a tough matchup.
New England at Jacksonville:
These teams last squared off in the AFC Championship, with New England getting everything they could handle from the upstart Jaguars before earning another trip to the Super Bowl. And Jacksonville will potentially head into the rematch with a major question mark. Running back Leonard Fournette left Jacksonville’s opening day victory over the New York Giants with a hamstring injury. Although the buzz seems to indicate Fournette is not dealing with a serious injury, the Jaguars will be very vulnerable if their top offensive player is not about to play. T.J. Yeldon rushed for 51 yards and caught a touchdown pass and would serve as Jacksonville’s lead runner if Fournette is unable to play. Yeldon is a must-add for Fournette owners and anyone needing help at the RB and flex spots.
Giving quarterback Blake Bortles more responsibility is usually not a recipe for success, but Jacksonville may have no choice. Wide receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook continue to show promise and are worth a look in free agency where available. Still, we are not terribly high on any of the Jaguars offense and the Jacksonville defense is naturally riskier than usual.
While Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski provided plenty of headaches for the Houston Texans, wide receiver Chris Hogan was a huge disappointment in the fantasy community, catching just one pass for 11 yards. Surprisingly, former Colts draft bust Phillip Dorsett caught seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Running back Rex Burkhead was not heavily involved in the passing game, but had 18 carries. With Jeremy Hill now out for the season and rookie Sony Michel having not made his NFL debut yet, Burkhead and James White will continue to be useable as flex players. Burkhead’s status needs to be monitored as he is in the concussion protocol. With Jacksonville’s defense remaining formidable, expectations need to be held in check for all of New England’s offensive players, but probably more so Dorsett and Hogan. For the reasons listed above, the New England defense has some upside to offer streamers.
Kansas City at Pittsburgh:
What a strange week one it was for the Steelers, who finished in a tie with the Cleveland Browns thanks to a parade of turnovers. Once you get past that, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster dazzled as usual and running back James Conner starred as Le’Veon Bell remained AWOL. Conner accumulated 192 yards and two touchdowns and will remain an every week fantasy starter until something happens with Bell’s status to change that. At this point, Conner is probably long gone from the waiver wire in many leagues. If for some reason he is out there, go after him as fast as you can.
Additionally for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger is poised for a rebound. As is so often pointed out in the fantasy world, Ben is back at home and is a much different quarterback in the friendly confines of Heinz Field. Plus, Kansas City’s defense was just picked apart by Philip Rivers.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, their offense is more than good enough to compensate for the current shortcomings of their defense. Tyreek Hill won many fantasy games on Sunday with 169 receiving yards and three touchdowns (one on a punt return) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed why he was so hyped by tossing four touchdown passes. Ironically, two of Kansas City’s biggest fantasy stars, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce, were flops. Hunt was held to 49 yards by the Los Angeles Chargers defense and Kelce was extremely dreadful, catching one pass for six yards. Free agent acquisition Sammy Watkins was another dud, catching three passes for 21 yards.
Things will improve for Hunt and Kelce and we can give them a mulligan for last Sunday. Things will also improve for Watkins at some point, but giving him some time on your bench can be justified if you have other players inspiring a greater level of confidence.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay:
After Tampa Bay shocked the New Orleans Saints in a 48-40 upset, this game got way more interesting. Let’s start with Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is going to be added to gazillions of fantasy rosters after throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns. The man commonly known as “Fitzmagic” also ran for 36 yards and another score. Fitzpatrick has always been a gunslinger, and his highs are often followed by lows. A precipitous drop could be coming against the world champion Eagles.
But while a tough day could be in the cards against an excellent Eagles defense, Fitzpatrick may have still given the Buccaneers brass something to think about. Suspended Jameis Winston is due to return during week four after Tampa Bay takes on the Steelers. If Fitzpatrick can play well against both teams from the Keystone state, does he keep the job? If he does, he is going to deliver the fantasy goods and is worth bringing onto your roster in the event that happens. Tampa Bay’s supporting cast is excellent for any quarterback. Former Texas A&M Aggie Mike Evans is an elite receiver. O.J. Howard is emerging at tight end. DeSean Jackson showed he had plenty left in the tank against the Saints. And then there is Chris Godwin, a second-year player who is positioning himself for an outstanding career. With Jackson suffering a concussion and shoulder injury against the Saints, Godwin needs to be grabbed off the waiver wire.
Running back Peyton Barber will remain in the flex conversation after getting 19 carries in the Superdome. No other Tampa running back had more than two carries. If you are deep at running back, Barber may not be the best starter this week, but if he keeps getting that kind of volume, it will pay off at some point. In many ways, Tampa Bay has rapidly become one of the most interesting teams in 2018.
The world champions performed their own version of the 1812 Overture by beating Atlanta 18-12. The Philadelphia offense, specifically quarterback Nick Foles, has not recaptured their Super Bowl form. The defense led the way against Atlanta, but the star on offense was running back Jay Ajayi. Ajayi made two trips to the end zone, although he shared work with Darren Sproles and Corey Clement. The shared workload is a small concern, but with Tampa having given up three touchdowns to Alvin Kamara, it’s more than okay to go with Jay.
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor was expected to be spotlighted due to the absence of Alshon Jeffery and Agholor caught eight passes. He caught eight passes for 33 yards. It was a zany, hilarious stat line and Agholor is capable of more yardage on Sunday. Tight end Zach Ertz had a lackluster opening with 48 yards, but more can be expected out of him as well. Foles will also be better. Nonetheless, he is not someone to start.
Baltimore at Cincinnati:
The Ravens will head to the Queen City with revenge on their minds after the Bengals knocked them out of the playoffs with a 31-27 victory during week 17 of the 2017 season. Baltimore heads into this AFC North showdown with tons of confidence after bashing Buffalo into submission in a 47-3 blowout. The Ravens remain a bit of a curious team. Everyone is already envisioning quarterback Joe Flacco being benched for Lamar Jackson, but after throwing three touchdowns in the beatdown of the Bills, Flacco has halted such talk for the time being. All of Baltimore’s offseason acquisitions at wide receiver (Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead) caught touchdown passes in the opener. Brown is a better free agent bet than Snead.
Ravens running back Alex Collins had the look of a steal on draft day. Here was a guy expected to be a workhorse back who came at a lower price than many other backs and everything looked delightful when Collins scored an early touchdown on Sunday. Then, things turned frightful as Collins lost a fumble and was a non-entity after that. Backup Javoris “Buck” Allen caught five passes and rushed for a score while Kenneth Dixon gobbled up carries in garbage time. Dixon was injured during Baltimore’s win, which probably saves Collins for now. But it makes sense to grab Allen, who had his moments during 2017. The Baltimore defense had a season worth of moments in the victory over the Bills. They will not do quite as well against the Bengals, but there is no reason to sit them in most cases.
In Cincinnati, the Bengals got what they wanted out of second-year running back Joe Mixon during their week one victory in Indianapolis. Mixon made his way through the Colts defense for 149 total yards and a touchdown. Gio Bernard was not heavily involved. Another encouraging development for Cincinnati was that tight end Tyler Eifert returned to action and remained healthy. Eifert, who scored 13 touchdowns in 2015, did not find the end zone in Indianapolis, but he will at some point. With the tight end position plagued by injuries already in 2018, Eifert has gotten more valuable.
One Bengal who could also become more valuable is John Ross. The speedster out of Washington managed just one catch on Sunday, but it went for his first NFL touchdown. He is capable of big plays at any time, as evidenced by a 57-yard touchdown in the preseason. With the Cincinnati offense being better, Ross may be someone who can pitch in off your bench occasionally during the season.
We have yet to talk about A.J. Green, which may say a lot about where the Bengals are at. The former Georgia Bulldog was part of the party in Indianapolis with six catches for 92 yards and a score. Andy Dalton earned a spot start in many leagues last week. Sitting Dalton against the Ravens would be advisable. Andy will still be handy at times down the line. Mixon and Green are the only sure-fire Bengal starters on a short week.
Welcome to Hired/Fired, our weekly rundown of who you need to bring onto your roster and who you need to send packing.
After week one, we try to emphasize patience and to avoid overreacting. You may be either disappointed or ecstatic depending on how things went, but there are plenty of fantasy teams that start hot and end up being bad. Likewise, there are teams that start bad and win championships. The firings will increase as the season continues and more patterns emerge.
RB Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos – Fantasy owners are always looking for running backs on the waiver wire, and Lindsay is going to find his way onto rosters after playing a larger than expected role in Denver’s 27-24 victory over Seattle. Lindsay, an undrafted rookie who played his college ball just up the road from Denver in Boulder at the University of Colorado, outperformed more heralded rookie Royce Freeman by slicing through the Seahawks for 102 total yards and a score. With the weak Oakland Raiders heading to Denver on Sunday, it’s highly possible game flow works in Lindsay’s favor. A repeat performance is not entirely out of the question.
RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers – Melvin Gordon is still the man for the only NFL team that plays in a soccer stadium, but Ekeler seems to have moved beyond being a mere handcuff for Gordon. Ekeler amassed five receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown and pitched in 39 rushing yards. One never seems to know what the Chargers will do, but they have a favorable matchup on paper against Buffalo on Sunday. While Ekeler may not be as involved in the passing game if Los Angeles can take care of business, he may be in position to get a larger amount of carries in garbage time mode. Long-term, he is capable of periodic flex consideration, especially in larger leagues.
WR Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets – Enunwa missed 2017 due to injury, but totaled 58 receptions in 2016. He is back and showed a rapport with rookie quarterback Sam Darnold in New York’s 48-17 thrashing on Detroit with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Robby Anderson is still the New York receiver with the best fantasy prospects, but with Darnold aiming in Enunwa’s direction quite a bit, Quincy is squarely on the path to fantasy success.
WR Brandon Marshall, Seattle Seahawks – There were plenty of skeptics when Seattle signed B-Marsh. Many thought he was done and many thought he would not make the Seahawks roster. Instead, he may play a pretty active role in Seattle’s passing game. He nabbed three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and will be counted on with Doug Baldwin out of action for at least the next couple of games. Of course, Marshall was not the only Seattle receiver who was surprising on Sunday…
TE Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks – It may have been the act of a one-hit wonder as Dissly caught three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, but the targets are there for the taking in Seattle. In addition to Baldwin being out, there is no Jimmy Graham or Paul Richardson for Russell Wilson to throw to. With quality veterans like Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen now out of action, any tight end showing promise needs to be on your watch list. The replacement for Walker is Jonnu Smith and the replacement for Olsen is Ian Thomas. Both of those players may have more promise than Dissly, but all of them have suddenly gotten a lot more interesting.
QB Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals – In most cases, Bradford is only showing up on rosters in two-quarterback leagues. It may not take long before he loses all of his value in those formats. He was wretched against Washington and now must face the Rams. The Josh Rosen watch is on in Arizona and it is only a matter of time before the retooling Cardinals turn the page on Bradford.
RB Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos – With all of the hype about Royce Freeman, Booker actually became a late-round contrarian pick as someone who was still going to have a role and came at a cheaper cost than Freeman. Well, the Broncos have sent a clear message about Booker as he was playing behind Freeman and Phillip Lindsay in their season-opening triumph over Seattle. There are lots of free agents out there who can give you more than Booker.
WR Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons – If we published fake news, we would say that the Atlanta police department was going to arrest Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian for impersonating an offensive coordinator. Another loss to the Eagles provided further proof that Sarkisian is likely going to need to be relieved of his duties at some point. Sarkisian has not done enough damage to ruin the likes of Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman, but fringe players like Sanu who usually occupy one of the last spots on fantasy benches can be sent packing for someone with more promise. The same goes for tight end Austin Hooper.
Detroit Lions Defense – The Lions still managed some points against the Jets by getting a pick six, but when you give up 48 points in a game you were widely expected to win, your fantasy stock goes down the drain, especially when you have to play San Francisco, New England, and Green Bay in three of your next four games.
New Orleans Saints Defense – You could hang onto to the Saints for this week’s matchup with Cleveland and see if they show signs of life, but no unit showed more regression from 2017 on opening weekend. After their battle with the Browns, the Saints will have the Falcons, Giants, and Redskins before a Week 6 bye. Then they have Baltimore, Minnesota, and the Los Angeles Rams on tap. If you feel the Saints will turn it around, keep them, but that is a long stretch of games where you may be looking at defenses to stream.
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Houston Texans vs. New York Giants: Week 3: Three things to watch
The Houston Texans will take on the New York Giants in their Week 3 matchup this Sunday. What are the most important things to know for this game? Here are three things to watch so take a look and find out more.
New York Giants vs. Houston Texans
My bookie line – Texans -6.5
Sunday, Sep. 23 at 12 p.m. on FOX
The Houston Texans are playing their 1st game of the 2018 season at NRG Stadium and they could certainly use some home cooking. Week 2 did not go according to plan and whether it be fans, local media, or national media, everyone agrees that the Houston Texans should not have lost that game. This week they face the New York Giants who they have not seen since the 2014 season. The Giants are also 0-2 and are coming off a 20-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night. Both teams are looking to get their 1st win and get their season back on the right track. Let’s take a look at matchups, fantasy outlook and gambling advice for this Week 3 meeting.
Matchups to watch for
QB Deshaun Watson vs. the New York Giants’ defense
The last time the Houston Texans played the Giants, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the man under center for Houston; it feels weird to say but I bet the Texans wish they still had him instead of Watson for these first two weeks of the season. This sounds like a very general matchup to watch for but given the disappointing way Watson has played the first two games. But with how pedestrian the Giants’ defense looked defending the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, I’m hoping this could be a coming out party for Deshaun.
The Cowboys were able to exploit the Giants’ secondary in the first 90 seconds of the game with a deep touchdown pass and Watson has his own deep threat in Will Fuller. Prescott was able to rush for 45 yards with an average of 6.4 yards per carry and Watson should be able to use his legs against this defense as well; they simply cannot cover dual-threat quarterbacks. Even Blake Bortles in Week 1 had 42 yards on the ground with a 10.5 YPC, so Watson should be frothing at the mouth to face the Giants.
Saquon Barkley vs. Houston’s front 7
If the New York Giants didn’t have rookie running back Saquon Barkley, then their offense would be as inept as the Arizona Cardinals. They do have Odell Beckham Jr. (more on that specifically) but Saquon is seeing a huge amount of volume. He never goes down on 1st contact and has legs bigger than Eli Manning’s torso, which was something the 14-year veteran quarterback had quipped during the off season.
Barkley only had 28 yards rushing against Dallas but was able to get loose in Week 1 versus Jacksonville for a 68-yard touchdown run. He can also catch passes out of the backfield and was targeted SIXTEEN times with 14 catches for 80 yards; that’s almost unheard of for a running back. Wide receivers would kill to get 16 targets in a game. I’m very intrigued to see J.J. Watt pursue Barkley, with Zach Cunningham and Duke Ejiofor right behind him. Eli Manning was also sacked six times in Week 2 so that is another matchup to watch for, Houston’s defense only has three sacks all season.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs Houston Secondary
Odell Beckham Jr. has yet to reach the end-zone through two games this season — he did have 11 catches for 111 yards in Week 1 but was contained in Week 2 with four catches for 51 yards. Whether he matches up with Jonathan Joseph or Aaron Colvin, I expect him to see his fair share of targets and to capitalize on any missed tackles; specifically, on slant routes. If the Texans load the box to stop Barkley and he’s matched up one-on-one on the outside, we better hope he goes down on 1st contact.
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, OBJ, and Evan Engram. Saquon and OBJ speak for themselves and I lost my fantasy matchup thanks to a meaningless Evan Engram touchdown. Engram had more catches than OBJ last week and should be started this week as well.
Houston: Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Lamar Miller. The Trio of Watson, Hopkins, and Fuller put up solid fantasy lines last week despite the loss, and Miller is a Top 5 rusher in the league. You can count on his usage week-to-week for the time being, which is tough to find in running backs.
The line for this game opened at Houston -3 and has now moved to -6.5. The public absolutely loves the Texans in this game and thinks they’re not only going to win but win by at least a touchdown. They’re actually an even -275 on the money line. This is odd because Houston has lost eight games in a row dating back to last season. It’s almost unheard of for a team that’s gone this long without winning (even though last season’s streak was without Deshaun Watson) to be favored this much in a game.
The way the Giants performed in their first two games has apparently not given bettors any reason to back them. The over/under is currently at 42 points; so, if you’re a believer in this defense or think the Giants’ offense is just inept, then I would go with the under. I mentioned in last week’s game preview that I wasn’t going to touch the game vs. the Titans but ended up doing so anyway when I saw Blaine Gabbert was warming up (we all know how that worked out). If anything, I would probably put money on the Texans money line and the under. This team, with their slow starts in the first two games, does not give me any encouragement for them to win by at least seven points.
Houston has lost their first two games by a combined 10 points, so they are not a bad football team. The key for a Texans win will be for them to start fast and not get behind by 14 points in the 1st quarter like last week, or 21-6 at halftime in New England. Hopefully playing at home in front of their fans will give them the spark they need to go pedal to the metal and not look back.
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Houston Texans: Fantasy Football Week 3: Who should be hired or fired?
Which Houston Texans players are the best plays for Fantasy Football this week? Find out more to see whom gives you the best advantage. And who should be hired or fired? Take a look and get the goods.
At this point, the Houston Texans would still be less horrifying to watch than a marathon of Progressive Auto Insurance commercials featuring the awful Flo and the even more awful Jamie, but the gap is narrowing after a terrible loss to the outmanned Tennessee Titans.
At least from a fantasy perspective, the Houston Texans had way more to offer than they did on opening weekend when they lost to New England. Will Fuller made a triumphant return by hauling in eight passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins added six catches for 110 yards and another score. And while Houston Texans fans are haunted by Deshaun Watson’s indecisiveness on what turned out to be the final play of the game, Watson threw for 310 yards plus the touchdowns to Fuller and Hopkins. Watson pitched in an additional 44 yards on the ground.
It’s sometimes funny to notate the difference between fantasy and reality. In reality, Watson’s play will live in infamy. In fantasy, there were probably owners chuckling over the play, as the 31-yard pass from Watson to Hopkins undoubtedly made the difference in some tight games.
The only significant disappointment from a Houston fantasy perspective was the performance by the Houston Texans defense. Getting one sack and zero turnovers from a team starting their backup quarterback and with several injuries across the offensive line just is not going to cut it.
Fortunately, J.J. Watt and company will get an opportunity to redeem themselves against the reeling New York Giants. The Giants, 0-2 like the Houston Texans, gave up six sacks to the Cowboys and Eli Manning also lost a fumble. If the Houston Texans defense is unable to get much going in this game, they may be making their way onto a list you will see later in this column. And that is not a list you want to be on. For now, they deserve one more chance as they will be in desperation mode.
We expect most of the main cast for the Houston Texans to perform well this week. This includes Lamar Miller, who may have a decent shot at finding the end zone for the first time this year as the Giants have already allowed scores to T.J. Yeldon and Ezekiel Elliott.
The next part of our journey will be our Take Five segment where we look at five of the most compelling games of the week. Following that will be our Hired/Fired list that takes a look at players you need to add to your roster…and players you need to waive off your roster. As we did last week, some players spotlighted in Take Five are capable of being hired or fired and will be addressed there as opposed to that portion of this column. Yes, it remains a ploy to get you to read everything and we will not apologize for it because there is plenty of good content to be had by all.
San Francisco at Kansas City:
The unstoppable Chiefs will finally be playing their first game at Arrowhead Stadium after beating the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. At some point, Patrick Mahomes may slow down somewhat…or he may not. What more needs to be said about someone who is averaging five passing touchdowns a week? The young superstar will be tested starting in week four with three straight matchups against Denver, Jacksonville, and New England, but San Francisco’s defense will not be able to stop the Mahomes freight train.
The 49ers will also not be able to shut down Travis Kelce, who scored two touchdowns against the Steelers. San Francisco has allowed two tight end touchdowns, with one going to Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph and the other against unheralded Michael Roberts of the Detroit Lions. Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt are automatics for your lineup, but before the trip to Pittsburgh, Sammy Watkins was not. After producing 131 yards (31 on a reverse), Watkins has earned a starting spot in fantasy leagues. We suspect he will be a bit hit or miss, but even the third wheel in this passing game will be able to pick up a lot of points at times.
While the Chiefs need to be commended for their 2-0 start, it is not because of their defense, which has been obliterated by Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. The upcoming return of safety Eric Berry will be a big boost for Kansas City, but Jimmy Garoppolo is poised for his best game of the season. If Marquis Goodwin can return, he is capable of breaking a big one. Emerging tight end George Kittle is also capable of big things after the Chiefs just made Steelers tight end Jesse James a superstar. James caught five passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. In this type of matchup, Pierre Garcon probably will not win a game for you, but he will not lose one either.
After Jerick McKinnon was lost for the season, the biggest question in San Francisco would be the distribution of touches in the San Francisco backfield between Alfred Morris and Matt Breida. Through two weeks, Breida has emerged as the preferred back to own in fantasy. The second-year speedster out of Georgia Southern rushed for 138 yards in San Francisco’s week two win over Detroit and had an electrifying 66-yard touchdown run. On top of that, he leads the NFL in rushing yards. In games the 49ers will be favored to win, Morris still might end up being more valuable. This, however, is not one of those games.
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams:
This will be the first battle between these teams since both moved to Los Angeles. And it may also turn out to be the first real test for the Rams, who have looked great but have also played the lowly Raiders and Cardinals, who they just beat 34-0. It is highly unlikely the Rams will pitch another shutout this weekend against Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers attack. Rivers is averaging 340 passing yards per game. Hockey fans and fantasy owners were thrilled with Melvin Gordon on Sunday, who had a hat trick with three touchdowns in a blowout victory over Buffalo. And Keenan Allen remains as steady as ever.
Can the Chargers trio keep it up against the Rams? You should not have grand expectations, but Gordon and Allen need to be started as you usually would. Given the matchup, Rivers could be moved to your bench. However, this could turn into a shootout and Rivers could exceed expectations. That would help the fringe Charger players such as Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Tyrell Williams. We would not expect any of those three players to have a big day. Stranger things have happened though. Ekeler would be a quality addition to your roster, as he is getting enough playing time to produce value.
Terrific Todd Gurley has proven why he deserved to be the first overall pick in fantasy leagues with four touchdowns so far in 2018. Three of those touchdowns game against the Cardinals, although Gurley was held to 42 rushing yards. This may be a game where Gurley is more important from a yardage perspective than a touchdown one. The Chargers had no trouble with Buffalo’s limited passing game, but they were picked apart by the Chiefs in week one. Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp are not WR1s in fantasy, but all three are fairly dependable starters. Jared Goff remains a QB2. If you think this game will be a high-scoring affair, you could go with Goff.
The Rams will be without kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein, who injured his groin during warm-ups before the win over Arizona. They have signed Sam Ficken to fill in for him. Ficken was also part of the Rams roster last year when Zuerlein was placed on injured reserve. At this point, Zuerlein is not expected to miss a massive amount of time. We are not big on carrying two kickers on our roster, but if you want to go that route, Ficken would be fine as a temp.
Indianapolis at Philadelphia:
The world champions dropped to 1-1 with a loss on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they are getting Carson Wentz back. Wentz, who threw for 33 touchdowns in 13 games last season, may be rusty at first. Nevertheless, his return is a huge boost for the entire Philadelphia offense. If you drafted Wentz and your alternatives leave something to be desired, Wentz can be inserted into fantasy lineups right away. The upside outweighs the rust. With Alshon Jeffery and Mike Wallace on the shelf, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz will continue to draw tons of looks. Jeffery needs to continue to be stashed on your roster, but Wallace can be waived as he has been moved to injured reserve.
Outside of Wentz, the other big story for Philadelphia is the potential absence of running back Jay Ajayi, who has already rushed for three touchdowns. Ajayi played through a back injury in week two, but as of midweek, there is talk he may not be able to play in this one. With veteran Darren Sproles dealing with an injury of his own that kept him out of action last Sunday, it could mean a big role for Corey Clement, who had 85 total yards and a touchdown in Tampa. Clement is someone who ought to be added to your roster if you have a need in your backfield.
As for the Colts, Andrew Luck, known in some Twitter circles as “Captain” Andrew Luck, made his way into the winner’s circle for the first time since returning to action by leading his troops to a triumph against Washington in week two. We would expect Luck to struggle against an angry Eagles defense. However, he has an ace in the hole in head coach Frank Reich, who was Philadelphia’s offense coordinator before taking the reins in Indianapolis.
Luck himself has not posted gigantic numbers in 2018 and we do not think he will go bonkers in the City of Brotherly Love, but his return has brought T.Y. Hilton back to life. Hilton, who we like to call “Chainsaw” in honor of Hilton Furniture here in Houston, has already scored two touchdowns after finishing with just four last year. The rest of the Colts attack is uneven. At running back, Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins each saw 10 carries in the victory over the Redskins. Neither found the end zone, but Nyheim Hines did. The eventual return of Robert Turbin will create further havoc. It’s hard to think we would live in a world where there is a backfield even more cluttered and confusing than New England’s, but here we are. Continuing to avoid the Indianapolis backfield is a wise strategy.
At tight end, the arrival of Eric Ebron has hampered Jack Doyle. The yardage between the two is similar, but Ebron has two touchdowns vs. zero for Boyle. As we saw in Detroit, Ebron was more bust than boom, but there are worse choices out there. At some point, Boyle should also get better. Nonetheless, both of these guys are better backups than starters right now.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay:
Fitzmagic…that is all. No, just kidding. We have a lot more to say about this game, but once again, if Fitzmagic is out there in your league, put in a claim. With each passing week, the odds of Jameis Winston getting his job back are getting smaller. Maybe the bubble bursts for Fitzmagic next week against Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears, but it’s hard to see it bursting against a Pittsburgh defense that gave up six touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes. It’s easy to again like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard.
Not to be a downer, but what’s not to like in Tampa these days? Tight end Cameron Brate was a valuable fantasy player when he scored fourteen touchdowns during the last two seasons, but he has zero catches in 2018. It is time to say bye to Brate if you were hoping he could be a credible TE2. Most importantly, the Buccaneers rushing attack has struggled. Peyton Barber garnered lot of discussion as a sleeper, but in week two, Barber rushed for an abysmal 22 yards on 16 carries. Banishing Barber to your bench right now is a pretty good idea. Hopefully he will get it going. If not, second-round pick Ronald Jones could work his way back into the mix.
With Tampa Bay’s secondary being less than stellar, Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Ben Roethlisberger are capable of lighting up the stat sheet. There has been some controversy surrounding Brown of late and it’s possible the Steelers may feature him even more than usual to appease him, even though they reportedly held him accountable for an absence. Regardless, you know those three players are going to be in your lineup.
There should also not be a question as to whether James Conner needs to be in your lineup. Although he backtracked from his dominating week one performance, Conner produced 65 total yards and a touchdown as Le’Veon Bell continued his stay in exile. Yes, this one could turn into a passing marathon, but Conner will be a dependable starter until Bell comes back.
We mentioned tight end Jesse James in our summary of the San Francisco/Kansas City matchup. We tend to think that performance may have been a bit of a fluke, especially since Vance McDonald is also capable of great receiving feats at times. Both Steeler tight ends could be used in a pinch. Using them as regular starters is not a strategy we endorse at this point.
New Orleans at Atlanta:
With Tampa Bay off to a 2-0 start, both of these 1-1 squads need a win to keep pace, especially since Carolina is also in the mix in the tough NFC South. New Orleans has been very disappointing given the team was pegged by many as having a good chance to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The only reason they escaped with a win against Cleveland on Sunday was due to the struggles of former Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez. Still, the Saints remain dangerous on offense and Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara continue to be top fantasy weapons.
In theory, someone else is going to step up to help that tandem at some point. There will be a few moments here and there for Ted Ginn and of course Ted Ginn’s entire family, not to mention veteran tight end Ben Watson and running back Mark Ingram when he gets back from suspension, but former Chicago Bear Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre’Quan Smith are the players who may be able to add different dimensions to the Saints attack at some point. Neither one needs to be on your roster just yet (Meredith has been inactive the first two games of the season) but the situation in New Orleans needs to be monitored. The New Orleans defense has been highly vulnerable to long passing plays and the Saints are going to find themselves in more shootouts than they would like.
Following a disappointing week one loss to Philadelphia, the Falcons got back on track by besting Carolina. Although it was somewhat of a quiet day for Julio Jones, a revitalized Matt Ryan threw for 272 yards and two scores. Ryan, not exactly Russell Wilson on the ground, scored a rare rushing touchdown, his first since 2012. Rookie Calvin Ridley caught four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. Tevin Coleman, assuming the lead role in the Atlanta backfield with Devonta Freeman out of action, rushed for 107 yards. Tight end Austin Hooper accumulated five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Jones is often disappointing from a touchdown perspective. Despite this, the Saints have given up four touchdowns of over 30 yards already this season. A monster game is not out of the question for Julio this week. Given that he fell out of the ranks of “automatic starter” last year, Ryan merits a serious look as a “streamer” vs. the Saints. Coleman will be a solid option as long as Freeman is out. Should something happen to Coleman, rookie Ito Smith is next in line and is a name to remember if you want to pull a rabbit out of your hat. And Ridley is certainly worth a bench spot. The talented rookie will probably be inconsistent, but is capable of giving you good numbers at times. Speaking of inconsistent, there is no truth to the rumor that is Hooper’s middle name.
Welcome to Hired/Fired, our weekly rundown of who deserves a place on your roster and who deserves a pink slip. Consider your team culture when it comes to hiring someone. You need someone who blends into that culture. On the flip side, maybe you spent too much money on your fantasy teams and need to layoff those who will not help you get your money back.
While in many cases it is still too early to panic after week two, things have begin to come into more focus and there is a bit more clarity on both sides of the equation.
RB Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals – With Joe Mixon out of action, Bernard will once again be the head rooster in the hen house for Cincinnati. Although a matchup with Carolina is not pleasant on paper, the Panthers gave up over 100 yards to Tevin Coleman and Bernard has almost always produced when in a lead role.
RB Javorius “Buck” Allen, Baltimore Ravens – Allen’s yardage has not been all that great, but he has scored touchdowns in two straight games. With the usage of Alex Collins by the Baltimore coaching staff being puzzling at times, Allen appears to be on his way to carving out flex value and could be a periodic spot starter for fantasy teams beset by injuries or dealing with bye week drama.
RB Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings – Dalvin Cook suffered a hamstring injury in Minnesota’s tie with Green Bay. At this moment, the odds seem favorable that Cook will be able to go in a tantalizing tilt with Buffalo. If not, Murray would be in a prime spot. As it is, the Vikings may be able to run up a big enough lead against the Bills that Murray might yield flex value.
WR Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets – We mentioned Enunwa last week and he caught seven passes for 92 yards on Sunday in a 20-12 loss to Miami. While Robby Anderson remains New York’s most explosive receiver, Sam Darnold seems to have the most trust in Enunwa. If Darnold continues to progress, Enunwa will be a major beneficiary.
WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers – At some point, you have to think talent will win out. Moore was scarcely used in week two as Cam Newton connected with the likes of Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright for touchdowns, but he turned his one reception into a 51-yard touchdown. As Carolina’s first-round pick, he has stature within the organization and there was talk from Carolina head coach Ron Rivera that Moore needs to be more involved. The passing game for the Panthers is largely centered around Christian McCaffrey at the moment, but Moore has the potential to change that.
TE Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks – It’s a return appearance for Dissly, who got a garbage time touchdown Monday night in Chicago. Seattle is a mess, but the tight end position is also somewhat of a mess for the most the part. Two wrongs make a right? So far, it looks like that is the case with Dissly.
K Dan Bailey, Minnesota Vikings – Dropped by the Cowboys in a cost-cutting move, the Vikings had to be thrilled to sign Bailey after Daniel Carlson’s misses cost them a victory over Green Bay. We do not typically partake in deep analysis at the kicker position and we will not in this case. Bailey is a great kicker who is now part of a great offense. Enough said.
Green Bay Packers Defense – The Packers are not on this list for their matchup this week against a mediocre Washington squad. While the Redskins are not a scary matchup, Alex Smith’s vanilla style of quarterbacking usually translates to a lack of turnover opportunities for opposing defenses. The real reason you want to pick the Pack off the waiver wire is that they host Buffalo in week four. Although the Bills are less of a disaster with rookie quarterback Josh Allen in the lineup instead of Nathan Peterman, Allen is certainly capable of serving up sacks and turnovers to the Cheeseheads.
Seattle Seahawks Defense – The glory days seem to be gone in Seattle. That said, the Seahawks will get Arizona at home in week four. Even if the Cardinals decide to turn to rookie quarterback Josh Rosen by that point, it’s still a nice spot for Seattle.
QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – It might be somewhat of a risk to cut Mariota, but when is he going to truly fulfill his potential that he always seems to have? Not this week against Jacksonville if he is able to play. If you need help on your roster, you can probably cut him and get him back at some point, since it is highly unlikely your fellow owners will be racing to pick him up after he potentially produces a clunker in Jacksonville.
RB LeGarrette Blount, Detroit Lions – Sometimes in football, we hear about a “revenge game.” In theory, Blount could try to exact revenge against his former employers, the New England Patriots. However, Blount already got revenge against New England in last year’s Super Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. This year, the most notable thing Blount has done was get ejected in a week two loss to San Francisco. The veteran bruiser has rushed for 35 yards and we would expect the 0-2 Lions to find themselves in comeback mode again this week, which means more playing time for Theo Riddick. They are also going to continue taking a longer look at rookie Kerryon Johnson. We do not see Blount exacting “revenge” and we do not want to see him on your fantasy roster any longer.
RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears – It was thought at times during the offseason that Cohen would become a major weapon for the Bears. So far, the Chicago backfield has remained the Jordan Howard show. Howard has even become more involved in the passing game, which was his one weakness. Unless you have Howard and want to keep Cohen as a handcuff, give someone else a chance.
RB Rob Kelley, Washington Redskins – Kelley is a free agent in many leagues, but we suspect there are some owners hanging onto him thinking that Adrian Peterson would fade at some point. That may indeed happen with Peterson, but with Kelley now on injured reserve, there is no reason to have him in your locker room. We do not recommend adding Samaje Perine at this stage, but he is now next in line behind Peterson.
WR Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins – Speaking of Washington…in 2016, Crowder was a revelation with 67 receptions for 847 yards and seven touchdowns. His touchdowns dropped to three last year. Despite some talk he would be a great fit with Alex Smith, he has five receptions for 40 yards in two games. Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson have had injury issues in the past, but with both of them being healthy, Crowder seems to be an afterthought, especially with Josh Docton and Paul Richardson also around.
WR Jordy Nelson, Oakland Raiders – It is painful to put Nelson here, as he has won a lot of fantasy games for owners in the past, but he is not going to help owners win games in the present. Nelson has five catches for 53 yards and is less involved in the Oakland offense than Amari Cooper and Jared Cook. Even Seth Roberts did more against Denver in week two than Jordy did.
WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys – Fantasy owners who took a late-round plunge with Gallup were hoping that the rookie from Colorado State would be the top target for Dak Prescott. Through two games, he has two catches for 14 yards. The Cowboys have given more opportunities to Tavon Austin and Deonte Thompson and are bringing Brice Butler back, with Allen Hurns also in the mix. In that hot mess of a situation, Gallup simply cannot be trusted.
TE David Njoku, Cleveland Browns – We had high hopes Njoku could be a find after a strong preseason, but after two weeks, Njoku has 33 yards. Maybe you just bench him because he still has some breakout potential, but waiving him seems to be a more prudent course of action right now.
Do you agree with my assertions? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
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The early returns of Watson’s top receiving targets is quite surprising. What’s going on? Plus, do you want hear some bad news as well as players taking to Twitter on the status of the team? Take a listen and find out more!
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