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Houston Texans: Fantasy Football Week 5: Who should be hired or fired?

Andy Rioux

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What Houston Texans players should you keep on your Fantasy Football squad for Week 5? Also get a rundown of the top five matchups this week as well as who should be hired or fired from your roster. Not sure? Take a look.

Houston Texans faithful — current Arizona State and former New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards generated a lot of notoriety when he famously uttered “you play to win the game” in a press conference.  Ironically on Sunday, the Colts played to win in overtime, but it was the Houston Texans, who basically played for a tie at the end of regulation, getting their first victory of the season thanks to the bold decision by Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich.

We could go on and on debating Reich’s decision.  However, there are other storylines that will play a much larger role in the Battle of Texas Sunday night against Dallas.  Like the availability of Will Fuller.  Off to a torrid start, Fuller, who has had soft tissue issues in the past, was sidelined in the victory over the Colts with a hamstring injury.  His absence was part of the reason why rookie Keke Coutee made such an impressive debut, catching 11 passes for 109 yards.  If he can play, Fuller must be started.  We recommend that anyone relying on Fuller make it a priority to pick up Coutee, as you would at least be covered should Fuller not be able to go.  As it is, Coutee makes a nice add in all formats.  The Houston Texans have been starving for a quality third receiver and he certainly looked the part in Indianapolis.  Plus, the Cowboys just gave up two touchdowns to Detroit’s Golden Tate.  Tate, like Coutee, is largely a slot receiver.

As they so often do, Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins were responsible for plenty of fantasy success stories.  The overall defense effort of the Houston Texans left a lot to be desired.  Nonetheless, the Houston defense at least scored a touchdown and generated four sacks.  While they may not be the fearsome group we expected, any defense with Buffalo and Miami on tap in the near future has value.

One Texan whose value may be declining is Lamar MillerAlfred Blue was more involved in the win over the Colts and Miller may not be playing at full strength.  Based on the fact he still is the main back for now, Miller still can be considered a lower-tier flex.  But it is not too soon to speculate that D’Onta Foreman could play a big role in the backfield if he can get healthy.  Foreman will be eligible to come off the reserve/PUP list after Week 6.

If you were a fan of Seinfeld, you probably remember the Bizarro episode where Elaine met Kevin, Gene, and Feldman, nicer versions of Jerry,

Houston Texans

Dec 3, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) rushes against Tennessee Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims (36) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

George, and Kramer.  In many ways, the Cowboys are currently the Bizarro Texans.  Unlike the Houston Texans, they have had no issues in their backfield, with Ezekiel Elliott remaining one of the top running backs in the NFL.  Elliott carried a lot of fantasy squads to victory on Sunday, generating 240 total yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys squeaked out a 26-24 victory over Detroit.

But with the Houston Texans having standouts at wide receiver and the Cowboys having Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin (more of a gadget player than pure wideout), and Deonte Thompson, it is easy to see another stark contrast between the two teams.  The Dallas defense has generally overachieved as opposed to the underachieving Houston Texans, which represents more dissimilarity.

In the end, the only Dallas offensive player we would start is Elliott.  Tight end Geoff Swaim has been a bigger part of the attack over the past couple of games and might merit a waiver claim if he continues to progress, but we would generally steer clear of Prescott and the rest of the passing game.  Given the Houston Texans have been turnover-prone at times, you could go with the Dallas defense, but their upside is low.

While the Lone Star State is eager for their two teams to square, there are plenty of other NFL happenings taking place outside of Texas.  We now move onto to Take Five, where we will look at five other notable games taking place around the league.  Following Take Five will be our Hired/Fired segment where we recommend players to sign to your roster…and also tell you the players you need to expunge from your team.  Some players mentioned in Take Five are capable of being hired or fired and will be examined there as opposed to during that portion of this column.

TAKE FIVE

Jacksonville at Kansas City:

For those of who like clichés or paradoxes, we have a treat for you with this preview.  Yes, it’s time to break out the time-honored “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?”  Certainly, Patrick Mahomes has been an unstoppable force.  The second-year Kansas City signal caller did it again on Monday night in Denver, rallying the Chiefs from a 23-13 deficit to a 27-23 victory.  The Broncos represented the toughest challenge Mahomes has faced in his young career, and he conquered it by throwing for 304 yards and accounting for a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one rushing.

Now, will the vaunted Jacksonville defense be the immovable object?  It was during Week 5 a year ago when the Jaguars made a serious statement in Pittsburgh by picking off Ben Roethlisberger five times and returning two of those interceptions for touchdowns in a 30-9 triumph.  The Jaguars had gotten off to a hot start, but many fantasy owners did not play them, fearing the Pittsburgh offense.  Undoubtedly, anyone who has been starting Jacksonville this year is probably wondering if this is a rare moment to sit the Jags.

And despite his hot start, there are probably people pondering whether this might be a time to sit Mahomes.  That would be awfully hard to do.  We think it is best to always start your stars.  Now, if you are fortunate enough to have another awesome quarterback, you could give it some thought.  We do not endorse picking up someone off waivers who has a good matchup and plugging them in instead of Mahomes.

It would be easier to sit the Jaguars and go for another defense.  One of the reasons Jacksonville dominated Pittsburgh last year was that Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns.  There is no Fournette this year as a hamstring injury sends him back to the sidelines this week after he made what amounted to a brief cameo last Sunday in a win over the New York Jets.  T.J. Yeldon is capable and certainly worth starting this week, but Jacksonville will probably go to the air more.   Streamers can take a ride on the Blake Bortles roller coaster if they want.  Given that Jacksonville’s receivers seem to alternate between hot and cold performances, Keelan Cole, who caught two passes for 15 yards against the Jets, will probably produce the best game in Kansas City.  Dede Westbrook (130 yards in Week 4) and Donte Moncrief (109 yards and a touchdown) are likely to cool down.

Kansas City did not have Sammy Watkins during most of the game in Denver as Watkins was dealing with a hamstring injury.  Watkins did practice Wednesday.  His status will need to continue to be monitored.  The potential absence of Watkins would lead to more looks for Kansas City’s secondary receivers such as Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson.  We still would not trust them against the Jaguars as the Chiefs will likely just lean even more on Tyreek Hill (who could be due for a big touchdown play after not scoring the past couple of weeks) and Travis KelceKareem Hunt was instrumental in their Monday night comeback, rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown while also catching three passes for 54 yards.  All three need to be in your lineup despite the tough matchup.

Atlanta at Pittsburgh:

Okay, so the Falcons are 1-3 and the Steelers are 1-2-1. What is this game doing in the Take Five?  Well, from a fantasy perspective, it may end up being the most entertaining of the week.  There is also the angle of two underachieving teams and feelings of desperation in the air.

After Week 1, when the Atlanta offense sputtered against Philadelphia, there were plenty of reasons to again question why Steve Sarkisian was employed as Atlanta’s offense coordinator.  Since then, Sarkisian has silenced the critics as it has been the Falcons defense that has been responsible for the team’s disappointing start.  A big reason why the Atlanta offense is back on track is rookie Calvin Ridley.  Ridley has already scored six touchdowns, with five coming in the last two games.  Ridley has actually been targeted less than veteran Mohamed Sanu.  That simply cannot last given the way Ridley has been playing.  Calvin’s touchdown pace will cool off, but increased yards and receptions should be on the horizon.

Despite Ridley’s emergence, Julio Jones is still Matt Ryan’s main target.  Fantasy football aficionados remain in a state of shock over Julio’s lack of touchdowns.  He only scored three last year and has yet to visit the end zone in 2018.  His time will come.  It would be nice if it came more often.  Still, Jones is capable of huge yardage and reception totals on any given week and continues to be a top WR1.  Ridley, Jones, and Ryan all look like must-starts in this one.

The biggest question Atlanta has on offense is at running back.  Devonta Freeman has been sidelined since Week 1.  Tevin Coleman has not delivered gigantic numbers in Freeman’s absence.  Coleman is not going to fall off the flex radar even if Freeman returns, but this offense can hit an even higher ceiling with Freeman in the lineup.  If Freeman is back this week, do not hesitate to start him.

Talk regarding an eventual Le’Veon Bell appearance made plenty of headlines this week.  But since Bell is not expected back immediately, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh air game will maintain prominence.  It could be a huge day for Ben, Antonio Brown, and Juju Smith-Schuster as Atlanta has been torched in recent weeks by Drew Brees and Andy DaltonVance McDonald has quickly become a TE1.

We would continue to use James Conner despite the fact the second-year runner has backtracked since his huge showing in Week 1.  Atlanta gave up two touchdowns to Cincinnati’s Gio Bernard on Sunday and it would not be shocking if Conner rebounds from a tough Week 4 outing against Baltimore where he was held to 44 total yards.  Normally reliable kicker Chris Boswell has not gotten off to a good start.  To his credit, he looked much better against Baltimore and is worth a look if someone dropped him in your league.

Minnesota at Philadelphia:

Much like the Falcons and Steelers, these teams have been disappointing (though Minnesota has been way more disappointing than Philadelphia) but this game has some serious fantasy point potential if everything breaks right.

Minnesota’s 1-2-1 start is largely the result of a defense that has gone into the tank, but running back Dalvin Cook has also been a disaster considering most owners spent a high draft pick on him.  Not fully healthy, Cook has missed one game and rushed for a paltry total of 98 yards in Minnesota’s other contests.  Latavius Murray has also struggled.  Philadelphia is better against the run than the pass.  Both have rightfully earned a place on your bench.

Kirk Cousins is no stranger to the Eagles from his days in Washington.  In his last start against them in Week 6 of 2017, Cousins threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns.  Outside of a bad game against Buffalo in Week 3, Cousins has been very good for the Vikings and fantasy owners.  He may not be a high-ceiling QB1 in this one, but he should get the job done again.  Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph remain top-tier choices at their respective positions.

With the Vikings having just given up 465 yards and five touchdowns to Jared Goff, Carson Wentz is poised for big things.  Wentz, who missed the first two games of the season, played well in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, throwing for 348 yards and two touchdowns.  The entire Eagle offense received a boost from Alshon Jeffery, who caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in his 2018 debut.  If you took a wait and see approach with Jeffery, you can officially elevate him into your lineup.  Steady Zach Ertz has not scored a touchdown yet this year, but remains one of the best tight ends in fantasy football. Nelson Agholor has had a couple of down weeks.  Agholor stays in the WR3 ranks thanks to the matchup.

Philadelphia’s backfield has largely been in flux, with Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood all seeing time.  Ajayi, with three touchdowns to his name, is the only one worth starting at the moment.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle:

If anyone is going to challenge the Rams in the NFC West, it will be the Seahawks.  San Francisco looks scrappy with new starting quarterback C.J. Beathard, but they do appear to be a real threat to anyone.  Arizona, who the Seahawks beat on Sunday, is going to have a high draft pick next year.  But how are the Seahawks going to challenge the Rams?  In their meeting late last year, the Rams humiliated Seattle 42-7 on their home turf.  And the Rams are even better this year.

Seattle’s best chance of pulling off an upset would be to get their ground attack going and keeping the crazy good Los Angeles offense on the sidelines.  But who will be getting the carries for the Hawks?  In a surprise, it was Mike Davis carrying the load in the win over the Cardinals.  The former South Carolina back rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns as Chris Carson sat out due to a hip injury.  Davis will undoubtedly be one of the top free agent claims of the week, but it may all be for naught if Carson comes back.  First-round pick Rashaad Penny has not been much of a factor, so any big game potential would likely come from Carson or Davis.

Russell Wilson remains one of the best quarterbacks in real football.  He has struggled in fantasy football this year outside of a big Week 1 game in Denver.  Wilson produced zero touchdowns against Arizona.  Part of Wilson’s struggles can be attributed to a weakened supporting cast.  Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson left in free agency and Doug Baldwin has not been healthy.  Tyler Lockett has been Wilson’s top target.  Both Baldwin and Lockett can be viewed as WR3s.  If you are going to play Wilson, you need to pin your hopes on this one turning into a high-scoring affair, which is not what Seattle wants.  Benching Wilson is not easy.  It still may turn out to be the right move if you have a quality alternative.

There really isn’t a need for deep analysis on the Rams.  Todd Gurley is a fantasy superstar, while the trio of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks are all must-starts.  Kupp had the biggest game of the three in a Week 4 victory over the Vikings.  Since head coach Sean McVay arrived in Los Angeles, Jared Goff has gone from being a joke to a star.  He has also become a core player for many fantasy teams and is a firm QB1.

The Rams waived kicker Sam Ficken, who has struggled in relief of injured Greg ZuerleinCairo Santos, who hit on 88.6% of his field goal tries with Kansas City in 2016, will take the place of Ficken.  As part of such a dangerous offense, Santos would be a respectable choice if you are looking for a kicker.

Washington at New Orleans:

Drew Brees had been on a tear the first three weeks of the season.  Shockingly, he failed to throw a single touchdown pass on Sunday when the Saints beat the New York Giants 33-18.  He figures to rebound against the Redskins on Monday when he needs just 201 yards to pass Peyton Manning to become the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader.

While Brees potentially hitting that milestone is the main headline for New Orleans, there is another big story for the Saints.  Running back Mark Ingram will make his 2018 debut after sitting out four games due to suspension.  Alvin Kamara has been sensational through four games, with 611 total yards and six touchdowns.  It is likely Ingram will cut somewhat into Kamara’s workload.  However, Kamara is just so darn good that he will remain among the elite RB1 ranks even with Ingram’s return.  Ingram can be slotted as a flex, although it is possible he may start slow due to rust.

Like Brees, Michael Thomas will also be looking to rebound after a season-low 47 yards and four receptions.  We suspect he will do just fine.  The only other New Orleans wide receiver worthy of starting consideration at the moment is veteran Ted Ginn, and he is far from an ideal choice.  Cameron Meredith and Tre’Quan have not gotten going.  Brees looked for tight end Josh Hill more often in the win over New York, with Hill hauling in three passes for 63.  Hill has flashed in the past, but ultimately disappointed.  Still, any uptick for Hill would be bad news for veteran Ben Watson, who has landed on some rosters.  Watson’s 71-yard game in Week 3 and the fact he plays with Brees keeps him as a low-level TE1.

Quietly, the Redskins lead the NFC East with a 2-1 record.  Once upon a time in Washington, the Redskins were known as the Over the Hill Gang for their tendency to use a significant number of veteran players.  Their leaders on offense are harkening back to those days, with 33-year old Adrian Peterson anchoring the ground game and 34-year old Alex Smith coming over from the Chiefs to start at quarterback.  Skeptics abounded about the impact Peterson would have (including here in this column) but when Peterson rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 3 win over Green Bay, it was obvious that the future Hall of Famer is not done yet.  Peterson started 2017 with the Saints before being dealt to Arizona.  It was the low point of Peterson’s career and he may view this matchup as a revenge game.

Smith threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over the Packers.  As has so often been the case in his career, Smith’s intangibles and risk adverse ways do not always translate to the stat sheet.  For example, he failed to throw a touchdown pass in a Week 2 loss to Indianapolis despite throwing 46 passes.  But with New Orleans having a poor pass defense, Smith will probably produce between 200-300 yards and a couple of scores.

The only automatic starter among Washington’s receivers is Jordan Reed.  Paul Richardson clicked with Smith on a 46-yard touchdown play against Green Bay, but that was his only catch of the afternoon.  It would not be shocking if Richardson produced another big play in New Orleans.  It would also not be shocking if he did nothing.  Nevertheless, Richardson is potentially the best bet if you feel compelled to go with a Washington wideout.  Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson have largely been quiet.

HIRED/FIRED

Welcome to Hired/Fired, our weekly rundown of who belongs on your roster and who deserves to be sent packing.  Chicago and Tampa Bay are off this week while New Orleans and Detroit will be off next week.  The bye week crunch will really hit hard starting in Week 7, when four teams will be off.  It will be really bad in Weeks 9 and 11, with six teams off during both of those weeks.

HIRED:

QB Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears – If you throw for 354 yards and six touchdowns, you are going to make the hired list.  It is too bad Chicago is on bye this week, so we will have to wait to see what Trubisky can do for an encore, but he gets Miami when he returns.

QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – Yes, we know it was not all that long ago that we recommended firing Mariota.  But he appears to be healthy again and played excellent against the Eagles, leading the Titans to an overtime victory by throwing for 344 yards and two touchdowns.  He is playing Buffalo this week to boot, making him an intriguing streamer.

QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Winston is certainly a polarizing figure.  He is also a polarizing figure who gets to work with a great set of weapons and who will return following this week’s bye with a great Week 6 matchup against Atlanta.  Winston has more long-term upside than Trubisky and probably Mariota given his supporting cast.

RB Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Peyton Barber earned a starting spot during the preseason while Jones struggled and was deactivated for Tampa Bay’s first three games.  Barber has not justified his place in the lineup and expectations are that Jones will get an opportunity to show his stuff when Tampa returns to the field against the Falcons.

RB Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts – Houston Texans fans saw what Hines is capable of on Sunday, with two touchdowns and 63 receiving yards.  The Indianapolis backfield has generally been a hot mess this season, but Hines seems to have a secure role in the passing game which elevates him over the other backs on the Colts roster.

WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans – With Rishard Matthews having been waived, Taylor took advantage, snagging seven passes for 77 yards.  He is going to have a prominent place in the Tennessee passing game.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers – Valdes-Scantling, a rookie out of South Florida, is in line for extensive playing time if Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison are unable to suit up on Sunday when the Packers duel with Detroit

TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals – It is getting harder and harder to find tight ends in fantasy football.  Injuries have ravaged the position and bye weeks will make the situation even worse.  Seals-Jones, who played at Texas A&M and caught two touchdown passes against the Houston Texans last year, is by no means is a sure thing, but San Francisco has given up a touchdown reception to a tight end in every game this season.  Additionally, Josh Rosen has given the Cardinals a lot more life on offense than Sam Bradford did.

TE Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers – The future Hall of Famer is winding down his career and no longer the star he once was.  However, Gates has been more involved the past couple of weeks and his longstanding connection with Philip Rivers can result in an occasional touchdown.  That did not mean as much at the beginning of the season when there was more of a full deck at tight end, but it does now.

FIRED:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – With Winston taking over the starting job, Fitzmagic has come to an end, for now.  Should Fitzpatrick get another chance at some point before the season is over, he would certainly be worth re-adding to your roster.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins – After the Dolphins started 3-0, Tannehill started to gather attention from fantasy owners.  The party went sour quickly in New England.  Maybe Tannehill is okay this week against Cincinnati, but he will be playing Chicago in Week 6.

RB Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins – We would find it hard to cut Drake, because at some point we believe the Dolphins coaching staff will somehow unearth game film from last year where Drake was an explosive force.  Nevertheless, you need to add notes to his personnel file saying his superiors do not believe in him and would rather give assignments to his older colleague Frank Gore.  Drake has to be banished to your bench.

RB Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers – Averaging 3.4 yards per carry, Williams has been outplayed by Aaron Jones since Jones returned from suspension in Week 3.  His arrow is pointing down, especially considering Ty Montgomery’s role in passing situations.  The third wheel in a committee is not compelling.

WR Robby Anderson, New York Jets – Anderson generated 941 yards and seven touchdowns for New York last year, but Quincy Enunwa seems to be the only New York receiver Sam Darnold likes throwing to.  Until Darnold starts performing better, Anderson is going to remain useless.

Interested in writing for Locked on Texans?  Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]

Andy participated in his first fantasy football league before he was even eligible to vote. Andy is a graduate of the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism who has contributed to fantasy football sites for many years. Naturally, he is a big Mizzou fan. He's a bit of a food fanatic, who's known to seek out the best burgers, barbecue, and pizza. With almost three decades of fantasy football experience, his knowledge base and ability to strategize will help your team find success.

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans: A case as to why J.J. Watt will earn the DPOY award

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt. What makes his case above the others? Take a look as to why Watt will win his 4th DPOY award, an NFL record.

Ever since Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has entered the league nearly seven seasons ago, he has been one of the most dominant defenders. His three Defensive Player of the Year awards ties him with Lawrence Taylor for the most in NFL history. Watt struggled to stay healthy through the 2016-17 seasons as he only played eight games, not having the opportunity to make an impact during that span.

The 2018 season has been a return to supremacy for Watt as he is tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 12.5 and is third in forced fumbles with five. His ability to wreak havoc in the opponent’s backfield has helped propel the Houston Texans to a 9-4 record this season and a historic nine-game winning streak after an 0-3 start. Watt’s impact on the game does not always show up on the stat sheet as opposing teams double or triple team him so that he cannot get into the backfield, allowing Jadeveon Clowney to get after the quarterback.

Watt’s play this season has been overshadowed by Aaron Donald, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year but that should not be the case. While Donald leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks, he trails Watt in forced fumbles with four and in the Los Angeles Rams’ stunning loss to the Chicago Bears he had two tackles and was not all that impressive. Watt was held in check for most of the game against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday but he recorded a sack and a pass deflection despite being double-teamed for most of the game.

Watt does not make an impact on every snap but he influences the Houston Texans’ defense every time he’s on the field. Players like Whitney Mercilus and Zach Cunningham are able to roam around all over the middle of the field because of Watt’s ability to take on more than one blocker. Clowney is given more opportunities to get after the quarterback because he does not face the same amount of double-coverage that Watt does.

Watt’s impact on the Texans can be seen on the scoreboard as they were the worst scoring defense in the NFL last season at 27.3 points allowed per game. This year, the Texans are fifth in points allowed at 19.9 and have been one of the league’s better units with the healthy return of Watt. Donald’s impact on the Rams this season cannot be fully measured as they have allowed more points this season but have been ravaged by injuries.

Donald’s accomplishments in 2018 are remarkable but Watt has been just as good this season. Watt is in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year and he should win the award because of his impact to the Texans’ defense this season.

Do you agree with my case?  Feel free to comment in section below.

Interested in writing for Locked on Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]

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Houston Texans: How the New York Jets just got a little easier to beat

Brian K. Patterson

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans faithful — did the New York Jets get a little bit easier to beat Saturday?  Rob and Brian will tell you why.  What’s the Houston Texans best position group? That answer isn’t as easy it might sound. We’ll debate. Plus, the NFL needs your input to solve a league strategy problem. We’ll see if we have any answers.  What else?  Take a listen for more.

Our new sponsor is DRAFT KINGS!  Stay tuned via Twitter: @LockedOnTexans or Facebook: Locked On Texans for details on how you can join the one-and-only DraftKings’ Locked On Texans’ league.  It only takes $3 to join!  Keep those eyes peeled!

Subscribe to us daily on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Tunein or the Google Podcast app.

Email [email protected] for Questions or Comments.

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Houston Texans: Know the Enemy: New York Jets’ Safety Jamal Adams

Nathan Jones

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans will take on the New York Jets in their Week 15 matchup. What player should they be most concerned about? Take a look as to why it’s New York Jets’ safety Jamal Adams.

After a devastating loss, the Houston Texans look to get right back into the win column against the New York Jets. Though the Jets are not a star-studded team like the Kansas City Chiefs but they do have some key players that are often overlooked. Perhaps the most dangerous to the Houston Texans will be safety Jamal Adams.

Jamal Adams was drafted 6th overall in 2017 and has lived up to the hype. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Adams ranks as the 2nd best safety in the league — with an 89.8 overall grade — among those at the position with at least 474 snaps.

Recently, the Houston Texans’ passing offense has not lived up to its expectations. Figuring out how to work around Adams will be a key factor in the outcome of the game.

What separates Adams from other safeties in the league is how he can play physical while being in control. Adams is the prototype of what a team looks for in a strong safety with his 6-foot-1 frame and weighing 213 pounds. His stout lower body allows him to maintain balance and power in his tackles.

Here is an example of Adams coming downhill to make a tackle:

This is a third and long situation. Adams lines up high and comes down to play as the “buzz” defender. His focus is on not letting any short routes break off for a first down. He sees Josh Gordon coming down the line of scrimmage on a drag route. Before the ball leaves Tom Brady‘s hand, Jamal breaks to make the tackle. Upon contact, Adams lowers his body, gaining leverage, to bring down the big receiver. Adams is a smart and fast player who will lay the wood.

Adams is also great at breaking up passes. According to PFF, this season he has tallied six pass deflections, an interception and a passer rating of 53.7 when he’s targeted. He uses his range and physicality to get receivers off their route so he is in better position to make a play on the ball.

Here is the interception Jamal caught in week one against the Detroit Lions:

Adams lines up head-to-head on tight end Hakeem Valles. He is playing straight man-to-man. Even though the tight end has the size advantage, Adams is able to use his hands and stuff Valles at the stem of the route. The quarterback is under pressure so he conjures up a poor throw where Adams adjusts to catch-and-run for more yards. Even with a good throw, Adams is likely to be all over it. He is not afraid of jamming receivers in the slot.

Adams prides himself on being a physical safety, especially in this receiver-friendly, “player safety” league. He shines on the screen and is likely to be a tough matchup for the Houston Texans. He comes downhill and can stop the run but also plays excellent in man as well as zone coverage. If the Texans can protect the ball, they have a great shot at running away with this game.

Do you agree with my analysis?  Feel free to comment in the section below.

Interested in writing with Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]

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Houston Texans: Fantasy Football Week 15: Navigating the final stretch

Andy Rioux

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to navigate the final stretch of the Fantasy Football season but how does that relate to the Houston Texans? Take a look at that plus the Top 5 matchups and players to hire and/or fire from your squad.

Understandably, if you are a fan of the Houston Texans, you have to be somewhat down in the dumps after Houston’s nine-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday at the hands of Captain Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

But there are reasons to not be so glum.  We realize this is not relating to sports, but it is hard not to be happy over the news that Kathie Lee Gifford is leaving the Today show.  And getting back to sports, at least the Houston Texans are in a much better position than the Rockets, who morphed into bad comedy when word broke that they were contemplating the acquisition of J.R. Smith, who single-handedly turned last year’s NBA Finals into a joke.

And of course, a big reason for brightness is that the Houston Texans should have a pretty good chance of beating the New York Jets on Saturday.  The Jets moved to 4-9 with a 27-23 victory over Buffalo on Sunday, but this is still a team playing out the string with a head coach who is likely to be fired.  The jury is out on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who has flashed at times but needs a better supporting cast.  Robby Anderson stepped up in the win over the Bills with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, but Anderson has overall been a disappointment.  Neither Anderson nor Quincy Enunwa are someone you want to sneak into your lineup.

If there is a Jet you might want to play, it could be running back Elijah McGuire.  With starter Isaiah Crowell ailing, McGuire could get a lot of volume against the Houston Texans and is worth signing to your squad.  He should be available in a decent amount of leagues.  Tight end Chris Herndon has brought some positivity to the New York passing game, but we would not want to start him with the fantasy season on the line.

Despite the disappointment against the Colts, you will want to start the core Houston Texans this week, especially the defense, which could feast on potential Darnold mistakes.  Game flow should be more favorable for Lamar Miller and Miller will not be limited to 33 rushing yards like he was vs. the Colts.  You can also plan for DeAndre Hopkins to get more than 36 yards and for Deshaun Watson to be a quality QB1.

We still would not use any of Houston’s tight ends with volume concerns, but in a decent matchup, starting Demaryius Thomas might pay off, even if Keke Coutee returns.

As always, later in this article you will see our Hired/Fired segment where we analyze players to add to your roster.  We will also inform you about those players who you need to move on from.   Now we will have our Take Five segment and look at five of this week’s most interesting matchups.  Once again, we remind you that some players mentioned in Take Five are capable of being hired or fired and will be looked at there as opposed to during that portion of this column.

TAKE FIVE

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City:

When these teams met in Week 1, it marked the beginning of a magical run for Patrick Mahomes that shows no signs of ending.  Mahomes threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-28 win.  And if he can beat the Chargers again, Kansas City will clinch the AFC West title and move closer to seizing home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

But Mahomes does not have the same supporting cast this time around.  Kareem Hunt is of course gone and Tyreek Hill, who burned the Chargers for seven receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the previous meeting, is not expected to be at full strength due to a heel injury.  Travis Kelce is at full strength and has four touchdowns in his last three games, but has an incredibly poor track record against the Chargers.  In his last three games against Los Angeles, Kelce has 53 yards and zero touchdowns.  Of course, you are still going to start all three with confidence.  We just think it is important to point out a small dose of downside that usually does not exist with that powerful trio.

Spencer Ware, who has largely taken Hunt’s place, totaled 129 yards in a Week 14 overtime win over Baltimore, but is doubtful for this key clash.  If Ware is unable to go, Damien Williams, who scored a couple of touchdowns against the Ravens, will probably pick up the slack, with Darrel Williams and Charcandrick West also candidates for work.  Damien Williams is who you want to sign off waivers.  As far as the rest of the Chiefs go, Chris Conley can be plugged into your lineup if you are in a pinch, but hopefully you have better choices as your WR3.

Will Los Angeles get running back Melvin Gordon back?  He is headed towards a game-time decision as he tries to come back from a knee injury.  Even if Gordon is not at full strength, you have to start him if he is active.  In his last game at Arrowhead, Gordon had 169 yards and a touchdown.  He finished with 166 total yards back in Week 1.  With Austin Ekeler out of action on Thursday, you want to add Justin Jackson.  You would have a starter if Gordon is out and potentially a flex even if Gordon plays.

Keenan Allen has been on an absolute tear, scoring a touchdown in his past five games.  By far the favorite target of Philip Rivers, Allen is a candidate to be the top wide receiver of the week.  Rivers is a clear QB1 who threw for a season-high 424 yards against Kansas City earlier this year.  If you feel compelled to start a Chargers receiver, Mike Williams is a better bet for production than slumping Tyrell Williams.  There is also the chance someone like Antonio Gates or Travis Benjamin could do something notable, but we would not put our fantasy season in their hands.

Miami at Minnesota:

Drama was the name of the game for both of these teams in Week 14, but the drama could not have been more different.  Miami, now 7-6, won on one of the most shocking finishes in recent memory, with Kenyan Drake racing into the end zone after a lateral to steal a sure victory from the Patriots.  Minnesota, falling to 6-6-1 after an embarrassing 21-7 loss to Seattle on national television, fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, with quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski being promoted to fill DeFilippo’s spot.

One has to think Stefanski will utilize Dalvin Cook more.  There were too many instances throughout the season where Minnesota drifted away from the run, especially with Cook and backup Latavius Murray being capable performers.  Miami shut down New England on the ground, but the Dolphins are still giving up 139.5 rushing yards per game.  Cook slots in as an RB1 this week.

Even if Minnesota runs more, there will be plenty of opportunities for Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen to get their numbers.  Both are helped by the fact Minnesota lacks a capable third receiver and Kyle Rudolph is not producing as he has in the past.  You can safely start both players as you normally would.

But what about the man who throws them the ball?  Cousins, thought to be a value at draft time, has been no value at all throughout a good portion of the season, with just one touchdown pass in six of thirteen starts.  Against a shaky Miami pass defense that could again be without top cornerback Xavien Howard, Cousins may offer sleeper potential if you are brave enough to pull the trigger.  However, we would relegate him to QB2 territory as his overall body of work is not strong enough to warrant a playoff start.

If we are living in the real world, Adam Gase has done a tremendous job, as few would have predicted Miami would be in the playoff hunt this late in the season.  Since we exist at least somewhat in a fantasy world, we still have issues with Gase for marginalizing Drake.  You know the risks with Drake.  He could do next to nothing or produce a big play that sends you towards the fantasy finals.

With Minnesota just having held Russell Wilson to 72 yards and zero touchdowns, it stands to reason the Dolphins will probably not build their game plan around Ryan Tannehill, who may have trouble generating value in two-quarterback leagues this week.  The Vikings did yield 90 rushing yards and a touchdown to Chris Carson, so expect Frank Gore to see a decent amount of touches.  Gore has failed to score a rushing touchdown in 2018 and has no upside, making him a detrimental fantasy player here in the playoffs.

If Minnesota gets going again on offense and Miami has to throw more than they would like, Kenny Stills will probably be the beneficiary.  Drake’s miracle play rightfully got the headlines, but the Dolphins would not have beaten New England without Stills catching eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.  Given the strength of Minnesota’s defense, Stills would be a risky WR3 if you had to use him.  None of Miami’s other pass catchers such as DaVante Parker, Danny Amendola, and Brice Butler have any viability.

Dallas at Indianapolis:

It was not long ago that the only Dallas player possessing any fantasy credibility was running back Ezekiel Elliott.  Elliott remains one of the best of the best at his position, but now Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have come along to give Elliott help and put the Cowboys on the brink of clinching the NFC East crown.

Cooper destroyed the Eagles on Sunday, amassing 10 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns.  Critics who panned the Cowboys for surrendering a first-round pick to Oakland earlier this year for Cooper have been silenced.  Fantasy owners who were patient with Cooper during some early season struggles in Oakland have been rewarded and will be rewarded again on Sunday.  Although Prescott had some shaky moments against Philadelphia, he finished with a career-high 455 yards and the three touchdown passes to Cooper.  Dak’s numbers will probably decline this weekend, but he can be started as a QB1.

The Dallas defense has been playing well, but with this not being a great matchup, you can look at streaming candidates.  Kicker Brett Maher can be started.  Rookie Michael Gallup is continuing to show promise alongside Cooper and at some point might have a huge game, but other players have a higher trust factor at the moment.

Texan fans were once again tormented by T.Y. Hilton, who once again tore Houston’s secondary, this time for 199 yards on nine receptions.  Naturally, Hilton will come back to earth some as he will deal some with Dallas cornerback Byron Jones, but will stay a solid starter.  Andrew Luck will as well, but do not be surprised if Luck is more decent this week than great.  Eric Ebron, who has 13 touchdowns and has been one of the great free agent steals of 2018, also needs to remain a fixture in your lineup.

With Dallas giving up just 86.8 rushing yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns over the course of the entire season, Marlon Mack will be a dicey RB2/flex.  If you have a lot of depth in the backfield, do not be scared to sit Mack.

New England at Pittsburgh:

Two of the NFL’s prouder franchises head into this clash after humiliating losses.  At least New England’s loss can be classified as a fluke, given they were beaten by Miami on the crazy end-of-game lateral play that only works once in a blue moon.  Pittsburgh, on the other hand, suffered a loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders and are now staring down back-to-back games with New England and New Orleans while only holding a half-game lead on Baltimore in the AFC North.

At least on offense, Rob Gronkowski looked reasonably close to the Gronk of old, catching eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Miami.  Tom Brady, who threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns in his best game in weeks, utilized his top targets well, with Julian Edelman hauling in nine passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.  Josh Gordon accumulated 96 yards on five receptions.

The disappointing fantasy players for New England on were running backs Sony Michel and James White. Michel only generated 57 yards on 20 carries against an underwhelming Miami run defense while White finished with 28 total yards.  Michel was against the victim of vulture James Develin, as the veteran Patriots fullback scored his third touchdown in two games.  Somewhere out there, an owner who does not pay as much attention as other owners has submitted a waiver claim for Develin.  We recommend sticking with Michel and White over Develin in what could be a high-scoring game.  The potential for disappointment is there, especially with Rex Burkhead getting some opportunities, but both have done well for the most part in 2018 and deserve a shot to make things right.  Brady, Gronk, Edelman, and Gordon should be locks for your lineup.

Speaking of locks for your lineup, we present Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster.  Second-year standout Smith-Schuster actually has more receptions and yards than Brown, which is a testament to just how far Juju has come in a short period of time.  Brown has more touchdowns and will be looking to get back on pace after an off day against Oakland, where he had just five catches for 35 yards.  Ben Roethlisberger, provided he is healthy enough to play, is a no-brainer QB1.

In his first game in relief of injured James Conner, Jaylen Samuels contributed more as a receiver, snagging seven passes for 64 yards.  Samuels added 28 yards on the ground, but had a touchdown stolen away by veteran Stevan Ridley.  Nonetheless, Ridley finished with four yards and remains removed from relevancy.  Provided Conner is not back, Samuels should give owners another steady start, especially in Yahoo leagues where he can start at tight end.  Speaking of tight ends, Vance McDonald has not cleared 50 receiving yards since Week 6.  He remains ahead of Jesse James in the fantasy pecking order but is nothing more than a low-end TE1.

Philadelphia at Los Angeles Rams:

The Eagles were essentially in “last stand” mode heading into their clash with Dallas.  After a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Cowboys, the Eagles are truly in that mode against the Rams with a wild card spot not entirely out of the question if they can spring the upset.

Nevertheless, it is hard to see a depleted Eagles defense that played almost an extra period against the Cowboys hanging with a Rams offense that will be out to regroup after being completely shut down in Chicago Sunday night.  Todd Gurley finished the night with just 11 carries while Jared Goff had 44 pass attempts and threw four interceptions.  You can count on Gurley getting much more work back home in Los Angeles and again returning to the head of the fantasy running back class.

And Goff should be more efficient even with fewer attempts.  It is a great matchup with Philadelphia giving up 277.4 passing yards per game.  Do not be scared to go back to Goff as your QB1 if you shied away from using him against the modern-day Monsters of the Midway.  Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods are both capable of big games and also need to be in your lineup.  By no means is Josh Reynolds a must-start, but he will offer a higher ceiling than other flex options.

If the Rams are able to pour on the points again, it would have been good news for Carson Wentz, who threw for three touchdowns in the loss to Dallas.  However, it was announced on Wednesday that Wentz is dealing with back issues and may be unavailable against the Rams.  Nick Foles is a downgrade as the Super Bowl heroics he showed last year were not on display during two earlier starts.

A Los Angeles scoring barrage would be bad news for promising rookie running back Josh Adams, who needs games to stay relatively close because he has a limited role in the passing game, especially with Darren Sproles back.  Nevertheless, it would not be surprising to see Philadelphia try to lean on their ground game a bit more to keep their defense off the field and also to potentially hide Foles.  If that strategy applies, Adams will offer flex value with the potential for more.

Outside of Zach Ertz, it is hard to trust any of Philadelphia’s receivers, even if Wentz plays.  Golden Tate had one catch in Dallas for seven yards.  Alshon Jeffery had his best game in weeks with six receptions for 50 yards and a score, but Jeffery had been in a slump prior to that and Aqib Talib has given the Los Angeles secondary a boost.  While Nelson Agholor hits a home run now and then, he has not scored a touchdown since Week 2.  Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert has shown promise, but remains a secondary outlet.

HIRED/FIRED

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.

HIRED:

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens – Dixon may continue to play behind Gus Edwards, but displayed enough against Kansas City on Sunday that he can serve as your flex, especially with a prime matchup against Tampa Bay on tap for this week.

Atlanta Falcons Defense – The season is a lost cause for Atlanta.  Nevertheless, they could perform well this week against Arizona as Josh Rosen has thrown one touchdown over his last three games.

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense – It is disappointing that the Jaguars will not get to face Mark Sanchez and there is a chance this version of the Jaguars is permanently scarred by Derrick Henry, but we would still be willing to take a shot on Jacksonville against journeyman Josh Johnson.

FIRED:

Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons – Losing work to Ito Smith, Coleman has 59 rushing yards over his last three games.  A matchup with Arizona is plenty favorable, but it is very hard to have faith in Coleman at this point.

Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans – While Lewis is not going to go away because of his pass catching prowess, the Titans would be foolish to play him more than Derrick Henry at this point.  With Tennessee’s next two games against the Giants and Redskins, Dion’s receiving abilities will not be needed as much, especially against Washington.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints – That Week 11 game where Smith caught 10 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown seems like a decade ago.  How many receptions has Smith had since then?  Zero, and the Saints may recall Ted Ginn off injured reserve in the near future.

In contrast, what are your picks for this week?  Feel free to comment in the section below.

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