Is Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson a must-start for this week on your Fantasy Football squad? Read on to also find out about the top five matchups for this week as well as what players to hire or fire from your roster.
From Lubbock to Longview and from Wichita Falls to Weslaco, the eyes of the entire state of Texas were fixed on the Sunday night clash between the Cowboys and the Houston Texans. And in the end, it was the men from Houston who won the Battle of Texas with a 19-16 triumph in overtime.
While the Houston Texans improved to 2-3 and gained ground in the AFC south with both Jacksonville and Tennessee losing, it was hardly a perfect night, both in fantasy and reality. The Houston Texans squandered numerous goal line chances. They could have taken control of the game and avoided the wear and tear of overtime.
One player who encountered way too much wear and tear was Deshaun Watson. Watson, who threw for 375 yards and a touchdown, with an interception mixed in, suffered what was being classified as a chest injury and is day-to-day. At this point, it seems like he will be able to play on Sunday against Buffalo. If he is not able to go, the entire Houston Texans offense would take a major plunge with Brandon Weeden at the controls. Weeden has been a model of inefficiency throughout his entire career.
We are going to assume Watson will be in the lineup and that the Houston Texans will not take the Bills as lightly as Minnesota and Tennessee have done. If that is the case, DeAndre Hopkins will be his usual WR1 self.
The questions marks will be Lamar Miller and Will Fuller. Fuller was clearly limited against Dallas, enabling rookie Keke Coutee, who scored his first NFL touchdown, to again operate as one of Watson’s main targets. If Fuller’s health is better, he will leap ahead of Coutee in the pecking order. Nonetheless, both players are worth starting.
Miller was in uniform for the victory over Dallas but did not play. In his absence, Alfred Blue, the Houston Texans “break glass in case of emergency” back, notched 119 total yards. It looks like Miller will play against the Bills, which would in theory put him in flex territory. However, with Blue generally looking decent in the win over Dallas, maybe the Houston Texans will give him more touches than usual, especially if Miller is not 100 percent. Regardless, D’Onta Foreman’s time looks to be creeping closer. If you have a spare roster spot, it can be filled by Foreman.
With two interceptions and two sacks, the Houston Texans defense has continued to show signs of life after a slow start. Now starting a three-game stretch consisting of Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Miami, this is a time to rely on the Houston Texans.
The Bills have to be commended for playing hard despite having an undermanned roster. Their upset over Minnesota in Week 3 will go down as the upset of the season in the NFL and they pulled off another stunner on Sunday by beating Tennessee in a 13-12 tightrope.
But despite their gritty efforts, the raw truth is that Buffalo does not have a single receiver that belongs on fantasy teams. It is a crime that the Buffalo front office did not deem it important to surround their rookie with any weapons. For example, the Bills could have taken Calvin Ridley in the first round. It was expected that Allen would be inconsistent, and he has been, but given the team around him, anyone who has Allen in a dynasty league needs to stay patient. The Texans defense will try to parlay Allen’s inconsistency into a big day.
Speaking of big days, LeSean “Shady” McCoy had 108 total yards in the victory over Tennessee. Not huge by old school Shady standards, but it was his best day in 2018 by far. It could have been even bigger. Backup Chris Ivory received 14 carries and Allen rushed for Buffalo’s only touchdown. While it doubtful old school Shady will be on display in Houston, he is currently the only Bills player who you can launch into your lineup, albeit as more of a flex than a must play.
Now that we have concluded our thoughts on the Texans, we welcome you to Take Five with us and get the scoop on five other games of note that are on the horizon. After we Take Five, you will see our Hired/Fired segment where we discuss players to sign to your roster…and also tell you about the players that may not be worth keeping around for the future. 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.
Kansas City at New England:
On opening night in 2017, Kansas City came into New England and pulled off a stunning 42-27 decision. Kareem Hunt, in his first NFL game, amassed an amazing 246 yards and three touchdowns. Speedster Tyreek Hill scored on a 75-yard pass. The only high-ranking member of Kansas City’s offense who did not dazzle was Travis Kelce who caught five passes for 40 yards. That talented trio will return to Massachusetts hoping to conquer the Patriots like they just conquered the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Oh, but there is one big change for the Chiefs from last year to this year. You may be somewhat familiar now with the name Patrick Mahomes. Some fantasy owners sat Mahomes against the Jaguars and while Mahomes did not deliver a monster day, he still rushed for a score and threw for 313 yards on a day where the Chiefs had a comfortable lead for most of the day and did not throw as much as usual. The Patriots will almost assuredly make things more interesting. If you sat Pat, put him back in your lineup right away. We all know to go with Hunt, Hill, and Kelce. Sammy Watkins had left Kansas City’s Week 4 win over Denver due to a hamstring injury, but he was able to play in the win over Jacksonville and owners should have no trepidation about going with Sammy in this one.
For years, fantasy owners who ventured into the New England backfield abyss often got burned. This year, with Rex Burkhead and Jeremy Hill out of action, there is a clear-cut duo and it’s a good one. In his last two games, rookie Sony Michel has gone over 100 total yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. James White is more than just a PPR asset now, with touchdowns in all but one game this year.
Given the quality of their offense and the fact Kansas City’s defense has struggled more often than not, can you start any Patriot? Of course you want to start Brady and Gronk. You definitely want to use White and Michel. Julian Edelman made a nice return in a Week 5 victory over Indianapolis, catching seven passes for 57 yards and not showing much in the way of rust. He should be started. Josh Gordon is basically boom or bust at this point, but he scored a touchdown on a jump ball against the Colts and maybe that will get him more looks from Brady. If you have more secure alternatives than Gordon, by all means, start them, but we would have no major qualms about rolling the dice on Gordon. We have to draw the line on disappointing Chris Hogan (who can be waived) and Phillip Dorsett, who no longer has a significant target share.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland:
In recent years, the Cleveland Browns were the epitome of ugly football. This year, the resurgent Browns have often been ugly, but in a completely different manner. At 2-2-1, Cleveland has found ways to win ugly and become competitive again.
Unquestionably, the focus in Cleveland has been on Baker Mayfield. While Mayfield’s presence has injected life into the usually downtrodden franchise, his fantasy numbers are still firmly in QB2 territory. He would be an okay streamer this week.
Carlos Hyde and Jarvis Landry have brought stability to the Browns. Fantasy owners were racing to add rookie Nick Chubb after the former Georgia Bulldog scored two long touchdowns in Week 4, but it was Hyde who got 17 carries in Sunday’s overtime victory over Baltimore. It was the first game of the season where Hyde failed to score a touchdown. While Chubb is still a worthy stash if you have the space, Hyde can be counted on as an RB2. Duke Johnson has not been featured as much as he has been in the past and is a bench stash at best these days.
Landry is averaging 5.8 receptions and 76.2 yards per game. When the Dolphins played the Chargers last year, Landry caught 13 passes. He should be Cleveland’s leading receiver in this one and can safely be slotted into your lineup. The only other component of Cleveland’s passing game worth using is tight end David Njoku. After a slow start, Njoku’s yardage totals have inched up every week. He still has yet to score a touchdown in 2018. The Chargers have been a mixed bag against tight ends. The Bolts contained Travis Kelce and Jared Cook, but allowed an 82-yard touchdown to San Francisco’s George Kittle.
The Chargers have gotten a reputation as being underachievers, but they are going against the grain in 2018. At 3-2, Los Angeles has defeated Buffalo, San Francisco, and Oakland, teams they should beat. Their losses have been to the Rams and Chiefs, tolerable losses given both of those teams are a combined 10-0. The Browns represent a middle ground test.
The Big 3 for the Chargers remain Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen. Gordon remains a top-notch RB1 even though backup Austin Ekeler has carved out a strong niche in the Los Angeles attack. Ekeler has essentially become the West Coast version of Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman, someone who can be spot started whenever you need them.
Allen, has not scored a touchdown since Week 1. Still the team leader in targets, you have to figure Keenan will start traveling to the end zone more often after scoring five touchdowns during the final seven games of 2017. Rivers has already thrown 13 touchdown passes, more than rewarding owners who waited to take a quarterback on draft day and ended up stealing Rivers with a late pick. Not an elite option this week against a rugged Cleveland defense, Rivers is at least a back-end QB1.
Mike Williams has been quiet over the last couple of games after catching two touchdown passes in Week 3. He would be a better bet than Tyrell Williams, but more of a WR4. Anyone counting on Antonio Gates last weekend was disappointed, as underwhelming Virgil Green scored instead of Gates. Gates is nothing more than a wing and a prayer play in the twilight of his great career.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati:
Some of the most brutal battles in recent NFL history have come from these AFC North rivals, battles so intense they make the news team street clash in the movie Anchorman seem like nothing. In these types of games, everything can escalate quickly, especially with 2-2-1 Pittsburgh desperately needing a win to keep pace with the 4-1 Bengals.
In the last game these two enemies played in Cincinnati, A.J. Green’s lucky number was seven, as he snagged seven passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. With Pittsburgh’s secondary having been victimized frequently and Green already with five touchdowns, a big day could be in store for Cincinnati’s top offensive weapon. Although he did not fare well against Miami last Sunday, Tyler Boyd has developed into a dependable player. Like Green, Boyd could deliver a big day.
If you are looking for a very deep sleeper at the often depressing tight end position, C.J. Uzomah is a name to ponder. Tyler Eifert sadly was lost for the season in Week 4 and Tyler Kroft was injured in the victory over Miami. Since the rest of Cincinnati’s receivers outside of Green and Boyd do not usually play huge roles in the offense, Uzomah has some importance, at least on paper.
Joe Mixon had missed two games due to injury, but he stepped back into the lineup against the Dolphins and proceeded to post 115 total yards and a touchdown. With Gio Bernard expected to miss the showdown with the Steelers, it is all systems go for Joe to generate another good day. Andy Dalton has had some huge games already. Dalton is not always a QB1, but calling him one this week would definitely not be crazy.
In Week 5, the Steelers made it their mission to get James Conner more involved. Conner justified their decision with 185 total yards and two touchdowns as Pittsburgh punished Atlanta 41-17. Third on the team in receptions, Conner can keep fantasy owners satisfied even if he struggles on the ground. You can bank on Conner as a credible RB1.
From the “you already knew that” or “stating the obvious” file, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster are WR1s. Road game Ben Roethlisberger and home game Ben Roethlisberger are often viewed differently, but Big Ben threw for 290 yards and pair of scores in Cincinnati last year. We believe Ben can get the job done. The most questionable Steeler who has been in lineups of late is Vance McDonald. He did not join the fun against the Falcons, catching one lousy pass for six lousy yards. Tight end is dire enough that McDonald probably warrants another shot if you are in dire straits, although calling him a reliable TE1 is a reach.
Baltimore at Tennessee:
Last week, we spotlighted the Steelers and Falcons, both with losing records at the time, in the Take Five because of the fantasy scoring potential of the game. This game represents the complete opposite. The Ravens and Titans, both 3-2 heading into what could be a key AFC clash when all is said and done, have been winning games because of their defenses. And both defenses can certainly be started.
Outside of a Week 4 showing against Philadelphia where he threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, Marcus Mariota has remained the same disappointing fantasy player he was in 2017. Yes, Mariota has missed time with injuries, but the fact he could only generate 129 yards in a prime matchup with Buffalo sums up his recent history perfectly. We would not trust him against the Ravens. In fact, if you picked him prior to the matchup with Buffalo, he can be dropped.
Promising young receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor have flashed at times. However, with Tennessee’s offense often going in reverse, they cannot be counted on as regulars. Since scoring a touchdown and gaining 110 total yards in Week 1, Dion Lewis has not scored since and his yardage totals have been an exercise in lost hope. Derrick Henry has not cleared 60 yards in a single game. Lewis and Henry have become bottom-tier flex plays. The Titans could get things going at some point. We just do not like the odds of that happening against Baltimore.
The fantasy picture in Baltimore has been a little brighter. Kickers do not get much love in fantasy football, but anyone who has Justin Tucker loves having him on their team. The best fantasy/reality story in Charm City has been John Brown, who has been healthy and leads Baltimore in receiving yards and touchdowns. Brown’s performance has been especially welcome as Michael Crabtree has been plagued by drops and has not scored since Week 1. Willie Snead has been steady but lacks upside. At this point, only Brown needs to be in lineups.
Baltimore’s backfield has been a quagmire. Alex Collins might have taken the job and ran with it, until some costly fumbles opened the door for Javorius “Buck” Allen to lead the backfield in touchdowns. Not only does Allen have more touchdowns, he got more playing time in Week 5. Fumbles aside, Collins “looks like” the better back. Until he gains a substantial edge on Allen, which does not look likely anytime soon, neither one is more than a flex.
Joe Flacco has successfully kept his job after the Ravens spent a first-round pick on Lamar Jackson. Flacco has spent pretty much his entire career as a fantasy QB2 and he will be in that territory against the Titans.
Los Angeles Rams at Denver:
Part of the reason to pay attention to this game is because Denver could easily be the first team to make a coaching change this season. Vance Joseph entered the season on a hot seat and after an embarrassing 34-16 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, that seat has become scalding. And to cool off the seat somewhat, Joseph only has to beat the 5-0 Rams at home. Good luck with that.
For a team that has been a disappointment, Denver has a decent amount of fantasy contributors. Phillip Lindsay was an undrafted free agent who has generally usurped more heralded rookie Royce Freeman. Lindsay did not see as much playing time as usual against New York with the Broncos playing from behind, but he is averaging 78.6 total yards per game and has two touchdowns. While Freeman was also less involved in the loss to New York and has not gotten as much work as fantasy owners would like, he has made three trips to the end zone. The Broncos must establish their ground game to have any chance at making this one interesting, keeping both of these talented rookies in the RB2/RB3 dialogue.
And the Broncos would also be wise to run early and often due to the struggles of Case Keenum. We really wanted Keenum, a former Houston Cougar and Texas, to perform well in Denver, where he was given a chance to run his own team. Unfortunately, Keenum has tossed seven interceptions vs. five touchdown passes. There have been three games where Keenum did not throw a touchdown pass at all. He generated 377 yards against the Jets, largely because of garbage time. If this one turns into a even shootout or the Broncos fall behind again, Keenum will profit. However, he is simply not trustable outside of two-quarterback leagues.
Garbage time was also good to Demaryius Thomas, who scored his second touchdown of the season and amassed 105 yards. Emmanuel Sanders, who leads Denver in receiving, had 72 yards. Although rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton have shown promise, Thomas and Sanders remain the prime targets in the Mile High City and the potential game script means they should be kept in your lineup.
The big question surrounding the Rams is the health of Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks. Both were evaluated for concussions during Sunday’s 33-31 win over Seattle and will need to pass through the protocol to play in Denver. If they are able to go, they need to be in your lineup. Otherwise, Robert Woods becomes an even better play. Former Aggie Josh Reynolds came off the bench and performed well when Kupp and Cooks were sidelined. Reynolds is not an automatic add, but he is a name to watch. Tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett could also be more involved, but generally speaking, this is not an offense that features tight ends.
Los Angeles might also get kicker Greg Zuerlein from a groin injury. If you picked up Cairo Santos, Zuerlein’s current replacement, be advised you might have to seek another kicker. Zuerlein can be snagged off waivers if someone in your league dropped him.
Welcome to Hired/Fired, our weekly rundown of who belongs on your roster and who deserves to be sent packing, or at least banished to your bench. The bye week blues are really going to start setting in over the next several weeks. This week, New Orleans and Detroit are off. Next week will see the power brokers in Pittsburgh and Green Bay on the sidelines along with Seattle and Oakland.
QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Just a friendly reminder Winston is taking over as Tampa Bay’s starter this week and has a highly favorable matchup against Atlanta. In many leagues, he may have already been claimed, but if he’s available, he is capable of starting a lot of games for you down the stretch.
QB Sam Darnold, New York Jets – After slumping following a promising Week 1 debut in Detroit, Darnold threw for three touchdowns against Denver last weekend. By no means is Darnold someone you should be playing on a regular basis. However, he showed he has a higher ceiling than other backups out there and might be worth using once in awhile.
RB Wendell Smallwood/Corey Clement – Philadelphia Eagles – We know you appreciate a good bargain, so here are two recommendations for the price of one. With Jay Ajayi now out due to a torn ACL, Smallwood and Clement are in line to get the lion’s share of the work in the Philadelphia backfield. Sure, there are rumblings the Eagles might trade for a back. And yes, if Darren Sproles can somehow get healthy, he will get some opportunities. But living in the here and now, these are the main backs for Philadelphia. Neither will be challenging Todd Gurley for fantasy supremacy anytime soon, but both will carry regular flex value.
RB Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks – Contrary to popular belief, Davis did not slip back into obscurity upon Chris Carson’s return. There was plenty of room for both of them in Week 5, with Davis rushing for 68 yards and a score. And there will likely be plenty of room for both of them in a favorable matchup against the Raiders in London.
QB Alex Smith, Washington Redskins – Smith’s huge season last year in Kansas City is already looking like an abnormality. With a weaker supporting cast in Washington, he is back to being a low-ceiling fantasy player.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals – It is very painful to put a legend like Larry on this list. It is also a case where you may just need to bench him instead of cut him, but Fitzgerald has not scored a touchdown this year and is averaging 35.2 yards per game. He has also been battling a variety of ailments that have limited his effectiveness. Rookie Christian Kirk also seems to have plenty of rapport with fellow rookie Josh Rosen.
WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks – Seattle’s run dominated offense has destroyed Baldwin’s fantasy stock. Yes, he has also missed time with injuries, but in three games, Baldwin has six receptions for 42 yards. Those are the numbers of some random guy on the waiver wire. If you believe he will turn things around, keep him on your bench. Otherwise, cut him as Tyler Lockett has been Seattle’s best receiver.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals – Any of the teams still playing in baseball may have their eyes on Seals-Jones after he pitched a shutout against San Francisco on Sunday. It is appalling that he could not generate one point against a 49ers squad that had allowed touchdowns to tight ends in every game prior to that one. Tight end is a troublesome spot, but as guys like Evan Engram, Greg Olsen, and O.J. Howard eventually get healthy, there will be less need for gambles like Seals-Jones.
K Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers – The Packers are going to give Crosby another chance after he missed five kicks against Detroit. But what happens if he blows his first opportunity against San Francisco on Monday night? Will Green Bay start going for two all the time? Would they just have Aaron Rodgers and company going for it on fourth and short where they might have kicked a field goal in the past? Crosby is also on bye in Week 7, which would be the ideal time for Green Bay to make a change if they need to. And it is also the time where many fantasy owners would cut Crosby, as keeping two kickers is not a popular strategy. If you think Crosby will rebound, roll the dice. Otherwise, get a head start on cutting him loose.
Do you agree? Feel free to let your emotions all out in the comments section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Rob and Brian’s final sign-off from Locked on Texans
Brian and Robert say goodbye to Locked on Texans. After 540 episodes, we bid a tearful farewell to Houston Texans faithful, reminisce about our tenure and share some final thoughts on the Houston Texans future.
Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season
The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.
The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.
DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.
While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.
Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.
In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.
His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.
An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.
The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Identifying the team’s most glaring weaknesses
What are the Houston Texans biggest weaknesses going into the 2019 off season? Rob and Brian bring on State of the Texans’ BigRon to discuss what needs to be done to fix a team that has tons of potential to be dominant. What’s the best way to improve the offensive line? Is Julién Davenport still worth developing and what should we expect to see in additional development?
How about the thought of shifting Greg Mancz to center and Nick Martin to guard? The trio also discusses the future of Whitney Mercilus on the roster as well as certain defensive lineman not getting enough playing time. What else? Take a listen to find out more!
Houston Texans: Le’Veon Bell and plethora of free agent running backs
What’s the best way for the Houston Texans to fix the running backs position for the 2019 season? They certainly can do better than bringing back Alfred Blue. Rob and Brian talk about what the team needs to do and gives their top free agent running backs to help this offense flourish. Is bringing in Le’Veon Bell a possibility? Can the Houston Texans get the back they want in this season’s draft?
The duo discusses that plus gives their thoughts of Indianapolis Colts’ firing offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the interesting back story that likely factored into the move. Plus, Gary Kubiak finds a new job in the NFL. What else? Take a listen to find out more!