Which Houston Texans’ players are ones that you can count on this week? It’s time to take a look at roster moves to be thankful for, the Top 5 matchups of the week and who to hire/fire from your squad.
Out of all the things the Houston Texans have to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, we are not sure where the ability of opposing kickers to miss game-winning field goals is on the list, but it has to be pretty high up there. In Week 9 before their bye, Denver’s Brandon McManus missed a kick at the buzzer, enabling Houston to escape with a narrow win in the Mile High City. And on Sunday, Washington’s Dustin Hopkins was short on a 63-yard try that would have given the Redskins a stunning victory.
Of course, Houston’s winning streak that has now reached seven games was not built entirely on fortunate endings. The Houston Texans defense has played a major role, with a healthy J.J. Watt complimented by new arrivals such as Tyrann Mathieu and Justin Reid, who had a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown in the triumph over Washington.
And the Houston Texans offense has also been important. However, outside of DeAndre Hopkins, one of the safest WR1s you will ever find, Houston has run very hot and cold on offense. Deshaun Watson has thrown for just three touchdowns in his last two games after throwing for five back in Week 8. The loss of Will Fuller hurts, but a conservative attack is the bigger reason why Watson has not been helping fantasy owners as much as he is capable of. He has not thrown for over 300 yards in a game since Week 5.
New acquisition Demaryius Thomas failed to catch a pass against the Redskins while Keke Coutee came back from hamstring woes to catch five passes for 77 yards. It was thought Thomas would obtain more targets than Coutee overall and that may still happen, but it again points out the roller
coaster ride the Houston Texans are providing for fantasy owners. Another player who personifies that streaky nature is Lamar Miller. Miller had 108 total yards against Washington and 48 total yards in Denver.
So who outside of Hopkins, the defense, and kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, who can you count on this week? Miller at least offers RB2/flex value as game flow could be in his favor. Watson is a low-end QB1 right now and that is being slightly generous. We would prefer Coutee to Thomas, but neither one is particularly captivating. Coutee has a better chance of journeying into the WR3 zone. Jordan Thomas and Ryan Griffin need to stay in your league’s free agent pool.
Houston’s defense will be an even better play if Tennessee is forced to start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. If Gabbert starts, you can move Corey Davis to your bench. Tight end Jonnu Smith caught a touchdown pass from Gabbert when Tennessee was trashed by Indianapolis on Sunday and has been playing well of late, but would also not be an option if Gabbert is in the lineup. Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry would get more work, but their stock would drop as well. Gabbert’s presence would be less of an issue for Lewis given his pass catching prowess.
TAKE FIVE, SPECIAL EDITION:
Normally, our Take Five segment profiles five of the best games of the week. However, the slate of Week 12 games is not as strong as most weeks have been this season. Plus, with it being Thanksgiving, we thought it would be fun to give Take Five a twist, spotlighting five things we are thankful for this year and also five of fantasy football’s biggest turkeys.
THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR:
Andrew Luck – One of the NFL’s most likeable players is back in fine form, both in fantasy and reality. Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in seven straight games. The resiliency of the Colts mirrors that of Luck. Now 5-5 after a 1-5 start, the Colts are in the thick of the wild card race and could yet challenge the Houston Texans in the AFC South. Luck was a bargain in many fantasy drafts this year. Next year, he will be one of the first quarterbacks off the board.
Saquon Barkley – Yes, the Giants are largely dreadful despite a two-game winning streak. And there will continue to be critics who will say New York should have taken a quarterback instead of Barkley. But let’s forgot those things and just concentrate on the brilliance of this rookie from Penn State. In August, there were questions about whether Barkley was worthy of being a first-round fantasy pick. He has answered those and then some.
Julio Jones, touchdown scorer – It was beyond bizarre that someone as talented as Jones who racks up catches and yardage went into Week 9 having not scored a touchdown in 12 straight regular season games dating back to last year. Julio has now visited the end zone three weeks in a row. If this touchdown prowess continues, Jones is going to be instrumental in helping his fantasy owners win championships.
James Conner – One of the easiest players to root for in the league, it has been awesome to Conner emerge as a key player for a Pittsburgh team that heads into Week 12 with the second-best record in the AFC. Anyone who used a pick on Conner in the later rounds has been rewarded greatly.
George Kittle – The tight end position has largely been a wasteland this year, so it is easy to be thankful for Kittle, who has been superb despite playing with three different quarterbacks. Averaging 77.5 yards per game, Kittle is one of the best draft steals of the season.
TOP TURKEYS OF THE FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON:
Buffalo Bills – Sure, there have been some nice moments for the bumbling Bills. They thrashed the Jets in their last game and pulled off upsets over Minnesota and Tennessee. And they waived Nathan Peterman, who was the player most responsible for the Bills looking like turkeys. However, anyone who has streamed a defense at some point this year has looked at who was playing Buffalo. And the organization should be ashamed of themselves in drafting quarterback Josh Allen in the first round and then investing in nothing around him outside of a fading LeSean McCoy. This is also the same organization that let Robert Woods escape to Los Angeles. Had the Bills kept Woods and drafted Calvin Ridley like they could have in the first round, at least Allen and the rest of their struggling signal callers would not be so lost.
Former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy – McCoy did the unthinkable in Arizona, turning David Johnson into a run-of-the-mill back. Since Byron Leftwich took over, Johnson has rebounded. In Week 10, he had two touchdowns and 183 total yards in a losing cause against Kansas City. He finished with 154 total yards in Week 11 and would have had an even bigger day had a long touchdown run not been called back because of a penalty. Johnson was unable to eclipse 75 total yards in six of the seven games where McCoy was the coordinator. Leftwich will probably ultimately be judged on the progression of Josh Rosen, but at least he knows what do to with his superstar back.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden – Gruden may ultimately have the last laugh on all of us if his 2019 draft with three first-round picks is magical, but trading Khalil Mack to Chicago and Amari Cooper to Dallas meant he was doing way more to help those teams make the playoffs than his own team. While Las Vegas will be thrilled to have professional football when the Raiders make their eventual move to Nevada, they may not see a legitimate pro team if Gruden cannot fix his early round of mistakes.
Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase – A no-brainer choice, with Gase choosing to build his offense around Frank Gore, who has seen better days, at the expense of Kenyan Drake. These days, it often takes 15 carries for Gore to get 50 yards. Drake is capable of getting 50 yards in one play, but that does not seem to matter to Gase. More often than not in fantasy, the player gets the blame when they underachieve. Drake should not be held accountable for his struggles this year.
Le’Veon Bell – Almost anyone who has played fantasy football for any length of time has lost a top draft pick to a season-ending injury. I still remember losing Randall Cunningham in that manner during my early days of playing fantasy football. It stinks, but you waive the player and try to move on. Unfortunately, Bell’s owners were caught in an awkward waiting game. They could not release him because he was supposed to be back at some point. Of course, that never happened. Owners were left with a wasted roster spot for the better part of the season and zero points from a consensus top five draft pick.
THREE FOR THE ROAD:
We might have taken a different approach to “Take Five” this week, but even though there are not as many interesting games this week, we still wanted to mention some contests we thought were compelling, not to mention important in the playoff race. The Rams and Chiefs are the only teams on bye and this is the last week of byes. That changes the complexion of waivers the rest of the year, but we will still bring you our Hired/Fired segment where we recommend players to sign and also players to waive from your roster. As usual, some of the players mentioned in the game previews are capable of being hired or fired and will be looked at here as opposed to during that portion of this column.
Washington at Dallas:
We are not holding out much hope for Colt McCoy in a limited offense, but since he will be Washington’s starter barring injury the rest of the way, he will offer some depth in two-quarterback leagues. With McCoy stepping into the lineup, the Redskins chose to sign Mark Sanchez to be their new backup. That’s right, the man known best for a “butt fumble.” If Sanchez sees extended playing time, race to your wire to pick up whatever defense would be playing Washington. Hopefully that defense won’t already be on a roster.
The Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners have plenty of hate for each other, but Longhorn McCoy will be happy to have Sooner Adrian Peterson as a collaborator instead of a competitor. Houston Texans fans just witnessed Peterson’s “I am not done yet” tour and saw the veteran runner rush for a pair of touchdowns. Washington’s offense was already ground-centric and we would expect even more of that with McCoy at the helm. Dallas surrenders less than 100 rushing yards per game, but you ought to go with Peterson again as an RB2.
The only other player who is notable on the Redskins right now is Jordan Reed, who had his best game of the season against Houston, catching seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. If you are fishing for help in free agency, do not reel in the likes of Maurice Harris, Trey Quinn, and Josh Doctson. Because of the old-fashioned nature of the Dallas offense, this is a week to sit the Redskins defense.
That old school approach works great for Ezekiel Elliott, however. Over the last two weeks, Zeke has been phenomenal, with 388 total yards and three touchdowns. He will be in the mix for overall RB1 honors.
Amari Cooper was a disappointment on Sunday against Atlanta’s underwhelming defense, catching three passes for 36 yards. Cooper was inconsistent in Oakland before coming to Dallas, but is capable of coming back and offering WR3 numbers. None of the other Dallas receivers are worth using and Dak Prescott is only a realistic starting candidate in two-quarterback leagues. The Dallas defense is worth a serious look if they are out there in your league.
Seattle at Carolina:
With 6-4 Carolina suffering a surprising loss in Detroit and Seattle evening their record at 5-5 by beating Green Bay, this is a gigantic game in terms of the NFC wild card race. After this one, Seattle has three games left with San Francisco and Arizona and also get Minnesota and Kansas City at home. Carolina has relatively easy draws with Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta in three of their last five games. Who are their other two games against? That would be New Orleans.
Seattle’s ground and pound offense victimized Green Bay, with Chris Carson leading the way. Carson notched 83 rushing yards and a touchdown while rookie Rashaad Penny pitched in 46 yards. Mike Davis was used mostly in passing situations. As long as Carson is healthy, he is the best choice for fantasy coaches. Penny is nothing more than a flex while Davis can be dropped if you have pressing roster needs.
While Seattle has successfully implemented a ground and pound approach this year, it was encouraging for the Seahawks that Doug Baldwin scored his first touchdown of the season last week. And Baldwin could have had a second score, but Russell Wilson missed him in the end zone. In past seasons, Baldwin was very consistent and capable of big games. If he is rounding into form, he is an X-factor for both the Seahawks and fantasy teams. Fantasy coaches need to contemplate finding spots for Baldwin and Tyler Lockett in their lineups as the Panthers have been torched lately by Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Kenny Golladay.
Wilson did not look sharp at times against Green Bay, but rallied to throw the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Overall, Wilson threw for 225 yards and two scores. He has remained productive, albeit without much upside. Given the success other quarterbacks have had recently against the Panthers, we like Wilson as a QB1.
Seattle’s defense is not particularly viable this week, but the Seahawks will get San Francisco in Weeks 13 and 15, making them worth an addition for the future if you have the roster space.
The Panthers have become pretty predictable in terms of fantasy. You know Christian McCaffrey is an ultra consistent RB1 and Cam Newton offers star potential every time he takes the field, but pretty much everyone else outside of Greg Olsen is boom or bust. In the loss to Detroit, it was Devin Funchess who busted, catching two passes for 39 yards. Funchess has been in a bust cycle for awhile, averaging 35.5 yards per game over his last four games. You can banish him right off your roster if need be.
Rookie D.J. Moore boomed in the Motor City, with seven receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. Curtis Samuel was also successful with 55 yards and a trip to the end zone. If we were going to gamble on anyone outside of the McCaffrey/Newton/Olsen trio, it would be Moore. He has a much higher ceiling than Samuel and Funchess.
Green Bay at Minnesota:
When these teams met back in Week 2, it was a highly entertaining game with an unsatisfactory conclusion. A 29-29 tie seemed to foreshadow the importance of this one, as the rematch in Minneapolis figured to decide the NFC North champion.
Instead, the Chicago Bears have vaulted past both of these teams and into first place, making this game more important in the wild card race. The 4-5-1 Packers are a game behind the 5-4-1 Vikings and facing tons of turmoil as head coach Mike McCarthy has landed on a very hot seat.
Aaron Rodgers was relatively quiet in Week 2, throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown. The Packers did not have Aaron Jones, who was serving a suspension. Jones has been very productive over his last two games, with 172 total yards and a touchdown against Miami and two more scores and 103 yards in last Thursday’s loss to Seattle. Both Aarons and Davante Adams (nine touchdowns) need to remain locked into fantasy lineups.
Beyond that, the Packers do not have much to offer. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was a complete disaster in Seattle, catching one pass for eight yards. He has regressed from intriguing weekly starter to where owners are panicking if they have to start him. Jimmy Graham has a broken thumb. Randall Cobb has not been healthy for awhile.
While Rodgers did not have a big game when these two teams met previously, Kirk Cousins had his best game of the season, throwing for 425 yards and four touchdowns. Stefon Diggs, who just burned the Bears for 13 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, had nine receptions for 128 yards and two scores against the Packers in Week 2. Adam Thielen was also productive against the Pack, hauling in 12 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Diggs and Thielen are fixtures in your lineup and this may be the matchup may be the one that gets Cousins back on track. He is a mid-range QB1.
Even more so than Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Kyle Rudolph need to get back on track for Minnesota. Now fully healthy, Cook was awful in Sunday night’s loss to Chicago, losing a fumble and accounting for a horrifying 10 total yards. With Green Bay giving up and average of 126.1 rushing yards per game, this is a now or never moment for Cook. Rudolph had seven catches for 72 yards in the first meeting between these teams. It was easily his best game of a highly disappointing season. That is the only bit of encouragement we can offer on Rudolph. He does not need to be in any lineups.
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 banish to your bench.
QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The quarterback carousel in Tampa now favors Winston, who came off the bench in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick during last Sunday’s shootout loss to the New York Giants. With a favorable matchup against San Francisco on tap and Tampa’s offense having to score points to try and cover up mass deficiencies in their defense, Winston is one of the best out there if your quarterback room needs a boost.
RB Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens – Edwards, an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers, became Baltimore’s feature back in Sunday’s key divisional win over Cincinnati, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown as Alex Collins disappeared. Maybe Collins will make a comeback and maybe Ty Montgomery and Javorius “Buck” Allen will get slightly more involved, but if Edwards is going to get 15-20 carries every week, sign us up, especially since the Ravens will be hosting Oakland on Sunday.
TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – It was disappointed to see O.J. Howard land on injured reserve, but it does provide an opening for Brate, who has clicked with Winston in the past and will not be the focus of opposing defenses trying to contain the likes of Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Green Bay Packers defense – The Packers will host Arizona next week.
Miami Dolphins defense – The Dolphins will host Buffalo next week.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Fitzmagic has again turned Fitztragic. With the bearded one back on the bench, it is time to move on.
RB Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders – Martin missed time with an ankle injury when the Raiders won their second game of the season in Arizona, but the ankle does not appear to be a big concern going forward. Rather, Jon Gruden seems inclined to increase the playing time of younger backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Martin has looked revitalized in Oakland to some degree, but being in a backfield committee on a bad team usually does not result in fantasy success.
WR Brandon Marshall, New Orleans Saints – This might be a bit harsh considering Marshall has yet to play for the Saints, but if Tre’Quan Smith can build on his superstar performance in Week 11, New Orleans will have little reason to push Marshall into a prime role.
TE Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers – Graham is going to try and play through a broken thumb, but it’s hard to see how that will be feasible. A disappointment during his first season in Packerland regardless, it is probably time to seek an alternative no matter how scary the tight end spot can be.
Arizona Cardinals defense – They got the start for many fantasy teams because they were playing the Raiders. They did not live up to the hype. Now go get a much better defense for the stretch run.
So what are you thankful for as the Fantasy Football season continues? Feel free to comment in the section below.
Interested in writing for Locked on Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Rob and Brian’s final sign-off from Locked on Texans
Brian and Robert say goodbye to Locked on Texans. After 540 episodes, we bid a tearful farewell to Houston Texans faithful, reminisce about our tenure and share some final thoughts on the Houston Texans future.
Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season
The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.
The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.
DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.
While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.
Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.
In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.
His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.
An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.
The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Identifying the team’s most glaring weaknesses
What are the Houston Texans biggest weaknesses going into the 2019 off season? Rob and Brian bring on State of the Texans’ BigRon to discuss what needs to be done to fix a team that has tons of potential to be dominant. What’s the best way to improve the offensive line? Is Julién Davenport still worth developing and what should we expect to see in additional development?
How about the thought of shifting Greg Mancz to center and Nick Martin to guard? The trio also discusses the future of Whitney Mercilus on the roster as well as certain defensive lineman not getting enough playing time. What else? Take a listen to find out more!
Houston Texans: Le’Veon Bell and plethora of free agent running backs
What’s the best way for the Houston Texans to fix the running backs position for the 2019 season? They certainly can do better than bringing back Alfred Blue. Rob and Brian talk about what the team needs to do and gives their top free agent running backs to help this offense flourish. Is bringing in Le’Veon Bell a possibility? Can the Houston Texans get the back they want in this season’s draft?
The duo discusses that plus gives their thoughts of Indianapolis Colts’ firing offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the interesting back story that likely factored into the move. Plus, Gary Kubiak finds a new job in the NFL. What else? Take a listen to find out more!