Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- James Robinson sets up extremely well here, with likely heavy involvement in the passing game and a robust red zone role
- On the other side, Brandin Cooks sets up well against what should be a heavy man-coverage defense, a coverage which he has crushed over the previous three years of his career
- Jaguars defense puts up an interesting case to be worthy of addition to a condensed player pool, but Tyrod Taylor holds historically low interception rates over his career
- Not much else to like here in what should be a slow, grind of a game
How Jacksonville Will Try To Win ::
The Jaguars have completely changed the dynamics of their team, on both sides of the ball as well as throughout the coaching staff. Head coach Urban Meyer should combine with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to create a dynamic offense that aims to put pressure on multiple levels of an opposing defense. Expect intertwined routes, heavy shotgun, bubble screens, quarterback motion, and ball-out-quick usages. The name of the game here is going to be getting their playmakers in space with the ball in their hands. On the defensive side of the ball, expect defensive coordinator Joe Cullen to utilize heavy man coverage sets with single-high safety coverages. I also expect numerous tailored blitz packages on various downs and distances.
On the ground, incumbent starting running back James Robinson should be utilized in a semi-workhorse role after the loss of rookie Travis Etienne. We should see a dynamic run game that utilizes pulls and sweeps combined with quick outs and slants through the air. The 4-3 Tampa-2 defensive scheme expected from Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is an antiquated system that is liable to struggle against the dynamic nature of the run game here. James Robinson is one of my early week favorites to hit the rushing bonus on DK and punch one in the end zone; add an expected five to six targets to that, and he becomes one of my favorite early week plays at running back. Expect Carlos Hyde to mix in as a change of pace back, but Robinson should enjoy a stranglehold on the available running back opportunities in addition to a heavy red zone role.
Through the air, expect perimeter wide receivers DJ Chark and Marvin Jones, Jr. to run a robust route tree. Combine that with a dynamic inside playmaker in Laviska Shenault, Jr., and the likelihood for this offense to involve the RB in the passing game heavily out of the backfield, this offense becomes a legitimate problem for the Texans. All four of the primary playmakers through the air see a boost against a zone-heavy defensive scheme, but Laviska Shenault and James Robinson particularly pique my interest. The problem with Viska is that the volume is difficult to project, meaning he should be treated as a low floor, moderate to high ceiling option
How Houston Will Try To Win ::
The Texans brought in head coach David Culley, who served as the Ravens’ pass game coordinator over the previous two seasons, to turn their franchise around. Culley is an “old school” coach who emphasizes “the basics” and “execution.” This would be all fine and well if they had the personnel on the roster to execute that approach effectively, but this team on paper is #notgood. Holdover offensive coordinator Tim Kelly broke into the league coaching for Bill O’Brien in 2014, but we should expect heavy influence from Culley’s west coast offensive philosophy, learned under the tutelage of Andy Reid. Culley was quoted as asking his OC for more balance than they saw in 2020, a year that saw the Texans lead the league in pass yards (DeShaun Watson threw for 4,823 yards). We should expect this team to see a decrease from the third-ranked situation neutral pass rate from 2020 (63%) for as long as they are in games, which is unlikely to be the case as we get deep into this season. I expect (and that’s about all we can do in Week 1 with so many changes across the NFL) to see a more neutral 55/45% pass to rush rate on early downs to begin games as Culley looks to assert his influence.
On the ground, we are likely to see newcomers Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram share early-down touches, with holdover David Johnson and newcomer Rex Burkhead handling clear passing-down duties. They will be executing this game plan behind a bottom-five offensive line, per PFF’s preseason rankings. Opposing defensive coordinator Joe Cullen is likely to utilize a hybrid 3-4/4-3 single-high defensive alignment, with heavy man coverage. This style of defense is difficult to run against, which limits RBs in the second level.
Through the air, based on what we saw in the preseason, and the offensive philosophies of the west coast spread offense, expect WRs Brandin Cooks, Chris Conley, and Nico Collins to run layered routes designed to open up space for their playmakers. QB Tyrod Taylor has this stigma of being incapable of attacking downfield, but he has shown respectably average intended air yards per pass attempt over the previous four years, dating back to his Pro Bowl season with the Bills. We didn’t see very much of the starters in the preseason, but most of the passing was executed within ten yards of the line of scrimmage. With the Jaguars likely to be in single-high man coverage for a good chunk of the game, Brandin Cooks profiles immaculately as someone who can take advantage of off-man coverage. Just two years ago, he ranked fifth in the NFL in WR rating against off-man coverage, racking up 739 yards against that style of coverage.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
It is likeliest we see the Jaguars assert dominance over this game flow rather early here, with the edge in both personnel and scheme. Houston should begin the game looking to move the ball methodically with a balanced attack, but should be forced into a more aggressive aerial approach as the game moves on. It isn’t a perfect matchup, but it sets up most optimally for Brandin Cooks to take advantage of, due to expected increased pass volume. The Jaguars dynamic offense should be able to sustain drives through a punishing run game and a disguised pass game, leaning on the power run game at a higher rate as the game progresses.
Just about every game in Week 1 should have a viable tributary as we just don’t know as much as we think we know with a ton of offseason changes this year. Going full JM here, if we played this slate 100 times, the Texans would be able to maintain a balanced approach deep into the game for 20-25 of them, effectively erasing any interest I would have in Houston’s pass-catchers and lowering the ceiling of Jacksonville’s run game.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
Jaguars RB James Robinson sets up extremely well here for as long as the game isn’t too far out of hand. Expect him to see borderline elite usage due to the season-ending injury sustained by Travis Etienne, with change of pace back Carlos Hyde giving him breathers when needed. Robinson should be utilized heavily in the pass game as well as the goal line, so he brings a solid cost-considered range of outcomes to the table in Week 1.
On the other side of the ball, rookie WR Nico Collins will likely generate some buzz this week, but everything we’ve seen from camp and preseason is low upside and shallow depth of target work. His shiftiness makes him a solid down low option in the red zone, but the floor is simply not there, even for a player coming in at the bare minimum price. The backfield is a complete stay-away. The only interest I will have from the Texans is lead WR Brandin Cooks, who sets up well to take advantage of a coverage scheme he has excelled against in the past. The floor is lower than we would typically like here, due in large part to the unknowns surrounding Tyrod Taylor, but the ceiling is very much there.
The Jaguars defense is also somewhat interesting to me here, as we should expect Cullen to dial-up integrated and sporadic blitz packages to take advantage of a weak opposing offensive line. The one thing that is holding me back from recommending them as a top defensive unit is the lack of mistakes Tyrod Taylor makes when under pressure. He holds a career interception rate of just 1.3%, which, for comparison, is lower than some scrub named Aaron Rodgers’ career 1.4%.
Coaching “Mindset” is really the biggest obstacle in this game, as each defense should be attackable enough this year for this game to otherwise (technically) have shootout potential. On the Texans’ side, however, it takes a pretty wild stretch of the imagination to see “David Culley + Tyrod Taylor” turning into an aggressive, “Win by maximizing points scored” approach. If the Texans had a better defense (and a better offensive line…and more talent pretty much everywhere), Culley and “TyGod” would actually be a nice pairing for real-life wins, as Culley can be expected to take an approach of “Build everything off the run, avoid turnovers and mistakes, and grind out a win each week.” With Tyrod Taylor’s ability to make good decisions and take what the defense gives him, this could work in a non-sexy, non-Super-Bowl-contender capacity with more talent elsewhere. Unfortunately, the Texans are talent-barren (by NFL standards); and because their mindset should lean conservative, there aren’t many paths to a shootout developing. If the Texans fall behind early, they’re likely to still “Gase” their way back into the game // if the game stays close, both teams will likely play non-shootout football // if the Texans somehow jump out to an early lead, shootout opportunities dry up even further.
One of the things we do want to be willing to do in Week 1 is embrace uncertainty where others are shying away from it, so in large-field tourney play, you could draft up a story on a handful of rosters in which the Jags try to get Trevor Lawrence a big game in his first outing against the softest defense they’ll face all season, leading to 300+ yards and three touchdowns through the air (he could do it with the weapons at his disposal against this defense). This is a non-crazy scenario I’d be happy to play around with on a couple rosters in 20-entry-max tourneys, or on as many as eight to 12 rosters in 150-max tourneys (assuming, of course, I were max-entering; if mini-multi-entering in a 150-max, there is that “Larejo mindset” (check out the “Our Team” page to see what makes Larejo so special) that says a bit of “Jags passing attack” could/should show up on a smaller set of rosters in those larger-field tourneys (to simplify: the idea is that if others are building 150 rosters and you’re only building, say, 15, you need to be willing to pull the trigger on some of the plays that people with 150 rosters are willing to pull the trigger on as they get down to their last 25 or 30 rosters for the week); but nothing in the research “points to this spot”).
In tighter builds, James Robinson and Brandin Cooks are the two players I’m setting aside from this game. I don’t dig into player pricing until deeper into the week in my process (so we’ll have a clearer idea of where these guys fit for me, and how they stack up against other available plays, by the time we reach the Player Grid; note: The Player Grid, and all other components in The Scroll, will go live for Week 1 when Thursday Night Football kicks off!!!!), but both guys are getting scooped from this game for me and added to my early-week list. Optimally, we want to be able to describe to ourselves how a player on our list can put up “100 yards and two touchdowns.” It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with that story for Robinson. It takes a bit more for Cooks, but it’s viable enough that he’s an interesting piece when it’s all said and done.
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- In the last 3 years, first-time head coaches in Week 1 are 1-13-1 (of course, both coaches are first-timers here)
- JAC scored the 3rd fewest pts in 2020, but upgrade Minshew/Conley to Lawrence/Marvin Jones
- HOU scored the 18th most pts in 2020, but downgrade Watson/Fuller to Tyrod/Conley
- HOU is implied for the 3rd lowest total on the slate
- JAC & HOU tied for the 4th most RZ opportunities faced in 2020 (63)
- HOU allowed the 3rd highest yds/att to QBs & the 2nd highest passer rating in 2020
- HOU lost JJ Watt and their best CB Bradley Robey is still serving suspension for Week 1
- QBs vs HOU after Robey’s suspension: Rivers (285:2; 228:2) // Trubisky (267:3) // B Allen (371:2) // Tanny (216:1, 38:2)
- Herbert (26.2), Kyler (25.6), & Jones (39.2) are recent rookie QBs to have big fantasy debuts
- HOU allowed the highest success rate to WRs in 2020
- Only DAL & MIN allowed more WR TDs than HOU in 2020
- Lawrence preseason WR targets: Laviska (13) // Jones (9) // Dorsett (3) // Tavon (2) // Cooper (2) // Treadwell // Johnson)
- DJ Chark didn’t play in any of the preseason games
- Laviska with 7+ targets in 2020: 3:10 // 5:48:1 // 7:79 // 6:68:2 // 6:49
- Jones with 7+ targets in 2020: 3:39:2 // 4:48 // 4:55 // 8:96:1 // 8:180:2 // 10:112:1 // 8:116:1 // 6:48
- Notable WR performances vs HOU after Robey’s suspension: Hilton (8:110:1) // ARob (9:123:1) // Pascal (5:79:2) // Higgins (6:99:1) // AJB (10:151:1)
- Lawrence preseason TE targets: O’Shag (3) // Manhertz (2) // Farrell
- Eifert’s 60 targets from last season are gone; O’Shag had next most with 38
- Manhertz has 12 career rec & Farrell is a rookie 5th rounder
- Lawrence preseason RB targets: Hyde (2) // Etienne // Robinson
- Robinson averaged 100 total yds on 17.1 att & 4.3 tg per game in 2020
- Ogunbawale’s 32 att & 20 tg were sure to be surpassed by Travis Etienne, but even Carlos Hyde is still expected to eat into JRob’s market share
- HOU allowed 300 more RB rush yds than the next closest team in 2020 (145.8/g)
- HOU allowed over 3000 total RB yds in 2020 (190.9/g)
- Robinson vs HOU in 2020: 13:48, 5:22 // 25:99:1
- JAC had just SIX rush att inside the 5yd line all season, and Robinson turned all 5 of his into TDs
- In his career, Tyrod Taylor averages 15.1 DK pts as a Dog & 18.9 DK pts as a Favorite
- HOU is a 3pt Dog
- 4x Tyrod’s Week 1 Salary is 21.6 DK pts
- Tyrod’s times reaching that mark by season since 2015: (6/14) // (5/15) // (2/15) // (1/2) // (0/1)
- 9/16 QBs surpassed that score vs JAC in 2020 (23.6 was the average score allowed)
- The preseason signs haven’t exactly been encouraging with Keenum, Lauletta, Jameis, Taysom all producing (albeit still just preseason)
- Notable QB rushing vs JAC in 2020: Fitz (7:38:1) // Herbert (9:66:1) // Watson (10:50) // Lamar (10:35:1)
- JAC allowed the 3rd most RB rush yds & 2nd most total RB yds behind HOU in 2020
- Only HOU & DET allowed more RB DK pts than JAC
- David Johnson & Phillip Lindsay both finished about 10% below league avg in run success rate in 2020
- DJ vs JAC in 2020: (17:96, 2:7) // (2:16; left inj)
- Brandin Cooks w/o Fuller in 2020 (albeit w/ Watson): 5:95 (8) // 5:65 (8) // 6:59 (7) // 7:141:1 (10) // 11:166:2 (16)
- Cooks yds/g by season: 55 // 71 // 73 // 68 // 75 // 42 // 77
- Cooks had 5 targets on 14 Tyrod passes in their preseason games together
- JAC allowed the 11th most DK pts to WRs in 2020
- JAC added Shaq Griffin, and 1st-rounder CJ Henderson is entering 2nd year, but they did already get torched by Callaway in Pre-2
- Leading pass-catcher in most recent Tyrod starts (LAC & CLE): Henry (5:73) // Landry (5:69) // Landry (7:106)
- With Coutee cut & Miller still questionable returning from injury, Conley & Collins are the main WRs behind Cooks
- Darren Fells is gone to DET
- Akins scored 10+ DK pts in 4/13 games in 2020 (accomplished both times he cleared 80% snaps)
- In Tyrod’s 3 seasons in BUF, Charles Clay averaged 40.6, 36.8, & 42.9 yds/g
- Clay averaged 5.9, 5.8, 5.7 tg/g while ranking 3rd, 1st, 2nd in total team targets
- JAC allowed the 2nd highest yds/att to TEs in 2020