Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Texans RB Dameon Pierce (ankle) is listed as questionable despite three consecutive full practices this week – I expect him to play.
- Texans WR Noah Brown (knee) has been ruled out, leaving the pass offense more concentrated.
- The Houston pass offense is expected to be concentrated, high-volume, and explosive – Stroud doubles are well within reason on this slate.
- The Jacksonville pass offense is expected to be supremely chalky despite very few 4x-type games from their pass-catchers and just one game all season over just 20.7 DK points from quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and it took two rushing scores to achieve (last week).
- This feels like a classic spot to not force a correlated bring-back from the Jaguars if stacking up Stroud (or playing Tank Dell or Nico Collins on their own).
How Jacksonville will try to Win ::
Week 11 served to reinforce our stance on the Jaguars that they largely allow the game environment to dictate their aggression and evolution during a game. We now have a 10-game sample size from this season where the Jaguars are only ever exceeding a relatively modest 32 pass attempts in losses, and even then, they have a blowout loss to the 49ers this season where Lawrence attempted only 29 passes. The only game all season where Lawrence attempted more than 32 passes in a win was their Week 5 win over the Bills in London. Same thing going back to last season. All of that to say, this offense is highly unlikely to be the driving force behind game environments overperforming expectations for as long as Doug Pederson is in town, which is exacerbated by the current talent level on their defense. Overall, Jacksonville ranks 26th in pass play rate (55.66 percent), ninth in PROE, and 22nd in pace of play.
Travis Etienne had two games out of the team’s Week 9 bye with more muted snap rates and opportunity counts than he had leading into their bye, but both games were blowouts (a blowout loss to the 49ers and a blowout win over the Titans). His 13 and 17 running back opportunities in those two games fell well short of the 23.25 opportunities per game he averaged in the first eight games of the season. That is to say, Etienne has held one of the most robust running back roles in the league in all but extreme game environments this season. He even saw 24 running back opportunities in the first meeting between these two teams, a 37-17 stomping at the hands of the Texans. All of that to say, it is much more likely that Etienne sees elevated touch counts than the recent two-game sample becoming a trend. Tank Bigsby and D’Ernest Johnson are on hand for whatever snaps Etienne leaves behind. The matchup on the ground is far from ideal against a Houston defense holding opposing backs to 3.7 yards per carry (fourth best in the league) behind just 1.10 yards allowed before contact. We’ve mentioned this before, but the Texans have allowed 21.3 DK points per game to opposing backs due to nine total touchdowns allowed to the position.
The Texans run zone coverages at a top-10 rate in the league, against which no pass-catcher for the Jaguars has seen more than 20 percent targets per route run and no wide receiver piercing the top 36 at the position in fantasy points per route run. Christian Kirk leads the team in YPRR, TPRR, and fantasy points per route run against zone this season but remains in the non-elite range in each of those metrics. Furthermore, the moderate pass volume discussed above has yielded just five total games of a pass-catcher reaching double-digit targets (three for Kirk, two for Ridley, and one for Engram), and no two have done it in the same game. As far as fantasy production, Kirk has achieved a 4x multiplier on his Week 12 salary once while Ridley has done it twice, with no other pass-catcher sniffing that level of production. Basically, this offense requires a very specific game environment to return enough volume for GPP-viable production, with no truly elite fantasy production coming from this unit through 11 weeks. I also don’t buy the “play Calvin Ridley when Zay Jones is active” narrative as there isn’t much in changing usage that would point to that being predictive in nature, more likely to simply be variance in a highly variant, downfield role. Ridley does lead the team with a robust 30.0 percent red zone target share, but he has caught just four of nine red zone targets this season. That should serve to highlight the run-focused nature of this offense when in the red zone more than anything else.