GAME OVERVIEW ::
- Interesting case where the likeliest scenario leads to a maddening spread of touches for the Browns; we expect the Browns to find success but their spread-it-out offense means the floors of all skill position players are lower than we’d otherwise like here
- The field might be looking to the Texans for cheap upside, but that upside is basically a fallacy
- Interesting tributary scenario, not in the sense that an alternate game flow is likely, but from a sense of how the Browns score
HOW HOUSTON WILL TRY TO WIN ::
The Texans are fresh off an opening week win over the hapless Jaguars. That game saw the Texans control the tempo throughout, which led to a ridiculously low 45% situation-neutral pass rate. Expect this team to start the game attempting to win in the same fashion but to not enjoy the same level of success in the likeliest scenario. That should lead to a substantial increase to the 33 total pass attempts from a week ago.
The running back situation for the Texans is about as ridiculous as you would have thought heading into the season. Mark Ingram II paced the team in snap rate in Week 1, parlaying 46% of the offensive plays run from scrimmage into 27 total running back opportunities (26 rush attempts and one target). In a game where we can’t confidently project the Texans to run the football 41 times, expect his likeliest scenario to regress to 12-14 running back opportunities. David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead rounded out this four-headed running back nightmare, playing 28%, 26%, and 13% of the offensive snaps, respectively. Expect David Johnson and Rex Burkhead to be more involved this week as the team likely plays from behind, with the likeliest scenario leading to 8-12 running back opportunities for Johnson and 5-7 for Burkhead in the likeliest scenario. Lindsay should round out this backfield with 5-7 opportunities of his own. Big picture: not a ton to love here in a difficult matchup in the trenches.
Brandin Cooks led the team in snap rate amongst pass-catchers at 78% in Week 1, followed by the primary blocking tight end Pharoah Brown, pass-catching tight end Jordan Akins, rookie slot wide receiver Nico Collins, perimeter wide receiver Chris Conley, blocking tight end Antony Auclair, and Swiss army knife wide receiver Danny Amendola. I’d expect the snap rates for Cooks, Akins, Collins, and Conley to increase this week as the team is likely forced to the air with greater frequency. Expect the likeliest scenario for Tyrod Taylor pass attempts to land in the 35-37 attempt range, with 8-12 targets for Cooks, 5-7 for Akins, Conley, and Collins, and 3-5 for Brown. We saw how communication miscues from a zone-heavy defense are likely to happen early in the season in Week 1 after the Browns struggled to contain the speed of Tyreek Hill and underneath skill of Travis Kelce, but consider the upside capped for all players not named Brandin Cooks.
HOW CLEVELAND WILL TRY TO WIN ::
Cleveland’s likeliest plan of attack for this game should be fairly evident to even the most casual of football observers. The team will be without Odell Beckham, Jr. for the second game in a row, carries the highest net-adjusted line yards mismatch we are likely to see all season (5.52), are playing in a game where they are favored by almost two touchdowns, and carry the second-highest Vegas implied team total on the slate. The problem (or good part, depending on who you ask) is that the Texans simply don’t have the personnel to slow down the Browns’ rushing attack.
The Browns finished Week 1 with a situation-neutral pass rate of just 55% in a game against the top football team in the league, which closely mirrors their 2020 value of 52%. This team likes to run the ball and they do it damn well. Running back Nick Chubb is quite possibly the best pure runner of the football in the league and he runs behind the top offensive line in the league. Change of pace specialist Kareem Hunt is quite possibly the most talented “backup” running back in the league. The Browns ran 59 total offensive plays in Week 1 against the best team in the league (who were much more likely to sustain drives than the Texans here – the Browns finished Week 1 ranked third in the NFL in drive success rate while the Chiefs finished second; the Texans finished 19th). This means that we’re likely to see a slight uptick in total offensive plays run from scrimmage. The likeliest scenario leads to 27-31 total rushes from the Browns here with upside for more, which should lead to a tight 18-22 running back opportunities for Nick Chubb and 12-16 for Kareem Hunt.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry predictably ran low upside routes in Week 1, finishing with an average depth of target of just 3.4 yards and an average air yards per route of 0.33. Expect him to once again lead the team in snap rate and route rate, but the upside is capped until he is deployed in a higher upside role. Donovan Peoples-Jones ranked second on the team in snaps and routes run, followed by Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Anthony Schwartz, and Harrison Bryant. Expect the elevated 12-personnel (and even some 13-personnel) rates to continue for as long as Odell Beckham, Jr. remains out after the team ran 11-personnel only 44% of their Week 1 snaps. The matchup is a good one, but we can’t confidently project the Browns to attack heavily through the air in the likeliest scenario here.
LIKELIEST GAME FLOW ::
When we consider all the angles (as we should for each and every game on a slate), this game falls towards the bottom of the list when it comes to potential tributary game scenarios. The likeliest game flow is the Browns are able to sustain drives primarily on the ground and grind out an easy win on the backs of their running back duo and offensive line. Along that same line of thinking, the tributary scenario doesn’t necessarily involve the Browns failing as much as it involves them scoring all their touchdowns through the air (see: Week 7 2020, where Baker Mayfield threw only 28 passes but passed for 297 yards and five touchdowns against the Bengals). However unlikely, it is still within the realm of possibility and something to consider for my MME cadre.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- This game finished 10-7 in 2020 in large part due to crazy levels of wind interference
- Despite their big Week 1 win over JAC, Vegas has HOU with the lowest implied team total on the slate
- Even in loss, CLE averaged 8.2 yds/play vs KC while holding them to 6.5 yds/play
- CLE’s defensive roster is arguably an upgrade at almost every position compared to the JAC roster Tyrod just faced
- 204 QBs since 2014 have averaged just over 12 DK pts/g as 10+ pt underdogs on teams implied for 20 pts or less
- In his career, Tyrod Taylor averages 15.4 DK pts as a Dog & 18.9 DK pts as a Favorite
- Tyrod has scored 25+ DK pts eight times in 47 full games
- CLE allowed the 8th most yds & DK pts/g on the 3rd most WR targets faced in 2020
- CLE got wrecked by Tyreek Hill for 197 yds, TD on his 15 targets while holding every other WR below 20 yds
- Cooks racked up 132 yds on 7 targets in a game HOU led 34-7 at one point; Amendola/Conley/Collins combined for just 10 targets
- 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
- Leading pass-catcher in most recent Tyrod starts (HOU, LAC, CLE): Cooks (5:132) // Henry (5:73) // Landry (5:69) // Landry (7:106)
- Brown trailed only Cooks in targets in W1 with 6, turning them into 67 yds
- 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
- CLE allowed 11 TE rec TDs in 2020 and began 2021 with another to Kelce
- Akins got two RZ targets to Brown’s zero in W1
- HOU RBs rushed 37 times for 120 yds, 2 TD in their blowout of JAC
- Ingram’s 26 rush att were the third most of his career, and first of 20 att since 2017
- CLE held CEH to 43 yds on 14 rush att in W1
- 321 RBs since 2014, averaging less than 2 targets per game as 10+ pt underdogs, are averaging just 7.21 DK pts and failing to hit expected pts (determined by salary) 64.2% of the time
- Final game scores of Mayfield’s only scores of 20+ DK pts in 2020: (37-34), (41-35), (42-47), (20-6), (48-37)
- After 9 games of under 30 pass at in 2020, Baker started 2021 throwing just 28 times (and that was against Mahomes!)
- HOU’s defense performed above expectation vs Lawrence & JAC, but still allowed well over 300 pass yds & 3 TDs in their big win
- No Odell for another week
- Jarvis Landry targets/g with & without Odell: 5.5 vs 6.8
- Landry had one game over 6 targets in Odell’s six full games, and seven in the other 11
- Landry had just 5 targets in a tough matchup vs KC, but scored on a rush TD
- HOU allowed the highest success rate to WRs in 2020
- Only DAL & MIN allowed more WR TDs than HOU in 2020
- JAC WRs vs HOU W1: Chark: 3:86:1 (12) // Jones: 5:77:1 (9) // Viska: 7:50 (10)
- Routes on 30 Baker dropbacks: Peoples-Jones (26) // Schwartz (17) // Higgins (2)
- Routes on 30 Baker dropbacks: Hooper (14) // Njoku (15) // Bryant (9)
- CLE TE targets in W1: Hooper (3) // Njoku (5) // Bryant (2)
- O’Shag went for 6 rec 48 yds vs HOU in W1
- 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 & Hyde only got 14 att, but did average 5 yds/att in W1 vs HOU
- CLE RBs rushing W1: Chubb (15:83:2) // Hunt (6:33:1)
- CLE RBs vs HOU 2020: Chubb (19:126:1) // Hunt (19:104) /// Chubb laid down at 1
- 83 RBs since 2014 averaging 15+ rush att/g have averaged 17.23 DK pts/g as 10+ pt favorites