TEXANS // JETS OVERVIEW
Had the Texans pulled out a win last week at home against the Colts, they would be in the driver’s seat for a first round bye in the AFC playoffs. This Saturday, they will be traveling to take on a Jets team that is a few lucky breaks away from snagging the number one overall pick. Ouch.
This does not set up as an entertaining game from a viewership perspective, but I do expect the two-game slate on Saturday to be somewhat popular, making this an interesting game for DFS. The Texans are the clearly superior team, and even as the traveling team they are favored by six points. This game has an early-week Over/Under of only 41.5.
TEXANS PASS OFFENSE
Even last week in a huge game against the Colts, the Texans remained a run-heavy team until the fourth quarter — putting us in a position where we need to “assume run-heavy” from this team, and need to bet on efficiency or an outlier game flow in order to bet heavily on the pass. On the two-game slate, there is obviously a case to be made for Watson as the top quarterback and Hopkins as the top wide receiver, but from a salary allocation standpoint, this all becomes an interesting discussion. Game flow will be an element to consider if attacking this two-game slate.
On a per-pass basis, the Jets have been tougher on opposing attacks than most realize — as they have allowed a 5% increase in the league-average aDOT, but their man-heavy coverage scheme has paired this with a 5.1% decrease in the league-average catch rate (the second best mark in the league, behind only the Ravens). This is less of a concern for DeAndre Hopkins and his incredible skill set than it is for lesser receivers on this squad.
From Week 6 on, Hopkins has target counts of 6 // 8 // 7 // 12 // 6 // 6 // 12 // 10. It has seemingly gone unnoticed by the fantasy community that Hopkins has topped 100 yards only once in these eight games (105 yards on 12 targets against Denver), with his incredible seven touchdowns in this stretch keeping his value high. The best bet on Hopkins is on his touchdown upside (the Jets rank middle of the pack in touchdowns allowed to wideouts with 13, through 13 weeks). Working in Hopkins’ favor is the second highest percentage share of team air yards in the NFL. If the Texans do take to the air, Hopkins will be heavily involved.
Without Keke Coutee on the field the last two weeks, Demaryius Thomas has seen target counts of only five and six (adding yardage/touchdown totals of 32-0 // 48-0), making him a “hope for a broken play or a touchdown” bet.
Coutee is finally expected to return (again) from his long-troublesome hamstring injury. In his two games sharing the field with DT, Coutee has seen target counts of nine and two, going 5-77-0 and 2-14-0. As we have explored (and targeted) all season: the Jets are weakest against slot receivers. This offense is designed to flow through Hopkins, so a huge spike in targets for Coutee would be difficult to bet on — but he does have a shot at riding his speed to upside in this spot.
The Texans’ three-man tight end rotation remains a “guess and hope” group. They will be taking on a Jets tight end defense keyed by stud safety Jamal Adams that has faced the fewest targets, allowed the fewest catches, and allowed the third fewest yards to the position.
TEXANS RUN OFFENSE
The Jets rank 20th in yards allowed per carry, and with this team regularly playing from behind, they have faced the fifth most rush attempts in the league while allowing the sixth most rushing yards per game. This is a good setup for Lamar Miller, who has recent touch counts of 23 // 18 // 14 // 23 // 13 // 20 // 19. The 14-touch game came with Miller getting stonewalled by the Broncos. The 14-touch game came with Miller being rested in a blowout after piling up 167 yards and a touchdown.
Behind Miller, Alfred Blue has recent touch counts of 8 // 14 // 13 // 6 in this run-leaning offense, though he has only 12 catches and two touchdowns all season, while failing to top 54 rushing yards in a single game all year. He’s a bet-on-outlier play.
The Jets enter an extremely difficult spot this week on offense against an aggressive, multi-look defense that will pull out all the stops this week to confuse rookie Sam Darnold. The Jets have taken the ninth fewest sacks in the NFL this year with their ball-out-quick attack, but only two teams have turned the ball over more times than New York. Houston ranks 11th in sacks and fifth in takeaways.
In the Jets’ continual quest to protect the confidence of Sam Darnold and bring him along slowly, they will likely begin this game trying to establish a balanced approach — though with a run-blocking unit that ranks bottom five in adjusted line yards set to take on a Houston defense that ranks second in yards allowed per carry, a run-leaning approach from this team will likely lead to quickly-stalled drives. There is a decent chance that Houston — with their own run-leaning approach — will control this game in terms of both time of possession and total plays (the Jets rank 26th in time of possession, while Houston ranks 12th), making it difficult to bet on any Jets pieces with confidence. With Isaiah Crowell looking likely to miss this game, we should see Elijah McGuire carrying the load as the primary back here. Last week after Crow went down early, McGuire played 40 of a possible 54 snaps, while Trenton Cannon played 18. Cannon is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own and may not play. The best bet for production from McGuire will be a broken play, a touchdown, or a spike in “outlet” pass game usage. McGuire does have target counts since returning of 5 // 6 // 3 // 2 // 4, though he has yet to top 37 yards through the air. Houston has been average at preventing running back production through the air.
Pass catchers continue to be a black hole for the Jets, with only three games all year of more than 206 passing yards for Sam Darnold in this horizontal attack. Houston has defined the league average against the pass, creating a spot that neither raises nor lowers expectations for the Jets.
If hunting for upside on this side of the ball, the best bet is Robby Anderson, who has quietly seen recent target counts of 10 // 7 // 5 // 7 // 7. Of course, last week was the first time in Anderson’s last six games in which he topped 50 receiving yards — but he is seeing work downfield, and he’ll be given a few opportunities to hit for big plays.
Jermaine Kearse continues to offer nothing out of the slot and is merely a “hope for miracle production” play after topping 35 yards only twice all season.
Quincy Enunwa continues to produce below expectations while playing on the perimeter, with recent yardage totals of 0 // 9 // 40 // 18 // 73 // 9 // 22.
The best matchup on this side of the ball belongs to Chris Herndon, who will take on a Houston defense allowing the ninth most yards and the ninth most catches to the tight end position, in spite of facing very few elite units. Herndon has topped 34 yards only once in his last four games, and he has not scored since Week 8. Everything on this side of the ball is speculative at best.
If we were playing this game on the Main Slate, none of the Jets would be of any interest, but on the two-gamer you may have to go here for some low-floor, non-invisible upside savings. Anderson and McGuire are the most intriguing plays as guys with potential for upside, while Herndon is not a total dud. Behind these guys, it’s truly just crossing your fingers and hoping.
The primary plays on the Texans are Watson, Hopkins, and Miller, with everyone behind them simply “hope for a touchdown, a broken play, or outlier usage” options. I slightly prefer Baker Mayfield on the two-game slate myself (and the DFS sex appeal of Watson will likely lead to higher ownership on him), though there are obviously clear paths to Watson putting up the higher score if you want to go there. Working in Watson’s favor is a matchup against a man- and blitz-heavy defense that should give Hopkins opportunities to win, and should also give Watson opportunities to pick up some yards on the ground. Working against Watson is the typical low-volume nature of this attack.
Hopkins is overpriced for his typical usage range, but his touchdown and big-play upside keep him attractive on this small slate — especially as he is truly the only receiver on Saturday with guaranteed usage and a high production floor.
Miller stands out as a strong play at the running back position on this slate, with locked-in usage, a respectable floor, and a respectable ceiling. His price is attractive on both FanDuel and DraftKings this week.