Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Malik Willis could draw another start for the injured Ryan Tannehill, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 15.
- The Titans have a whopping 18 players listed on their initial injury report this week, with no one’s presence bigger than Ryan Tannehill’s.
- Brandin Cooks returned to a limited session on Tuesday which is a step in the right direction for him to return to action following three missed games.
- Nico Collins remained out of practice on Tuesday which could spell another absence this week.
- Treylon Burks returned to a full practice on Tuesday after missing the previous two games with a concussion.
- The Texans defense ranks third in DVOA over the previous month of play, with games against the Chiefs, Cowboys, Browns, and Dolphins.
- Lead back Dameon Pierce remains on injured reserve, leaving a head-scratching conglomerate at running back for the Texans consisting of Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale, and Royce Freeman after Eno Benjamin was released by his second team this season.
How houston Will Try To Win ::
Houston has gone full NCAA on us over the previous two weeks, utilizing two quarterbacks in a very Sean Paytonian “pocket passer plus gadgety-runner-thrower-tight end hybrid” breakdown between Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel. Driskel played a massive 50% of the offensive snaps in Week 14 before seeing a 29% snap rate in Week 15, leaving it clearly evident that the Texans are trying out some funky stuff in a lost season. The Texans, as a team, attempted 26 and 27 passes over the previous two games, with most attempted by the pocket passer presence in the quarterback equation in Davis Mills. In reality, this offense is a rag-tag bunch of misfits in its current state, with the team clearly building its identity around their defense. Expect the offense to utilize a high rate of personnel turnover, with no pass-catcher a lock to see more than 80% of the offensive snaps. The Texans also have a “game in hand” on the Bears for the race for the 1.01 in the coming NFL draft, meaning we should expect them to continue experimenting with things on offense to find something that could stick moving into next year, not having to worry about “accidentally winning games.”
Royce Freeman was called up from the practice squad for his first game action of 2022 in Week 15 and ended up leading the backfield in rush attempts and yardage, taking 11 carries for 51 yards and catching his only target for six yards. Dare Ogunbowale mixed in for eight carries for a putrid 14 yards, while Rex Burkhead was held without a carry and caught two of four targets. Stop me when you find something fantasy relevant (hint, there isn’t). The matchup yields the lowest net-adjusted line yards metric we have seen all season at 3.76 against one of the most pass-funnel defenses in the league.
Assuming Brandin Cooks returns, I tentatively expect Cooks and Phillip Dorsett to operate as the primary perimeter receivers with Chris Moore as the primary slot guy. Amari Rodgers is likely to still have a role at the expense of both perimeter receivers, likely keeping all wide receivers confined to sub-80% snap rates. Teagan Quitoriano has emerged as the flavor of the second half of the season at tight end for the Texans, who have varied the snap rates of their tight ends all year — expect Quitoriano, Jordan Akins, and Brevin Jordan to all see snaps at tight end (and none of them have seen more than six targets in a game this season). Outside of the likeliest split in snaps, I really have no clue what to expect from a Texans team that typically hovers around league average in pass rate over expectation (PROE) in negative environments and falls to the extreme lows in PROE when they are able to hang around, but one that has also now added additional members to their rotation at every meaningful position – including quarterback.