Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
- Spread: Texans -3.5
- Total: 46.5
- Broncos implied points: 21.5
- Texans implied points: 25
Russell Wilson: The veteran has at least 30 rushing yards in three of his past four games and has cleared 20 in six of his past seven. That helps build up a profile that is already reasonably stable (68.1% complete, flirting with a career-high).
And while he lacks the upside of his counterpart in this game or options like Jordan Love, his steady floor should be attractive to fantasy managers looking for a one-week fill-in option.
The Texans have allowed four straight QBs to total at least 265 passing-plus-rushing yards. If Wilson extends that streak to five straight, he likely pays off my QB12 ranking of him against a defense that misses the second-most tackles per game in the league.
C.J. Stroud: The rookie has looked like anything but in posting a QB13 finish or better in eight of his past 10 games. Hone in on the most recent tape he’s provided, and we’re talking about 1,466 passing yards (12 TDs) over a four-game stretch.
Heck, Stroud even ran for a season-high 47 yards last week against the Jags. The mobility he has is usually more within the pocket than something fantasy managers can benefit from, but he picks his spots well (six games this season with a 10+ yard carry).
If a defense is going to slow Stroud down, I have a hard time thinking it’s a Broncos team that is eighth worst on a per-pass basis through the air. Stroud is a top-five play for me this week and can be started with the utmost confidence.
Javonte Williams: We all want to believe that there is a special talent beneath the surface here, but fantasy championships are won on actual production, not potential. Don’t get me wrong, I, too, think Williams is a fantasy star in the making, but it’s hard to overlook his lack of efficiency over the past month when given a true bell-cow role (3.5 yards per carry).
Those concerns, along with a matchup against a top-five per-carry run defense in the league, have Williams barely inside of my top 20 at the position. The role keeps him in starting lineups, but I’m just adjusting my upside expectations.
For Week 13, he ranks in the same tier as RBs with similar “volume but efficiency concerns” written into their profiles — think James Conner, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Joe Mixon.
Devin Singletary: We here at PFN tried to warn you that betting heavily on this Texans ground game, even after consecutive strong showings, was dangerous. Dameon Pierce returned to action last week against the Jags, and he combined with Singletary to run for 32 yards on 11 carries.
Singletary was the clear featured back (49-11 snap edge per the Week 13 Cheat Sheet) and out-targeted Pierce 6-1 (54 receiving yards for Singletary helped salvage an otherwise forgettable day at the office). That makes him the preferred option in this plus-matchup, but starting either Texan back comes with clear risk.
What we saw on Sunday is kind of how I expect this to go moving forward. Running behind this offensive line is a tough ask, so it will come down to efficiency in the passing game, a role that is Singletary’s (35-6 edge in routes run). That creates a low floor and is why Singletary is more of a strong Flex for me this week than anything, but at least it gives him a path to production on an offense where the RB room is not the focal point.
Dameon Pierce: After missing three games with an ankle injury, Pierce returned in the form he left in — five carries for 14 yards. His yards-per-carry average for the season is now under 3.0, and not one of his 114 carries this season has gained more than 16 yards.
As mentioned above, the role in the passing game is pretty clearly in the hands of Singletary (Pierce hasn’t had a multi-catch effort since September), and that keeps him well off of fantasy radars against a top-10 per-carry run defense.
Courtland Sutton: With a catch of 30+ yards in three straight and a TD in eight of 11 games this season, Sutton’s profile is that of someone you can trust in your lineup weekly. This offense is average at best in basically all respects, but it is clear that Wilson has a reasonable connection with Sutton, and in this era, even an average unit can support a weekly fantasy starter.
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He gets a Texans defense that is bottom 10 in yards per play, percentage of yards that come through the air, and opponent completion percentage. I’m comfortable playing Sutton as a low-end WR2, landing him in the same conversation as some bona fide target earners in Adam Thielen and Garrett Wilson, who play with greater question marks under center.
Jerry Jeudy: If not for pedigree and a favorable schedule to close the season (two Charger games certainly help), would Jeudy be a drop candidate? He has one touchdown this season, hasn’t reached 65 yards since Week 2 (the 70-20 loss in Miami), and has yet to see more than seven targets in a single game (he averaged 6.7 targets per game last season).
There’s simply no excuse for slotting him into your fantasy lineup, no matter the matchup. Could that change down the stretch? There’s a non-zero chance, but I’m not banking on it. With one reception of 20+ yards since early October, Jeudy’s path to mattering in our game isn’t clear and isn’t something I’m remotely comfortable betting on, with fantasy regular seasons nearing a conclusion.
Nico Collins: Against the Jags last week, Collins found the end zone for the second time in three games and recorded his first 100-yard effort since Week 4. He led the Texans in all receiving stats, something that I expect to be the case from this point forward.
Yes, Tank Dell has produced well above my (or anyone else’s) expectations this season, but the profile of Collins, along with an edge in experience, gives him the bump. He has caught 14 of 20 targets (169 yards) in his two games since missing one with an injury, and he should continue to trend up.
He’s a strong WR2 this week and is to be considered as such for the remainder of the season.
Tank Dell: There is no denying that Dell is officially a “thing.” I was dismissive during the preseason and skeptical at first when he was producing during the regular season, but we are allowed to adjust opinions when presented with new facts, and with Dell continuing to impress, I have.
I still prefer Collins for the remainder of the season, but there’s no denying it is close. In terms of rankings — they are basically like Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel in San Francisco. Certain matchups will dictate one over the other, but both are talented enough to count on every week.
The long-term conversation with Dell is where it gets interesting. On a per-target and per-catch basis, his rookie campaign looks similar to Mecole Hardman, Jahan Dotson, and Calvin Johnson. Talk about a wide range of outcomes!
I expect some waves in production (heck, we saw it last game where he was the targeted on three of the first four passes and just five times on the final 32), but at over 15 yards per catch this season and with 43 targets over his past four games, he is well past the “is he a flash in the pan?” conversation.
Editor’s note: Dell is expected to play in Week 13.
Noah Brown: Brown missed a second consecutive game (knee), something that wasn’t a surprise given that he hadn’t practiced all week. The lack of participation on the practice field is concerning for both his status this week and his return to actual full strength.
I’m skeptical about this offense producing three viable receivers on any sort of consistent basis (Robert Woods ran a route on 60.9% of dropbacks as the WR3 in this offense last week, well behind rates over 82% posted by both Dell and Collins), so I think it’s best to stash Brown through his return and make him show us a viable role with everyone on this offense healthy.
Editor’s note: Brown is expected to play in Week 13.
Dalton Schultz: Almost everything touching this passing game has turned to fantasy gold this season, and, for a while, Schultz was a part of them. He scored in three straight games in October and opened November with a 10-catch performance against the Bucs — leading me to tout him as a secondary option in this passing game.
I was wrong. Dell is not only more ready to produce at this level than I gave him credit for, but Schultz doesn’t appear to be much more of a target earner than the blob tight ends.
He has seen just five targets over the past two weeks (6.8% target share) with this receiver room at less than full strength. He has no more than four catches in nine games this season, and, even more concerning than the catch count, he split the work against the Jags with Brevin Jordan (29-26 edge in snaps and a 22-20 edge in routes run).
He remains a TE1 for me due to the potency of this passing game as a whole and the ability of that environment to produce multiple viable pass catchers, but he’s slipping down the ranks. He isn’t a TE blubber right now, but he’s blob adjacent.
Should You Start Russell Wilson or Jordan Love?
Both are viable streaming options if you’re replacing Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson this week, but I do prefer the stability that comes with Wilson. We’ve seen Love’s production all over the place this season and that could well continue against a strong Chiefs defense that should make his life difficult early and often.
Wilson gets an iffy Texans defense, and while he’s not facing Patrick Mahomes, C.J. Stroud and company could very well push him into an aggressive script, and that fuels some sneaky upside.
Should You Start Javonte Williams or AJ Dillon?
I’ve gotten a lot of questions this week about Williams and the involvement of Samaje Perine (seven carries in Week 12 and seven catches in Week 11). You guys seem to be more worried than I am.
Williams has caught multiple passes in nine of 10 games this season, and while we have seen many spike plays from him, he does have a 15+ yard gain in six straight games.
The AJ Dillon experience has been less exciting, as he is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. I expect the volume to be comparable, and I simply trust Williams more when it comes to producing when given the chance in space.
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