The Houston Texans are the exact opposite of what we thought they’d be while the Jacksonville Jaguars are offering fantasy football value from a variety of spots. Can Dameon Pierce get rolling? How should you value the receivers in this game? You’ve got questions and I’ve got thoughts!
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Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
- Spread: Jaguars -9.5
- Total: 44
- Texans implied points: 17.3
- Jaguars implied points: 26.7
Dynasty managers have to love the fact that Stroud is being given the ability to learn on the fly. He has thrown 91 passes through two weeks and has yet to throw a pick, both are encouraging signs for those with a long-term investment in the rookie.
You could argue that he is a creative bye-week filler in the right matchup if you play up the angle of this team routinely playing from behind, but until we get to that point, he’s well off of annual radars.
Lawrence was a few receiver toe taps away from a big Week 2 against the Chiefs, but no luck. If you drafted Lawrence, you might be a touch underwhelmed with the early returns – relax.
He has 20+ rushing yards in both games this season (including a designed run in the red zone last week) and has shown the willingness to feed all three of his primary receivers. With Evan Engram, this roster is built for Lawrence to succeed at a high level, and I think he’s a great trade target.
This Texans defense is better than they get credit for, and they locked up Lawrence last season (zero TD passes on 68 attempts). That, however, was a different offense that lacked a true alpha receiver. I expect Calvin Ridley to open up the passing game much like Michael Pittman did against these Texans last week, and that has him firmly inside my circle of trust at the QB position.
Entering this season, I wasn’t sure that it was possible to describe someone as a “poor man’s James Conner,” but here we are. Pierce has the volume that Conner possesses, but he plays for a team that ranks bottom-5 in RB target share. That’s a big time for a team that is routinely playing from behind.
Yeah that checks out. There's Najee with Dameon Pierce *way* in the top-left. pic.twitter.com/HNMEVKEJnX
— Stephen Hoopes (@TargetShares) September 20, 2023
Fun fact: 122.6% of Pierce’s rushing yards last season came after contact. I don’t care who you blame for his slow start, the fact of the matter is that I’m not sure it gets better. On 31 opportunities last season against the Jags, he managed just 113 yards.
He isn’t a must-start and ranks just outside of my top-25 at the position this week. His next top-35 finish this season will be his first, so while I’m down on him, I may not have him low enough!
I was skeptical about Pierce’s value all summer long, so why waste time on his backup? With 12 touches through two weeks (39 yards, 0 TD) on an offense that looks stuck in the mud, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze on Singletary.
MORE: PFN Consensus Rankings
There just isn’t enough upside to chase here, even if Pierce were to go down. I’m comfortable moving on from Singletary to chase opportunities just about anywhere else. If there’s a receiver in Kansas City or Baltimore that is available, green light. Heck, I’d rather take a chance on the Texans WR room than hang onto Singletary.
Travis Etienne Jr.
Like Lawrence, I’m very much listening to what Jacksonville told us last week instead of hyper-focusing on the underwhelming 5.2 fantasy points.
Etienne’s role in the loss to the Chiefs was nothing short of elite, as he handled 87.5% of Jaguar RB touches. That role alone is enough to flirt with RB1 status before you dive into the matchup, so when you realize that the Texans have allowed three rushing scores in each of their first two games, you begin to understand why I have Etienne as a top-10 option this weekend.
As if that wasn’t enough, Etienne piled up 108 yards and a score on his nine carries in the Week 17 win over these Texans last season. With injuries to Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb, not to mention Christian McCaffrey, Josh Jacobs, and Joe Mixon all off the DFS main slate, Etienne will be a building block for me in that space.
There were whispers this draft season that Bigsby could hold standalone value this season or even overtake Etienne for the lead job in this high-powered offense. After a zero-opportunity game (12 snaps), that certainly seems to be a long shot at this point.
There still is value in holding onto him given his path to work on a strong offense should something happen to Etienne, but you can stop wishing to cast a weekly role onto the rookie – ain’t happening.
The 31-year-old has reeled in six catches in both games this season, but what is the realistic upside? The volume and consistency are nice to see, but if I’m going down the WR ranks, I want access to a ceiling that this veteran simply no longer has.
Even with the usage, Woods isn’t a player who needs to be rostered in anything but deeper-than-average leagues.
The former third-round pick has been a top-30 receiver in each of the first two weeks, and while some luck has played into that (I’m not 100% sure his touchdown last week came on a pass intended for him), it’s hard to argue with a profile that includes 20 targets this season and a 25-yard grab in both games.
I entered this season wanting no part of this Houston offense, operating under the assumption that they’d be conservative with a rookie under center. While the offense isn’t one I’d label “potent,” they certainly haven’t been shy about airing the ball out.
Collins is approaching Flex territory, and while he’s not there yet for me (WR40), he’s certainly live if you’re dealing with injuries or need some upside.
The rub on Dell is his size profile and the lack of success of that build in the NFL. Long-term, I tend to agree with that evaluation, but there is some potential to chase as long as Houston is passing at this high of a rate.
In Week 1, two Texans reached 10 targets, and last week, three of them saw at least nine looks. Dell is a spark plug who is more than capable of making plays with the ball in his hands. I prefer Collins to Dell and have neither ranked as a starter, though this is a passing game to take a chance on in DFS if you’re looking for cheap targets.
After lighting the Colts on fire in Week 1 with production early and often (101 yards and a TD), Ridley was held in check by a Chiefs defense that might just be better than we give it credit for (4.2 fantasy points on eight targets). Don’t worry.
Ridley is the lone consistent target earner in this receiver room, and that’s going to pay off more often than not as Lawrence continues to level up. You drafted him to play him every single week, and I’ve seen nothing that would make me approach him any differently.
After being targeted on just three of Lawrence’s 32 passes in Week 1, Kirk was targeted with the first pass of the game and paced the team with targets before Jones (knee) left injured.
His 11-catch 110-yard performance proved to me that he is a matchup play and that Week 1 just wasn’t a spot the team viewed as advantageous for his slot role. A receiver opposite of Ridley has produced top-20 numbers at the position in each of the first two weeks, and while I’m not projecting that trend to continue, I do think that role will hold consistent Flex value.
With Jones dinged up, Kirk fills that WR2 in Jacksonville for me this week, earning him a top-35 ranking.
Jones injured his knee last week and is considered day-to-day. Even with the injury resulting in missed snaps, Jones nearly produced a second straight big game. He had a pair of near-toe-tap TDs and was missed on another end-zone target.
The potential for this injury to linger has Jones buried a bit in my ranks this week, as I’d prefer to take my chances on a healthy upside play like Rashid Shaheed than worry about a banged-up receiver who has a chance to be fourth on his team in targets any week.
Jones checks in outside of my top 40 receivers for Week 3.
He saw seven targets in the loss to the Colts in a Texans offense that seems destined to be playing from behind with regularity. He’s an underwhelming option, but if we are talking 45.5 passes from Stroud per game, Schultz’s opportunity count is going to land him in the TE streamer conversation.
He’s not a must-roster option for me, I’d rather play the matchups weekly and chase an option with more scoring equity.
Engram caught at least five balls in six of eight games to end last season and has done so in both games this season, solidifying himself as a member of Tier 3 among fantasy tight ends, a label that puts him in lineups every single week.
Am I thrilled that he has just one touchdown over his past eight games? Of course not, and to be honest, I’m not sure that changes any time soon with the presence of three viable receivers and a versatile running back room, but the usage at this position is more than serviceable. He’s going to keep you competitive most weeks, and given the dropoff at this position, that’s a major plus.
Who Should You Start in Week 3?
Should You Start Nico Collins or Christian Kirk?
I lean toward Kirk in this spot, but it’s very much a real question. Both receivers exploded in Week 2 after finishing outside of the top 25 at the position in Week 1.
The Texans are committed to letting C.J. Stroud learn on the fly, something that elevates the target floor for all of his pass catchers. That said, I have the quality of opportunity concerns in Houston, something that isn’t the case in Jacksonville.
Kirk is a niche receiver in Jacksonville and that carries a downside, but I’m trusting Lawrence with the fate of my flex position in a spot like this.
Should You Start Dameon Pierce or Rachaad White?
White isn’t a consistent runner and that concerns long-term in an offense that isn’t committed to the run, but in this one-on-one matchup, White’s role is enough to give him the edge in my rankings.
Pierce hasn’t been given a chance to succeed on the ground and a high route count just isn’t in the cards right now. Pierce is in a spot where he is touchdown-dependent on an inconsistent offense that will struggle more often than not.
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