Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
- Spread: Jaguars -1.5
- Total: 48.5
- Jaguars implied points: 25
- Texans implied points: 23.5
Trevor Lawrence: Did we do it? Did we, as an industry, double, triple, and quadruple down enough on Lawrence to have him positioned to be the league winner we thought he was back in August?
I used “we” a lot right there. It was me with the preseason hype. I was the problem. Not we.
Lawrence was fantasy’s top quarterback last week, his first finish better than QB8 this season. His elite performance was aided by the return of Zay Jones and with a full complement of weapons at his disposal entering this week – Lawrence is in a spot to thrive at the right time.
Over Jacksonville’s past three wins, he has completed 73.1% of his passes. That’s a positive trend to take into this matchup as a favorite facing a Texans defense that is allowing the second-highest opponent completion percentage this season (69.9%).
Part of Lawrence’s Week 11 success was his line’s ability to keep him clean. He was sacked just one time in the convincing win, the third instance this season in which he wasn’t dragged down multiple times. One of those other games took place in Week 3, the first meeting with Houston.
Did the game come against a pass funnel in the Titans? Sure, but you don’t discredit a kid learning how to ride a bike when he/she uses training wheels, do you?
My preseason heartthrob is my QB10 this week. That means he checks in just ahead of two QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert who have been more productive than Lawrence this season.
C.J. Stroud: No big deal, just a rookie throwing for 1,162 yards during a three-game win streak. He struggled in the second half last week against the Cardinals, but we aren’t in the business of asking for perfection – we just need the numbers by the end of the game (shoutout old school Blake Bortles).
Much like Lawrence, standing upright is optimal, and his team has allowed that to happen with the regularity of late. Stroud was sacked 11 times in his first two starts, the same number of takedowns he has suffered since.
I have Stroud (QB6) ranked ahead of Lawrence due to the proven floor and extended form, but I do think both are viable in season-long leagues and DFS contests.
Travis Etienne Jr.: You want to know how worried I am about Etienne finishing outside of the top 25 RBs in consecutive weeks (totals: 103 yards and zero TDs)?
He’s my RB2 this week.
Those two poor performances came in tough matchups (San Francisco and Tennessee), something that isn’t the case this week in Houston against a defense that ranks 22nd in yards per play and 23rd in red-zone trips allowed.
If Lawrence has truly turned a corner, his tide will rise all ships. The Jags rank fifth in time of possession this season, while the Texans rank 18th. If the play count is as high as those stats suggest, Etienne should get his monster season back on track.
Devin Singletary: For the first time in his career, Singletary is coming off of consecutive games with 100+ rushing yards (total: 262), and he’s looked great in producing those numbers. He has punched in a touchdown in both of those games and has a pretty clear grip on the lead role in Houston with Dameon Pierce banged up.
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Can it last? Some people bring small talk topics to the Thanksgiving table, and I bring sell-high candidates for my home league.
Hate it or love it, I am who I am and my family gets it. For the most part. Usually.
Anyway, Singletary is the top name on that list. Back-to-back great games are one thing, but has anything changed? Weren’t we worried about this offensive line entering November? The rushing efficiency seems more likely than not to regress in short order. If it does, will the volume follow?
To that end, Singletary’s next game with more than two catches in a game this season will be his first. That’s not a skill set I’m comfortable riding into the fantasy postseason for an offense that relies on moving the ball through the air.
Jacksonville owns a top-10 per-carry run defense. That scares me that regression could happen in a significant way should Dameon Pierce return and eat into the carry count. Singletary is an average Flex play for me this week, not a matchup decider like he has been over the past two weeks.
Dameon Pierce: He was ruled out on Friday last week, a sign that he was never really a threat to suit up.
By averaging 3.0 yards per carry in his seven games this season, Pierce has lost the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his role. If he returns this week, he’ll be ranked about a dozen spots behind Singletary.
I have no problem in holding Pierce as we see exactly what his role is, but I don’t have him ranked as a fantasy asset this week or for the remainder of this season.
Christian Kirk: Does the value of this passing game completely rely on Zay Jones? It seems to be for Kirk based on these splits:
Games Jones has a catch in (three): 7.9 yards per target, 45.0 yards per game
All other games (seven): 9.0 yards per target, 76.7 yards per game
Jones made it through Week 11 unscathed, and that puts Kirk in a tough spot to fully trust. His seven top-30 finishes this season have bought him enough goodwill to consider him viable.
He’s a Flex play against a defense that misses the second-most tackles per game, but be careful in assuming he’s a locked-in WR2 as he has been for most of the past two months.
Calvin Ridley: After failing to finish among the top-60 producers at the position in three of four games, Ridley was fantasy’s No. 1 receiver in Week 11 (seven catches. 103 yards, 18 rush yards, and two touchdowns). Let’s run through the same splits I laid out for Kirk (above) for Ridley:
Games Jones has a catch in (three): 11.6 yards per target, 108.7 yards per game
All other games (seven): 5.9 yards per target, 35.4 yards per game
Much like his time in Atlanta alongside Julio Jones, a perimeter threat playing opposite Ridley is critical to his success. As long as Jones remains healthy, Ridley is profiles as the WR1 in this offense and a WR2 in our world with tremendous upside. Just ask the Titans.
Zay Jones: After sitting out six of seven games (knee), Jones ran a route on 77.1% of Lawrence dropbacks and didn’t appear to have any physical limitations.
Unfortunately, he’s a giver and not a taker in this relationship. His presence meant the world to open up to Ridley, but he was unable to take advantage of the strong play from Lawrence. In fact, after an encouraging season opener, Jones has turned 15 targets into just 43 yards.
He is a means to an end. Remember when your teacher would give you a study guide for an exam and tell you that he/she wouldn’t collect it? You got nothing for completing the study guide, but it allowed you to do well on the assessment.
Jones is the study guide, Ridley is the test.
He’s a fringe roster-worthy player for me and ranked outside of my top 50 at the position this week.
Nico Collins: Over his past two games, Collins has totaled 119 yards on 10 catches. That’s not terrible, but when you consider that Stroud has 806 passing yards in those games (Tank Dell: 263 yards), it’s easy to wonder what could have been.
Despite the success of Dell, Collins still earned one more target last week and continues to lead the way at the position in my ranks, though the gap is certainly narrowing.
His aDOT was essentially half that of Dell last week, and while that may mean his ceiling is lower than that of the rookie, I do think his edge is significant and thus results in him ranking higher for me in this matchup against a Jags defense that sees 74.5% of opponent yards gained through the air (fourth highest).
Collins is a high-end WR2 for me, while Dell checks in closer to the backend of my WR2 tier.
Tank Dell: That’s now three straight games with double-digit targets for the rookie as he and Stroud seem to be growing in unison. It’s a beautiful site.
- Last three games: 30.4% target share
- Three games prior: 13.3% target share
Of course, there have been some missing pieces in this offense over that stretch, but it’s rare to see a target share like that for a player who has posted a 16.1-yard aDOT over that stretch.
Dell’s skill set comes with inherent risk, but as long as the volume is stable, he carries more reward than risk. We can worry about a potential dip in target count in a future week – with Noah Brown likely out again and this Jaguars offense positioned to push Stroud, this isn’t the week to hop off of the ride!
Noah Brown: All signs point to this groin injury sidelining Brown for at least one more week.
Given his recent production, Brown should remain rostered, but make sure you’re keeping expectations in check.
His two big games came with the Houston receiving corps at less than full strength — we don’t yet know what his target share will look like when his three primary running mates are all healthy.
Evan Engram: Consecutive down weeks from a tight end we otherwise trust shouldn’t worry you in the slightest. Engram has at least four grabs in every game this season and is pacing for 126 targets. His role is safe in an offense with upside and that lands him ahead of most at the TE position.
I’m watching Engram’s target share and route participation with Jones back in the mix, but I’m not currently worried at all about ranking him as a weekly top-10 option, and I don’t see that changing.
Dalton Schultz: He is the Texan that could see his stock fall the most if/when all the receivers and running backs are healthy, but that doesn’t appear to be a concern for this week.
On his way to a sixth top-10 performance in a seven-game stretch, Schultz ran a route on 80.5% of Stroud’s dropbacks last week against the Cardinals.
He continues to hold an elite role in a developing offense. The target inconsistencies are currently being offset by high-end scoring upside, which means Schultz holds a role in this offense, making him a fantasy lineup lock.
Should You Start Trevor Lawrence or C.J. Stroud?
Both are top-10 options for me that I feel good about this week, but the rookie does get the slight edge thanks to an elevated floor. He’s completed a 30+ yard pass in five straight games and with the sack rate declining, this Houston team is operating in a way that makes it difficult for Stroud to completely fail.
I loved what I saw from Lawrence last week and am as invested as anyone in seeing him trend upwards, but I’m not playing him over Stroud – yet.
Should You Start Tank Dell or Chris Godwin?
Dell has established himself as a weekly threat (last three games: 319 yards and four touchdowns) while Chris Godwin is playing himself out of lineups (one touchdown this season, under 70 yards in nine of 10 games).
The matchup for Godwin isn’t intimidating and may serve as a good get-right spot for the veteran, but the upside of Dell trumps any reasonable expectation for Godwin this week.
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