Whereas last week's matchup was projected to be an offensive slugfest (that somehow exceeded expectations), this important AFC South matchup will look very different, as both teams may struggle to move the ball consistently.
The Texans are favored by four at home, and the over/under total is 42.5 (it opened at 41.5).
The implied final score is Texans 23, Titans 19 (rounding off the .25 for each team).
In terms of fantasy points allowed to each position, here's a quick glance at what each team has done to this point.
(Note: The table shown is for DraftKings scoring, but the ranks are largely unchanged if FanDuel scoring is used.)
|Titans||17.7 (T-7th)||17.8 (1st)||43.5 (30th)||7.3 (1st)|
|Texans||16.8 (3rd)||21.6 (10th)||32.7 (8th)||14.5 (T-22nd)|
The Titans are one of four teams who entered Week 12 averaging fewer than 5.0 yards per play in 2018.
The Texans average 5.6 yards per play (the league average entering Week 12 was 5.675).
Titans Injury Report
Marcus Mariota (neck) was fully practicing by Friday and did not receive a designation on the final injury report Saturday.
Taywan Taylor (foot) was downgraded to out Monday after being limited in practice all week, marking his third consecutive absence.
Texans Injury Report
Let's start with DraftKings, where the 1.5x multiplier on Captain points is affixed to a 1.5x salary multiplier.
DeAndre Hopkins is the easy cash-game call for those willing to pay top dollar ($18,900) to put the most productive player on either side (22.0 DK PPG) into the most valuable spot in the lineup. A slight wrinkle might be to spend a little less and use DeShaun Watson in that spot instead ($17,000), but building a cash-game lineup without Hopkins and Watson included seems silly.
From the Houston side, there are a few other ways to go if you're looking at paths to a different lineup build for a tournament.
A slight Hopkins fade might be using him outside the Captain spot, but playing Keke Coutee in that spot instead.
Coutee has played in five games this season, so let's compare his output to Hopkins' performances in those contests:
Hopkins has outscored Coutee in each of the five games they've played in together this season, but Coutee has been targeted more than Hopkins in two of those contests. In each of those two games, the difference in production hinged entirely on Hopkins scoring a TD, while Coutee did not.
Coutee as the Captain is only $12,900, which leaves enough in the remaining budget to load up Hopkins ($12,600) in the same lineup.
I prefer Coutee to Lamar Miller ($11,100 Captain, $7,400) as the best alternative Houston Captain behind Hopkins and Watson, but it should be noted that Miller has led the Texans in red-zone opportunities (or tied for the lead) in each of the the last five games, reaching a 40% share in two of Houston's last four games.
Demaryius Thomas will likely be ignored as far as Captain designations go, especially at $10,800. Thomas has been just targeted four times in two games with Houston, and he appears to be the third or fourth option in the pecking order for targets right now, even though head coach Bill O'Brien suggested that he wants to get Thomas more involved.
Houston's tight ends have become a messy situation to navigate with Ryan Griffin's return to action in Week 9. Jordan Akins has led the position in target share in each of the last two games (13% in Week 9, 8% in Week 11), and the Texans use their tight ends heavily as route runners, with Akins (95%), Griffin (90%) and Jordan Thomas (86%) frequently running routes when Houston goes to the air.
At $400, Akins is my preferred punt play from this position group if you're spending up everywhere else in the lineup and need a sub-$1K player, with Griffin ($1,000) and Thomas ($2,200) priced up a bit by comparison, but keep in mind, the Titans have been the league's stingiest defense against tight ends this season. There is a player on the Tennessee side I'd prefer to use to open up cap space.
Given the inconsistency of Marcus Mariota this season ($15,000 in the Captain spot), he's a GPP-only consideration in the Captain spot. It's also possible to consider rolling with only one of the two QBs in this matchup, either banking on a run-heavy attack from Tennessee, and/or drives that stall out for field-goal attempts (play Ryan Succop if you're choosing this narrative).
Defenses are an option on DraftKings Showdowns, and the Texans ($8,100) might be somewhat popular despite a relatively high price given Mariota's aforementioned inconsistency. The Titans ($4,800), will likely be lowered owned despite the significantly lower price.
Prior to an extremely disappointing showing against the Colts in Week 11 (two catches, 30 yards on four targets), Corey Davis ($8,400, non-Captain) was targeted 27 times in the Titans' previous three games.
A typical Mariota Captain build probably includes one or both of Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith ($4,000), which leaves just over $7,500 per roster spot for three players. In each of the last three games, Smith has posted at least 10+ DraftKings points. Smith's growing role in the Tennessee offense, affordable price, and the Texans' struggles against tight ends will likely pull his ownership rate to a very high level Monday.
Like Davis, Dion Lewis was a big disappointment in the Titans' loss to the Colts last week. He's only $7,800 on Monday ($11,700 as Captain), which probably makes him the Tennessee player most frequently used in the Captain spot, and likely the most used Tennessee player overall. Lewis entered Week 11 averaging 21.3 touches per game in his last three games before dropping to 11 touches (10 carries, one catch) in the blowout loss in Indy.
Derrick Henry ($4,200) is awfully cheap for a very talented player capable of leading the Tennessee offense in red-zone opportunities (both Henry and Dion Lewis had a 35% share of the red-zone opportunities in the Week 10 win over New England, and Henry has matched or exceeded Lewis' chances inside the 20 on five occasions this season).
I expect the lineup builds Monday to focus heavily on Hopkins or Watson in the Captain spot, making Lewis viable for that designation in GPPs on this slate.
Tajae Sharpe ($4,800) has played at least 50 snaps in each of the Titans' last four games, and he's topped 14 DraftKings points in two of those four contests. With Jonnu Smith priced down $800 less ($4,000), I think Sharpe will be overlooked despite a 5-37-TD showing against the Colts.
Cameron Batson ($200) is the previously mentioned Tennessee punt play to think about if you need to save a lot of money with your sixth roster spot. In the two games that Taywan Taylor has missed, Batson has played 55 and 62% of the snaps for the Titans.
Without a 1.5x salary multiplier for the MVP spot, the roster builds on FanDuel's single-game slate are slightly easier, since the remaining salary cap is not reduced to the same magnitude when paying for chalk.
DeShaun Watson ($17,000) and DeAndre Hopkins ($16,500) lead the way on the price list, followed by Marcus Mariota ($15,000) before a big drop to the next group of players with Lamar Miller ($12,000), Corey Davis ($11,500), Derrick Henry ($11,000), Keke Coutee ($11,000), Ka'imi Fairbairn ($10,500) and Dion Lewis ($10,000).
As should be the case on DraftKings, Watson and Hopkins figure to be the most popular choices in the MVP spot for the 1.5x multiplier on FanDuel, In cash-game builds, this makes sense, but keep mind, it's impossible to build a valid lineup on this slate with Watson, Hopkins and Marcus Mariota all rostered together (only $5,750/player remains with a salary floor of $6,000).
Mariota is an easy avoid in cash games, but he's still a consideration in tournaments.
The problem with Mariota this season is mostly health-related, as elbow and neck injuries have caused early exits and massive drops in production following stretches where he looks very good. In nine games this season, Mariota has failed to reach 10 FanDuel points on five occasions. He's topped 20 points three times, including a season-high 31.36 mark in Week 4 against Philadelphia.
Regardless of any pass catchers you want to pair him with, playing Mariota requires passing on one of Watson or Hopkins. Hopkins has been targeted more than eight times just once in the Texans' last five games, so perhaps that's the best angle to pursue, using Watson with Mariota, taking the cheap flier on Cameron Batson ($6,000) and working the final $22,000 over the last two roster spots on a Miller-Lewis duo, Henry-Coutee, or Coutee-Lewis combo.
With Lewis priced $1,000 less than Henry, his ownership rate will be very high. I'm much more comfortable rostering him in a lineup without Hopkins, unless you're fading one or both of the quarterbacks in some sort of Hopkins-2 RB-K build, or Hopkins-3RB-1K build.
The sharp drop in price from Hopkins ($16,500) to Coutee ($11,000) makes the Coutee MVP approach a viable option on FanDuel for the slight and full Hopkins fades. An even cheaper Demaryius Thomas ($8,500) will likely be low-owned on FanDuel as well, and it's hard to imagine that he'll be an MVP consideration even for contrarian-minded lineups.
The prevailing mindset in a tournament-lineup build for a single-game slate must include a willingness to consider fading the best overall player (i.e. building without Todd Gurley last Monday). Additionally, you'll likely find a more unique lineup combination by spending a little bit less than the full salary-cap allotment.
If you were starting with a QB-fade build that featured Hopkins (MVP), Lewis-Henry + Fairbairn, and had one spot left at $12,000, jamming in Lamar Miller to spend every penny isn't necessary in this format. For the purposes of differentiation, going with the second kicker (Ryan Succop) might be the better approach, even though you'd still have $2,500 available, or leaning on Jonnu Smith ($9,000) and leaving $3,000 on the table might provide a less-utilized group of five players.
The most ignored player with a somewhat steady role on either side of this matchup might be Alfred Blue ($4,200 DK -- non captain, $7,000 FD), whose role as the backup behind Lamar Miller still includes a snap share of 35% or more in four of the Texans' last five games. During that span, Miller has 11 red-zone carries to Blue's four, but the Texans have been running DeShaun Watson less than usual, as he's only taken off once in the red zone since Week 6.