Last updated: October 2nd at 5:03pm ET.
Team Totals: Texans 27, Falcons 22
Matt Ryan heads to Houston having thrown for 300-plus yards in five straight games dating back to last season to face the Texans in Week 5’s second-highest-totaled affair. Ryan’s biggest concern should be Houston’s ability to generate pressure; DC Romeo Crennel’s defense ranks sixth in sacks (13) and fourth in QB hits (29), and Texans LE J.J. Watt versus Falcons rookie RT Kaleb McGary is one of the biggest mismatches of the week. Nevertheless, this game’s shootout probability and Ryan’s deep cast of weapons give him high-end QB1 upside with top-eight fantasy outcomes in two of his last three starts. Per Sports Info Solutions, Ryan leads the league in completed Air Yards (579), while Houston has permitted an NFL-high 33 completions of ten-plus Air Yards. … Devonta Freeman’s run-game struggles resumed in last week’s loss to Tennessee, but he compensated with a year-best 8/72/0 receiving line on nine targets, out-touched Ito Smith 20 to 4, and out-snapped Smith 62% to 38%. Houston has yielded 75/342/2 (4.56 YPC) rushing to enemy backs plus 34 catches, most in the league. Although Freeman’s to-date RBBC usage and lost explosiveness are putting lids on his ceiling, positive-touchdown regression should soon hit Freeman, who is scoreless on the year.
Ryan’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Julio Jones 37; Austin Hooper 33; Mohamed Sanu 31; Calvin Ridley 23; Freeman 21; Smith 8; Justin Hardy and Luke Stocker 7. … Houston’s burnable secondary has allowed at- or above-expectation wide receiver lines to Keenan Allen (13/183/2), Michael Thomas (10/123/0), Ted Ginn (7/101/0), Chris Conley (4/73/0), and D.J. Chark (7/55/1), boding well for Julio’s chances of rebounding from last week’s 4/52/0 clunker. Jones’ last four stat lines immediately following sub-60-yard games are 5/106/2 > 9/138/1 > 8/106/2 > 7/149/0. Ryan-to-Julio DFS stacks deserve to be very popular; Houston has been charbroiled in the downfield passing game as mentioned above, and Jones holds a commanding team lead with 21 targets thrown ten-plus yards downfield. Ridley is a distant second (11). … Hooper is up to 87 catches over his last 16 games with an NFC-high 28 this year. That voluminous usage earns Hooper matchup-agnostic TE1 treatment, even against a Texans defense that has yielded the NFL’s fifth-fewest yards to tight ends (95) and took Greg Olsen (2/5/0) away from Kyle Allen last week. … Sanu has cleared 75 yards in back-to-back games but has one touchdown over his last 14 and has drawn just one red-zone target four weeks in, suggesting a TD binge isn’t coming. He’s a PPR-specific WR4. … Ridley has also seen just one red-zone target and none inside the ten. He is likely to remain a boom-bust WR2/3 play all year in such a deep pass-catcher corps, but this is a far better matchup for Ridley than he saw in each of the last two weeks.
Just like Week 5 opponent Atlanta, the Texans managed ten points in Week 4, their fewest in any of Deshaun Watson’s 26 career starts. Also much like the Falcons, this is a bounce-back opportunity for Houston against Dan Quinn’s defense, which permitted consecutive QB11 finishes to Carson Wentz and Jacoby Brissett in Weeks 2-3 before resurrecting Marcus Mariota’s season (QB7) in last week’s home loss to Tennessee. Watson should experience his cleanest pocket of the year; the Falcons rank second to last in sacks (5) and laid just four hits on Mariota after the Titans’ first three opponents hit him nine times per game. This is a positive-regression week for Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins DFS stacks. … Even as Duke Johnson resumed out-snapping Carlos Hyde 64% to 49% in last week’s loss to Carolina, Hyde out-touched him 16 to 8 and now has 46 touches to Johnson’s 18 over the past three games. Regardless of opponent, they are canceling each other out as start-able fantasy options in RB3/4 no-man’s land.
Watson’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 36; Will Fuller 23; Kenny Stills and Jordan Akins 14; Johnson 12; Darren Fells 11; Keke Coutee 7; Hyde 6. … Atlanta’s Week 4 busting of perimeter WRs A.J. Brown (3/94/2) and Corey Davis’ (5/91/1) slumps creates Week 5 optimism for Hopkins, who has flukily been held scoreless and below 70 yards in three straight games while dealing with Jalen Ramsey, Casey Hayward, and James Bradberry’s coverage all in a row. Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant was victimized on both of Brown’s scores and a 22-yard gain by Davis, while No. 2 CB Isaiah Oliver has allowed 15 completions on 24 targets for 195 yards (8.13 YPA) and three touchdowns this year. Throw in this game’s lofty total, and Week 5 is to Hopkins as Week 3 was to Mike Evans and Week 4 to Davante Adams. Hopkins is also popping as this week’s No. 6 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Top 15 in the NFL in Air Yards (399) but not even top 50 in actual receiving yards (183), Fuller hasn’t been able to buy a break. A would-be 75-yard touchdown overthrown by Watson in last week’s defeat glanced slightly off Fuller’s fingertips. Although Fuller’s to-date fantasy results are frustrating, a breakout game is almost certainly nigh based on his immense opportunity. Like Hopkins, Fuller is popping in Week 5’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Stills’ (hamstring) absence also improves Fuller’s outlook and vaults Coutee back into three-receiver sets after Coutee logged year highs in snaps (57%) and routes (31) following Stills’ Week 4 injury, drawing three targets. Coutee is WR4 playable in PPR-specific deep leagues. … Akins’ role never changed despite his two-touchdown Week 3; he’s seen between 2 and 5 targets in all four games in Houston’s ongoing TE rotation with blocker Fells.
Score Prediction: Texans 30, Falcons 27