Last updated: September 18th at 10:05pm ET.
Team Totals: Chargers 25.5, Texans 22.5
The 1-1 Texans visit L.A. as field-goal dogs after Chargers DC Gus Bradley’s defense held Jacoby Brissett (QB18) and Matthew Stafford (QB14) below fantasy start-worthy thresholds in Weeks 1-2. Deshaun Watson is a different animal, of course, with a matchup bettered by SS Derwin James’ (foot) absence, James fill-in Adrian Phillips’ broken forearm, and the Bolts’ musical chairs at No. 2 corner, unsuccessfully manned by 2018 UDFA Brandon Facyson thus far. Coming off a slow Week 2, Watson’s DFS ownership is likely to be depressed in this road test. As we’ve hammered home all summer, Watson tends to perform better when trialing, and the Texans project to trail here. … Working in Carlos Hyde’s Week 3 favor is the Chargers’ run-defense deficiency; Bradley’s unit was creamed for 53/268/1 (5.06 YPC) rushing by Colts and Lions backs in its first two games. Working against Hyde is Houston’s road-dog status and Hyde’s lack of passing-game involvement with 17 routes run versus Duke Johnson’s 37. As both Texans backs are game-script dependent, I’m approaching each as fringe low-end RB2/flex plays. It does help Johnson that Houston projects to play from behind, and Bradley’s defense historically funnels passing-game production to Duke’s position. No team allowed more receiving yards to running backs last year.
Watson’s Weeks 1-2 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 21; Will Fuller 10; Johnson and Kenny Stills 6; Jordan Akins 5; Keke Coutee 4; Darren Fells 3; Hyde 1. … Watson-to-Hopkins DFS stacks will be contrarian for a variety of reasons, but they’re attractive on paper when you consider the Bolts were consecutively dusted by enemy No. 1 WRs T.Y. Hilton (8/87/2) and Kenny Golladay (8/117/2) to begin the year. … Even as his results have underwhelmed, Fuller’s usage is optimal playing 94% of the Texans’ offensive snaps and ranking 11th in the NFL in Air Yards (243). If the Chargers try shadowing Hopkins with top CB Casey Hayward, 4.32 burner Fuller will have a multiple-foot speed advantage over Facyson (4.53). Fuller’s 23.8-yard average depth of target is highest in the league through two weeks. He’s also popping in Week 3’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Stills and Coutee shared third-receiver work in Coutee’s Week 2 debut, rendering both fantasy non factors from a short-term view. … The Texans continue to get negligible production at tight end.
Dial up another smash spot for early-season week-winner Austin Ekeler facing a cross-country-traveling Texans defense that was rocked for 34/187/1 (5.50 YPC) rushing and 13/116/0 (8.92 YPR) receiving by enemy backs in Weeks 1-2. Much to Can’t Carry The Load Twitter’s chagrin, Ekeler out-touched Justin Jackson 23 to 8 and out-snapped him 74% to 26% in last week’s loss to Detroit. Ekeler should continue to hover in the 20-touch range while Jackson settles into 8-10 each week. The Chargers lined up Ekeler at wideout in the first quarter last week, and he promptly whipped Lions S Tracy Walker for a 35-yard catch. … Jackson did lose a 59-yard touchdown on Dontrelle Inman’s third-quarter holding penalty last week and is low-end flex playable with Los Angeles favored at home and likely to log more rushing attempts than usual. … Firing up immobile quarterbacks in fantasy football is rarely my cup of tea, but Houston’s defense submitted Week 1’s QB12 result to Drew Brees and last week’s QB13 outcome to Gardner Minshew, keeping Philip Rivers in high-end QB2 consideration. Even with J.J. Watt rushing from left end side, Houston lacks firepower to fully exploit the Chargers’ offensive-line weaknesses. The Texans rank 22nd in quarterback hits (10) two games in and are burnable throughout the secondary.
Rivers’ Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Keenan Allen 25; Ekeler 13; Mike Williams 8; Travis Benjamin 5; Jackson 4; Inman and Virgil Green 3. … Yet again proving himself matchup proof, Allen combined with Ekeler to carry the Chargers’ Week 2 passing game with 98 yards on 15 targets and four drawn penalty flags in a fierce matchup with Darius Slay that Allen decisively won. With Hunter Henry (knee) out for at least another month and Williams (knee) hobbled, Allen is on pace for career highs in opportunity with the NFL’s second-most targets and a league-high 329 Air Yards. Allen drew nine first-half targets in last week’s loss to Detroit. Especially on slot routes, Allen should run circles around new Texans slot CB Bradley Roby, a career outside corner forced to move inside following Aaron Colvin’s performance-driven release. … Still hobbled by his knee injury, Williams limps around more than any NFL receiver after catches and has played only 63% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps. Seeing low volume just like last year, Williams is a touchdown-or-bust WR3 option regardless of opponent. … Inman and Benjamin continue to share third-receiver snaps, canceling each other out in fantasy.
Score Prediction: Chargers 28, Texans 27