Last updated: October 31st at 4:53pm ET.
Team Totals: Texans 25, Jaguars 22
The Texans head to London as three-point favorites to encounter a Jaguars defense that held Deshaun Watson to Week 2’s QB22 result and is capable of exploiting Houston’s pass-protection deficiency with the NFL’s third-most sacks (29) and a league-high 58 QB hits. Including Watson himself, just two of the last seven quarterbacks to face Jacksonville have logged top-18 fantasy results. While Watson has more than earned every-week QB1 treatment in season-long leagues – he’s fantasy’s No. 1 overall signal caller in points per game – there are Week 9 reasons that suggest Watson could fall short of his usual box-score results. … Still missing NT Marcell Dareus (sports hernia), Jacksonville has generously permitted 154/721/5 (4.68 YPC) rushing to enemy backs and gives Carlos Hyde a soft enough matchup for RB2/flex deployment, albeit with continued touchdown dependency. Hyde is catch-less in 5-of-8 games with one target or fewer in 7-of-8, and his miserable PPR point totals are 8.3 > 3.5 > 10.4 > 9.0 > 9.5 in the five games where Hyde has failed to pay dirt. … Duke Johnson still hasn’t topped ten touches since Week 1. He’s a lightly-used role player in Houston’s offense and always a low-floor, PPR-specific flex option.
Watson’s Week 8 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 13; Darren Fells 6; Johnson, Kenny Stills, and Jordan Akins 5; DeAndre Carter 3; Hyde 1. … Hopkins visits London with five-plus catches in 12 straight games and has resumed seeing extreme volume with the NFL’s second-most targets (37) and 11th-most Air Yards (320) over the last three weeks. There won’t be three better WR1 plays in any week the rest of the way. … With Keke Coutee benched for dropping a pass that caused Week 7’s game-ending pick, the Texans resorted to two-tight end sets as their near-base offense in Week 8. Fells was the top beneficiary with season highs in snaps (90%) and routes run (36) and a year-best 6/58/2 receiving line against the Raiders. His plus blocking required to assist Houston’s leaky line, Fells has separated from mistake-prone Akins, who dropped two balls last week. Assuming his every-down usage keeps up, Fells will be a legit TE1 in Houston’s high-powered attack. When targeting tight ends against the Jags, teams are 29-of-45 passing for an efficient 368 yards (8.2 YPA) and four TDs, including Jets TE Ryan Griffin’s surprise Week 8 eruption (4/66/2). … Stills’ dud versus Oakland seemed fluky; his snaps (96%) and routes (49) were both year highs, yet Watson stopped looking at Stills in the second half while under duress, instead peppering Hopkins and Fells in shorter areas. While Watson’s protection is an ongoing concern, Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey-less secondary has yielded the NFL’s seventh-most 20-plus-yard completions (31). I’m sticking with Stills as a bounce-back WR2 in this unimposing draw. … Carter played ahead of Coutee as Houston’s Week 8 slot receiver but ran routes on only 25-of-49 Watson dropbacks and drew just three targets.
Fresh off his season-best game in last week’s win over the Jets, Gardner Minshew catches an injury-decimated Texans defense that traded Jadeveon Clowney, lost J.J. Watt (torn pec) for the year, and is dealing with injuries to FS Tashaun Gipson (back/hamstring/wrist) and each of its top-three corners in Johnathan Joseph (hamstring/neck), Bradley Roby (hamstring), and Lonnie Johnson (concussion). With top-15 fantasy finishes in 5-of-7 starts and top-13 results in three of his last four, Minshew is among Week 9’s top QB1 streamers facing a Houston defense that’s given up top-12 quarterback scores in 7-of-8 games. From a sports-betting angle, there are enough positive data points for both offenses to like the over on this game’s 47-point total. From a real-life football angle, first-year OC John DeFilippo deserves respect restored upon his name after being unfairly run out of town by the Vikings late last year. I like the Jags’ chances of pulling an upset here; it can’t hurt that Jacksonville has a significant experience edge having played six games in London, whereas Houston has never played a game overseas. … With extreme-volume touch counts of 31 > 27 > 26 > 31 > 26 in his last six games, Leonard Fournette’s fantasy floor is as high as any elite RB1 despite his well-below-expectation touchdown production. Watt’s absence will be felt on the ground – he was PFF’s No. 8 run-stopping defensive end among 57 qualifiers – while Fournette’s spiked passing-game usage will come in especially handy versus a Texans defense that has allowed a league-high 59 running back receptions.
Minshew’s 2019 target distribution: D.J. Chark 57; Dede Westbrook 55; Fournette 43; Chris Conley 38; Keelan Cole and Seth DeValve 5; Marqise Lee 4; RyQuell Armstead 3; Josh Oliver 2. … Chark busted his two-game slump on a career-high 12 targets in last week’s win over the Jets and is now on pace for a 16-game pace of 78/1,320/12 (16.9 YPR) in a scintillating year-two breakout. Particularly with Weeks 1-7 target leader Westbrook’s (shoulder/neck) health in continual question, Chark should dominate passing-game volume as a legit WR1 against the injury-ruined Texans. Seeing ample scoring-position usage, Chark ranks fifth in the NFL in end-zone targets (8). … Conley also stands to benefit from Westbrook’s uncertainty after topping 80 yards in consecutive games. The Texans have given up at- or above-expectation wide receiver lines to Keenan Allen (13/183/2), Michael Thomas (10/123/0), Zach Pascal (6/106/2), Ted Ginn (7/101/0), Tyrell Williams (3/91/1), Calvin Ridley (5/88/1), Hunter Renfrow (4/88/1), Tyreek Hill (5/80/2), and T.Y. Hilton (6/74/1), as well as Conley (4/73/0) and Chark (7/55/1) in these clubs’ Week 2 date. On tape review, it stood out how often Raiders pass catchers ran wide open throughout Houston’s backend last week. … Should Westbrook sit, Cole will be a deep Week 9 sleeper after coming off the bench to run a season-high 19 routes and catch a six-yard touchdown in last week’s first quarter. Lee (shoulder/ankle) was sent to I.R. on Tuesday.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 27, Texans 24