Thomas B. Shea
Fantasy football advice to read before you set your lineup this week
The Texans face the Buffalo Bills this week in what should be a big week for the team both in real life on the field, and in fantasy football for owners who have their players. The Bills were a hot pick this off-season to be a surprise playoff team but they've fallen short in just about every aspect of the game this season. Their running game has been pretty good, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has played poorly at quarterback and their defense is on pace to be one of the worst in history.
Before you set your lineup, check out this week nine edition of start 'em/sit 'em (basically, start everybody within reason).
Arian Foster - No other way to put it, the Bills have been awful on defense against the run this season. They're giving up 176.9 yards per game (last in the league), giving up six yards per carry (last in the league, 2nd worst is 5.1), and have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns this season (last in the league, second worst is nine). On top of that, Foster has reached double digits in fantasy points every week this season by going over 100 yards rushing and/or scoring a touchdown in every game. He's been extremely consistent and remains a must start; this could be his biggest game of the season.
Matt Schaub - The Bills rank a little better against the pass, but that's probably just because it's so easy to run against them. They rank 22nd in passing yards allowed per game, 25th in passing touchdowns allowed, 24th in opposing quarterbacks QB rating, and 20th in pass plays over 20 yards allowed. Part of their struggles in pass coverage has been the poor performance and lack of pass rush from their highly paid defensive line. Former third overall pick at defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been a bust so far, and over paid free-agents Mario Williams and Mark Anderson have not gotten the type of pressure Bills fans expected. To make matters worse, Anderson is listed as out for this game and Williams is recovering from surgery on his hand during the bye week. They're getting no pass rush and their secondary isn't covering well; I expect a big game from Schaub. The only danger in starting him is if they get up by three scores early in the second half and start to milk the clock.
Andre Johnson - As I mentioned above, the Bills have struggled on defense this season. In fact, the Bills have allowed a receiver to go over 100 yards receiving in five of their last six games. Some of those 100 yard performances came in the same game, in one of the games that they didn't allow 100 yards to a receiver, Larry Fitzgerald still had six catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. I expect similar numbers from Johnson, making him a good start this week.
Owen Daniels - Two of the receivers who went over 100 yards receiving against the Bills in recent weeks were Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis; Daniels could be in for a big week. Daniels is on a hot streak right now and has scored a touchdown and gone over 10 fantasy points in three of his last four games. Through seven games this season, Daniels ranks second on the team in yards and receptions, and first in touchdowns. Schaub targets him often and you should keep him active.
Texans Defense - In their last game, the Texans recorded four sacks, two interceptions, one safety, and a touchdown in their domination of Baltimore. When looking at their rank in yards gained, the Ravens and Bills offenses are very similar. The Ravens rank 16th in yards, the Bills rank 19th but the similarities don't stop there. The strength of both offenses is their run game, and both quarterbacks struggle with turnovers, especially on the road. Check out the road/home splits for Ryan Fitzpatrick this season.
Home: 251 yards per game, 63.4% completion, 98.5 QB rating, 8.10 yards per pass attempt
Road: 170.5 yards per game, 59.2% completion, 76.8 QB rating, 5.46 yards per pass attempt
Keep the Texans defense in your starting lineup.
Shayne Graham - The veteran kicker has been very reliable this year and has only missed one kick of his 14 attempts. He's normally a great start, but I'm not as high on him this week. I feel that way for two reasons. First, the Bills defense is so bad that they'll likely give up touchdowns and force Graham to kick extra point attempts and not field goals. Second, if the Texans build up a big lead, their track record has been to take the foot off the gas, run the ball, and milk the clock; I wouldn't expect them to move into field goal range at that point unless they force a turnover. Looking at the rankings on CBS Sportsline, his value is all over the place in the minds of their three fantasy writers. In their rankings for this week, one has them ranked second, one has him ranked ninth, and the other has him ranked 15th. He definitely won't be the second best kicker this week, but probably not 15th either. If you're in a 12 team league, he's a decent low-end starter, otherwise put him on your bench.
Kevin Walter/Keshawn Martin - Like I've said in previous weeks, they're not targeted consistently enough to warrant starting. Walter has had a couple nice games recently, but even with a cupcake opponent, I wouldn't start him this week.