Believe it or not, the Houston Texans are playing meaningful football in mid-December. The Texans find themselves in a very tricky spot, though, at 7-6 and in 8th place in the AFC playoff picture.
Update — In a surprise move, the Texans brought in Case Keenum and he’s going to start over Mills in Week 15 vs. the Titans. That doesn’t change how we approach most of the Texans’ receivers this week. If anything expect RBs Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce to be heavily involved.
Texans QB C.J. Stroud has already been ruled out for Week 15’s matchup vs. the Tennessee Titans. That means Davis Mills starts at QB. The wide receiving core took another hit with Nico Collins sidelined now. Rookie WR Tank Dell is on injured reserve and done for the season.
That’s opened up an opportunity for a WR to step up on the Texans. Might that WR be Noah Brown? Brown is questionable to play but if he does, would be in position to be the WR1 for the Texans. We break down the impact in fantasy football for Brown and others in Houston’s receiving game.
Houston Texans fantasy football advice: Week 15 vs. Titans
You might remember Brown from Weeks 9 and 10 when he combined for 13 catches for 325 yards and a TD. Both games were with Stroud active. One was with Collins and Dell active. Dell was active for one. Robert Woods was active for one. So the Texans were dealing with at least an injury in the WR room when Brown went off. Now, Dell and Collins are out and it’s looking like Stroud as well. So how do we approach this?
Mills has 31 games and 26 starts under his belt for bad Texans teams. This is an OK Texans team. We can’t really gather much from last week in that blowout loss to the Jets. It was rainy and the game was done when Mills entered. He has a career 83.1 passer rating, which isn’t inspiring. Mills just isn’t a very good QB.
To make matters worse, they’re playing the Titans. Tennessee’s defense isn’t very good but we know what the Titans will do on offense. Run the ball. That should slow the game down significantly. The over/under total is at 37 on DraftKings Sportsbook, which doesn’t scream points. The books expect the Texans to get around 16-17 points. And Houston’s run game is healthy with Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce. If Stroud is out, you’d think running the ball will be a big part of the game plan. Based on betting lines, the books expect Mills to throw under 18.5 completions but have over 30.5 attempts.
Anyway, getting to Brown. He should have the opportunity and upside. We just can’t really trust Mills to throw the ball and target Brown enough for him to be a safe fantasy football play. In PPR, Brown isn’t a bad FLEX. In any other format, be careful. There’s also Woods, John Metchie III and Xavier Hutchinson to split snaps at wide receiver with Brown. The Texans could employ more of a four-man rotation between those players at wideout vs. the Titans. So Brown could see fewer snaps than you think and may not be targeted heavily.
Woods feels like the sneaky play here. Woods is the veteran of the group and had 40 offensive snaps in Week 14 vs. the Jets. Conditions should be better. The matchup is better. If we were thinking in terms of DFS and picking between Brown and Woods ($800 difference), we’d probably go with the vet. Of course leverage isn’t a factor in season-long but it’s a similar process. Brown may also not be available on the waiver wire while you can bank on Woods being available in most fantasy leagues with 10-12 teams. Woods is more of a stretch play as a FLEX in PPR in deeper leagues if you’re desperate.
The rest of the bunch
Metchie and Hutchinson are both too risky to roll out. Would we be surprised if one or both had OK games in PPR? Not really. Both receivers saw a season-high in snaps last week. Metchie had five targets in bad weather. Hutch had two catches for 15 yards on three targets. There’s a good chance both wideouts see at least 40-50% of the snaps. But like we said above, the Texans should run the ball more with Stroud and Collins both out. It’s hard seeing Metchie or Hutchinson get enough volume to be food fantasy plays unless they score. Hutchinson is +475 and Metchie is +550 for anytime TD odds. Both are a stretch to score.
But wait, what about Dalton Schultz??
Schultz is off the injury report and set to return in Week 15. He’s a good play for a few reasons. Bad QBs tend to gravitate toward targeting their tight end. Schultz should go back to playing around 70-80% of the snaps in what is a very big game for Houston. Schultz has a pretty safe floor in this matchup. Schultz has five TDs this season and five games with at least five targets (two with double digit). If the Texans are trailing, they’ll need to throw the ball. It could be Schultz leading the way in targets and catches. Don’t rush to play him but if you’re in a 12-14 team league and need a TE play, Schultz isn’t bad in a pinch.