Last Updated: Nov 29, 2012 3:17 PM
Despite winning back to back overtime games in the span of only four days, the Texans have suddenly been labeled as pretenders by some and at the least, vulnerable by others.
What most of these detractors manage to overlook is the fact that the Texans found a way to win despite playing the last game without several key defensive players - Brian Cushing, Johnathan Joseph, Tim Dobbins, and now, Brooks Reed.
Don’t look for the Texans to make excuses; it’s not in their nature.
With a win on Sunday, Houston locks up a playoff spot. And with the game coming against a bitter rival, you can bet that Houston will be looking to make a statement in Tennessee.
In an effort to relieve the pressure on a banged up defensive unit, we will see plenty of action from Houston’s surging offense. This should have fantasy football fanatics salivating over what should be a solid day for most fantasy relevant players on both sides despite the uncertainty a change in offensive coordinators will bring for Tennessee. Here’s what we can expect:
No one does play-action better than Matt Schaub. He is deadly with it. Whether he is throwing to Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, or Kevin Walter, the Texans’ dominant ground game provides Schaub with endless opportunities to score. Expect no less on Sunday against the Titans.
With the offense likely looking to pick up the slack again, Schaub should finish the day with at least 275 yards and two touchdowns against the sixth-worst passing defense in the league.
Jake Locker has produced only one good game this year for fantasy owners but it seems the Titans are content with his middling play for now. New offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, who was previously the Titans’ quarterbacks coach, will continue to put the ball in Locker’s hands.
Loggains should try and avoid a repeat of the last meeting with the Texans when Locker found himself knocked out of the game, so we will probably see plenty of quick throws to avoid the Texans’ pass-rush. Even if Houston is without Johnathan Joseph again, don’t expect anything more than 180 yards, one touchdown, and at least one interception.
You don’t need anyone to tell you to start Arian Foster who this week goes up against a run defense that has been inconsistent at best this year. The only thing that might slow him down him on his way to 100 yards and at least one touchdown is the probable return of Ben Tate. Tate may just pull mop-up duty this week as he gets his legs back under him.
If Chris Johnson can get to the second level he should be able to find some room to run on the Texans whose solid run defense will be missing yet another linebacker this week. After giving up two rushing touchdowns last week, Houston could see Johnson find the end zone again as he rushes for at least 90 yards.
In case you missed it, Andre Johnson put on a clinic the last two games and with Matt Schaub now looking his way again with over 10 targets in each of his last six games you can expect plenty more.
The ground game promises to be in full-swing so Johnson should see plenty of play-action passes thrown his way. There’s no reason to think he won’t find the end zone again this week - 140 yards and a touchdown sounds about right.
It’s hard to recommend any of the Titans receivers as anything more than a Flex play this week, not because of the matchup but because none of them have really been able to produce much in the last few weeks.
While Kenny Britt has reportedly played through knee issues all year, he is probably the most likely to score. Nate Washington will likely end up with about 50 yards, and Kendall Wright may just surprise a few people if Locker can manage to get the ball to him.
Owen Daniels has been slowed by injury the last two weeks but still managed to be productive, finding the end zone for the sixth time this year on Thanksgiving. Even though Tennessee has improved against tight ends of late, Daniels should find plenty of room to operate. The extra rest won’t hurt either. 70 yards and a touchdown certainly won’t be out of the question.
Jared Cook may finally stop grumbling if Loggains plans to get him the ball more, and he may just find some success over the middle against the Texans this week. A touchdown would be optimistic but 60 yards shouldn’t be out of the question.
Defense and Special Teams
There’s no need to remind you of the injuries on the Texans’ defense but they should be enough to temper expectations against a Titans team that was humiliated the last time the two teams met. That said, it would be hard to sit the Texans after seeing Locker throw two picks against a poor Jaguars secondary last week. Start them.
Over the last three games the Titans’ have been in the top five in interceptions, top three in sacks, and even managed to score once. Still, they are not a recommended start this week when they will have their hands full with a Houston team that shouldn’t have much trouble scoring.
The views and content in this article are not necessarily the opinion of Fantasy Football Champs, www.FFChamps.com, and its in-house experts.