Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 9
Texans vs. Broncos
Welcome to Houston, Demaryius Thomas
In the wake of losing speedster WR Will Fuller V to an ACL injury, the Texans were in a tight spot to fill a very important spot. As the trade deadline loomed on Tuesday, the Houston front office completed a trade with Denver that sent WR Demaryius Thomas to the Texans in exchange for a third-round pick (teams exchanged seventh-round picks as well). This was certainly not the addition I saw coming. Fuller V brings speed and, it was thought that Desean Jackson would be the obvious substitute for that need, Instead, Houston chose the veteran Bronco, who had seen his catch percentage drop off significantly, from almost 63% in 2016 to 59% in 2017. Still, he is a very capable receiver, and although he lacks the speed Fuller brings to the table, he will definitely bring value. Having a better quarterback will help, too, seeing as he’s only had 100 or more yards in one game this year. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out Sunday, given Thomas will be playing in Denver, but against the team that drafted him back in 2010. What makes it especially interesting is that the Broncos will be without CB Bradley Roby and S Darian Stewart which bodes well for the wideouts from Houston.
Can Lamar keep it up?
RB Lamar Miller has enjoyed back to back fantastic outings, hitting 100 yards or more and showing burst through the holes his offensive line has provided. This week, he faces a Denver defense that has only surrendered 98 total yards in their last two games. While it should be tougher sledding in this one, Houston has to maintain the balance they’ve showcased during this winning streak. The addition of Demaryius Thomas should also provide them with decent information on formations or things for QB DeShaun Watson to look for while reading the defense pre-snap. Denver has been better against the run while on the road, the caveat for offenses is that teams have run wild in Denver this year, such as the Jets (300+ yards) and the Rams (200+ from Gurley alone). Lamar Miller probably won’t get to that kind of threshold, but there is certainly a chance he gets to 100 yards for the third time in a row.
Can the defense stop Lindsay?
Rookie RB Phillip Lindsay has been quite the surprise for Denver, as well as the league. He’s put up double-digit fantasy points every week besides week three – pretty impressive for an undrafted first-year player. He’s only surpassed 100 yards rushing once, but he’s a threat in the passing game, as well. Houston’s linebackers will have to pay close attention and the defensive line has to apply pressure before Qb Case Keenum has time to check it down. I think they will be able to do so, making for a nice path to win number six.
Boom: DeAndre Hopkins
Bust: Justin Thomas
Sleeper: Lamar Miller
Who are the fantasy options we can trust this week against the Texans?
RB Phillip Lindsay looks locked into another week of featured back usage as RB Royce Freeman looks unlikely to play in week nine. It would be nice to see a little more usage in the passing game out of Lindsay, as he has failed to reach three catches in five of eight games this year. But without Freeman, Lindsay is getting the bulk of the early down and red zone work and should be leaned on heavily at home. The Texans pose a tough matchup, though they have been aided by an easy schedule. Last week the Dolphins rushed for over 100 yards, so this is not an impenetrable defense. Lindsay doesn’t look primed for a huge week but should provide solid RB2 numbers.
WR Emmanuel Sanders had a bit of a disappointing week eight, but with the trade of WR Demaryius Thomas, Sanders looks all set for heavy usage going forward. His increased red zone usage has been encouraging, and he has four or more catches in every game this year to go along with big-play ability. With trade rumors surrounding Sanders before the deadline as well, he comes out as a clear winner as his competition has decreased and he doesn’t need to learn a new offense.
The biggest beneficiary of the Thomas trade is promising rookie WR Courtland Sutton. His play was a big reason for the trade, and he should easily slide into Thomas’s role and provide more big-play ability. Playing Sutton right away takes a bit of a leap of faith as he has not topped three catches all year. But all signs point to a potential breakout coming, and in a week with multiple good receiving options on a bye, Sutton makes a solid wide receiver play in most formats. There is a lack of passing game options after Sanders and Sutton, so even in lower volume passing games, Sutton should see plenty of opportunities.
What Broncos players should I look at if I am desperate for a bye week fill in?
RB Devontae Booker had a nice game last week with an efficient 101 total yards on 13 touches. Assuming Freeman misses week nine, Booker could be a desperation option as he saw 44% of Denver’s running back snaps last week. Booker sees most of his work in the passing game and likely saw increased usage last week against the Chiefs in an effort to keep up with their explosive offense. If the Broncos can take a lead at home this week and play from ahead, it may actually hurt Booker’s usage. But as a one-point underdog at home, the Broncos will likely need to use Booker.
K Brandon McManus has scored either eight or thirteen points in all four of his home games this year, and the increased altitude at home always helps with long attempts. He’s not an elite option on a mediocre offense but can be played with relative confidence.
The Broncos Defense can pressure the quarterback, and the Texans have struggled to protect the quarterback, making the Broncos a startable option at home. However, the Texans seem to have righted the ship recently, with a 42 point, zero sack, zero turnover game last week against Miami. If the Broncos play with a lead, the defense could tee off.
Who should I avoid playing in week nine?
QB Case Keenum is seeing his volume get scaled back, and the Broncos would be happy to lean on their run game and defense. Keenum is only an option in two-quarterback leagues.
TE Jeff Heuerman is actually seeing pretty solid red zone usage, but even when he scores a touchdown, like last week, his reception and yardage totals make him unplayable.
Boom: Emmanuel Sanders
Bust: Case Keenum
Sleeper: Devontae Booker