Kickoff: Sunday, December 13th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Betting Odds: HOU -1, 45 total via Oddsshark
Deshaun Watson (Start, QB1)
Heading into last week’s contest against the Colts, Deshaun Watson was one of the hottest QBs in the NFL. Watson had 16 total TDs (15 passing, 1 rushing) without a turnover in the six games between Weeks 6 and 12 and topped 280 passing yards in all of them except for the Cleveland game in Week 10 that was played in high winds. Watson struggled mightily against the stout Indianapolis defense, accounting for just one rushing TD and committing two turnovers, although he did eclipse 300 passing yards again. It should be an easier task this week as the Bears have allowed two or more passing TDs to opposing QBs in each of their last six games. Watson should rebound for fantasy managers this week and put up low-end QB1 numbers.
David Johnson (Start, RB2), Duke Johnson (Sit)
Before last week’s game, when both David Johnson and Duke Johnson were active, David vastly out-snapped Duke by nearly a 3:1 ratio. Perhaps David’s return from the injured reserve was a factor in the Texans giving the duo nearly a 50-50 split in snaps last week though David was the primary option in carries and Duke was the preferred receiving option. I expect David to command a larger share of the backfield this week as Duke was mostly ineffective during David’s absence. Now, Houston’s offensive line is among the league’s worst, and Chicago has allowed only Alvin Kamara to score more than 18 fantasy points against them this season making either a bit of a dicey play. If the game plays out as Vegas expects it to, a narrow Houston victory, then I expect David to be the more productive back. If David can get back to his early-season workload, he should finish as an RB2 this week for fantasy managers. Duke is strictly depth at this point.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandin Cooks (Start, WR2), Keke Coutee (Start, WR3/Flex), Chad Hansen (Sit), Jordan Akins (Sit)
It’s a bit of a new look for Watson at the WR position as Will Fuller has been suspended by the NFL, Kenny Stills has been released and Randall Cobb is on injured reserve. That makes Brandin Cooks the last WR standing of those that saw a target way back in Week 1. Cooks seemed to suffer yet another concussion in the third quarter last week, his documented sixth, but was cleared to return. If Cooks doesn’t suffer any setbacks this week, he should play and has WR2 potential against a Chicago defense that has allowed at least 18 fantasy points to four WRs over the last three games. Monitor reports, but if Cooks plays fantasy managers can trust him as a solid WR2 in Week 14.
Keke Coutee has been on and off Houston’s gameday roster this season but will be the team’s #2 WR going forward with the lack of depth at the position. Coutee led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards last week (9-8-141) and should remain at least a complementary piece to Houston’s passing game. Coutee has struggled with consistency throughout his short career but demonstrated his ceiling last week. Coutee won’t be sneaking up on anybody this week and is best viewed as a WR3 or flex option for fantasy managers as we head into Week 14.
If you told me you knew Chad Hansen would lead the Texans in snaps at the WR position last week, I’d call you a liar. Hansen, who was called up from the practice squad on Saturday and last played an NFL game in 2017 with the Jets, topped 100 yards on his five receptions and ended up being a better fantasy start than Cooks last week. Call me a skeptic, but I can’t in good conscience recommend Hansen as a legitimate fantasy option unless he can put together back-to-back games with reasonable production. Keep Hansen on your bench this week.
Jordan Akins has been a mostly forgotten man in Houston’s offense and Darren Fells sees just enough action to frustrate fantasy managers who have trusted Akins this season. Akins rarely sees more than 3-4 targets in a game and just isn’t a reliable option for fantasy managers. Pass on him this week.
Mitchell Trubisky/Nick Foles (Sit, QB2)
Regular readers will know that I touted Mitchell Trubisky as a QB1 last week against Detroit and, well, he wasn’t. Trubisky statistically had a decent game (76.4% completion percentage, one TD, no turnovers, 108.3 QB rating) but just didn’t produce on the fantasy side of things. Houston has been susceptible to giving up decent games to QBs this season, including a 25.5-point outing from Jake Luton in Week 9 who is probably the best comparison QB the Texans have faced this season. Trubisky has been hesitant to run this season but may utilize his legs more this week as Houston fields on of the worst rush defenses in the league. Trubisky simply can’t be highly recommended after a poor outing against a bad defense last week and profiles as a QB2 option for fantasy managers in Week 14.
If it is announced that Chicago is going back to Nick Foles this week, the outlook remains primarily the same and I wouldn’t put Foles any higher than Trubisky.
David Montgomery (Start, RB1)
If I’m going to own up to the miss on Trubisky, don’t think I’m not going to puff out my chest with my recommendation for David Montgomery as an RB1 last week. Montgomery had his best fantasy day of the season last week piling up 111 total yards and two TDs against a bad Lions defense. Houston is an even worse defense against the run, better than only Dallas in yards surrendered per game at 151. Houston has surrendered double-digit fantasy points to two different RBs in each of their last four games and Montgomery essentially has the backfield to himself. Montgomery is in line for another strong week and should once again produce as an RB1 this week for fantasy managers.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Allen Robinson (Start, WR3/Flex), Darnell Mooney (Sit), Anthony Miller (Sit), Cole Kmet (Start, TE1)
If nothing else, fantasy managers can count on Allen Robinson to be consistent. Robinson is almost a lock for six receptions and 70 yards with a shot at a TD or two. Robinson is also going to be the most involved player in the passing game as he has more than doubled the next closest player in targets with 115. Houston has allowed a WR to eclipse 20 fantasy points seven times this season which means Robinson should be able to hit his normal floor of 15 points quite easily. Unfortunately for Robinson, Houston’s rush defense is so bad that Chicago may not have to pass many teams, limiting his upside. Robinson should still be no worse than a WR3 this week with high-end WR2 upside if the game remains competitive throughout.
Both Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller have become complementary pieces to Chicago’s passing game as both have double-digit targets in just one game and both average three receptions and 35 yards per game. Could one of them blow up and post WR2 numbers? Absolutely. But given the lackluster QB play and the likelihood Chicago will look to run more than the pass this week decreases those odds considerably. I like Mooney a little more than Miller if someone HAD to start one, but there are multiple superior options out there and I would bench both players in Week 14.
It appears as if the Bears are transitioning away from Jimmy Graham as the primary TE to Cole Kmet as the rookie has out-snapped Graham in each of the last three games and has seen more targets in those games as well. In fact, Graham had a single target in Week 13 to Kmet’s seven which translated to five receptions for 37 yards and a TD. The TE position is a crapshoot once you get past the top four or five guys and Kmet is seeing enough volume to land in the lower third of the TE1 tier. Fantasy managers could do worse than Kmet at TE this week and I’m expecting low-end TE1 production from the rookie.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)