Kickoff: Sunday, January 1st, 2023, 1:00 PM ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Betting Odds: JAX -4, 43.5 O/U Total via PFF.com
Writer: Justin Havelock (@HavelockJustin on Twitter)
Trevor Lawrence (Start, QB1)
Trevor Lawrence has missed practice this week with a toe injury, which fantasy managers in the hunt for a championship should monitor closely as the week progresses. All indications from head coach Doug Pederson, however, have been that Lawrence will play as the Jacksonville Jaguars attempt to lock up the AFC South division title over their next two games.
Lawrence has stepped up his game recently with 300+ passing yards in three out of five games coming off of the Jaguars’ BYE week. Over this span, the sophomore quarterback also has 11 passing touchdowns to just one interception and 5.89 yards per carry (YPC) for 112 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Given that the Jaguars have so much on the line, they will likely lean heavily on Lawrence to come up with a win here.
Travis Etienne (Start, RB1)
Travis Etienne should be in line for a productive week against the Houston Texans as they have allowed the most fantasy points to the running back, the most rushing yards allowed, and the third-most rushing touchdowns this season. Etienne has seen more than 20 touches and racked up 100+ scrimmage yards in back-to-back weeks. Don’t overthink this one.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Christian Kirk (Start, WR2), Zay Jones (Start, WR2), Marvin Jones Jr. (Sit), Evan Engram (Start, TE1)
Both Christian Kirk and Zay Jones should be considered volatile right now, as there seems to be a wide range of outcomes for Trevor Lawrence’s top two receivers. A matchup against the Houston Texans is likely too good to pass up, despite the 1A and 1B wide receiver situation here. Even if the pair are somewhat touchdown-dependant in a low-volume game script, there is an opportunity for them to produce here against the Texans’ secondary since Houston has allowed the fifth-most Yards Per Target (YPT) to wide receivers this season.
I’d put more faith in Kirk than Jones, as the latter has had two of his best games recently while playing against strong run defenses that forced the Jaguars to throw more often. The Houston Texans won’t pose the same challenge on the ground in Week 17.
After recording a single-target dud against the Baltimore Ravens coming off the Jaguars’ BYE week, Evan Engram has been a must-start. Over his past four games, Engram has 31 receptions, 367 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. The 28-year-old tight end set new career highs in both receptions and receiving yards last week as he has found a rare chemistry with Lawrence in Jacksonville.
Davis Mills (Sit), Jeff Driskel (Sit)
WARNING: There will be very little worth starting on the Houston Texans’ side of the football in Week 17. If your championship is on the line this week, why risk it?
Davis Mills has yet to put up a QB1 finish in 2022. In fact, this matchup is stacked so heavily against Mills that the Jaguars’ D/ST may actually be worth a start with Mills under center. The sophomore quarterback ranks second in interceptions and 15th in sacks while going up against a Jacksonville defense that has forced the seventh-most turnovers in the league this season.
While Jeff Driskel still has QB eligibility in most leagues, he has yet to clear double-digit pass attempts this season.
Rex Burkhead (Sit), Royce Freeman (Sit), Dare Ogunbowale (Sit)
None of the Houston Texans running backs should be counted on to put up a valuable performance this week. The Jacksonville Jaguars have actually been a middle-of-the-pack run defense, allowing the 14th-fewest rushing yards in the league. Royce Freeman has recorded a 3.07 yards per carry (YPC) over the last two weeks as the Texans have struggled to establish the run after rookie Dameon Pierce suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 14 and ended his season prematurely.
If I had to start someone out of this backfield, it would be Rex Burkhead as the Jaguars have allowed the second-most receiving yards to the running back position. Burkhead hasn’t had more than 30 receiving yards since a Week 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers where he also recorded his lone touchdown of the season. The 32-year-old should only be viewed as an extreme desperation play as all three of these running backs likely belong on your waiver wire.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandin Cooks (Start, FLEX), Chris Moore (Sit), Phillip Dorsett (Sit), Jordan Akins (Sit)
Brandin Cooks is probably the only Houston Texan that I would feel comfortable starting this week, and with the Jaguars’ defense able to put pressure on quarterback Davis Mills, I wouldn’t feel too shy about benching Cooks if you have a better option available. The Texans have completed the seventh-fewest receptions and receiving yards this season, and Cooks himself has not caught more than five receptions since Week 4 setting him up as a low-end FLEX play in most leagues.
I can’t bring myself to trust anyone else in this passing game. Just ask yourself, do I really want my fantasy season to end because I played a Houston Texans receiver? (Sorry, Texans fans!)