Kickoff: Sunday, October 11th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Betting Odds: HOU -6, 54 total via Oddsshark
Gardner Minshew (Start, QB2)
Gardner Minshew has been all over the map this season for fantasy managers but he’s probably going to throw for multiple scores and at least one INT. This week, Minshew is facing a defense that is among the worst in the NFL against the run and points against but is in the top five in passing yards against. Part of that disparity can be attributed to Houston’s 0-4 record and teams turning to the run late in games to melt away the clock. Minshew and the Jaguars have an effective RB and the combination of Houston’s pass defense and Jacksonville’s rushing attack limits Minshew’s upside. Fantasy managers in leagues that allow for two starting QBs can rely on Minshew as a solid QB2 but for those in traditional leagues, Minshew is better on your bench.
James Robinson (Start, RB2), Chris Thompson (Sit)
When Jacksonville jettisoned Leonard Fournette before the season, many assumed it was just another in a line of moves designed to secure an early first-round draft pick. As it turns out, James Robinson is a pretty good RB and made letting Fournette go a much easier decision. Robinson has surpassed 100 total yards in his last three games and has become an asset as a receiver as well. As mentioned above, Houston is dead last in the NFL against the run allowing an average of 181 yards per game. Robinson’s volume is the only reason he is an RB2 for Week 5 as he’s only seeing about 20 touches per game. Fantasy managers can plug Robinson in as a solid RB2 with RB1 upside against Houston
Chris Thompson was projected to be Jacksonville’s primary receiving back heading into the season but Thompson has taken a back seat to Robinson through the team’s first four games. Thompson was held without a touch in Jacksonville’s Week 4 loss to Cincinnati and was in on just 24% of the team’s snaps. Thompson is an easy sit until further notice and maybe a candidate to drop for a hot waiver wire pick up.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
D.J. Chark (Start, WR3/Flex), Keelan Cole (Sit, Deep Flex), Chris Conley (Sit), Laviska Shenault (Sit), Tyler Eifert (Sit)
The absence of DJ Chark was a big part of Jacksonville’s struggle against Miami in Week 3 and Minshew welcomed him back with open arms last week as Chark led the team in targets (9), receptions (8), receiving yards (95), and TDs (2). As we discussed above, Houston has been stingy against the pass and Chark is going to attract a lot of attention from every defense he faces. While Chark is Minshew’s #1 target, fantasy managers should temper expectations in Week 5 and can trust Chark as a solid WR3 or flex option.
Keelan Cole is the primary WR that lines up opposite Chark and leads the team in targets on the season with 23 but is not the downfield threat Chark is. Cole’s average depth of target (ADOT) this season is a paltry 5.7 yards which limits his upside. Because Minshew spreads his attempts among all the WRs, Cole could provide Flex production for fantasy managers in deep leagues but the boom-or-bust nature of Cole’s production is hard to trust otherwise.
The player that is the most utilized in Jacksonville’s WR corps is rookie Laviska Shenault. Shenault has lined up all over the formation, even seeing time in the backfield. Now, while Shenault has seen his opportunities increase as the season has progressed, he’s still seeing just 6-7 opportunities per game. As a result, he can’t be trusted for fantasy managers in Week 5.
Chris Conley is a part-time third WR as he splits time with Shenault. Conley is off the field more than he’s on it which makes him useless for fantasy managers. Tyler Eifert is Jacksonville’s primary TE but is only a limited participant in the offense. Fantasy managers should look elsewhere for their starting TE in Week 5.
Deshaun Watson (Start, QB1)
The Texans have struggled on offense this season generating just 20 points per game, 29th in the NFL. It can be argued the opening schedule was a big part of that as they faced three of the top defenses in the NFL. The team has moved on from HC and GM Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel will be the interim coach. Will the change bring an improvement to the offense and Deshaun Watson‘s stats? That remains to be seen. Watson is basically in line with his career averages in the passing game but has seen a dip in rushing production through four games. Watson is still cowering behind a leaky offensive line that has allowed a league-leading 16 sacks and lost the team’s best WR in an offseason trade. Jacksonville should provide a bit of a respite for Watson as they are in the bottom 10 of the NFL in passing and rushing yards against as well as points against. Watson should provide low-end QB1 numbers for fantasy managers in Week 5.
David Johnson (Start, RB2), Duke Johnson (Sit)
For many Texans fans, David Johnson may always be remembered as the player who replaced DeAndre Hopkins. Johnson is several years removed from his glory days as the #1 RB in all of fantasy football but he has been a bit of a disappointment this season despite averaging nearly four yards per carry. Johnson is not seeing the volume to make him a reliable RB2 but facing the Jacksonville defense should afford him the chance to land comfortably in the RB2 ranks for fantasy managers in Week 5.
Duke Johnson is no more than a complementary piece to David Johnson as he sees an average of just one-third of the team’s offensive snaps. Duke should not be started by fantasy managers in Week 5 despite a nice matchup.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Will Fuller (Start, WR3/Flex), Brandin Cooks (Sit), Randall Cobb (Sit), Jordan Akins (Sit)
Fantasy managers hold their breath every time they insert Will Fuller in their fantasy lineups given his propensity for soft tissue injuries that derail his season. Despite a goose-egg against Baltimore in Week 2, Fuller has performed admirably as the team’s #1 WR. Fuller is easily outpacing his teammates in receptions (18) and receiving yards (274) and has scored in consecutive games. Fuller is not a big volume guy so it’s best for fantasy managers to trust him as no more than a WR3 or solid Flex play in Week 5.
Some feel Randall Cobb has surpassed Brandin Cooks as the #2 option in Houston’s passing game. Cobb has more receptions (13 to 10), yards (213 to 138), and TDs (1 to 0) despite seeing fewer targets (21 to 18). Cooks does see the field more often than Cobb, averaging 46 snaps per game to 42 for Cobb. It’s hard to trust either unless one separates, however, and fantasy managers should look elsewhere for WR production. If I were forced to start one of the two, Cobb might be useful in large leagues as a low-end flex option.
Jordan Akins is in the concussion protocol as of this writing, so his status for the Week 5 game is still up in the air. If he were to play, he would slot in as a low-end TE2 because of the sheer number of options in the Houston passing game. Akins is a sure-handed as they come, but doesn’t see the volume to make him a reliable starter. If Akins were to be ruled out, Darren Fells would likely draw the start but is no better an option for fantasy managers.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)