What We Saw: Week 7

Texans @ Cardinals

Final Score: Cardinals 31, Texans 5

Writer: James Schiano (@JeterHadNoRange on Twitter)


The game with the largest spread heading into Sunday played out just as expected. The Texans’ defensive front kept it interesting for a quarter or so, but Kyler Murray settled in nicely and the Cardinals’ stout defense shut Houston out in the second half. This game wound up being a real snoozer besides for some exciting plays from Arizona’s playmakers and the all-elusive SCORIGAMI!


Houston Texans




Davis Mills: 22/32, 135 yards, 1 fumble


Let’s call the Texans’ offense…conservative. Mills only had one completion of over 20 yards and did not attempt many more. Head Coach David Culley has caught some flack for playing close to the chest with both his offensive philosophy and fourth down decisions. The Texans had a 3rd and 7 to start the fourth quarter and they handed it off to David Johnson. They faced a 4th and 2 a few drives earlier, already down by three scores, and punted.

Clearly, the Texans placed a great importance on keeping this gameplan both safe and simple. I understand not wanting to put your rookie in harm’s way, but it is hard to track development playing like this. Throwing 32 passes for 135 yards and multiple steps is beyond inefficient.

He is executing what is being asked, though. That completion percentage of 68.8% is not half bad. It just does not instill confidence when it is translates to less than 150 yards.


Running Backs


David Johnson: 7 carries, 25 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 27 yards

Mark Ingram: 6 carries, 9 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards

Phillip Lindsay: 2 carries, 8 yards


This may be the messiest position group in the NFL. In absolutely no way, shape, or form should any of these players be relied on for fantasy purposes. Johnson found himself on the field in obvious passing situations, which gives him a modicum of value, but his touches often look a lot like this.

The Texans offensive line is not good and the defense is wholly aware that they refuse to push the ball downfield. These truths create lots of heavy boxes like the one you see above which makes it difficult to find space. It is hard to envision a situation or matchup where any of these three would be trustworthy.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Nico Collins: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 28 yards

Brandin Cooks: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 21 yards

Danny Amendola: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 17 yards

Jordan Akins: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

Pharoah Brown: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 11 yards


There are not tons of highlights when you only have one play over 20 yards in the entire game. These numbers alone are borderline laughable. Like Cooks being targeted seven times for 21 yards. A truly shocking stat-line.

The real funny thing is this core of pass-catchers is not bad. Amendola, while having lost a step or two, was still able to create semi-regular separation over the middle. Cooks is as steady a receiver as any and could be on the move over the next few weeks.

Additionally, Collins has made tremendous strides over the last few weeks and seems to be transitioning to the NFL well. He made that single, evasive reception of over 20 yards.

There were plenty of other instances where he was open downfield, too. Every receiver in this offense would get a boost if Houston decided to throw the ball more than five yards at a time.


Arizona Cardinals




Kyler Murray: 20/28, 261 yards, 3 TD, INT | 6 carries, 10 yards

Colt McCoy: 2 carries, -1 yard


It was a real relief to watch Murray in this game. His wild skill and athleticism was able to mostly offset Houston’s ineptitude. He makes four or five plays every game that make my jaw drop and today was no different. Check this one out.

Can anyone else on earth make a play like that? Murray is truly remarkable. To evade multiple defenders in the backfield, get his eyes back up field, and deliver a STRIKE across the field for a first down. Shockingly, this was not even his most impressive throw of the day.

The game was still (theoretically) a toss-up at this point when Murray remained patient in the pocket until A.J. Green shook free 30 yards down the field and bang, a conversion on third and long. The arm strength alone to get this ball out there is nuts. He ended this drive with a touchdown to Christian Kirk in a tight window and the Cardinals never looked back.

This was not a perfect game by any means though. It took Murray a little while to get going and he left some points on the board early, like this misfire to Hopkins.

This game also marked the fifth time this season where Murray wound up with 20 rushing yards or fewer. He failed to get past that total just three times all last season. His development as a playmaker and passer has been tremendous for his real-life game, but there is no denying the its hit to his fantasy value in the short-term.


Running Backs


Chase Edmonds: 15 carries, 81 yards | 3 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

James Conner: 10 carries, 64 yards, TD

Eno Benjamin: 2 carries, 7 yards

Jonathan Ward: 1 carry, 7 yards


Here we have another disappointing time share. Edmonds routinely looks more explosive than Conner and out-carried him today for the first time all season. There just seems to be no way he gets the goal-line or red zone work in the near future. In fact, he has the most touches in the league (95) without a touchdown. Crazy!

On the other hand, Conner looked the best he has all season on Sunday. Certainly the Texans’ pourous defense helped with that, but there’s no denying the pep in his step.

That was vintage Conner, slicing and dicing on his way to the pylon for six. While the Cardinals are certainly legit and a contender, they have a string of more difficult opponents on the horizon which could provide less than ideal game-scripts for Conner. Enjoy the production here when you get it.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


DeAndre Hopkins: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 53 yards, TD

Zach Ertz: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 66 yards, TD

Christian Kirk: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards, TD

AJ Green: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 66 yards

Rondale Moore: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards


This core is at the same time spectacular and frustrating to manage in fantasy. Besides Hopkins, there is no telling who Murray will be targeting. Speaking of Hopkins, he had no trouble making his presence known against his former team scoring the Cardinals’ first touchdown of the day.

His improved chemistry with Murray is apparent, as there were times last season when they did not seem quite in-sync. Well, that is not the case so far this season and the duo is proving to me one of the most potent in football. Especially on intermediate plays, an area where Murray struggled tremendously during his first two years in the league.

Green has helped in that area too and made lots of big grabs in this one. What a blessing for Murray that he has two of the most productive receivers of the past decade at his disposal.

However, the big story coming out of this position group is Ertz. He was tied for second on the Cardinals with five targets and showed off the last bit of his fading athleticism with his long catch and run for six.

He had a little more giddy-up there than I thought he would. Still, it seems like he will be shooting up rankings as a name-brand in an explosive offense with a big play in his first game in a new offense. I would caution anyone thinking that. He was still out-snapped by all four of the Cardinals top receivers and ran just 20 routes.

Of course, this was not a great gamescript for Ertz with the Cardinals trying to run the clock out for most of the second half. He cashed today and should be a fringy TE1.

Lastly, Moore remains a part of Arizona’s gameplan. His touches are not consistent, but there is a clear indication they want the ball in his hands at least a few times per game. And why not with moves like this at his disposal.


Kirk and Green are on the field more and are more consistently targeted, but no one on this roster can match Moore’s explosiveness.


 — James Schiano (@JeterHadNoRange on Twitter)

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