Thursday Night Football
Miami @ Houston
Team Totals: Texans 26, Dolphins 18.5
Texans-Dolphins sets up as a low-scoring affair with Week 8’s fifth-lowest total (44.5). Houston has scored 22 points or fewer in 6-of-7 games, while Deshaun Watson’s partially collapsed lung and broken rib forced him to take a personal bus instead of the team flight home to avoid plane pressure following last week’s win at Jacksonville. Watson’s dual-threat impact is way down – he averaged 7.5 rushing yards in Weeks 6-7 after averaging 40.2 in the first five weeks – contributing to lowly fantasy results of QB27 (Bills) and QB22 (Jaguars). On the bright side, Miami has allowed 27-plus points in four straight games, including top-15 quarterback scores in three of its last four. The Fins rank 28th in sacks (11) and 29th in QB hit rate (11.3%) while permitting the NFL’s fourth-most yards per pass attempt (8.3). Until he resumes running voluminously, however, Watson’s diminished playmaking value will render him a fringe top-12 QB1 play. … This is a “revenge” game for ex-Dolphin Lamar Miller, who commandingly retook feature-back duties in Week 7 with 23 touches to Alfred Blue’s 8 and 99 yards from scrimmage, including a five-yard second-quarter touchdown, Miller’s first rushing score of the year. Miami has allowed over 100 rushing yards in five straight games, including a combined 110/577/4 (5.25 YPC) rushing line to enemy running backs over the last month. The Fins have also given up the NFL’s fifth-most catches to Miller’s position (46). Favored at home with a shot at 20-plus touches, Miller is a quality RB2 start.
Watson’s Weeks 1-7 targets: DeAndre Hopkins 71; Will Fuller 39; Keke Coutee 30; Ryan Griffin 25; Miller 16; Blue 15; Jordan Akins 11. … After winning Weeks 5-7 shadow matchups with Byron Jones (9/151/0), Tre’Davious White (6/63/1), and Jalen Ramsey (3/50/1), Hopkins gets another one versus Xavien Howard. Hopkins’ ability to win in close quarters keeps him cornerback proof, and PFF has charged Howard with 11-of-14 targets (79%) allowed for 158 yards (11.3 YPA) and two TDs in the last month. … A decoy in Weeks 5 and 6, Fuller reappeared to tie Hopkins for the team lead in Week 7 targets (8) while leading the Texans in catches (6) and receiving yards (68). Speedster Fuller (4.32) will draw Dolphins slowpoke No. 2 CB Bobby McCain (4.51) in this one. Whereas Fuller has finished below 70 yards in each of Coutee’s four appearances, Fuller’s stat lines with Coutee on the shelf are 8/113/1 and 5/101/1. … Gadget-guy Tyler Ervin mixed into the slot after Coutee’s Week 7 hamstring aggravation and is a sleeper on single-game DFS slates. He drew one target against the Jags, however. Ervin caught 45 passes as a San Jose State senior, resembling a faster version of Dexter McCluster. Ervin has struggled to get on the field in the NFL due to injuries and offensive fit. The Texans run two-tight end personnel on an AFC-high 24.1 plays per game, so cutting down on three-receiver packages is an alternative. … The Dolphins' zone defense coughed up a perfect 5/56/2 receiving line on five targets to the Lions’ usually-nonexistent tight ends last week. With Griffin (illness) sidelined, the Texans started Jordan Thomas and used fellow rookie Akins sparingly a week ago. Thomas and Akins combined for one catch-less target.
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Even as Brock Osweiler was surprisingly competent for a second straight game in last week’s 32-21 loss to Detroit – the “L” wasn’t on him – it’s likely a mere matter of time before Osweiler’s luck runs out. On a short-week road trip missing Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin), that time could easily come against a Bill O’Brien- and Romeo Crennel-coached team that knows Osweiler’s minimal strengths and vast weaknesses closely after Osweiler flopped spectacularly as a big-ticket 2016 free agent signing with the Texans. This is a hot spot for Houston’s D/ST. … Too much is likely to be put on Osweiler’s plate because Crennel’s defense eliminates running games, holding enemy backs to an anemic 155/520/1 (3.35 YPC) rushing line. This is an obvious no-go spot for Dolphins carry leader Frank Gore, who has just six targets this season. Kenyan Drake has 39 and could benefit if Miami falls behind, which seems likely based on projected negative script. Although Drake has mostly been a 2018 fantasy disappointment, he is RB2/flex playable averaging 13.3 touches for 93.3 yards over the last three games. On Monday, Gase confirmed Drake will play some wide receiver due to Miami’s myriad injuries there.
Osweiler’s Weeks 6-7 target distribution: Danny Amendola 18; Drake 14; Wilson 12; Nick O’Leary 7; Jakeem Grant 6; Stills and Mike Gesicki 5; Gore 2; DeVante Parker 1. … With stat lines of 8/59/0 and 6/84/1 in Osweiler’s two starts, Amendola is a sneaky-strong WR3 play. The Texans are missing stud slot CB Aaron Colvin (ankle), and Amendola runs 81% of his routes inside. Last week’s 24-yard scoring dime to Amendola was the best throw Osweiler has made with Miami. … Diminutive 4.37 burner Grant is the main beneficiary of Wilson’s injury after setting season highs in snaps (70%) and routes run (30) in Week 7. Slow-footed Texans CBs Johnathan Joseph, Shareece Wright, and Kareem Jackson are most vulnerable to speed. A homeless man’s version of Tyreek Hill, Grant will be a staple on the outside in three-receiver sets. … Recently the subject of trade rumors, Parker isn’t going anywhere after Wilson’s injury. Parker has played just 38 snaps all year while battling a quad injury, and Osweiler admitted Monday he’s barely so much as played catch with Miami’s underachieving wideout. … Enemy tight ends have caught 31-of-39 (79.5%) targets for 388 yards (9.95 YPA) and three TDs against Houston. Gesicki set a season high with 44 yards in last week’s loss, although O’Leary played more snaps (70% to 29%) and has run 37 routes compared to Gesicki’s 32 in the last two games. Gesicki did miss Week 7 playing time to be checked for a concussion, then was cleared. He is the preferred long-shot streamer, but not by much.
Score Prediction: Texans 23, Dolphins 17