Monday Night Football
Tennessee @ Houston
Team Totals: Texans 24, Titans 18
The Texans have put limitations on Deshaun Watson in an effort to keep him out of harm’s way after a hit- and sack-filled first half of the season. Watson’s rushing usage has been much less inconsistent, and he hasn’t attempted more than 25 passes in a game since Week 5. Houston may need more out of Watson on Monday Night Football, though; Tennessee’s stout run defense has limited running backs to 141/474/4 (3.36 YPC) rushing over its last six games, while the Texans may be without starting OGs Senio Kelemete (ankle) and Zach Fulton (shoulder). Despite recent box-score ups and downs, Watson’s sky-high ceiling makes him difficult to ever leave on a fantasy bench. … Although Lamar Miller’s matchup is difficult and his run blocking suspect, sheer volume keeps him RB2 playable as a home-favorite feature back coming off a 23-touch effort in last week’s win over Washington. Miller’s Week 11 playing-time clip (73%) was his highest since Week 3. Miller now has 17 or more touches in four of his last five games.
Watson’s Week 11 target distribution: Keke Coutee 9; DeAndre Hopkins 6; Miller 5; Jordan Akins 2; Jordan Thomas and Demaryius Thomas 1. … Coutee’s return turned Demaryius into a ghost against the Redskins. Since the Texans scripted three first-quarter targets for Demaryius in Week 9 – prior to their Week 10 bye – he has drawn one target in the last seven quarters and is catch-less during that span. The Texans will surely try to get Thomas re-involved, but he’s in low-floor territory as a complementary piece in a low-volume passing game. … Coutee led the Texans in Week 11 targets and receiving (5/77/0), but reliability should not be expected with the team sure to make a greater emphasis of getting Thomas the ball. Coutee’s nine targets were well above expectation in a game where Josh Norman chased Hopkins, funneling more action than usual inside. Coutee is a fringe WR3 play against Tennessee. … In T.Y. Hilton (9/155/2), Tyrell Williams (4/118/1), Michael Crabtree (6/93/1), Josh Gordon (4/81/0), and Amari Cooper (5/56/1), Tennessee has coughed up at least one fantasy-viable stat line to a perimeter wideout in five straight weeks. Hopkins runs 80% of his routes outside and is easily the best fantasy play on either side in this game. … The Texans’ three-man tight end rotation of Akins, Thomas, and Ryan Griffin is safe to avoid. The Titans are allowing the NFL’s second-fewest yards per game to tight ends (33.8).
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The Titans seem confident Marcus Mariota will play despite exiting last week’s game with what the medical staff apparently diagnosed as a neck stinger, unrelated to Mariota’s previous throwing-arm nerve issues which prevented him from gripping the football firmly. It’s great news for the Titans, but starting Mariota in a fantasy league considering his ongoing and recurring health concerns would require quite a leap of faith. The Texans allow the NFL’s fourth-fewest points per game (20.5), including 16.2 PPG over their last six. Six straight quarterbacks to face Houston have finished QB18 or worse in weekly fantasy scoring. … Neither Titans running back has a plus Week 12 draw; Houston holds enemy backs to 3.51 yards per carry and the NFL’s eighth-fewest receiving yards per game (36.0). Although the blowout nature of last week’s loss to the Colts negatively skewed his usage, Dion Lewis entered Week 11 with touch counts of 19 – 23 – 22 over his previous three games and remains RB2 playable regardless of opponent. Derrick Henry is always a touchdown-dependent flex option and nearly got Mariota picked on a dropped screen pass last week. The Texans have allowed the NFL’s seventh-fewest rushing TDs to enemy backs (5).
Mariota’s Weeks 9-11 target distribution: Corey Davis 22; Jonnu Smith 9; Lewis and Cameron Batson 7; Tajae Sharpe 6; Henry and Taywan Taylor 2. … Davis busted in Week 11 along with the rest of the Titans’ offense. Although his quarterback’s health is a significant Week 12 concern, Davis is a prime bounce-back candidate with a stranglehold on No. 1 wideout targets facing a Texans Defense whose primary weakness is at outside corner. Davis remains a WR3 play only with fewer than 65 yards in 8-of-10 games. … Slot man Sharpe cleared 35 yards for just the second time all year in last week’s loss to Indianapolis, managing 5/37/1 receiving on seven targets. Stud Texans slot CB Aaron Colvin (ankle) is due back this week, damaging Sharpe’s on-paper matchup, while Taylor’s (foot) return would cut into Sharpe’s volume and send Batson back to the bench. … Coming off a career-high eight targets against the Colts, Smith also happens to catch Week 12’s best pass-catcher matchup on the Titans. Tight ends facing Houston have caught 53-of-67 targets (79%) for 600 yards (8.9 YPA) and five touchdowns, while the Texans coughed up Jeff Heuerman (10/83/1) and Jordan Reed’s (7/71/1) season-best games in back-to-back weeks.
Score Prediction: Texans 23, Titans 21