This a snippet of Adam Pfeifer’s NFL matchups column, previews Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans vs the LA Chargers for Fantasy Football Lineups. Fantasy rosters needed protective spray because players were bit hard by the injury bug in Week 2. Multiple starting quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all suffered injuries this past weekend, with a handful of key offensive linemen also going down. As a result, we missed on plenty in this article, but we hit on plenty, as well. Back on the horse. With that in mind, let’s dig into some NFL matchups and NFL game breakdowns for your Week 3 Fantasy Football Lineups.
To read the FULL column, click HERE.
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Houston Texans @ Los Angeles Chargers
Line: LAC -3
Texans passing game
The Texans couldn’t get much going on offense last week against the Jaguars. Deshaun Watson finished with just 159 passing yards, though he did salvage his day with an impressive rushing touchdown. Once again, the pass rush was a problem for Houston, as Watson was under pressure on 51.4 percent of his dropbacks. He’s been under duress on 50.7 percent of dropbacks through two weeks, the second-highest rate in football. That’s an issue, as it’ll stall some drives for this Texans offense.
The team added Laremy Tunsil but it hasn’t made a huge difference just yet. Los Angeles can generate pressure with their strong front but Watson has too much upside to sit, while the back end of this Chargers defense is now down their top two safeties in Derwin James and Adrian Phillips. The Chargers have also allowed two touchdown passes to both quarterbacks they have faced so far this season, keeping Watson in the QB1 range, although he definitely isn’t my favorite high-end option to use in DFS.
You’re never benching DeAndre Hopkins, who didn’t have a great game against shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey last week. Of course, he’ll probably see a lot of coverage from Casey Hayward, though he didn’t shadow Golladay of the Lions last week or Hilton of the Colts in Week 1. As a result, that duo combined for three touchdown receptions and like all of the elite receivers this week, Hopkins is under $8,000 on DK.
The rest of the receivers are a bit of a wild card. Keke Coutee returned to the lineup last week. Will Fuller remained an every-down player, logging 91 percent of the snaps, while Coutee was at 44 percent and Kenny Stills at 38 percent. Fuller will always be the preferred play but because Watson has been under so much pressure, he hasn’t had time to let Fuller run his deep routes, limiting his upside. If I were to play a Houston receiver other than Hopkins, it would be Fuller, though. Nickel corner Desmond King is one of the best in football, being targeted just once in coverage through two games. That isn’t great news for Coutee. We know Fuller has slate-breaking upside and he’s sub-$5,000.
Texans running game
Carlos Hyde dominated the backfield last week, carrying the football 20 times, while Duke Johnson saw just six carries. Hyde has surprisingly looked good through two weeks and it appears to be Houston’s clear early-down back, making him flex-worthy in standard leagues. The Chargers have been underwhelming against the run, getting destroyed by Marlon Mack in Week 1, who will see a similar style of work as Hyde.
I talk a lot about how the Texans rarely score rushing touchdowns, but this is still a good offense and Hyde will be the short-yardage back. Johnson, meanwhile, was targeted just once in the passing game last week, while carrying the ball six times. He’s been efficient when running the ball, averaging nearly six yards per carry but Houston isn’t going to give him anywhere close to a full workload. If this game goes back and forth and features a ton of points, it’ll benefit Duke, who is nothing more than a lower-end PPR FLEX.
Chargers passing game
In this article last week, we discussed how that Lions-Chargers game wouldn’t be great for fantasy purposes due to the pace of play. And sure, two touchdowns were called back, but only one would have been from Philip Rivers, who ended the day with 293 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception. I am more comfortable with Rivers this week, as Houston plays at an average pace but their secondary is below average. The Texans are coughing up 27.5 completions per game so far, tied for the third-most in football. For the second consecutive season, the Texans appear to be more of a pass funnel and Rivers has a good track record against Houston, averaging 3.5 touchdowns per game, Rivers is also better at home and should make for a very fine play against a vulnerable secondary.
It is official. While there are a lot of really bad price points this week, the worst that I have ever seen is Keenan Allen at $7,000 on DraftKings. I do not understand it at all but I fully intend to take advantage. Allen has seen double-digit targets in both weeks (15 and 10), hauling in 16 of them for 221 yards and a score. With Hunter Henry out, perhaps no player in football has a higher target floor than Allen, who is also getting high leverage targets.
Over the course of the 2018 season, Allen saw just seven total end zone targets. Through two weeks in 2019, that number is already at three and should keep climbing. I honestly believe he is the easiest play on the entire board this weekend, at any position. 12-15 targets with an uptick in red zone usage at just $7,000? Don’t think about it. Just play Keenan Allen.
The Chargers said they would limit Mike Williams snaps last week but he only played one less snap than he did in Week 1. He also lined up in the slot six more times. Williams didn’t look hurt, making a tremendous diving catch on the sideline before halftime, finishing the day with 85 yards on three catches. Henry’s absence is huge for Williams, who made his living in the end zone last year. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, around 17 percent of Henry’s career targets have come inside the end zone, the highest rate in the league since 2016. Williams is a high-end WR3 going forward.
Chargers running game
Austin Ekeler continues to get it done for the Chargers. He touched the ball 23 times on Sunday, totaling 133 yards and a touchdown. He also had a touchdown called back and then later fumbled from the goal line on that same drive. Still, Ekeler once again dominated this Chargers backfield, out-touching Justin Jackson 23-8 and out-snapping him 48-20. With the Chargers offensive line really struggling, we’ve seen a lot of short-yardage throws and checkdowns from Rivers, which is why Ekeler has seen a healthy 13 targets through two weeks. You are still using him as a top-10 running back play until Melvin Gordon returns to the team, while remaining a very safe DFS play, especially on full PPR sites.
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