Houston Texans (1-5, 3-3 ATS) at Arizona Cardinals (6-0, 5-1), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s Texans Stats and Trends
The Texans are 4-1 toward unders in their last five road games.
The Texans can’t get Tyrod Taylor (hamstring, IR) back soon enough as they’ve failed to find the end zone in two of their last three games.
Davis Mills will remain at quarterback for at least another week with Tyrod Taylor (hamstring, IR) not quite ready to return to the lineup. He came crashing back to earth off his first 300-yard performance in Week 5, throwing for 243 scoreless yards (5.7 YPA) with two INTs against the Colts. The Cardinals have given up fewer than 16 FP to QBs in three of their last four games.
After two tougher matchups, Brandin Cooks bounced back with 9/89 receiving on 13 targets against the Colts, which gives him 17+ FP in four of his six games. He’s seen 7+ targets and 5+ catches in 5-of-6 games, and Odell Beckham posted a solid 5/79 receiving on eight targets in this matchup last week.
Nico Collins returned from the injured reserve in Week 6 off a shoulder injury he suffered back in Week 2. He finished with 4/44 receiving on six targets against the Colts in his first action in a month, and he ran the third most routes behind Cooks (42) and Chris Moore (41). Collins’ college teammate Donovan People-Jones finished with 4/101/2 receiving against the Cardinals last week.
Mark Ingram hit double-digit FP for the first time since Week 1 when he posted 18/73 rushing and 2/8 receiving on 44% of the snaps against the Colts in Week 6. David Johnson saw 43% of the snaps, but he flopped with just a 14-yard catch after posting 8/73 receiving in Weeks 4-5. The Cardinals are giving up the seventh-fewest FPG (19.6) to RBs this season.
Brolley’s Cardinals Stats and Trends
The Cardinals are the only remaining unbeaten team, and they’ve reeled off four straight covers.
The Cardinals own the best ATS cover margin at +12.8 points after covering by 26 points in a 37-14 beatdown of the Browns as three-point road underdogs.
Arizona is 6-2 toward overs in its last eight home games.
Kyler Murray had his best fantasy day since Week 2, posting an efficient 229/4 passing on just 30 attempts (7.6 YPA, 13.3% TD rate). He’s leading the league with 73.8% completion percentage and he’s averaging 8.9 YPA. Kyler does have just seven rushing yards the last two weeks and he hasn’t scored a rushing TD since Week 3. The Texans are giving up the 13th-most FPG (20.6) to quarterbacks.
DeAndre Hopkins turned in 20.5 FP last week despite seeing just four targets, turning them into 3/55/2 receiving against the Browns. Nuk has now matched his receiving TDs from all of last season with six scores, and he has more games with fewer than five catches (4) than he had all of last season in 16 games (3). Hopkins could have a few extra targets funneled his way as he’s had this #RevengeGame circled on his calendar since the schedules came out in the spring.
A.J. Green got back to seeing exactly six targets last week, and it must be a lucky number for him as he posted a season-best 18.9 FP with 5/79/1 receiving. He’s now seen six targets in five of his six games — he saw two targets in Week 5 — and he’s posted 13+ FP in four of his last five contests. T.Y. Hilton returned to the lineup last week and hung and caught all four of his targets for 80 yards in this matchup last week.
Christian Kirk saw a season-high 85% snap share last week, and he turned in his best fantasy performance since the season opener with 5/75/1 receiving on eight targets. Kirk has been more consistent than we’ve seen in the past, reaching 5+ catches and 65+ yards four times this season. The Texans are facing the sixth-fewest targets per game (17.0) from WRs.
The Eagles moved Zach Ertz to the Cardinals in exchange for CB Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick. He’ll immediately move to the top of Arizona’s TE depth chart after the emerging Maxx Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 5. Williams was trending toward TE1 status before his injury, and Ertz will have the same chance to slide into low-end TE1 status playing in one of the league’s best offenses. Ertz is going to be a volatile option with so many mouths to feed in Arizona but, with the status of the position for fantasy, he has the chance to be an every-week option if he can settle into 5-7 targets per game. The Texans have given up four TDs to TEs in the last three weeks so Ertz has a chance to come through even if his snaps are limited in his first game with the Cardinals.
Rondale Moore saw a season-high 56% of the snaps with Williams out of the lineup, but he’ll be the one who’s hurt the most by Ertz’s acquisition. Moore has been extremely volatile as a part-time option with three games under seven FP.
Chase Edmonds, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, saw season-lows in snap share (37%) and touches (7) with the Cardinals playing with a massive lead last week. He’s finished with eight or fewer FP in two straight games after topping 12+ FP in four straight games to open the year. James Conner posted season-highs in snap share (55%) and scrimmage yards (71), but he also fell short of double-digit FP since he failed to find the end zone for the first time since Week 2. The Cardinals could take the opportunity to manage Edmonds’ reps again as they enter as 17-point home favorites against the Texans. The Texans are giving up the third-most rushing yards per game (122.0) to RBs.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 29 (21st)
Plays per game: 62.8 (27th)
Pass: 58.0% (22nd) | Run: 42.0% (11th)
Pace: 28.8 (20th)
Plays per game: 28.8 (15th)
Pass: 54.3% (29th) | Run: 45.7% (4th)
We’ve got a juggernaut (Rams) facing the second-worst team (Lions) in the early game window and another afternoon delight with the worst team (Texans) catching the undefeated Cardinals. Houston is 17-point underdogs here and have the “honor” of being just the seventh team all-time to be three-score dogs multiple times in a single-season. The Texans have gotten smoked and lost by double-digit points four times in their last five games and have managed to put just 9, 0, 22, and 3 points on the board in the Davis Mills era. This is the NFL equivalent of Alabama randomly stomping Mercer or some small school that is just happy to be there mid-year.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Brandin Cooks has been the intended receiver on 49-of-138 (36%) targeted passes since Week 2. Will Cooks be peppered with volume? No question in my mind. Will it be enough to profit against a defense limiting WRs to the fifth-fewest FPG (30.6) and outside receivers to the second-fewest (12.1)? Well, it takes a lot more confidence than I have in Davis Mills to say that definitively.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Look, a lot of teams are on bye this week and a lot of guys are injured, as well. But who feels particularly good about starting a Texan not named Brandin Cooks? Cooks predictably struggled against the Bills and Patriots, but he finished as the WR20 vs. Jaguars in Week 1, WR8 vs. Browns in Week 2, WR11 in Week 3 vs. Panthers, and was the WR16 last week vs. Colts.
Maybe things will lighten up for the Texans from a fantasy standpoint when Tyrod Taylor is ready to rejoin the ranks.
David Culley said repeatedly Tyrod Taylor will be the Texans’ starting QB when he returns. He says he doesn’t believe in players losing their job to injury and thinks Taylor still gives the team the best chance to win.— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) October 13, 2021
That could make rookie Nico Collins, who had 6 targets last week, an interesting deep stash, but more than likely, this entire team will continue to disappoint.
Good luck if you’re looking at this backfield — Mark Ingram finally had his first 10+-point fantasy game since Week 1 against the Colts last week, but in an extremely negative gamescript, David Johnson caught just a single pass. If you start a Texan RB, you’re about as close to literally throwing sh*t on your lineup screen to see if it sticks. If you’re chucking some of that stuff, Ingram is the best bet.
Arizona is the last undefeated team in the NFL, and they just got better in the last week, trading a young player and a 2022 fifth-round pick to Philadelphia for TE Zach Ertz.
Ertz certainly helps the Cardinals, who were getting positive contributions from Maxx Williams before Williams went down with a season-ending knee injury.
What does Ertz’s presence mean for the Cards? Well, it could continue to be bad news — from a fantasy standpoint — for WR DeAndre Hopkins, though of course Hopkins has a fantastic matchup this week against Houston. And we’ll have to see how it affects Rondale Moore. Here’s Graham Barfield from the Week 7 Stat-Pack on Hopkins and Moore:
DeAndre Hopkins games with less than 25% of Cardinals targets this year: 4.
Hopkins games with less than 25% of Cardinals targets last season: 4.
Rondale Moore’s snap rate has increased in four straight games: 34% > 42% > 48% > 56%.
So… Hopkins has already had some issues getting the massive target volume we have been used to seeing, without Ertz added — AJ Green and Christian Kirk have been very active themselves. Meanwhile, Moore’s two highest snap shares of the season came in the last two weeks — a game in which Williams got hurt and a game he missed with an injury. With the byes this week, it’s so hard to consider someone a “sit,” and Hopkins obviously isn’t leaving your lineup, but I’d prefer to sit Moore if I could this week.
As for Ertz, he’s a borderline TE1, though I’d prefer to give him a week to get acclimated.
Zach Ertz said he was running routes for Kyler Murray 1 on 1 during special teams portion of practice on Wednesday so they could start getting on the same page with how each wants certain routes done.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) October 20, 2021
As for Kyler Murray, he’s still right near the top in MVP consideration, but his fantasy production hasn’t been as dynamite as in years past. Here’s why, per Graham:
Kyler Murray was fantastic once again as a passer in Week 6 and is now first in completions (73.8%) and third in YPA (8.9), but his rushing upside has taken a big hit. It’s only a matter of time before it catches up to him in fantasy because he obviously can’t throw 4 TDs every week.
Through six weeks, Murray is 12th in rushing yards per game (19.2) and 8th in rushing fantasy points per game (4.9) among QBs.
Last year, Murray was third in both rushing yards per game among QBs (51.2) and rushing fantasy points per game (9.2).
Why is that? Simply put: Murray is scrambling way less. Per SIS, Kyler is averaging just 1.7 scrambles per game.
In 2020, Murray averaged 3.2 scrambles per game.
You’re obviously starting Kyler, but I wonder if the shoulder injury he’s battling — similar to the one he had last year, per our Edwin Porras — is preventing him from taking too many risks.
Also going through a shoulder injury is RB Chase Edmonds, who has just 16 touches over the last two games and played a season-low 37% snaps in Week 6’s laugher win over the Browns. It set up perfectly for James Conner to set season-highs in snaps and yards (55%, 71), and with the Cardinals massive favorites again this week, I personally prefer Conner to Edmonds.