Houston Texans (1-7, 3- ATS) at Miami Dolphins (1-7, 2-5-1), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Texans Stats and Trends
The Texans got the ugliest backdoor cover we’ll see all season long, scoring three touchdowns in the final eight minutes against Rams’ backups to lose 38-22 as 17-point home underdogs.
Houston has played under the total in five of its last six road games.
The Texans have been outscored 102-8 in their last three road games.
HC David Culley has said that Tyrod Taylor is the team’s starting quarterback as soon as he’s healthy, and Taylor returned to practice last week before Week 8. Rookie Davis Mills has been horrendous outside of his 300-yard performance against the Patriots, while Tyrod totaled 40.1 FP in just six quarters of action before injuring his hamstring. The Dolphins have given up multiple TD passes to QBs in six of their last seven games.
Brandin Cooks was staring at his fourth floor game in his last five contests in Week 8 before the garbage-time production rolled in late against the Rams. Cooks had just a 10-yard catch through the first 48 minutes of action before he poured it on late to finish with 6/83/1 receiving. It was his first performance with 18+ FP since he opened the year hitting the mark in three straight games, and he could have a much better chance to maintain his production if Tyrod is finally activated off of the injured reserve. Cooks posted 10/182 receiving on 12 targets in just six quarters with Taylor earlier this season. The Dolphins limited Stefon Diggs to 5/40/1 receiving on seven targets last week.
Since returning to the lineup off of his shoulder injury, Nico Collins has posted a combined 10/127 receiving on 15 targets in Weeks 6-8 playing with the awful Mills. Gabriel Davis posted 4/29/1 receiving on five targets in this matchup last week.
The Texans’ backfield seemingly gets more difficult to navigate with every passing week, even with Mark Ingram (Saints) removed from the mix before Week 8. Rex Burkhead got a lot of run in garbage-time to lead the team with 30 snaps, followed by Scottie Phillips (15), David Johnson (11), and Phillip Lindsay (8). The Dolphins are giving up the eighth-most FPG (26.7) to RBs.
Brolley’s Dolphins Stats and Trends
Both the Dolphins and Texans have lost seven straight games since winning their season openers.
Miami is 0-4-1 ATS in its last five games.
Tua Tagovailoa posted 22+ FP in his first two games back from a rib injury in Weeks 6-7, but he stumbled in a tough matchup against the Bills in Week 8. He completed 21/39 passes for 205 yards (5.3 YPA) and one INT, and he added 4/10/1 rushing for 16.2 FP. The Texans have given up multiple TD passes in three straight games, and they’re allowing the seventh-most FPG (21.3) to QBs this season.
DeVante Parker finally returned to action off of his hamstring injury after a three-week layoff. He finished with a team-best 8/85 receiving on 11 targets (28% share) against the Bills in Week 8, which gives him 4+ catches and 7+ targets in each of his five games this season. The Texans have given up TDs and 15+ FP to four WRs over the last two weeks.
Jaylen Waddle still saw a team-high 12 targets (31%) in Parker’s first game back in the lineup, but he struggled mightily with just 4/29 receiving. It was his first time finishing under 15 FP in his first four games with Tua this season, and he’s seen 33 targets in the three games since Tua came back. Seven different receivers have reached 50+ receiving yards against the Texans in the last three week.
Mike Gesicki managed just 3/48 receiving with a two-point conversion on a seven-week low four targets with Parker back in the lineup. He gets a much easier matchup going from the Bills to the Texans this week, who are giving up the sixth-most FPG (16.7) to the position. The Texans had given up five TDs to the position in Weeks 4-7 before Tyler Higbee managed just 3/25 receiving.
Myles Gaskin didn’t see much of a spike in playing time with Malcolm Brown landing on the IR last week, as he handled 58% of the snaps against the Bills. He did see 15+ touches for the second straight game, posting 12/36 rushing and 3/19 receiving against a tough Bills’ defense. The Dolphins are actually seven-point home favorites this week, and the Texans are giving up the second-most rushing yards per game (129.3) and the 10th-most FPG (26.3) to this position.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.1 (27th)
Plays per game: 61.6 (31st)
Pass: 61.8% (13th) | Run: 38.2% (20th)
Pace: 26.2 (4th)
Plays per game: 66.6 (19th)
Pass: 68.0% (2nd) | Run: 32.0% (31st)
After averaging an absolutely world-beating 10.2 points per game in the Davis Mills era, the Texans are going back to Tyrod Taylor now that he’s healthy again. It’s obviously a tiny sample of just six quarters – four of which were against the Jags – but the Texans scored a FG or a TD on 9-of-17 possessions before Tyrod got hurt. Keep that in mind, because Houston’s following six games were… well, repugnant. In six games with Mills under center, the Texans mustered 11 scores on 65 drives. Just 11! Tyrod led them to nine scoring drives in just six quarters! The switch to Tyrod might not lead to many more wins for Houston, but it instantly makes them more competitive and that is huge for fantasy.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have completely abandoned their run game because of a weak offensive line and shoddy backfield and that has led to Tua Tagovailoa averaging 42 pass attempts per game since he returned from injury. Miami is top-5 in pass rate in all game situations (close game, trailing, or leading) and that plays perfectly into the hands of this matchup as Houston is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per pass attempt. Tyrod Taylor coming back combined with the Dolphins pass-heavy, fast-paced attack could lead this game down a sneaky high scoring path.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
NOTE: Each week, Huber’s Key Matchup Notes in the Fantasy Points Game Hubs are little snippets from Wes Huber’s industry-best, comprehensive Advanced Matchups bible. A DFS-slanted article typically available to only our Premium Subscribers, we are making this week’s edition FREE to coincide with our midseason price drop, with rates reduced by 50%. There is still plenty of time to get on board!
To get the write-up started, check out the following Tweet:
Tyrod Taylor has a 112 passer rating in the 7 games he’s played against the Dolphins. He’s thrown 10 TDs and has no interceptions against Miami. He’s completed 72.8 percent of his passes against the Dolphins.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) November 3, 2021
The missing context, intentional or not, from the above information includes Tyrod Taylor never facing Miami under the current regime, or while fielding the vast majority of their players. And Taylor hasn’t played meaningful snaps against Miami since December of 2017. However, the important factor is that those previous Dolphins’ defenses also featured a heavy rate of Cover 1. I have 197 dropbacks for Taylor in my database that dates back to 2018. If his Cover 1 numbers qualified, Taylor would tie Josh Allen at seventh-best with 0.48 FP/Db. Opposed by a Cover 1 on 30% of his total dropbacks over that time, Taylor has connected for 67% of his TDs. There is a good number of QBs I love this week, but Taylor may offer the highest upside of all of them.
The alignment rates indicate that Brandin Cooks will see the most reps across from Byron Jones. But Cooks’ time is distributed pretty evenly across the formation, so he’ll also see coverage from Xavien Howard, Nik Needham, etc. Miami is using the second-highest rate of Cover 1, the highest rate of man coverage. Jones is permitting 1.15 YPCS (41st), 0.27 FP/CS (46th), 0.31 AY/CS (52nd), and a 105.0 TPR (53rd). The ‘Phins are kindly distributing the most FPG to opposing offenses (105.9). That includes the fourth-most to QBs (21.6) and second-most to WRs (43.6). Cooks is collecting a 29% target share (fifth-highest), so his 0.458 FP/Rt (17th) and 2.21 YPRR (18th) inform us he has significant room for improvements now that Taylor is back in control of the offense.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Look, even after trading Mark Ingram to the Saints, the Texans had a disgusting four-man committee at the RB position last week, with forgotten men Rex Burkhead and Scottie Phillips leading the way with 4 and 5 carries, respectively (lol). Meanwhile, David Johnson had 3 yards on 3 touches, and Phillip Lindsay might be the worst RB in football. Even against a Dolphins team hemorrhaging points to the RB position, this is not a situation you want to invest in.
The only reason I have confidence in anyone — including WR Brandin Cooks — is that Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) will start this week, as David Culley announced on Thursday.
Culley: Taylor's healthy and he's our starting QB. Had no hamstring setbacks.— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) November 4, 2021
Cooks will be very happy to see Tyrod — in six starts with Davis Mills, these are Cooks’ weekly finishes: WR11 > WR51 > WR76 > WR18 > WR46 > WR10. And as anyone who bet Cooks’ “under” prop last week knows, his WR10 finish came almost entirely in garbage time.
Tyrod, meanwhile, is a viable streamer against a defense that has been gashed this year.
It’s possible Tyrod’s return also means good things for talented rookie WR Nico Collins, who should be on the radar in deeper and keeper leagues.
Culley: WR Nico Collins is getting better and better. Watching Brandin Cooks has helped, and has done a really good job for us.— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) November 4, 2021
The Dolphins and QB Tua Tagovailoa can finally proceed into the rest of the season knowing there will be no Deshaun Watson trade, but that doesn’t mean the Dolphins aren’t still interested in rekindling the talks this off-season.
Dolphins wanted legal issues settled and that didn't/couldn't happen by today. Both teams can revisit trade discussions next spring if they choose to. https://t.co/UDRBBZ4OB5— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) November 2, 2021
Chris Grier says reports that Brian Flores wanted Justin Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa in the draft are “not accurate.”— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) November 3, 2021
Grier says they believe in Tua & think he’s developing. He said pursuing Watson was more about the uniqueness of him being available than an indictment on Tua.
I still think the evidence is overwhelming that the Dolphins aren’t now — and never have been — sold on Tua. Hell, our Scott Barrett said he got that vibe immediately after Tua was drafted.
I've never been able to shake how bizarre MIA's post-draft presser was following the selection of Tua Tagovailoa at Pick 5— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 20, 2021
Felt conspiratorial at the time but really got the vibe ownership forced Flores / Grier to go Tua > Herb
My write up at the time:https://t.co/gt5l1jPrRh pic.twitter.com/AtYCAIXtMe
Still, Tua now has a chance to prove himself over these final nine games, though with Miami at 1-7, the damage might have already been done. Tua struggled last week against the Bills’ elite defense, but in Weeks 6 and 7 against the Jaguars and Falcons’ patsy defenses, he averaged 25.4 FPG, which for reference would be enough to rank as the QB3 on the whole season.
Here’s Jake Tribbey with more on Tua from this week’s Streamers:
“Over his last three games, Tua ranks 12th in PFF passing grades (75.9), 5th in passing yards (825), 7th in TDs (6), and 9th in FPG (21.0). Week 9 brings about as good of a matchup as we could hope for, with Tua facing the Texans at home. Houston has allowed the 4th-most FPG to opposing QBs (22.1), and they rank 2nd-worst in PFF team coverage grades (36.7). To put it bluntly, this is a terrible pass defense.
With a middling total of 46.0, this game is far from the best scoring environment on the slate, but with Tua playing like a low-end QB1 these last three weeks, he's the week’s top streaming option in a fantastic matchup.”
Tua had the benefit of getting DeVante Parker back last week against Buffalo, and while Tua didn’t play well, Parker had 11 targets to Jaylen Waddle’s 12.
Here’s Scott Barrett from the Week 9 XFP Report on Parker:
“DeVante Parker has hit 80 receiving yards in each of his two full games with Tua Tagovailoa under center. In these two games, he averages 9.5 targets (29%), 14.8 XFP, and 14.3 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 13th (5th), 25th, and 28th.”
Unfortunately, Parker suffered a setback in his return from a hamstring injury, and looks almost certain to miss this week, which vaults Waddle into the WR2 conversation (Will Fuller is still out). With Tua dealing with a finger injury of his own, streaming him isn’t as appealing as it might have looked when waivers ran.
With Parker out, the door is also flying back open for TE Mike Gesicki. While Gesicki’s 47 routes tied Parker for the team lead, Gesicki also played a more traditional role in Week 8 — he played 14 snaps as an in-line tight end, after playing just 18 in the Dolphins’ first seven games combined. I was wondering if that would have an effect on his fantasy upside, as he saw just 4 targets against Buffalo last week. Here’s Graham from the Week 9 Stat-Pack:
Dolphins routes in Week 8 with DeVante Parker back: Gesicki (47), Parker (47), Waddle (45).
Mike Gesicki’s target share with Parker this year (in 5 games): 15.8%.
Gesicki’s TS without Parker (in 3 games): 19.5%.
Parker has seen at least 7 targets and has caught at least four balls in every game he’s played this year.
Ultimately, with Parker out, the point is moot. I’m still firing him up as a TE1 given the Texans have struggled against TEs all year — the 3rd-most FPG allowed to the position.
Anyway, I’ve said all year I hate this backfield, and even with Malcolm Brown on IR, Myles Gaskin’s role didn’t appreciably increase. But he remains the most viable back here, even with Patrick Laird (!) back in the mix.
Here’s Graham with more:
Dolphins RB snaps with Malcolm Brown (quad, IR) out: Gaskin (58%), Ahmed (23%), Laird (14%).
Gaskin was the clear top receiving back… he ran 21 routes while Ahmed and Laird both ran 8.