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Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice: Eagles vs. Texans (Week 9)

Every week, I’ll be writing a comprehensive primer on every NFL matchup and all of the relevant players, matchups, pace and playcalling notes, and injuries. It covers everything you need to know when setting your lineups. But since that article is massive and requires a full pot of coffee, we’re also going to offer these more focused matchup overviews to help you prepare for Thursday Night Football.

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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans

Pace and playcalling notes

  • This game isn’t anything special from a pace perspective. Philly is 19th in neutral pace, while Houston is 25th.
  • The Eagles are 13th in positive script rushing rate and lead the NFL in positive game script play volume. The Texans will throw once down as they are tenth in negative script passing rate.

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts: Hurts has been amazing this season. He’s the QB2 in fantasy points per game behind only Josh Allen. Hurts is second in PFF passing grade, third in yards per attempt, and first in adjusted completion rate (minimum 50 dropbacks). Houston has allowed the second-lowest passing touchdown rate this season while ranking 15th in yards per attempt. Don’t think for a second that they are a tough matchup, though, as the Texans are also 17th in passing yards per game and 29th in explosive pass rate allowed. Since Week 5, Houston’s corners have played zone on approximately 85% of their coverage snaps. Hurts should shred their coverage as he’s third in completion rate and second in passer rating against zone. Hurts is a top-three quarterback weekly.

Davis Mills: Mills should remain on the bench or waiver wire this week. Mills is the QB31 in fantasy points per game, averaging a paltry 12.1 points. Even in Superflex, this is an attainable number by a variety of positional options. There’s no rosie contrarian picture to paint for Mills here. The Eagles are an elite defense, no matter how you slice it. Philadelphia has allowed the eighth-lowest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Their secondary has permitted the fourth-lowest passing touchdown rate and second-lowest yards per attempt. If all of that wasn’t enough, the pass rush is ranked ninth in pressure rate. Don’t play Mills.

Running Backs

Week 1-8

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Miles Sanders 48.7% 6.3% 41.8% 18
Kenneth Gainwell 10.2% 4.4% 23.4% 6
Boston Scott 14.6% 0.7% 18.7% 2

 

Miles Sanders: Sanders has averaged 17.9 touches and 82.0 total yards as the RB17 in fantasy points per game. He’s 30th in yards after contact per attempt, 18th in missed tackles forced, and 35th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 20 carries). Sanders has arrived at the running back Shangri-La aka the Houston Texans. Houston has given up the most fantasy points per game to running backs this season. They have conceded the second-most running back rushing touchdowns, the third-highest rush success rate, and the highest explosive run rate.

Kenneth Gainwell: Gainwell remains a breather back and stash only. He’s averaged 4.1 touches and 18.4 total yards per game. He hasn’t played at least 30% of the snaps since Week 3. Gainwell hasn’t seen any work in the red zone since Week 4. Gainwell only makes sense if you’re being contrarian in showdown DFS and playing both him and Sanders.

Dameon Pierce: Pierce is the RB14 in fantasy overall, averaging 22.6 touches and 104.2 total yards since Week 3. He’s a tackle-breaking machine, ranking 12th in yards after contact per attempt, second in missed tackles forced, and fifth in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 20 carries). Pierce gets a run defense that’s softened and will be without Jordan Davis. Since Week 4, the Eagles’ front has allowed the fifth-highest rush success rate while sitting at 28th in EPA per rush and 23rd in explosive run rate. Pierce saw a 57.1% route run rate in Week 8, so even if (when) HOU is trailing, he won’t get game scripted out. Pierce is a low-end RB1.

Wide Receivers

A.J. Brown: Regression struck in Week 8 as Brown completely scorched the earth against Pittsburgh. Brown is third in PFF, receiving grade behind only Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs, and fourth in yards per route run behind only Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, and Diggs. He’s the WR7 in fantasy points per game. Brown is top-six in Target share (fifth, 31.2%), receiving yards per game (sixth, 94.1), and air yard share (second, 45.6%). Brown is a WR1 that will run about 75% of his routes against former teammate Steven Nelson (57.1% catch rate, 70.1 passer rating) and Derek Stingley Jr. (68.2% catch rate, 86.9 passer rating). Brown can succeed against Houston’s zone defense, but he’s not the Eagles’ top option against the coverage. Brown has seen 35.6% of his target volume against zone, ranking 24th in yards per route run and 37th in PFF receiving grade against the coverage type (minimum ten zone targets).

DeVonta Smith: Smith will be integral to Philadelphia’s attack against Houston’s zone coverage. Smith is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL at dicing up zone. Smith has seen 65.3% of his target volume against zone, ranking 13th in yards per route run and ninth in PFF receiving grade (minimum ten zone targets). Smith is the WR29 in fantasy with a 25.4% Target share and 27.7% air yard share. He’ll run about 79% of his routes against Nelson and Stingley as a strong WR2.

Brandin CooksCooks has been ruled out (personal).

Phillip Dorsett: Last week Dorsett played 83% of the snaps seeing a 16.7% Target share. Dorsett flopped badly, only securing one target for six yards. This week doesn’t look much better as he’ll run about 78% of his routes against Darius Slay (47.2% catch rate, 37.2 passer rating) and James Bradberry (40% catch rate, 39.8 passer rating). This corner duo has been unstoppable in 2022. Even in the deepest leagues, I’ll be sitting Dorsett this week.

Chris Moore: Moore has been the primary slot wide receiver this year. He’s run about 84% of his routes from the inside, drawing an 8.8% Target share (0.87 yards per route run) with 7.9% of the team’s air yards. Moore has only two red zone targets and one red zone look. Moore will be more involved this week but expecting success against Avonte Maddox (83.3% catch rate, 86.8 passer rating) might be a stretch. Moore is a desperation WR6/flex play that’s better left on your bench. 

 

Tight Ends

Dallas Goedert: Goedert is a weekly TE1. He’s the TE8 in fantasy with the fifth-best Target share and yards per route run (minimum ten targets). The biggest issue Goedert faces is his lack of high-value usage compared to the other positions’ other elites. Goedert hasn’t seen an endzone target yet, and he’s 13th in weighted opportunity (minimum ten targets). Houston has held tight ends in check this season, ranking eighth in DVOA with the eighth-fewest receiving yards and 12th-lowest fantasy points per game allowed.

HOU TEs: There’s no viable fantasy tight end in Houston. Last week they split the routes between Brevin Jordan, O.J. Howard, and Jordan Akins, with each handling no more than 45% of the routes.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*

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