Week 17 always gives us some interesting playing time scenarios, and this year is no different. The Texans already have the division locked up, and cannot advance any higher than the three-seed in the AFC. Should the Chiefs win their 1 p.m. ET contest against the Chargers, Houston will have nothing to play for. Meanwhile, Tennessee needs this win in order to lock up a playoff spot of their own.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices
GAME OF THE WEEK SHOWDOWN SPOTLIGHT
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THREE BETTING TRENDS
— The Titans have won five of their last six games against AFC opponents.
— The Texans have failed to cover the spread in five of their last six day games at NRG Stadium.
–Eight of the Titans’ last nine games have gone OVER the total points line.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Houston TexansAs I mentioned in the open, the Texans have very little to play for here and could have absolutely nothing to play for by the time the game kicks off. It would be wise to exercise caution when deploying any of the Houston studs. That means Deshaun Watson ($11,200) and DeAndre Hopkins ($10,600) are likely not wise spend ups at the top of the board. A.J. McCarron ($6,400) could end up playing much of this contest. McCarron is also likely better than many backup quarterbacks. He has attempted 20 or more passes in a game just four times but has hit double-digit DKFP in all of them, with a high of 18. Particularly if the Chiefs beat the Chargers, McCarron makes for an interesting play that can remain unstacked in Titan onslaught teams. Tennessee is 20th in Football Outsiders pass DVOA.
On the ground, Carlos Hyde ($8,000) has been the main force for the Texans, leading the team with 241 carries on the year. That is 162 more than backfield-mate Duke Johnson ($4,600), who leads the backfield in targets with 56, an advantage of 40 over Hyde. Since the team perceives Hyde as the lead, and he certainly sees the more dangerous on-field work, he would be the candidate for more rest here. Even with typical backfield usage, it will be difficult paying that price tag for Hyde if the team is playing their backup QB. Johnson is cheaper and provides the pass game usage we typically covet on DraftKings. He may even see a couple of extra targets if McCarron is in and checking down.
Will Fuller (groin) has already been ruled out for Week 17, so if Hopkins doesn’t play much or at all, there will be a ton of value to be had for those willing to bet on McCarron. Kenny Stills ($7,200) should see the second-most targets in a normal game environment, and would likely be the lead WR for McCarron if the two’s come in. Keke Coutee ($2,800) has been in and out of the doghouse but is a low-aDOT player that could rack up DKFP in a hurry with some usage. Darren Fells ($4,400) and DeAndre Carter ($1,200) are also values to consider. Fells is tied for the team lead with seven receiving touchdowns, while Carter was active over Coutee just last week. Overall, I would recommend being light on Texans in this showdown.
Tennessee TitansThe Titans will be going all-out here until the final whistle, and even if the Texans play their starters the whole way, you have to question their motivation to give a full effort ahead of a wild-card round playoff game. I would consider playing a minimum of four Titans in every lineup, including the D/ST ($3,800) getting a potential shot against a backup QB.
As far as captain’s picks go, it is difficult to get away from Derrick Henry ($16,500 CPT; $11,000 FLEX). Last week’s missed game seemed like more of a maintenance decision than anything else, as last week’s game had no impact on the playoff picture. He has returned to full practice and should resume his full workload in this spot. He has at least 24 DKFP in five of his last six games played and has received at least 18 carries in five straight. Even if not captaining Henry, he should be a core part of showdown teams for this game.
The Titan passing game has also been excellent, as Ryan Tannehill ($12,400) leads the NFL in yards per pass attempt by a full yard. A.J. Brown ($10,000) has made a name for himself, with over 100 yards and a touchdown in three of his past five games. However, he is coming off of a two target clunker in Week 16. Tajae Sharpe ($5,200) led the team in targets last week with six, with Jonnu Smith ($6,000) and Corey Davis ($5,600) tied with four. Since Tannehill took over as the starter in Week 7, Brown leads the team with a 21% target share, but there are five other players with at least a 9% share. This team likes to spread it around, making it difficult to pinpoint any one in particular in the passing game. With that said, if you are saving on Texan backups, you could jam in Henry, Tannehill, and Brown to any showdown team.
THE OUTCOMEIf Houston rests its starters, it is difficult for me to see Tennessee not coming away with a victory. Bill O’Brien has said that his starters will play and that the team wants to win, but we know how fragile mid-week coaching commentary can be. It would likely be some level of irresponsible to allow players such as Watson and Hopkins to play the entire contest when the team has nothing to gain. I am expecting 4-2 or 5-1 Titan stacks to be the optimal build. In addition to Henry, I think you can consider Tannehill ($18,600) as a captain when stacking with multiple receiving options, or Brown ($15,000) expecting him to be the main fixture in the passing game.
Final Score: Titans 31, Texans 14
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