As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into a starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.

The $72 million man has been benched in Houston. It marks the first time a first-place team has benched its starting QB this late in the season since Colin Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith back in 2012, and although Tom Savage doesn’t bring Super Bowl hopes to Houston, he does bring the next best thing — fantasy football value.

It didn’t take Brock Osweiler long to throw his name in the hat for biggest free agent bust of all-time. Frankly, Bill O’Brien and the Texans’ coaching staff probably stuck with Brock longer than they should’ve because of the cash they dished out to get him, and the fact that they could still compete in the atrocious AFC South.

Through 13 and a half games at the helm, Osweiler managed to complete under 60 percent of his passes, throw for less than 200 yards per game and toss 14 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. That’s really, really bad. But even worse, he was tanking the fantasy value of those around him.

Despite their first-place status, the move at QB was very warranted with the Titans and Colts breathing down Houston’s neck. Tom Savage is the next man up for the Texans.


Besides having a sweet name, Savage was a fourth-round pick back in 2014 who came into the NFL with a little bit of hype. If you recall, he competed with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Texans’ starting job as a rookie before eventually losing out to the current Jet. Forget how horrible Fitzpatrick is these days and just focus on the part where that’s impressive for a fourth-rounder to accomplish.

Besides some mop up duty in two games as a rookie, last Sunday was the first time Savage ever played in an NFL game with something on the line (or as his team’s top option). He looked good, leading his team to a comeback victory over Jacksonville after taking over midway through the second quarter.

Savage was asked to sling it 36 times, completing 23 passes (64 percent) for 260 yards. Although he didn’t throw for a touchdown, he didn’t turn it over and did enough to win the game against a very solid Jags’ defense. He’s no Pro Bowler, but we’ll call these numbers BTB — better than Brock.

Savage puts Houston’s offense in a great position going forward, both in terms of real football and fantasy implications. It starts by making his teammates, along with himself, great values vs. the Bengals on Christmas Eve.

Savage will run you the dead minimum of $5,000 for a QB against a Cincy team that’s allowed the 24th most DKFP to that position this season. Even though the Bengals get to game plan for Savage, he still seems to be in a good position given what he was capable of doing in a little over half a game against a much stronger defense. You’d be hard pressed to find a better value play this week.

But Savage also creates value for many of his teammates, beginning with DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has been a flat out bust this season, but isn’t most of that on Osweiler’s inability to throw downfield? He saw a season-high 17 passes thrown his way on Sunday, 14 of them from Savage (who completed 4-of-8 passes for 89 yards on throws beyond 15 yards, per ESPN). Hopkins was able to catch eight balls for 87 yards, a fantastic sign of the chemistry between these two. Savage is willing and able to use the team’s top weapon, who you can roster for $5,200 after he began the season at $8,800.

Savage also proved capable of getting his TE involved on Sunday. Ryan Griffin was able to to catch all eight of his targets for 85 yards against Jacksonville, while C.J. Fiedorowicz sat out with a concussion. Both TEs expect to be available Saturday, and both of them make for solid value plays after seeing Savage targeting the TE position. Even more attractive is the matchup with the Bengals 30th-ranked defense against the position.

And although it doesn’t directly relate to Savage, let’s bring things full circle with the running game. Lamar Miller is banged up, but played much better with Savage in the game to stretch the field vs. when Osweiler was continuously checking down. Maybe Miller isn’t as much of a check down threat anymore, but his pure rushing numbers have the potential to improve with the QB change. (Miller is questionable for Saturday’s game).

Tom Savage is your next man up, but he’s creating fantasy football values other than himself this week.

For questions or comments hit me up on Twitter @julianedlow

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.