A big matchup is slated for primetime as the Patriots will travel to face the Texans at NRG Stadium. The Patriots are favored (-3), according to the DraftKings Sportsbook and are 7-4 ATS as favorites. The Texans are 4-2 ATS as underdogs but haven’t been underdogs at home this season. This game also features an over/under of 46 with two teams that struggle with hitting the over. The Patriots are 3-8 while the Texans are 4-7.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices


FIVE BETTING TRENDS

— The Texans have failed to cover the spread in each of their last six Sunday night games.

— The Patriots have won the first quarter in 10 of their last 11 games against AFC opponents.

— Julian Edelman has scored a touchdown in three of the Patriots’ last four games in December.

— James White has scored a touchdown in five of the Patriots’ last six regular-season night road games.

— DeAndre Hopkins has scored two touchdowns in three of the Texans’ last four night games.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

New England PAtriots

Tom Brady ($11,200) hasn’t been necessary in lineups, as he comes into this game averaging just 13 DKFP over his last five games. He’s only thrown more than one touchdown in one of those games and hasn’t hit over 300 yards since Week 9. With that in mind, the Texans have been roasted by the QB position, allowing an average of 25.4 DKFP, 274 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns. As you’d imagine, all of those are amongst the highest in the league. The matchup is great but if you’re rostering only one QB in this game, Deshaun Watson ($11,000) is by far the preferred option. Brady is nice and all, but I wouldn’t be forcing him into my lineups.

The running game for the Patriots is always untrustworthy and we see that on a week-to-week basis. Sony Michel ($8,000) hasn’t topped double-digit fantasy points or scored since Week 7. Since then, he’s averaging just 6.5 DKFP over the next four games despite averaging 13 carries per game. It’s very clear that he’s touchdown dependent and we can’t tab him for one to begin with. The Texans’ run defense is nothing special and it is allowing 4.4 YPC, 87 rushing yards and 19.2 DKFP per game. It’s hard to justify taking Michel, but if by chance he has one of those games in which he runs in for multiple touchdowns, it would make it nearly impossible to gain ground without him. He’s not a Captain by any means but someone you have to at least think about. James White ($6,800) would be the option if the Pats fell behind, but his snaps have been falling, and saw just 25 against the Cowboys, his second-lowest total of the season. Of those snaps, he took two carries and received three targets. Rex Burkhead ($3,400) played on 29 snaps but 15 of those were on special teams. He’s a large tournament field dart throw.

Julian Edelman ($10,800) is my favorite Patriot for the Captain’s spot ($16,200), and for good reason. He’s seen 10-plus targets in six straight games, a span in which he’s averaged 78.8 receiving yards and 19.1 DKFP. In coverage, he’ll draw CB Vernon Hargreaves, who has allowed a 70.3% catch rate, 13.3 YPR and scored on six times. He’s by far the most trusted receiver for Brady and someone he’ll be going to early and often. Mohamed Sanu ($7,400) should return from his one-week absence after dealing with an ankle injury. In his three games with the Patriots, he’s averaging 7.6 targets and 36 receiving yards. Phillip Dorsett ($6,400) should also be back in the mix and has been another receiver that seems to have garnered the trust of Brady. He should draw CB Jonathan Joseph in coverage, who has allowed a 64.% catch rate and 11.4 YPR. With all three receivers healthy, N’Keal Harry ($5,200) should take a step back and will likely be a red-zone, deep-ball option.

Finally, the Patriots D/ST ($5,000) is another Captain-worthy option with how well this unit consistently performs. Watson is taking an average of three sacks per game while the Pats are generating the same number. Averaging 17.8 DKFP, they’re legitimately the only D/ST I would feel comfortable putting in my Captain’s spot, and doing so in both cash and tournaments. It should be noted they will be without CB Jason McCourty, who has allowed just 9.1 YPR.


Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson ($11,000) may feel like a tough sell against the Patriots defense but his rushing upside firmly keeps him in play. While he hasn’t used it over the past two games, he’s still averaging 27 per game. He’s always a threat to run in a touchdown himself, doing so five times already. The Patriots have allowed the least amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, but we have seen teams run against them. Josh Allen had 26 yards, Lamar Jackson had 61 and Baker Mayfield had 18. As I mentioned earlier, if I’m choosing one QB in this game, it’s Watson.

The only running options the Texans use are Carlos Hyde ($6,200) and Duke Johnson ($3,200). It’s really hard to feel good about either with the Patriots being favored, and neither player really exceeding in the passing game. Hyde hasn’t seen more than one target since Week 4, and he hasn’t made a catch since Week 6. Going with the idea that the Pats will be ahead, it really limits any upside Hyde would carry. It’s a very touchdown-or-bust option against a defense that’s allowed just one rushing touchdown on the year. Johnson has been the pass-catching back but has essentially ghosted in this offense over the past two weeks, seeing just three total targets. He does take a handful of carries a game but like Hyde, it’s hard to like the game script and the matchup. I’d only be considering them if you’re building for a Texans’ win or a speculative way to save salary.

The receivers are where it gets interesting for the Texans. DeAndre Hopkins ($10,400) has scored at least 15 DKFP in eight of the 11 games for the Texans, averaging 19.2 DKFP on the year. He’ll draw the toughest matchup against CB Stephon Gillmore, who’s allowed just a 45.5% catch rate and 12 YPR. Still, fading Hopkins is a scary prospect even in a tough matchup. He’s a tournament Captain option for the upside he brings. Will Fuller ($8,400) has an interesting matchup against CB Jonathan Jones, who has been beatable over the last two weeks. In that span, he’s been targeted against 10 times, allowing seven receptions for 117 yards, good for 16.7 YPR. In a game in which none of the Texans’ options feel safe, this is a bit of information that could make the difference. Fuller is still a massive risk but his big-play abilities are undeniable. Kenny Stills ($4,800) is nearly invisible when Fuller is healthy, seeing just a 7.6% target share when Fuller is on the field. He will get CB JC Jackson in coverage instead of Jason McCourty, which is an upgrade for Stills but his lack of targets is concerning.

The Texans have been using both Darren Fells ($4,200) and Jordan Akins ($2,800). For what its worth, Fells played on 90% of the snaps while Akins was on for just 47%. Tough matchup for both but Fells does get some red-zone work, which would make him my choice of the two. Fells has a 25% target share compared to the 7.5% for Akins.


THE OUTCOME

Defensively, the Patriots are a really tough team to crack. It’s a big reason why they’re one of the worst teams in the league in hitting the over on their game totals. For me, we have a couple of obvious plays to use like Julian Edelman ($16,200 CP) and the Pats D/ST ($7,500) in the Captain’s spot. After that, it really becomes a guessing game and taking chances on guys you aren’t comfortable using like Will Fuller ($12,600 CP) or Darren Fells ($6,300). In the end, I think the Patriots come away with a victory, but the Texans will keep this game competitive with how much they’ll be forced to throw, which is another reason why I much prefer Deshaun Watson ($16,500 CP) over Tom Brady ($16,800).

Final Score: Patriots 21 Texans 17


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