Thursday Night Football
Houston @ Jacksonville
Thursday night's snoozefest pits against each other two- and three-win teams who played to a 13-6 result just 11 days prior. Theoretically, at least, the Jags play run-based offense, attempting to minimize the impact of an ineffective quarterback. In that respect, the Jaguars pose something of a mismatch for a Texans club that ranks 20th versus the run, is playing on a short week after coughing up two rushing scores to New England in Week 13, and has been more vulnerable to rushing than passing attacks all season. Maurice Jones-Drew stung Houston for 124 all-purpose yards and a year-high 6.0 YPC average in these teams' first meeting. Having accounted for 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in six of his last seven games, Jones-Drew is a quality, if fairly low-ceiling RB2 play. ... Although the Texans' No. 2 pass defense ranking is specious at best, Chad Henne hasn't been productive enough to be trusted even as a two-quarterback-league play in the first week of fantasy football playoffs. Despite ranking 18th in the league in pass attempts, Henne is 34th in passing touchdowns and 19th in yards. Kellen Clemens, Christian Ponder, Jason Campbell, and Thad Lewis all have better QB ratings. Henne managed 239 scoreless yards and took four sacks in the Week 12 Texans-Jaguars game. ... Henne's target distribution since Justin Blackmon's year-ending suspension five weeks ago: Cecil Shorts 31; Ace Sanders 27; Jones-Drew 22; Marcedes Lewis 17; Clay Harbor 10; Mike Brown 9; Kerry Taylor and Jordan Todman 4.
Shorts has seen 11 targets in back-to-back games and is the only Jaguars pass catcher worth starting in Week 14 fantasy lineups. In Shorts' last two meetings with the Texans, he's posted stat lines of 3-81-1 and 8-71. He's a WR2/3. ... Sanders has turned in three straight 60-plus-yard efforts on the strength of voluminous targeting. He still hasn't scored a touchdown or reached 70 yards in a game all year. Sanders is a WR4/5. ... Brown returned from a shoulder injury in last week's win over Cleveland and was an every-down player, lining up at Blackmon's old Z receiver position. He finished with one catch for seven yards on two targets. Brown has been a full-on flop since the Blackmon ban. ... The Texans allow the 12th most fantasy points to tight ends, giving Lewis a plus on-paper matchup. Unfortunately, Lewis has done nothing this season to suggest he would be a worthwhile TE1 streamer. Lewis has played in seven games this year and failed to hit 40 receiving yards in all of them. He did score a red-zone touchdown in Week 13, Lewis' first TD of 2013.
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Due to Case Keenum's struggles with basic NFL concepts like blitz identification and progression reading, the Texans will likely take a balanced to run-heavy approach into Thursday's game. At least until the Patriots' comeback, this is how Houston played offense in last week's 34-31 loss, registering more rushing attempts than passes at halftime, where the Texans held a 17-7 lead. Ben Tate is a solid RB2 coming off of a three-score game, but be careful thinking this is some cakewalk matchup. Jacksonville has played genuinely stout run defense since its Week 9 bye, holding Arizona, Tennessee, Cleveland, and this same Houston team to a combined 281 yards on 92 carries (3.05 YPC). Tate managed one rushing yard on seven carries in the Week 12 affair, essentially getting benched in-game for Dennis Johnson. Tate is a fantasy starter and Johnson is a handcuff, but this is all a reminder that Tate isn't suddenly an RB1. ... Keenum has played himself well off the QB1 streamer radar by completing just 47 of his last 92 attempts (51.1%) for 618 yards (6.71 YPA), one touchdown, and three interceptions. He was wholly ineffective against Jacksonville two weeks ago and has regressed into a bottom-barrel two-quarterback-league play.
Keenum's 2013 target distribution: Andre Johnson 54; Garrett Graham 47; DeAndre Hopkins 30; Tate 17; DeVier Posey 16; Dennis Johnson 5. ... These are Andre's stat lines in Keenum's six starts: 4-89; 9-229-3; 5-37-2; 10-116; 2-36; 8-121. With just one clunker among six, Johnson is averaging 104.7 yards per game with Keenum under center. He's a WR1 against a Jacksonville defense that got shredded for 261 yards and two touchdowns by early-career Andre clone Josh Gordon less than a week ago. ... Although his production has grossly underwhelmed, Graham is worth a look as a desperation matchup-based streamer. He's averaging over ten targets a game the past three weeks, and the Jaguars give up the second most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Hopkins' future remains bright, but he isn't worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues for the fantasy playoffs. A complementary possession receiver, Hopkins has hit pay dirt once over his last ten games. His per-game yardage average is 48.5 in Keenum's starts. "Nuk" was billed as a pro-ready route runner coming out of Clemson, but noticeably has a lot of work to do in that area.
Score Prediction: Texans 20, Jaguars 14