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Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown: Week 5 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans

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Houston is winless, coach-less and GM-less, with no first- or second-round pick. Jacksonville is on a three-week losing skid. It hasn’t been easy going for either franchise thus far. Which team can turn their season around in Week 5? For the 2020 NFL season, Matt Savoca will be providing his weekly NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown column, going through every single game and offensive and defensive matchup, every week of the season. For your viewing convenience, we have broken up the matchups breakdown into several single columns, each one covering a single game. You can find links to every game right here. We have 12 games on tap for Week 5 NFL DFS and NFL Fantasy Football, so let’s dive in. The entire matchups article will be available in podcast form, every Friday afternoon on the Awesemo Podcast Network. Let’s get into the Jaguars – Texans NFL DFS picks for your NFL DFS lineups.

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Jacksonville Jaguars (23.5) at Houston Texans (31)– 1:00 p.m. ET

Jacksonville Passing Game

The Jaguars are on a three-game losing streak because their defense can’t stop anybody, not because Gardner Minshew is playing poorly (see Houston Passing Game below). Though the Jaguars are an extremely conservative team with a league -ow air yards per second in neutral situations, they now opt for passes on early downs in those situations in line with league average. That may be an indicator that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s trust in his second-year quarterback is timidly improving. Nonetheless, Minshew remains a fan of the checkdown, throwing the 20th-most deep passes per game in the league. Even if Gruden continues allowing Minshew to make plays with his arm before the team is forced into “comeback mode” (Minshew has now thrown 45 or more passes in three straight games), Minshew will need to take more shots downfield in order to keep his receiving options consistently fantasy-viable.

It was a monster Week 4 return for star receiver D.J, Chark. After missing Week 3 (leg), Chark received nine targets, a season high for any Jaguars player this year. His 95 yards and two receiving touchdowns also outpaces all other Jacksonville single-game performances thus far. Tyler Eifert and Laviska Shenault tied for second in target share in Week 4, and both left Week 4 before its conclusion with injuries. Shenault was much more productive with his usage, earning 91 total yards on six touches. They’re health will be something to monitor, and if one or both are limited, it could spell extra volume for Keelan Cole, who’s been remarkably efficient on limited usage thus far, ranking fifth among all wideouts in receiver air conversion rate (RACR) but ranked 79th in true weighted opportunity share among wide receivers. At $4,700 on DraftKings this weekend, and in a high-Vegas-total game, Cole makes a fascinating upside option in lineups this Sunday if he gets more run in spite of his understandably low floor. If Shenault is back for Week 5, this matchup could set up well for him as well, and he appears poised for a breakout, ranking 13th in RACR, just off the pace of his teammate Cole.

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Jacksonville Rushing Game

He’ll need to maintain his health and his effectiveness, but James Robinson appears to be on an Austin Ekeler or, dare I say, Arian Foster career trajectory. After 75 total touches (one of eight backs to reach that mark in four games, and, along with Alvin Kamara, one of two from that octet drafted later than the second round), Robinson continues to smash the historical trendline for avoided tackles per touch. He even had his best run of Week 4 called back due to a holding call. Against Houston, who gives up 12 fantasy points over their opponents average, second worst in the NFL, Robinson remains an option absolutely worth considering by all fantasy gamers in all formats, even while he’s priced as the sixth-highest-salary back on the main slate.

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Houston Passing Game

In the first coaching casualty of the year, the Texans let go of coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, but not before O’Brien was able to trade away the team’s 2021 first- and second-round picks and begin the season 0-4. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has not been immune to the turmoil and dysfunction surrounding the organization, posting some of the worst efficiency metrics of his young career. He currently ranks 22nd in passer air conversion rate (PACR), 23rd in quarterback composite efficiency and 28th in expected points added per play. This is a far cry from both his last-season and career efficiency metrics, so we should see some mean reversion in these metrics and subsequent production, but it won’t be easy by any stretch, especially with Will Fuller in and out of the lineup (to his credit, he has been quite effective when on the field, including Week 4) and Brandin Cooks (zero fantasy points in Week 4) seemingly turned to dust.

The Jaguars defense happens to present one of the easier challenges for the Texans offense. Jacksonville is one of only six teams this season allowing 2-plus expected points per drive on defense, and of those six, they’re one of only three teams with below-average expected points subtracted per play (EPA allowed). They’re fifth worst in points allowed per play and are allowing a first down or touchdown on 40% of plays, 30th overall. ESPN’s stating the defense is on pace to be the worst in team history. And now they’re dealing with injuries throughout the unit. Linebacker Myles Jack (ankle), along with cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and D.J. Hayden, are all in jeopardy of missing this contest. Needless to say, Watson and company have no excuse not to perform in this situation.

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Fuller enjoyed a healthy 23% target share in Week 4, 31st in the NFL, and made good on the usage with six receptions for 108 yards and a score. It was the second 100-plus yard receiving game on the year for Fuller and his third game topping 50. Health is really the only thing inhibiting him from consistently massive production on the field. In fantasy lineups, we also need to consider his top-10 wide receiver salary on the slate, which is mighty pricey for a player who still has question marks related to consistency. His projection on Awesemo.com ranks him slightly lower than his WR8 price.

Randall Cobb has been the methodical underneath option, with an average depth of target (4.8) lower than the Texans’ running backs. Cobb has received four, six, four and five looks through the first four weeks for an average of 53 yards per game. At $4,600, he’s an extremely interesting option with a decent touchdown probability. Cobb is a great mid-priced option at the position this weekend. Cooks now ranks fourth in the team in receiving yards per game at just 35. Ignoring the 95-yard outburst in Week 2 (when Fuller exited early), Cooks has failed to surpass 30 yards receiving in every other outing. He’s now priced below Cobb at $4,100, making him the best value play from the Texans’ receiver corps, but also the receiver with the lowest floor of the bunch.

Jordan Akins is being more heavily utilized early on this season than fellow tight end Darren Fells. They both combine for about 20% of Houston’s targets. You’ll need a touchdown from either, but as tournament options, both should be considered, especially when factoring in their modest salaries of $3,400 and $3,300, respectively.

Houston Rushing Game

Duke Johnson returned to the fold in Week 4 after missing the previous two weeks with an ankle injury and immediately became the second-highest-utilized Texans player. He earned 17% of the team’s opportunity share, but interestingly enough, the usage did not come at the expense of starter David Johnson, who saw 36% of opportunities, right in line with his season averages and eighth at the position overall. Week 4 was also David Johnson’s season high in touches with 18. We should continue to see a roughly 70/30 touch split between the two players. In a positive game environment, we’re likely to see heavy ownership on David Johnson, making Duke Johnson an interesting pivot play, but the salary is certainly right for the starter David. He’s fundamentally mispriced as just the 23rd-highest back on the slate.

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Prediction: Houston 27, Jacksonville 26

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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