It may be a good thing that Thursday night's match up between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars is taking place in Week 14. Neither team is in the playoff hunt, and they've put forth lackluster performances all season. Thursday Night Football won't exactly be ratings gold.
While the implications of Thursday's game aren't worth tuning into for most NFL fans, many fantasy football fans will be glued to the otherwise ho-hum match up. Fantasy football managers around the country are fighting for hopes of a fantasy postseason if they aren't starting their playoffs already. The stakes are typically higher than ever this time of year. As always, we're here to discuss what owners can look forward to.
Case Keenum: The match up seems too tempting to pass up, but Keenum threw for just 169 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception against the Jaguars in Week 12. It's hard to imagine that Keenum will repeat his awful performance a second time, but it isn't worth gambling in Week 14 with your fantasy playoffs on the line.
Running backs: If there was ever any doubt, Ben Tate's three-touchdown performance against the New England Patriots solidified his role as Houston's lead back for the foreseeable future. Against a generous Jacksonville run defense, Tate will be an RB2 for owners in need of one, leaving backup Dennis Johnson a fantasy afterthought for the time being.
Wide receivers: Andre Johnson has been a bit of a roller coaster over the past month. He's posted over 100 receiving yards every other week since Week 9. The weeks he's failed to eclipse 100 yards, he hasn't seen more than 40 yards. In fact, he caught just two passes for 36 yards against the Jaguars in Week 12. Regardless, he rewards owners more than he hurts them, and there's simply not enough reason to bench him against a soft Jacksonville defense. He's a low-end WR1 with the usual upside that comes along with the Pro Bown receiver. DeAndre Hopkins is a reach as a WR3 and should be benched in all formats. He isn't consistent, and he's not worth the risk for fantasy owners clinging to a postseason.
Tight ends: Garrett Graham has shown flashes at times, but he's mostly been a letdown since filling in for Owen Daniels. He has a great matchup against a Jacksonville defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to tight ends, but that same defense held him to 32 yards in Week 12. He can be considered among the many TE2 options fantasy owners will roll the dice on when they're in a jam.
Defense/ Special teams: It's tempting, isn't it? The defense that was once a darling of both NFL and fantasy football fans is facing one of the NFL's worst teams. The reality is that the Texans aren't putting up the fantasy points they once did. They're averaging some of the worst fantasy numbers this season. However, they did manage to hold the Jaguars to six points in Week 12 along with four sacks. Feel free to gamble on them in deeper leagues, but leagues with ten teams or less should find better options if possible.
Chad Henne: He'd be a better fantasy option if he completed more passes into the end zone, but Henne continues to rack up decent yardage, one or two interceptions, and very few touchdowns. In fact, he hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in four or his last seven games. Houston kept him away from the end zone in Week 12, and fantasy owners are better off looking elsewhere even in two-quarterback leagues.
Running backs: Maurice Jones-Drew was practically feared a lost cause in fantasy football early in the season. He has now scored in three of his last four games. He's been a solid RB2 for at least a month, and he managed 144 total yards and a touchdown against the Texans in Week 12. Fantasy owners could do worse than start MJD in their RB2 spot on Thursday, and he'll typically over perform as a flex option.
Wide receivers: The Jaguars are typically playing from behind, and Cecil Shorts is usually the beneficiary of the game plan. Shorts is a fantasy receiver that consistently produces despite his match up and despite the talent of his team. He rarely explodes in fantasy production, but he rarely disappoints fantasy owners. Start him as a WR2 and expect WR2 results. Ace Sanders has been emerging as a great option downfield for Henne, but he's still a shaky fantasy option. At best, he's a WR3 in PPR formats, but owners would be better off not risking starting him this late in the season.
Tight ends: Mercedes Lewis hasn't been worth starting all season. He has 12 receptions, 143 yards, and one touchdown through six games. Fellow tight end Clay Harbor isn't do much else to warrant a start despite his touchdown against the Patriots in Week 13. Jacksonville tight ends are best to avoid in all circumstances.
Defense/ Special teams: Believe it or not, Jacksonville's defense has averaged borderline top-ten numbers over the past four weeks. They held up well against Houston in Week 12 with two sacks and an interception while holding them to 13 points. Obviously they're a risky start, and it's hard to imagine anyone choosing them over a lot of better match ups this week. However, if life is handing you lemons, we're just trying to boost your confidence.