by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky as it is, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week). Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups? Who should be sat down? Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:
Deshaun Watson – Quarterback
It looked like Watson was re-establishing himself as a must start quarterback, but over the past two weeks the production has plummeted against a pair of tough defenses:
- vs. Buffalo – 15-25, 177 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
- at Jacksonville – 12-24, 139 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
He also has struggled to get things going with his legs, totaling 15 yards on 9 carries. Miami is not a significantly better matchup, allowing the ninth fewest points per week to opposing quarterbacks, so expecting Watson’s performance to leap back up to where it had been would be a mistake. He’s got value and is a viable QB2, but it’s tough to trust him as your starter.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (aside from two-quarterback formats)
Lamar Miller – Running Back
Miller continues to be the workhorse for Houston and is coming off arguably his best game of the season, taking 22 carries for 100 yards and 1 TD against the Jaguars. Averaging nearly 16 carries per game there is no question that the opportunities will be there, and he also draws a significantly more favorable matchup. The Dolphins have allowed the third most point per week to opposing running backs, including the third most rushing yards (826) and 6 TD. While there have been rumblings about Alfred Blue and/or D’Onta Foreman overtaking Miller, that isn’t on the immediate horizon. With the usage and matchup, Miller is a must play in all formats.
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Will Fuller – Wide Receiver
After it looked like Fuller was being overtaken by Keke Coutee for the secondary receiving role, Coutee went down to a setback with his hamstring injury and Fuller “erupted” for 6 catches (8 targets) and 68 yards. Of course he’s always going to play second fiddler to DeAndre Hopkins and there’s a good chance that Watson struggles in a more difficult matchup. That’s going to limit the upside for Fuller, who should be considered a poor gamble and nothing more than a low-end WR3 due to the bye weeks.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (only a borderline WR3)
- DeAndre Hopkins – Wide Receiver
Brock Osweiler – Quarterback
Osweiler has played relatively well since taking over for the injured Ryan Tannehill, completing 50 of 75 attempts (66.7%) for 619 yards, 5 TD and 2 INT over the past two games. It could be a challenge to produce this week, with his receiving corps banged up (Albert Wilson may be lost for the season and Kenny Stills has been ruled out for Week 8) and Houston’s defense having shutdown two similarly uninspiring offense the past two weeks:
- Buffalo Bills – 129 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
- Jacksonville Jaguars – 189 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
While Osweiler may have a little bit more upside than that, there’s simply not enough to consider him in most formats.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (Low-end QB2, at best)
Kenyan Drake – Running Back
After getting 13 carries in Week 6 there were high hopes heading into Week 7, but he went back down to his “standard” 6 carry performance. He was a factor in the passing game (4+ catches in three straight games), though he’s not generating much yardage (25 receptions for 160 yards on the season). That’s going to make him a tough sell, and until he’s getting regular carries it’s going to be impossible to trust him as anything but a FLEX play in PPR formats due to volume (especially with the injuries to the receiving corps increasing his importance) and a matchup that could bring promise (Houston has allowed 43 receptions and 4 receiving TD to opposing running backs).
Verdict – Start ‘Em (PPR FLEX play)
Frank Gore – Running Back
The Dolphins continue to be stubborn, keeping Gore as the early down back. Granted he’s been relatively productive (4.6 yards/carry), but are you willing to bank on the 35-year old breaking a big run? He hasn’t found the end zone and he’s had 41 yards or fewer in four of seven games (more than 63 yards just once) despite getting 9+ carries in six of seven games. That means he’s going to need a big run, and those have been few and far between, or find the end zone (and Houston has only allowed 1 rushing TD on the season) to have an impact. This early in the week, don’t bank on it.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Danny Amendola – Wide Receiver
As mentioned earlier the Dolphins will be without Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills, likely thrusting Amendola into the key receiving role. Over the past two weeks he’s filled the role, turning 18 targets into 14 catches, 143 yards and 1 TD, and it’s very likely that the workload only increases. That would be beneficial if it were a favorable matchup, but Houston has allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers, including just 6 TD.
With the bye weeks helping to shallow the options it’s not impossible to utilize Amendola a WR3, but he’s not an option we’d be going out of our way to start.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (only a desperation WR3)
DeVante Parker – Wide Receiver
The disgruntled Parker is going to get an opportunity thanks to the injuries across the position. He’s only played in two games this season, as he’s battled a quadriceps injury, totaling 2 catches on 3 targets for 40 yards. Couple that with the matchup and is anyone really willing to take the gamble that he’s a productive option?
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Jakeem Grant – Wide Receiver
Grant is going to be forced to play a larger role and maybe he delivers a strong performance, as the Texans focus their attention on Amendola and Drake. Is that a gamble you want to take, though? He had one big game, scoring 2 TD against the Raiders in Week 3, but going in expecting that to happen again would be a misguided risk.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Mike Gesicki – Tight End
The rookie tight end was hyped a bit this offseason, but thus far the results and opportunities haven’t been there (12 catches on 17 targets). Maybe the injuries help to increase the chances he gets, though he’s also battling a shoulder injury that has limited him in practice. While it remains to be seen how much that limits him, it creates an extra level of risk to a player that hasn’t produce impressive numbers.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: