TNF Fantasy Preview: Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs

TNF Fantasy Preview: Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs

by September 10, 2020 1 comment

Ladies and gentlemen, we have made it. The 2020 NFL season kicks off tonight in a matchup between two of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Houston Texans head to Arrowhead Stadium to taking on the reigning Super Bowl Champion, Kansas City Chiefs. While it may be the first game of the season, every game matters in fantasy and this one is full of star players. To help you decide which players to start and which to bench for tonight’s game, here is my Week 1 Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.

Houston Texans

Quarterback – Deshaun Watson

If you drafted Watson, you drafted him to be your QB1. That means you’re playing him almost every week. The Chiefs’ defense improved in the latter half of last season but lost Kendall Fuller in free agency. With Mahomes on the other side, Watson is going to need to match scoring drives. While this will be his first career game without DeAndre Hopkins, he still has plenty of weapons. Watson might not have Brandin Cooks tonight; the matchup is too good to consider benching him. In two games against the Chiefs last season, Watson averaged 31.3 fantasy points per game. With the game likely to be high scoring, expect Watson to throw for three touchdowns and finish Week 1 as a top-five quarterback.

Running Back – David Johnson

After trading a third-round pick for Duke Johnson before the start of last season, the Texans traded for David this offseason. David is 100 percent healthy and motivated to show he’s got plenty left in the tank. The Chiefs’ defense returns most of their starters from last season, but weren’t one of the best teams against running backs, especially pass catching backs. If Cooks misses the game, expect David to have a bigger workload and potentially see double-digit targets. David is a mid RB2 this week with low-end RB1 upside in PPR if Cooks misses the game. Unless you are in a super deep PPR league, Duke isn’t worth considering starting under any circumstance tonight.

Wide Receiver – Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills

Everyone was concerned about how the loss of Hopkins will impact Watson’s fantasy value. However, not enough talk was given to what it does to Fuller’s value. With Hopkins out of the picture, Fuller steps into a co-number one role with Cooks. Fuller has the talent to be a star in the league but consistently is held back by injuries. Going up a suspect Chiefs’ defense, fantasy owners should feel safe starting Fuller as their WR2 tonight, especially in non PPR leagues. The game should be high scoring, and Fuller should see plenty of deep targets. However, if Cooks doesn’t play, Fuller has top five upside as Watson could zero in on Fuller, early and often, much like he did with Hopkins in the past.

At the time of writing, Cooks was questionable to play in tonight’s game due to a quad injury. He practiced limitedly on Wednesday after being held out entirely on Tuesday. He will likely be a game-time call, so be sure to check for the 90-minute game-day inactive report. If Cooks does play, it’s a risk given the injury. However, he has been a dominant wide receiver in the past, and if he is healthy enough, he could have a big game against the Chiefs. If you find yourself in need of chasing points, Cooks has the upside to help, but he could also give you 4.5 points and end your fantasy matchup before it really begins. Avoid Cooks if possible this week.

If Cooks plays, neither Cobb nor Stills are worth a look in any standard size league. If you are in a 14 team or bigger league, and Cooks is out, Cobb and Stills could be a replacement option. In PPR, Cobb has the advantage, as he will likely see close to double-digit targets if Cooks is out. In non PPR, Stills is worth consideration, but probably belongs on your bench as he will need a big play or two to score double-digit fantasy points.

Tight End – Darren Fells

Unless you play in some odd 12 plus team league with two starting tight ends, Fells was probably not drafted. Last season, he finished as the TE17 in PPR, averaging 6.9 fantasy points per game. However, he scored more than six fantasy points just once in a game where he didn’t have a touchdown. Fells is a touchdown or bust play, and given all the safer options on your team, and likely on the waiver wire, Fells shouldn’t be played tonight under any circumstance.

Defense/Special Teams

There is a simple rule when it comes to picking out your D/ST. Don’t play them if they are going up against a great quarterback. The Texans’ defense isn’t the fantasy asset it was a few years ago, and even that unit shouldn’t be in your starting lineup against Mahomes. The Texans D/ST has a better chance to score negative fantasy points tonight than double digits.

Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback – Patrick Mahomes

Much like Watson, if you have Mahomes on your roster, it’s because you paid the draft price to get an elite quarterback. No way you are going to sit him most weeks and certainly not against an under impressive Texans’ secondary. Even in a “down year” last season, Mahomes finished the year tied with Russell Wilson as the QB5 on a fantasy points per game basis. Expect Mahomes to come out slinging the ball and look worth every dime of that massive extension he signed in the offseason.

Running Back – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams

Reports are the Chiefs plan to ease Edwards-Helaire into a featured role, meaning he likely won’t see 25 touches tonight. However, Kareem Hunt had a breakout game in his first game as a rookie on opening night, so CEH could go off. In reality, he’s not likely to finish with Hunt’s 45.6 PPR fantasy points from that game. Instead, fantasy owners should expect him to see around 12-15 carries and 3-4 catches. If he can break off a big run or find the end zone twice, you will have a big game. Fantasy owners should be slightly worried Williams steals some goal-line work from CEH and some early-down work as well. However, if this game turns into a shootout from the start, that benefits Edwards-Helaire’s catching upside.

For Williams, he will likely see 7-10 carries and maybe a catch or two passes tonight. His fantasy value really will depend on if he falls into the end zone or steals more of CEH’s snaps than most experts project. Outside of a desperate play in deeper non PPR leagues, Williams should remain on your bench. However, if you have an open roster spot or a player who can slide into your IR slot, and Williams is on your waiver wire, go stash him. While it is a long shot, there is always the possibility the Edwards-Helaire gets hurt tonight, and Williams steps into a featured role. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid having to spend most, if not all, of your FAAB on Williams next week?

Wide Receiver – Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman

The Texans don’t have any cornerbacks that should make you think twice about starting Hill. He’s a stud, and you probably spent an early second-round pick on him, so he should be in your lineup. While Watkins was named the starter opposite of Hill on the team’s depth chart, he and Hardman should see a similar number of snaps this season. With no preseason action to help gauge how the breakdown will work, fantasy owners should avoid both wide receivers tonight. More than likely, neither Watkins nor Hardman, were drafted in your league. Furthermore, unless you are in a deeper league with big play bonuses, neither Watkins nor Hardman should be in your lineup tonight.

Tight End – Travis Kelce

If you spent the second or third-round pick on Kelce, he is likely the only tight end on your roster, as he should be. He has finished the last four years as the TE1 in PPR scoring, and he has the best quarterback in the league throwing to him. Some may have concerns with the Texans likely placing bigger cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. on Kelce during the game. Even so, you aren’t benching Kelce in season long leagues. However, avoiding him in DFS lines is a smart move. There are plenty of cheaper tight ends this week that offer plenty of upside.

Defense/Special Teams

The simple role mentioned above also applies here. First off, you likely didn’t draft the Chiefs D/ST. Second, had you, you should resign from playing fantasy football right now. Going up against Watson and the Texans’ offense is something you should avoid doing, even with the loss of Hopkins. Simply put, the two D/STs in tonight’s game will likely be two of the five lowest scoring D/STs this week.


Watson: must start

Johnson: mid RB2 in PPR with upside

Fuller: mid WR2 with WR1 upside if Cooks is out

Cooks: avoid if possible

Cobb & Stills: avoid

Fells: avoid

Texans D/ST: avoid

Mahomes: must start

Edwards-Helaire: high end RB2 with upside

Williams: avoid

Hill: must start

Watkins & Hardman: avoid

Kelce: must start

Chiefs D/ST: avoid

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Mike Fanelli is the Editor in Chief and fantasy football expert for Prime Time Sports Talk since 2018. He is a featured writer for FantasyPros. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_NFL2 and reach out anytime with any fantasy football questions.

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