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The Texans D, Andre Caldwell, and Peyton Manning

When I first started to write an article this morning, I wanted to compare Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas. I had written an article about Brandon Marshall a few days ago, but felt that he was un-startable because of the weather forecast in Philly for Sunday night. So I wanted to give players some other well researched WR choices. I researched Brown, and quickly realized a couple of things 1) Green Bay’s secondary wasn’t that bad 2) Antonio Brown wasn’t much better than his already high salary. Then I researched Demaryius, and what I discovered compelled me to write an entirely different article. That discovery was that Houston’s defense is incredibly bad, and no ones talking about it.

Most DFS player’s go-to statistic when choosing a lineup is Fantasy Points Given Up per game (FPGU). They look at how many fantasy points different defenses give up to certain positions like QB or RB then try to take advantage of that matchup. For example, I’m sure a lot of players look at Kirk Cousins matchup with Dallas this weekend, a team that is dead last in FPGU to QBs, and by virtue of that statistic alone will start Cousins on DraftKings. On the other hand, if we look at Houston’s FPGU to QBs, we see they are in the top 10 of least points given up. They seem to do well, and because of this few people are talking about starting Manning or any of his receivers besides Andre Caldwell.

But I examined Houston’s schedule this year and I was floored at how many bad or mediocre offenses they have faced throughout the year. Let me break down Houston’s full schedule for you. Out of the Texans 14 games so far, they’ve faced Jacksonville twice, Indy twice, Oakland, Arizona, St Louis, San Fran, Baltimore, KC, and Tennessee. These are some of the worst offenses in the league, and even the seemingly good ones, like Indy and San Fran, have been mediocre at best this year even though they seem talented. The teams I didn’t mention—Seattle, San Diego, and New England—may be strong offenses, but they are not even close to elite offenses like Denver and New Orleans. In Week 13, Houston gave up over 450 total yards and 4 TDs to New England, stats which Denver could easily exceed. In short, Houston has had one of the softest offensive schedules in the NFL and it has mislead us into believing that their defense isn’t that bad. But in reality, I suspect they are one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

One area that I suspect Houston’s D will really struggle is against Denver’s defacto slot receiver Andre Caldwell. Houston’s nickel corner is Brice Mccain, a former 6th round pick out of Utah. According to PFF, Mccain is by far the worst player on Houston’s D and possibly one of the worst corners in the NFL. He will be matched up on Caldwell all game and it’s not a stretch to think he’ll struggle mightily. But one thing I love about this matchup is Caldwell himself. If you watched Denver’s Thursday night game last week against San Diego, you saw that Peyton Manning looked to Caldwell constantly and ended up targeting him a team high 10 times. Caldwell isn’t exactly young at 28, but he’s a former 3rd round pick who ran a 4.35 40 at the NFL combine, so the talent is clearly there. It seems likely that Caldwell will continue to be targeted and produce like he did on Thursday night. And at $3000 on DraftKings, he’s a downright steal.

The last player I want to talk about is the legendary Peyton Manning. I already outlined how bad I think Houston’s defense is and why, but there are a couple of less obvious reasons to pick Manning. Denver against Houston doesn’t seem like a big game, but Denver needs wins in their final two games in order to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which a player like Manning knows is tantamount to winning a Lombardi Trophy. Manning will be focused and hungry for this win, which is significant. He also struggled against San Diego last weekend which has kept his salary at a very reasonable $9300 on DraftKings. If you pair him with Andre Caldwell, it only costs you 25% of your salary which gives you plenty to spread around to other players. Manning, to me, seems like a great pick for your lineup on any site.

It would be nice if the FPGU stat that we all know and love was the only indicator we needed to use in order to win at DFS, but in reality it’s just a nice but flawed stat that is one piece to the complex fantasy puzzle. Drafting the right team in fantasy is still an unsolved science, and it involves weighing a lot of different factors. I hope that this article has made you think more deeply about crafting your lineups. And if it didn’t, I can’t wait for Manning and Caldwell to throw it in your face.

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View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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