By Nick Slegel
on Wednesday, November 21st
With only two weeks left before fantasy playoffs start, it’s crucial to make sure you’re squeezing every available point out of your team. This week we’re fortunate enough to have 3 games on Thanksgiving Thursday; none of which has more potential to be a barn burner than the 9-1 Houston Texans at the 4-6 Detroit Lions. So who do you start? Let’s take a look and find out.
Matt Schaub is coming off of his biggest game by far this season. Sunday against the Jaguars, Schaub racked up 527 yards through the air and five touchdowns; good for a whopping 37 fantasy points. Matthew Stafford, on the other hand, is coming off of his worst start so far this season; throwing for only 266 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against a hungry Packers' defense, worth only 10 fantasy points.
Both the Texans and Lions defenses’ numbers are very similar. The Texans are ranked fourth in total defense, allowing 299 yards per game, while the Lions are 10th with 328 yards per game. When it comes to pass defense, the teams are almost identical, with Houston ranked seventh allowing 213 yards through the air per game and Detroit right behind them in eighth place, allowing just one more yard at 214 yards per game. The big difference between the two defenses is the Texans’ 11 interceptions to the Lions’ six, and 27 sacks to 23, respectively.
This will be a close matchup of highly talent quarterbacks, and the difference will come down to a couple of key things:
1. Houston’s pass rush
J.J. Watt and company love to put constant pressure on the quarterback, collapsing the pocket early, and causing rushed passes. Watt’s knack for swatting down passes has become contagious, with most of the defensive line getting in on the swat action recently.
2. Houston’s offensive line
The Texans offensive line is great at blocking down-field for the run, and also giving Schaub the time and protection he needs to set up his flawless play-action, which allows receivers to get open down field.
3. Detroit’s injury woes
The Lions are hurting all over, but particularly on defense. Sunday against the Packers, the secondary was largely ineffective, and really hurting from lack of depth. Players appeared tired and often confused. Schaub will take full advantage of this, if the Texans can keep Detroit’s scary front four from putting pressure on him.
If you have the luxury of having both of these talented quarterbacks on your roster, Schaub is the one to start. But, if you’re like most of us stuck without such favorable options, either quarter back is a go-to fantasy start this week.
Week 12 Fantasy predictions: Schaub 22 points, Stafford 16 points.