This is a breakdown of one-game DFS contests for the Week 13 Sunday Night Football matchup featuring the New England Patriots at Houston Texans at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. Be sure to check our Models up until kickoff for up-to-date projections that reflect the latst breaking news.
Cash Game Strategy
Even in the tough matchup, Deshaun Watson has the top median projection and Projected Plus/Minus in our DraftKings Showdown Models. Tom Brady would have a better case over Watson in the Captain spot if he hadn’t failed to surpass salary-based expectations in seven of his last 10 games, including each of the last five.
Locking Watson into the Captain spot with Brady leaves enough room to comfortably fit both No. 1 backs, Sony Michel, and Carlos Hyde. For the last two slots, the options are essentially either James White plus a punt or the two best values, Duke Johnson and Kai Forbath. As White has been squeezed for targets since Rex Burkhead came back four games ago while Johnson and Forbath rank second and third, respectively, in Projected Plus/Minus, I would lean toward the latter.
FanDuel’s pricing makes it easy: Watson, Brady, Michel, Hyde, Johnson. all fit under the cap with just $500 to left over.
Core GPP Plays
Note: These are in addition to the players already mentioned in the cash write-up and generally has a focus on pass-catchers, though sometimes players from the cash section will be re-highlighted as appropriate. On FanDuel, QBs generally make for the top plays in the 1.5x slot because the half PPR format creates a wider gap in scoring between QB and RB/WR/TE; on DraftKings, a RB/WR/TE who hits the 100-yard bonus is the ideal play.
WR Julian Edelman, Patriots: According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, the Texans are ranked last in efficiency on passes to both the short middle and short left. Edelman’s 37% target share to the short middle and 21% to the short left are both team highs.
RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Over their last two games, the Texans have allowed opposing backfields to pile up 333 yards and 2 TDs on 61 carries with another 109 yards and 2 TDs on 12 catches.
RB Carlos Hyde, Texans: The Patriots are ranked No. 1 in pass defense DVOA but No. 9 versus the run.
Patriots DST: Has hit double-digit fantasy points in 9-of-11 games with five games over 20. They should be able to force a few coverage sacks on Watson, as the Texans are ranked 25th in Adjusted Sack Rate (8.4%), per Football Outsiders.
WR Will Fuller, Texans: The Patriots have been lights out versus wide receivers, ranking No. 1 in DVOA against No. 1s, No. 2s, and No. 3-pluses, per Football Outsiders, but Fuller has the best chance of popping a big play and should benefit most from the absence of New England’s No. 2 cornerback, Jason McCourty (groin).
Note: Individual player correlations can be found in the player cards in our NFL Player Models. Team positional correlations can be found in our NFL Correlations Dashboard. Unless otherwise noted, all player correlation data is from the past 12 months and team correlation data is from the start of 2019.
- Michel-Bolden +0.62
- Brady-Bolden +0.56
- Brady-Dorsett +0.49
- Michel-Burkhead +0.36
- Michel-Edelman +0.32
- Michel-White +0.32
- Brady-Edelman +0.31
- Patriots DST-Opposing WR2 +0.31
- Brady-Burkhead +0.27
- Brady-White +0.22
- Brady-Sanu +0.16
- Brady-Patriots DST +0.11
- Brady-Meyers +0.03
- Brady-Michel -0.05
- White-Edelman -0.07
- Edelman-Dorsett -0.17
- Brady-Watson -0.23
- Edelman-Sanu -0.24
- Edelman-Patriots DST -0.26
- Patriots DST-Opposing RB1 -0.41
- Patriots DST-Opposing QB -0.68
As mentioned in the Michel blurb, Houston’s defense has been pummeled by running backs lately, so it’s worth noting all the Pats running backs have positive correlations with each other. Especially if Mohamed Sanu (ankle, questionable) plays, the non-Edelman Pats WRs will likely draw more collective ownership than they’re worth. If using Patriots DST, the numbers suggest fading Watson and Hyde and going with pass catchers.
- Watson-Fuller +0.68
- Hyde-Johnson +0.59
- Watson-Fells +0.54
- Hopkins-Fairbairn +0.49
- Fairbairn-Texans DST +0.43
- Watson-Stills +0.42
- Hyde-Texans DST +0.37
- WR1-Opposing WR1 +0.34
- Johnson-Texans DST +0.33
- Hopkins-Stills +0.33
- QB-Opposing QB +0.26
- Watson-Hopkins +0.23
- Watson-Johnson +0.21
- Watson-Akins +0.19
- Watson-Hyde +0.13
- Hyde-Fuller +0.13
- Watson-Fairbairn +0.09
- Watson-Texans DST 0.00
- Hopkins-Fuller -0.05
- Hopkins-Fells -0.10
- Hopkins-Texans DST -0.16
- Hyde-Hopkins -0.30
- Hopkins-Akins -0.38
- WR1-Opposing RB1 -0.41
- Fuller-Stills -0.64
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore has shut down opposing No. 1 wideouts, and the correlations suggest that Watson tends to find his tight ends when he and DeAndre Hopkins aren’t producing. That means Darren Fells and Jordan Akins make nice pivots off Hopkins. Pairing the two Houston running backs is also an underrated stack since New England’s defense has been most vulnerable to opposing running backs, ranking ninth in rushing DVOA compared to first against the pass, and 10th in DVOA on passes to running backs compared to first against No. 1, 2, and 3 wide receivers and sixth against tight ends.
Players whose production would benefit owners more than expensive or highly-owned players. Kickers and D/STs generally make for strong leverage plays, but those who stand out will be highlighted below.
RB Rex Burkhead, Patriots: Has seen between 2-5 carries and 1-5 targets in his last four games and has 10 red-zone opportunities (carries plus targets) on the season.
K Kai Forbath, Patriots: Has the second-best Projected Plus/Minus on the slate after Watson.
Dart Throw Rankings
Ranking the low-cost, complementary players not already discussed in the leverage section by likelihood of having a worthwhile fantasy stat line.
- TE Darren Fells, Texans: Opponents have targeted their tight ends 11.7 times per game against the Pats over the last three games. Fells has a slight edge over No. 2 tight end Jordan Akins in targets per game (3.3 to 3.1) and ran a route on 72% of dropbacks to Akins’ 53% last game.
- TE Jordan Akins, Texans: See above.
- RB Duke Johnson, Texans: Has the top Projected Plus/Minus of any player under $4,000 and the Patriots rank 10th in DVOA on passes to opposing RBs, their worst ranking of any position.
- WR Kenny Stills, Texans: The Pats’ sticky pass coverage has allowed only four games of more than five catches to wide receivers, instead forcing opponents to spread the ball around to their top three, which naturally favors the cheapest option in DFS.
- TE Ben Watson, Patriots: Has run a route on just over two-thirds of the snaps over the past two weeks. Houston is deficient at defending the short passing game and Watson has a (seemingly) secure snap rate relative to the wide receiving corps behind Edelman. All of that gives him the nod over the wideouts.
- WR N’Keal Harry, Patriots: Route per dropback rate climbed fro 41% in his first game to 87% in his second, but he could fall anywhere from second to fifth in the pecking order with Phillip Dorsett (concussion) expected to return and Mohamed Sanu (ankle) potentially suiting up as well.
- WR Jakobi Meyers, Patriots: Played behind Harry two games ago before pulling nearly even in routes per dropback (85%) with Harry (87%) last game, but like his fellow rookie, he could fall as low as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart.
- TE Matt LaCosse, Patriots: Has run a route on roughly one quarter of Brady’s dropbacks since making his return two weeks ago.
- RB Brandon Bolden, Patriots: He has only one offensive touch in the last four games with Burkhead back, but does return kickoffs.
- TE Jordan Thomas, Texans: Ran just one route in his first game of the season last week.
- WR DeAndre Carter, Texans: Will see action on returns but didn’t run a route with Fuller back last week.
- WR Keke Coutee/Steven Mitchell, Texans: One or both will likely be a scratch.
- RB Buddy Howell, Texans: Has just two carries all season.
Pictured above: Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4)
Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports