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FFL: Week 11 | NFL: Week 11

Texans shake off terrible start with 6-game winning streak

Thu Nov 8 2:19pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer

Players: Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson

FILE- In this Oct. 7, 2018, file photo Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) celebrate a stop against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL football game in Houston. Houston is the second team in NFL history to win six in a row after opening 0-3 and the first since the Giants did it in 1970. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)


In this Oct. 25, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of an NFL football game in Houston. Houston is the second team in NFL history to win six in a row after opening 0-3 and the first since the Giants did it in 1970. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith, File)


HOUSTON (AP) Ask Jadeveon Clowney how the Houston Texans turned around their season by winning six straight games after an 0-3 start and the hulking defensive end breaks into song.

''Started from the bottom now we're here,'' he bellows. ''Started from the bottom now the whole team here.''

While the 2013 Drake tune is a little old to be the team's anthem, the sentiment of the song couldn't be more fitting for these Texans.

They occupied the basement of the AFC South after opening the season with losses to New England, Tennessee and the New York Giants by a combined 13 points. After falling into such a big hole early, the Texans were written off by many as headed to a lost season.

Everyone insists that such a defeatist sentiment never took hold within the team, with the struggles galvanizing them to get on track and prove the doubters wrong.

''Don't quit. Everyone keeps fighting. Everyone keeps believing,'' quarterback Deshaun Watson said. ''Everyone keeps fighting to the very, very end. That is what we do. Regardless of the situation or the adversity, we are always going to keep fighting. That is how we feel.''

Houston is the second team in NFL history to win six in a row after opening 0-3, the first since the Giants in 1970. The winning streak has the Texans in first place in their division and in good position to compete for their third AFC South title in the last four seasons.

A big reason for Houston's turnaround has been the play of Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt. Both have started each game this year after having their 2017 seasons cut short by major injuries. Watson tore a knee ligament in practice after appearing in seven games in 2017. Watt played just eight games in the previous two years because of back surgeries and a broken leg.

Watt is tied for third in the NFL with nine sacks and his four forced fumbles are tied for most in the league.

''I know he probably doesn't want to talk about it too much, but I've never seen anything like it,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''To come back from what he's been able to come back from, some really serious injuries, and to be able to play at the level that he's playing at, it just says all you need to know about him and how much he cares about the team and how much he wants to help this organization win.''

Watson, the 12th overall pick in last year's draft, has thrown for 2,389 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions despite being slowed by lung and rib injuries. O'Brien said his diligence in coming to the facility every day after his injury last season to study film and talk to coaches has helped Watson take a step forward this year.

''He's grown a lot,'' O'Brien said. ''He's just an awesome guy to work with. He cares about studying, he cares about putting time in to prepare for each game. I think he's learned a lot about NFL defenses. He's had a lot thrown at him defensively this year, whether it's third-down defenses, red-area defenses. He's improved every week.''

Watson has been helped by the stellar play of receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is No. 3 in the NFL with 894 yards receiving and whose seven touchdowns are tied for second. The Texans hope that new addition Demaryius Thomas, acquired in a trade with Denver last Tuesday, will make more of an impact after the break with some time to learn the offense.

Hopkins, who has five touchdowns in the last four games, said despite this strong stretch the Texans are approaching things the same way they did when they were desperate for a victory.

''We've got the same mentality, and that's win,'' he said. ''That's why we go to practice and that's why we wake up every day. It's the same mentality we had when we were 0-3. Nothing's changed.''

They know that if they let up, their season will end prematurely, just as it did when they went 4-12 in 2017.

O'Brien let out a slight chuckle when asked if 0-3 feels like forever ago.

''It's not a really long time ago,'' he said. ''I think our players understand that, and I think the difference between 0-3 and where we are now is not a big difference. We're just making some more plays, we're coaching some things better. I think our guys have to - and they do - understand that every week is going to be difficult.''

First up is a trip to Washington on Nov. 18 before a Monday night matchup with Tennessee on Nov. 26 in the first of three straight home games when a win would be key in moving closer to taking their division.

''It's just important to note that we haven't been blowing anybody out,'' safety Tyrann Mathieu said. ''I don't think we are a complacent group of guys. We've been in some fist fights, some real close ballgames, so it's not like everything is cookie cutter and everything is going all good for us.''

''We still have things we can improve on and work on, so I think that's what's going to keep us pushing forward.''

Player Notes
Malik Hooker Nov 17 5:20pm ET

Indianapolis Colts starting free safety Malik Hooker (hip) is expected to miss this week's game against the Tennessee Titans. Hooker has been dealing with the injury since their Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills. He was able to return last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars after missing a game against the Oakland Raiders and having the bye to rest up. After not practicing all week, the Colts are choosing to hold him out in hopes that he will be ready to go for next week's game. His play-making will be missed on the back end, and it's likely that Mike Mitchell will start in his place this week.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Nov 17 11:30am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (hand) broke his thumb in a Week 11 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Graham has been underwhelming, although useful in fantasy in 2018, producing in the bottom of the TE1 range. He has lost a step since his time in New Orleans and does not see the high red zone usage that he had in Seattle. Green Bay has never utilized their tight ends extensively, so this outcome hasnt been much of a surprise. Veteran tight end Lance Kendricks will take most of Grahams snaps. Tight end Robert Tonyan had a big touchdown grab in Week 11 but is unlikely to see any additional work even with Grahams injury. Kendricks is a reliable, although unremarkable player. He is unlikely to accomplish much in the tight end light Green Bay offense. Graham can be dropped without too much concern. His ceiling is not high enough to warrant chewing up a bench spot for weeks. Kendricks should only be picked up in more desperate situations.

From RotoBaller

Richard Rodgers Nov 17 3:30am ET

The Philadelphia Eagles activated tight end Richard Rodgers from injured reserve on Friday. He replaces Josh Perkins (knee), who was put on injured reserve, on the 53-man roster. The 26-year-old has been out all season due to a knee injury that he suffered during the preseason. Rodgers is expected to serve as the Eagles' third tight end, behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, against the Saints in Week 11. Fantasy owners can ignore the fifth-year vet.

From RotoBaller

Joe Flacco Nov 17 3:00am ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (hip) is doubtful for the Week 11 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 33-year-old did not partake in any of the Ravens' three practices this week, and it was disclosed during the team's bye week that he suffered the injury during the loss to the Steelers in Week 9. While it does not look good for the 11th-year vet to suit up against the Bengals, coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that Flacco did not have to practice to play in the game. Flacco has struggled recently, but if he can give the Ravens anything, it wouldn't be a total surprise that Harbaugh started him in what essentially is a must-win game. Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin will start under center if Flacco can't go.

From RotoBaller

Eli Manning Nov 16 11:40pm ET

On one hand, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't defend. On the other hand, the New York Giants can't offend (except their fans). Classic movable object meeting a stoppable force situation. The Giants added guard Jamon Brown last week and shored up their line enough to only give up one sack. With weapons all around the field, it doesn't matter that Eli Manning is still throwing to them. No way should the Buccaneers D/ST be recommended this week but if you have to start them it might not be the worst idea.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Nov 16 11:13pm ET

Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods has had at least 70 receiving yards in nine straight games heading into a Week 11 matchup with a Kansas City Chiefs team that is allowing the third-most receiving yards per game.

Fantasy Spin: Woods has shown one of the safest floors among fantasy receivers all year, and he shouldn't slow down in what will likely be a high-scoring affair against the Chiefs.

Lamar Miller Nov 16 11:03pm ET

Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller faces the Washington Redskins in Week 11, and the Redskins have allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game this season.

Fantasy Spin: After a couple of 100-yard rushing efforts, Miller delivered a dud against the Denver Broncos last time out. He's been held under 50 rushing yards in four of his last six games and could be headed for another rough outing against Washington. He's just a volume-based flex play.

Alex Collins Nov 16 10:33pm ET

Baltimore Ravens RB Alex Collins faces the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11, and the Bengals are allowing the second-most rushing yards per game and the fourth-most yards per rush.

Fantasy Spin: Collins has struggled with efficiency this year, but he has seven touchdowns and routinely receives double-digit touches. He should be a solid RB2 against a weak Cincinnati run defense.

Roquan Smith Nov 16 10:13pm ET

Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith has 22 total tackles, including 19 solo stops and a sack, over his last two games, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Smith is 'processing quicker' and playing faster.

Allen Hurns Nov 16 10:03pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns has played less than 20 snaps in back-to-back games, but he said he is staying patient. 'Just wait for the opportunity and control what I can,' Hurns said.

Fantasy Spin: Hurns has been a disappointment all year, and with Amari Cooper now in the mix, there is no reason to expect him to turn things around.

Bruce Ellington Nov 16 9:43pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Bruce Ellington should see 'a lot more work' against the Carolina Panthers in Week 11 with WR Marvin Jones (knee) ruled out, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com.

Jimmy Graham Nov 16 9:33pm ET

Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (thumb) could miss a few weeks while recovering from a broken thumb, according to David J. Chao, MD.

Fantasy Spin: The injury could push Davante Adams' heavy workload to another level, and it will also open the opportunity for someone to emerge as the No. 2 option in the passing attack.

Jeff Heuerman Nov 16 9:00pm ET

The last time we saw Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman in action (Week 9) he was having himself quite the day. Possibly the best game he'll ever play over the course of his NFL career. Heuerman brought in 10 of 11 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown, and while I don't believe this will be the norm sans Demaryius Thomas, I do believe it's a positive sign on things to come. Especially, considering the Chargers have allowed three of the last four TEs they've faced to eclipse 50 yards receiving while surrendering three TDs to the position over that stretch. Heuerman was used to neutralize the stout Texans pass rush in Week 9, and it would only make sense for the Broncos to employ a similar strategy given the Chargers affinity to get after the QB. He could be in for an encore in this one, and should be viewed as a viable streaming option for fantasy owners in Week 11.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Nov 16 8:40pm ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is coming off two of his lowest yardage totals of the 2018 season -- 57 in Week 8, 47 in Week 9 -- and will have his work cut out for him in Week 11 against a respectable Chargers defense. However, he's seen at least seven targets in seven of the Broncos nine games this season, remains the No. 1 option in this passing attack, and has put up 78.6 yards per game (13th among WRs). Despite the inconsistent play of quarterback Case Keenum, and the less than ideal matchup, Sanders remains a WR2 in Week 11 based on volume and pedigree.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Nov 16 8:20pm ET

We may have to wait another week to see Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton realize his post-Demaryius Thomas breakout as his squad faces a respectable Week 11 foe in the Los Angeles Chargers. Truth be told, this Chargers defense has benefited from facing some not exactly prolific passing offenses -- Buffalo, San Francisco, Oakland (twice)-- but they've allowed just three 100-yard receivers on the season and at 148.8, have given up the seventh-fewest yards per game to the position; just one receiver has found the end zone against them over their last four contests. Sutton is likely to see a minimum of five targets -- so he shouldn't go out silent -- but I wouldn't expect much more than low-end WR2 numbers in this one.

From RotoBaller

J.D. McKissic Nov 16 8:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB J.D. McKissic (foot) will return to practice next week, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Phillip Lindsay Nov 16 7:40pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay capitalized on the absence of teammate Royce Freeman in Weeks 8 and 9 -- rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown while catching five passes for 41 -- but Freeman was a full-participant in Thursday's practice - signaling the end of Lindsay's run as the man. Lindsay averaged 10.5 fantasy points per game (standard) in the seven games with Freeman in the lineup, so Freeman's return doesn't completely extinguish his value, but this Chargers defense -- which has held opposing backs to just three rushing TDs and 85.7 yards per game -- just might. Nonetheless, given his production to this point in the season (and the six teams on bye), Lindsay still finds himself in the RB2 range; he's just on the lower end of the conversation.

From RotoBaller

Case Keenum Nov 16 7:30pm ET

Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum averaged 16.1 fantasy points over his last five games before the team's Week 10 bye. But, more importantly, he went into the bye on the heels of his first interception-free game of the season. Keenum told the media, "Its fire-all-the-bullets-in-the-chamber... time for this offense, but unfortunately, he'll draw a Chargers defense which has limited opposing QBs to one or fewer touchdown pass in four of their last five contests while accumulating five interceptions and 18 sacks. He's trending upward, but consider Keenum a low-end, 2-QB league option in advance of this less than favorable road matchup.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Nov 16 7:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Nov. 16.

Fantasy Spin: Gurley will have a favorable matchup this week and could receive a lot of touches since the game could be high scoring. He is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.

Cooper Kupp Nov 16 7:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp (knee), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (non-injury), C John Sullivan (non-injury) and OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Nov. 16.