Sun Dec 29 7:43pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) rushes for a 53-yard touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston. Henry's run put him into first place for the season rushing title. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans quarterback AJ McCarron (2) celebrates after scoring a touchdown as offensive guard Max Scharping (74) joins him while Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard (59) kneels at the goal line during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) rushes for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (28) grabs the shirt of Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) as he tries to tackle him during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to throw a pass against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
HOUSTON (AP) Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans ran their way into the playoffs, beating a Houston Texans team that rested several starters and setting up an intriguing first-round matchup with New England.
Henry rushed for a season-high 211 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans' 35-14 victory on Sunday. The Texans beat the Titans two weeks ago to take control of the AFC South and locked up the division last week, allowing Houston to sit quarterback Deshaun Watson and other key players.
Tennessee got its first win at Houston since Jan. 1, 2012. The Titans, who will visit the Patriots next weekend, are in the postseason for the second time in three seasons and the first under coach Mike Vrabel, who played for New England for eight seasons.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns for Tennessee and will make his playoff debut in his eighth NFL season. Rookie receiver A.J. Brown had 124 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Watson was active on Sunday, but coach Bill O'Brien started AJ McCarron instead. Watson was listed as questionable with a back injury this week but said he was OK. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins was also active, but did not play and several starters, including receiver Kenny Stills, left tackle Laremy Tunsil and nose tackle D.J. Reader, were inactive.
McCarron threw for 225 yards with an interception and ran for a touchdown.
Houston was already locked into the AFC's fourth seed and will host Buffalo next week.
Tennessee was up by seven at halftime and extended the lead when Henry scored on a 3-yard run with 10:06 left in the third quarter. Henry returned after sitting out last week with a hamstring injury.
Houston then used almost nine minutes on a 16-play drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by McCarron. He evaded the rush and dived into the end zone for the score that cut the lead to 21-14.
Tennessee made it 28-14 when Henry scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter. That touchdown was set up when Brown grabbed a nifty 47-yard reception between two defenders just before falling out of bounds.
The Titans padded the lead when Henry rumbled 53 yards for a touchdown with 2:54 left. He finished the season with a career-high 1,540 yards rushing, which leads the NFL, and 16 touchdowns - tied with Green Bay's Aaron Jones for the league lead.
Henry became the third player in franchise history to run for 15 or more touchdowns in a season, joining Earl Campbell (19 in 1979) and LenDale White (15 in 2008).
The Texans scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time all season when Duke Johnson's 1-yard run made it 7-0. The Titans tied it when Tannehill threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Brown on their next drive.
Tennessee took a 14-7 lead when MyCole Pruitt capped a 16-play, 90-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Texans CB Johnathan Joseph injured a hamstring in the first half and didn't return.
Titans: Tennessee plays at New England next weekend.
Texans: Houston will host Buffalo next weekend.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 7
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan caught only two passes for 32 yards in the Packers 35-20 romp over the Texans in Week 7. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was generous with his offensive distribution but Tonyan was unable to enjoy the fruits of the teams prosperity. Fantasy teams that raced to pick up Tonyan after his three-touchdown performance in Week 4 have been rewarded with only five catches for 57 yards over the last two weeks. Tonyan's fantasy value will continue to sink heading into Week 8.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper had the only remotely productive offensive game for the Cowboys in Week 7. He caught seven passes for 80 yards and added a carry for five more yards on the ground. Cooper was targeted seven times and caught everything sent his way. He ended up leading the team in catches, targets, and yards all by a significant margin. It was a rough game for the Cowboys in all aspects, but in the "someone has to catch the ball" situations that the Cowboys may have going forward, Cooper is the most likely to be that "someone". Cooper will remain a volume-based WR2 option regardless of the Cowboys quarterback situation going forward.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers 35-20 win over the Texans in Week 7. Adams simply could not be stopped, wreaking havoc all over the field with his team-high 16 targets in the game. The Packers offense simply is a different beast when Adams is on the field, as the star receiver now has two enormous fantasy performances under his belt this season. Adams heads into Week 8 with 36 receptions for 449 yards and four touchdowns through only four games this season.
Another week, another touchdown reception for Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V, who now has one in five consecutive games. It seems like his Week 2 game where he wasn't targeted triggered some kind of change in this offense. Fuller finished Sunday's loss to Green Bay with three catches for 35 yards and the score. He wasn't as involved as he had been recently, but if Fuller can keep having such a nose for the end zone, he'll be a solid WR2 play moving forward for fantasy managers.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard got eight carries in Week 7, gaining just 16 yards. He added one catch, gaining six yards on his only target. The Cowboys offense as a whole is looking like a complete mess. Even if Pollard continues to get more carries than expected, he won't find much room to run behind a struggling Cowboys offensive line. He's still worth rostering behind Ezekiel Elliott, but isn't a starting option beyond the deepest fantasy leagues.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams came off the bench to carry the ball 19 times for 77 yards with one touchdown in the Packers 35-20 win over the Texans in Week 7. Williams added four catches for 37 yards in place of injured star running back Aaron Jones as the Packers cruised to victory. Williams punched in a one-yard carry for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory. There is a cautious expectation that Jones will return to the lineup next week but, either way, Williams represents one of the better handcuff options in fantasy moving forward.
Houston Texans wide receiver Randall Cobb led the team in both receptions and receiving yards in Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers. He finished with eight catches for 95 yards. Cobb's production in Houston has been inconsistent and he's usually been the No. 3 guy in the pecking order, but he's going to have some games where he steps into a larger role. This was one of them and showed why he's rosterable in deeper leagues, even if playing him can be a bit of a roller coaster.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry (head) was taken to the locker room in the first quarter of the team's Week 7 game against the San Francisco 49ers. Harry took a hard hit from 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore on an incomplete pass and was helped off the field. He had one catch for six yards on two targets before the injury. His return should be considered questionable.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 29 of 36 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns along with a rushing touchdown. Brees was accurate throughout the contest, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers. The veteran even scored a rushing touchdown for the second straight game, pulling the old jump-over-the-line trick for a one-yard score. The lone mistake was a fumble, but that doesn't change the fact that Brees has now thrown for at least 300 yards or two scores in every game this season. He'll be in the conversation as a starting option in Week 8, despite the tough matchup against the Bears.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 23-of-34 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers 35-20 win over the Texans. The Packers cruised in this game as Rodgers enjoyed an excellent bounce back performance after failing to pass for a score in Week 6 against the Buccaneers. Rodgers connected with receiver Davante Adams time and time again and the veteran passer now has four touchdown passes in three games this season. Rodgers will head into next week against the Vikings with 1,657 passing yards on the season with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks didn't find the end zone in Sunday's loss to the Packers, breaking a two-game scoring streak. But Cooks did catch seven passes for 60 yards in the loss, putting up another solid line. Cooks has arguably been the biggest beneficiary of the team's in-season head coaching change and he should be considered a WR3 play going forward.
Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic handled five carries for 35 yards and added two catches for an additional 16 yards receiving. McKissic was efficient averaging seven yards-per-carry but was outshined by rookie Antonio Gibson who handled the lion's share of the rushing work for Washington. The game script in this game was negative for McKissic as Washington led early and didn't pass as much. As a result, McKissic was only targeted in the passing game twice after having six-plus catches in three straight games. McKissic is a startable option in PPR leagues, but he's not a must-roster player in most fantasy leagues through his Week 8 bye.
Houston Texans running back David Johnson had another middling day on the ground, rushing 14 times for 42 yards, but saw some solid usage in the receiving game, with four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. Johnson remains the primary running back on this Texans team and seems to have a lock on that role moving, so while he's not as exciting a player as he was in Arizona, he's still going to be a low-end RB2 play at worse each week.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott couldn't do much in a game that was a huge struggle for the Cowboys offense. Andy Dalton struggled before being forced to leave the game leading to rookie Ben DiNucci struggling even more. Elliott ran the ball 12 times, gaining 45 scoreless yards. He only made one catch on two targets for six yards. Nothing went right for the Cowboys in this one, and it seems possible if not likely that things might get worse before they get any better. Still, Elliott should normally get the volume to still be a low-end RB1 in most games.
Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift posted only 48 all-purpose yards but scored a touchdown in the Lions 23-22 comeback win over the Falcons in Week 7. Swift carried the ball only nine times for 27 yards but punched in a three-yard touchdown in the first half. The rookie also added 21 receiving yards on four receptions one week after a monster fantasy performance. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson out-carried Swift 11-to-9 but the rookie continues to make inroads at more chances in games moving forward. Swift will have a tough test next week against the Colts in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow finished with 406 yards and three touchdowns off of 35-for-47 passing during the narrow Week 7 loss to the Browns. He also added six carries for 34 yards and an additional score. The former LSU Tiger had issues with ball security in this one but continued to make his case to take home 2020 Rookie of the Year honors by logging his fifth 300-yard outing and his first 400-yard performance of the year. At this point, he should be considered a starting signal-caller in a majority of fantasy leagues, especially in Super Flex formats. However, he will arguably have his toughest task of the season in Week 8 against the Tennessee Titans, a team that will be looking to rebound from its first loss of the year next weekend.
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball 11 times for 29 yards in the Lions thrilling 23-22 last-second win over the Falcons in Week 7. Peterson struggled to get anything going in the ground game, averaging only 2.6 yards per carry. The veteran out-touched rookie D'Andre Swift 11-to-9 in the backfield but it was Swift who saw chances in the red zone. Peterson continues to be the lead back at the beginning of games but is quickly losing his status as the bell-cow for the Lions to Swift. Both running backs will have a tough time next week against the Colts in Week 8.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson handled 20 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Cowboys on Sunday. Gibson set new career-highs in carries and rush yards while scoring his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. It wasn't all good news for Gibson as he failed to catch his only target after seeing five targets for three straight weeks. On the other hand, Washington fed him the ball with a lead in the fourth quarter - a responsibility handled by Peyton Barber in their first win - so it was good to see the coaching staff trust Gibson to salt the game away. Gibson is a must-start running back in fantasy heading into Washington's bye week.
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson caught five passes for 59 yards and a game-winning touchdown in the Lions 23-22 victory over the Falcons in Week 7. Hockenson's fourth touchdown of the season came with seconds remaining, hauling in an 11-yard pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford. The second-year tight end has emerged as a safety valve for Stafford in the passing game. Hockenson's ceiling is being capped off at around 4-to-5 catches for 40-60 yards but his presence in the red zone will keep him in the top-12 conversation among tight ends moving forward.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson got off to a slow start in Sunday's loss to the Packers, but thanks to a late touchdown pass, he was able to manage a solid fantasy day. Watson was 29-for-39 throwing the football, finishing with 309 yards and two touchdowns. He added seven carries for 38 yards as well. This Houston defense is clearly an issue for the Texans, which should lead to the team playing from behind in the second half a lot over the rest of the year. That's bad for winning football games, but it will help Watson maintain high-end QB1 fantasy production.