Texans-Chiefs highlighted by tantalizing Watson-Mahomes duel

Thu Oct 10 6:31pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston (99) meet following an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. The Colts won 19-13. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard (93) and defensive end Kemoko Turay (57) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)


Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is lifted by teammate Nick Martin (66) as they celebrate a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The relationship between Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans counterpart Deshaun Watson goes back well beyond the 2017 draft, when along with Mitchell Trubisky they were considered among the best prospects at their position.

It goes back to their college days, when Mahomes was orchestrating the ''Air Raid'' offense at Texas Tech and Watson was trying to navigate Clemson to a national championship.

''I think we were going into our junior year,'' Mahomes recalled, ''and we went to a QB camp out in California. I talked to him, back and forth, about how he did his stuff at Clemson, how I did my stuff at Texas Tech. He's a great player. We kind of hit it off.''

They stayed in touch during the draft process, too.

''We took a lot of the same visits,'' Mahomes said, ''and we went to the same places, and we would talk to each other about what we went through. But we didn't necessarily knew where we would go.''

Nobody did.

Trubisky wound up going second overall to Chicago. And when nobody grabbed a quarterback in the next eight picks, the Chiefs traded up to No. 10 and chose Mahomes over Watson as the heir apparent to Alex Smith. Watson wound up going two picks later to the Texans.

All three quarterbacks have flourished to some extent. On Sunday, two of them will get to square off when Mahomes leads the Chiefs (4-1) against Watson and the Texans (3-2) at Arrowhead Stadium.

''He's been doing a heck of a job putting the Chiefs in contention each and every game, and putting up a lot of great numbers,'' Watson said, ''because that's what he's been doing his whole career, and just being that leader - he's doing a heck of a job for that organization.''

Yes, it was Mahomes who rewrote the record books during his MVP season a year ago, and he is off to another blazing start this season. But it is Watson who comes into the AFC showdown with the hot hand, having thrown for 426 yards and five touchdowns while running for 47 yards last week against Atlanta.

''He's a heck of a player. We had him in here before the draft,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ''We thought the world of him. I know he was a heck of a player in college and he carried it over and he's playing really good football. I don't know exactly what they're asking and not asking him to do, but whatever they're asking him to do, he's doing it well.''

The matchup Sunday is more than just Mahomes vs. Watson, though. Here are some other story lines:

INJURY BUG

The Chiefs hope to get wide receiver Tyreek Hill on the field for the first time since breaking his collarbone Week 1 in Jacksonville. But they are poised to play without several key players, such as wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring), defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin) and left guard Andrew Wylie (ankle).

INJURY BUG, PART II

Texans wide receiver Kenny Still is still recovering from a hamstring injury, though it appears his bothersome ankle is finally better. Elsewhere, interior offensive lineman Greg Mancz has been out with a concussion and running back Taiwan Jones has been slowed by a hip injury.

MANO-A-MANO

The Colts slowed down the Chiefs by playing a bunch of man-to-man defense, and the Texans are likely to follow the same blueprint. But the Chiefs also have spent the week trying to fix their issues from last week, resulting in an intriguing offense-defense chess match Sunday.

''They obviously played a great game,'' Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said of the Colts. ''They went in there and stuck to their game plan and executed very well and came out with the win.''

BEWARE THE HONEY BADGER

Tyrann Mathieu picked off his first pass as a member of the Chiefs last week, and he'd like nothing more than to get his second against the Texans. Mathieu had a big year with Houston last season, and the club wanted to keep him around, only to see the Chiefs win the bidding in free agency.

12 ANGRY MEN

One of the most effective personnel groups for Houston this season has been ''12 personnel,'' which means a set with one running back and two tight ends. But why has it worked so well?

''It's a good question,'' Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. ''It has a lot to do with what you're going to see defensively. We've got a lot of different combinations of personnel groupings we can use and we try to study and we try to think about, defensively, how they're going to attack it. `What personnel are they going to use? What's going to be their scheme, and how does that fit what we want to do?' ... And sometimes it works. Hopefully it works more than it doesn't.''

Player Notes
Jarvis Landry Nov 22 11:10am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry brings a three-game touchdown streak into a Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. While teammate Odell Beckham Jr. gets most of the headlines, Landry has quietly been the more consistent fantasy producer this season. He will take on a Miami pass defense that has struggled to contain opposing wideouts, ranking last in the league in DVOA and having allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the position. Treat Landry as a solid WR2 in all fantasy formats for Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Nov 22 11:10am ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown four touchdown passes in two of his past three games. This week, Garoppolo and the 49ers face the Packers and there's a chance he'll have the team's top receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and tight end George Kittle (knee) back for the game. Both players are currently questionable and could end up being game-time decisions. The Packers rank amongst the ten worst passing defenses in the league, allowing around 258 passing yards per game. The 49ers have struggled to run the ball lately, so Garoppolo could be tasked with throwing a good amount. His upside is compromised if Sanders or Kittle or both are out, but he's a viable low-end QB1 start this week regardless.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Nov 22 11:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt draws a beautiful Week 12 matchup against a weak Miami Dolphins run defense. Miami ranks 29th in the league in run defense DVOA and is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. Hunt has been busy in the passing game in his two contests with the Browns, hauling in 13 of 17 targets for 90 yards. There is some concern that the Browns jump out to a big lead and lean run-heavy in the second half but Hunt could see a sizable workload on the ground if the team decides to give starter Nick Chubb a break. Treat Hunt as an RB2 in PPR leagues and a solid flex option in standard formats for Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Nov 22 11:00am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has only one touchdown in his first season with his new team, although he came close to scoring on a few occasions in Week 11. He draws a fantastic Week 12 matchup against a leaky Miami Dolphins secondary that ranks last in the league in pass defense DVOA. Beckham is primed to break out in Week 12, making him a projected WR1 in fantasy for the first time in a few months. Start Beckham in all formats in what could very well be his best performance of the entire season.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Nov 22 10:50am ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been trending up in recent weeks after a brutal start to the season. He finds himself in a fantastic spot in Week 12 as the Browns welcome the Miami Dolphins to Cleveland. Miami's defense has struggled to stop the pass this season, ranking dead last in the league in pass defense DVOA while allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. Mayfield can be trusted as a mid-range QB1 in fantasy for Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Nov 22 10:50am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham will square off with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Graham was given veteran's rest again this week so that coupled with the Week 11 bye should have him feeling well-rested ahead of a clash with the league's best pass defense. The 32-year-old has gone over 50 receiving yards three times this year and has caught three touchdowns in 10 games. Graham will find it difficult to accomplish either feat this week. San Francisco has allowed the fewest receiving yards to tight ends and have only surrendered two touchdowns to tight ends in 10 games. Graham is a TE2 at best this week.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Nov 22 10:50am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb draws a dream matchup against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Chubb will take on a Miami run defense that ranks 29th in the league in DVOA and is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position. While Chubb has lost some passing game work since Kareem Hunt returned from suspension, the Browns should jump out to a big lead, thus giving Chubb a positive game script in the second half. Treat Chubb as a top-five fantasy running back in Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Nov 22 10:40am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison isn't a recommended option against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Allison has topped 50 receiving yards once this year and has just two receiving touchdowns in 10 games. The silver lining is the fact that the 25-year-old has been on the field for at least 63 percent of the snaps in the last three games, so he hasn't lost any playing time. Considering the 49ers allow the fewest passing yards in the league, this doesn't feel like a game where Allison will get going.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Nov 22 10:20am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling can't be trusted for fantasy purposes right now ahead of a Week 12 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers' number-one pass defense. In Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers, the 25-year-old was held without a catch and played a season-low 17 percent of the snaps. Valdes-Scantling put up 6-99-1 and 2-133-1 receiving lines this year, but those games feel very far away at the moment. He should be on fantasy benches until he gives us a reason to trust him again.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Nov 22 10:00am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams will square off with the San Francisco 49ers' number-one pass defense in Week 12. Green Bay isn't taking any chances with their star wide receiver's health, as they've limited Adams' practice reps in both sessions this week. With practice and bye week rest, Adams will be good to go for Week 12 and has averaged 9.5 targets per game in six games played. The 49ers rank seventh in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Even in a matchup like this, Adams is too involved in the offense to be concerned. Start him as a WR1.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Nov 22 9:40am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Despite fellow back Aaron Jones emerging as a fantasy star, there's still been room for Williams to operate most weeks. The 24-year-old has averaged 10 touches per game in nine games played and has a team-leading five receiving touchdowns. San Francisco's defense ranks first against the pass but just 20th against the run. Through Week 12, opposing backs have averaged 22 touches per game against the 49ers. Williams may get less rushing attempts than Jones, but he could operate as a safety valve for Aaron Rodgers out of the backfield. It's risky, but Williams can be used in the flex spot this week.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Nov 22 9:10am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Fantasy's RB4 through 12 weeks is rested coming off the Week 11 bye. On paper, the 49ers seem like the toughest test of the year for Jones. They are elite, but their number-one pass defense has been the tough shell to the soft underbelly of their 20th-ranked rushing defense. In the 49ers' past five games, each opposing back tallied at least 15 touches and all but one eclipsed 80 scrimmage yards. Green Bay will look to establish the run early and often, rather than throwing into the teeth of a stingy defense. There is some risk, but Jones should be started as an RB1 this week.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Stills Nov 22 5:40am ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills recorded just one catch for six yards during the Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts. Stills logged his worst performance of the year and was a victim from a production standpoint by the return of Will Fuller (hamstring), who missed the team's previous three games. He likely has a few more decent performances left in the tank between now and the end of the season, but his potential will continue to be relegated by Fuller's presence in the lineup moving ahead.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Nov 22 5:30am ET

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played well against the Colts on Thursday night, finishing things up with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. After recording just two scores during the first six games of the year, the 27-year-old has turned it up as of late by visiting the end zone in three of his last five games. Hopkins continues to get his looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson, and besides Michael Thomas, he remains the most efficient fantasy wide receiver in the league. He will look to keep things going against a rough Patriots Defense in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

Will Fuller Nov 22 4:30am ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was targeted 11 times during the win over the Colts, finishing with seven catches for 140 yards. After accumulating 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 5, Fuller fizzled in his previous two contests coming into Thursday night, so this performance was a step in the right direction. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect this type of production consistently moving ahead, especially in Week 13 against a tough Patriots Defense, but the ceiling is always high when the matchup is in his favor, as long as he can stay healthy and on the field.

From RotoBaller

Duke Johnson Nov 22 4:20am ET

Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson finished with 22 yards on five carries to go along with one catch for eight yards during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was yet another disappointing performance from the 26-year-old, who has now recorded just three receptions over the last two games. While he may have a few more games where he catches four or five passes, his ability to get it done on the ground will continue to be relegated by Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 16 touches per outing on the year. For those who are desperate, Johnson does have the potential to score from a week-to-week basis but don't hold your breath waiting for consistent production.

From RotoBaller

Carlos Hyde Nov 22 3:00am ET

Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde Ran for 67 yards on 16 carries during the win over the Colts on Thursday night. This was a routine performance from the 29-year-old, who is averaging 76 yards on 16 touches per game this season, and while he has only four touchdowns on the year, he is well on his way to the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career. With this game in the books, Hyde will have a tough matchup in Week 13 against the top-ranked Patriots Defense.

From RotoBaller

Deshaun Watson Nov 22 2:10am ET

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson played better against the Colts on Thursday, finishing the night with nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) on 19-for-30 passing. After struggling during the Week 11 blowout loss to the Ravens, it was an acceptable showing from the 24-year-old. He has struggled to some degree over his last six outings, and while he has thrown for nine touchdowns during that span, he has also thrown six picks after tossing just one throughout the first five games of the year. Things aren't looking good moving ahead, nonetheless, as Watson and the Texans will host the Patriots in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

Jonathan Williams Nov 22 12:20am ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams was announced as the starter for the team's Week 12 game against the Houston Texans, and he made the most of his opportunity. He finished with 26 carries for 104 yards and a big touchdown in the second half. He also caught all three of his targets for 17 yards. The Colts continued their strategy of establishing the run, and it worked well for the majority of the game. As long as starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) remains out, it looks like Williams is going to have fantasy relevance every week.

From RotoBaller

Nyheim Hines Nov 22 12:20am ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines was expected to see more work in Week 12 with starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) out, and he showed a little bit of something with those snaps. He finished with nine carries for 51 yards and two catches for 10 yards. That's good enough for 8.1 PPR points, and that's likely more than you were hoping for after the quiet season he has had thus far. Hines still remains nothing more than a deep league flex option in PPR formats, but this was a positive development to see with Mack out.

From RotoBaller