Game Predictions & Player Projections - HOU vs. OAK

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: HOU 17, OAK 27 (Line: OAK by 6, O/U = 46)

UPDATE: Lamar Miller was limited in practices but is execrated to play. He said as much himself. Alfred Blue is out this week and Akeem Hunt will get work as the relief back again this week. Will Fuller has been limited in practices but is still expected to play.

The 6-3 Texans are one game ahead in the AFC South and are 1-3 in road games. The 7-2 Raiders are tied with the Chiefs and Patriots for the best record in the AFC and are 4-1 at home. Both teams are surprises this year but the Raiders are at home and have faced a tougher schedule.

This is the Monday night game and it is being played in Mexico City. That means the normal trends and practices of each offense will be less predictive since both teams are away from home and in an entirely different environment.

Houston Texans

1 CHI 23-14 10 @JAC 24-21
2 KC 19-12 11 @OAK ---
3 @NE 0-27 12 SD ---
4 TEN 27-20 13 @GB ---
5 @MIN 13-31 14 @IND ---
6 IND 26-23 15 JAC ---
7 @DEN 9-27 16 CIN ---
8 DET 20-13 17 @TEN ---
9 BYE ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Lamar Miller 70,1 2-10
WR Will Fuller 3-40
WR DeAndre Hopkins 5-70
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz 4-40,1
PK Nick Novak 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Texans are on a two game winning streak and drew the short straw by having to face the AFC West in a year when they are all good. The Texans have won thanks mostly to good defense since the offense continues to struggle in all facets. Their only road win was just last week by a field goal over the 2-7 Jaguars.

QUARTERBACK : It doesn't get any better for Brock Osweiler. He won last week and threw two touchdowns but only completed 14 of 27 passes for 99 yards. He has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in any road game. His learning curve just never seems to get any shorter. The Texans are winning in spite of him, not because of him.

RUNNING BACK : Lamar Miller is a disappointment to be sure with only three touchdowns on the season and only twice breaking 100 rushing yards - both at home. He's been as good as 80 yards in many games and adds two or three receptions per week but rarely scores or has any notable performance. As a team, the Texans only have two rushing touchdowns.

WIDE RECEIVER : DeAndre Hopkins has not scored since Week 5 and topped 60 yards only once in the last seven games. He's gone from being an elite wideout who excels regardless of quarterback to being little more than a moderately productive tight end. Will Fuller was out last week because of a leg injury but may return for this tilt. I will hold him out and update later if needed. Fuller rarely breaks 30 yards in a game anyway. Last year it was just Hopkins as the lone productive wideout. Now there is no one.

TIGHT END : It isn't bad enough that Osweiler has ruined the fantasy value of Hopkins. It isn't bad enough that he suddenly made tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz the primary receiver for several weeks along with three touchdowns. But last week he threw the rare two touchdowns and they went to the tight end. Ryan Griffin (3-7, TD) and Stephen Anderson (1-7, TD).

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Raiders present a seeming opportunity for Osweiler to have a better game but there's nothing to suggest that he can take advantage of that. Lamar Miller is a worthy start this week versus a defense that is weaker against the run but the only scores he has this year were all in home games. Expect at least moderate to good yardage but the touchdown is not reliable.

There is no safe play here. Hopkins owners can express blind optimism with a start but each week it is more about the problems with the offense than the quality of the defense. Even Osweiler should end up with a touchdown but it could go to anyone. Miller is the only reasonable start here unless Hopkins gaining 50 yards seems attractive.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 32 25 32 9 13 17
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 26 22 24 25 17 1

Oakland Raiders

1 @NO 35-34 10 BYE ---
2 ATL 28-35 11 HOU ---
3 @TEN 17-10 12 CAR ---
4 @BAL 28-27 13 BUF ---
5 SD 34-31 14 @KC ---
6 KC 10-26 15 @SD ---
7 @JAC 33-16 16 IND ---
8 @TB 30-24 17 @DEN ---
9 DEN 30-20      
News | Statistics | Roster
OAK vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Carr 270,2
RB Jalen Richard 30 1-10
RB DeAndre Washington 20
WR Amari Cooper 5-70,1
WR Michael Crabtree 6-90,1
WR Cordarrelle Patterson 4-50
WR Seth Roberts 4-40
TE Clive Walford 2-20
PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Raiders have been playing great offense and come off their bye having already faced the tougher part of their schedule. They have only three road games left and while they are all versus AFC West opponents, only the Chiefs managed a win over them in the first round. The next three weeks are all home games and a chance to regain the lead in the division that is going to come down to the final four weeks of the season - if not the final week. At current rate, the AFC West would produce both wildcards.

QUARTERBACK : Derek Carr was held scoreless by the Broncos last week but he already had 17 passing touchdowns this year and only three interceptions. He's been as good as 513 yards and four scores in a game this year but also turned in five efforts that netted no more than one score. The rushing offense has helped out significantly in recent weeks though and the Raiders have scored more than 28 points in all but two games this year. The touchdowns happen but the offense has been balanced enough that it doesn't always need to be Carr scoring.

RUNNING BACK : This is a three-headed attack but DeAndre Washington has never scored and gets five to ten carries per week. He's never had more than just moderate yardage. Jalen Richard usually also has just moderate yardage and five to eight carries but he scored in the season opener and twice had more than 70 total yards. But those are hard to call because they are propped up with a single long run or catch.

Latavius Murray is limited in work by the other two and only twice has more than 15 carries but scored eight times this year including three touchdowns last week versus the Broncos. Murray is the only fantasy play here but even he has had a few bad games.

WIDE RECEIVER : The three wideouts have all been productive and even more so in recent weeks. Amari Cooper had a slow first month but topped 100 yards in three of the last five games. Michael Crabtree leads the Raiders with six receiving touchdowns and oddly every one of his good games were on the road and every bad game was at home. Seth Roberts only gained around 20 to 30 yards in nearly every game but scored four times already. Even Cooper and Crabtree can have bad games though at least with Crabtree, the venue has been completely predictive so far. Cooper was far less effective in away games but recently blew up in Tampa Bay. Either receiver is capable away from home.

TIGHT END : No fantasy value.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans defense has softened in recent weeks and allowed each of the last five opponents to throw for at least one score if not two. The Texans have also not faced many above average offenses. Derek Carr has been hot this year but anything more than two passing scores is hard to justify. The Texans lost a few defenders but are still one of the better units in the league.

Have to like Murray again this week since the Texans have allowed nine touchdowns to running backs including at least one to every road opponent other than the Jaguars. The other two backs may limit his yardage but Murray should be a lock for at least one score here if not two.

Both Cooper and Crabtree are starters this week though the Texans won't allow two wideouts to have big games. Cooper has been the home field start and Crabtree always comes up big when in road venues. But both deserve to be considered since they are coming off a bye and preparing for two weeks. The offense primarily goes through the wider receivers. The difference this week though is that both teams are away from home and that has less predictable effects. Both players are must starts.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 15 5 4 27 11 23
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 1 21 3 5 23 13

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