NFL Wild Card Weekend is here and whether you find yourself playing the full six-game DFS slate, the Saturday-Sunday weekend slate or just the Saturday-only, the match-up between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns is going to be worth your interest. For Houston, it’s just the first step in turning this franchise around as new head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud have made significant impacts on the team, not just for this year, but for the long haul as well. For the Browns, it’s about delivering a championship to a city desperate for a title. Can journeyman Joe Flacco be savior for Browns football? Regardless of who you think wins this game, we’re building winning DFS lineups and there are several players who we like for this game. 



Browns vs. Texans Prediction: Browns Defense Spoils C.J. Stroud's Playoff Debut

Before we get in to specific NFL DFS picks, it’s worth touching on my larger Browns vs. Texans prediction. Don’t underestimate the power of game script in daily fantasy football! For example, if I back Cleveland to win big, I might prioritize Jerome Ford over David Njoku if I was forced to pick between the two. A blowout would mean Ford would likely get more carries, whereas playing from behind might push things more towards the passing game.

For me, this game comes down to the Browns offensive line versus the Texans defensive line. We watched the Indianapolis Colts line manhandle the Texans defensive line and carve them up for 227 rushing yards. The Browns line is equally strong and will look to assert its dominance right from the start. I expect a heavy rushing attack from Ford and even Kareem Hunt which will, in turn, open up the passing attack. Joe Flacco should then be able to find his targets downfield.

On the other side, a strong Browns rushing attack will put C.J. Stroud and the Texans into a more pass-heavy approach. We watched them with a quick strike downfield to Nico Collins against the Colts and while that was effective, their passing struggled during much of the first half. They struggled to run the ball as effectively as they wanted and threw against ineffective corners to push the ball downfield and take the lead. Only then did they lean heavier on Devin Singletary, That game-plan is likely to struggle against a much more fierce Browns defense.

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Odds

  • Spread: Browns -2.5
  • Moneyline
    • Browns (-135)
    • Texans (+114)
  • Total: 44.5
  • Weather: Dome

Browns vs. Texans Injury Report:

Houston Texans

Cleveland Browns

Best DFS Picks For Browns vs. Texans:

C.J. Stroud, QB Houston Texans

The home game is big for Stroud as he plays much better at NRG Stadium than he does on the road, throwing for 310.8 yards per game with a 17:4 TD:INT which in DFS-speak translates to 24.3 points per game in full-point PPR scoring. It is a tough match-up against a Browns defense that ranked second in DVOA against the pass, but they’re also dealing with some injury issues in the secondary and if Vegas is right with the Browns as the favorite, we should see Stroud throwing somewhat heavily.

Joe Flacco, QB Cleveland Browns

The Texans ranks 23rd in DVOA against the pass and have allowed the 10th-most passing yards per game this season. They’ve only given up 17 passing touchdowns on the year, but opposing quarterbacks have posted a 90.1 passer-rating against them and with the way Flacco has been slinging the rock – an average of 41 attempts for 323.3 yards per game with 13 touchdowns over a five-game span – we expect a little back-and-forth here, especially if the Texans shut down the Browns’ ground game.

Amari Cooper, WR Cleveland Browns

The primary weakness of this Texans secondary is their coverage against the opponent’s top wideout. They rank 28th in DVOA against the opposing WR1 and are allowing an average of 86.4 receiving yards per game to them. Cooper has no issues with heavy zone coverage like Houston runs in its secondary, but if they can run him out of the slot against Desmond King, he could be even more explosive.

Nico Collins, WR Houston Texans

He’s the number one weapon for Stroud and Houston OC Bobby Slowik knows he’s going to have to get creative with where he lines up Collins. We expect him to be moved around and even potentially take a few snaps out of the slot. Maybe get him opposite Greg Newsome, a little more given his injuries. The DVOA numbers seem stacked against using him, so he could be an intriguing contrarian play, but it’s tough to overlook the talent and his connection with Stroud.

David Njoku, TE Cleveland Browns 

There is so much to love about Njoku this week. In addition to the Texans ranking 19th in DVOA against tight ends, allowing an average of 64.7 receiving yards per game to them, they also have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to the position. With Flacco passing 40 times per game, Njoku has been a serious beneficiary, averaging roughly 10 targets per game with one 100-yard performance and four touchdowns over his last four. He should be one of your top options no matter which slate you are playing.

Other DFS Picks For Wild Card Weekend:

Jerome Ford, RB Cleveland Browns

The Texans’ run defense has been solid all year, but we did see them get exposed a little last week as the Colts strong offensive line pushed them around for 227 rushing yards. The Browns also have a strong offensive line, so Ford could very well be an under-the-radar option who stands the chance to really pop this weekend. He is active in the passing game and while the presence of Kareem Hunt is always a concern for everyone, Ford is typically the premier rusher on this team.

Noah Brown, WR Houston Texans

The Browns rank 26th in DVOA against slot receivers, allowing an average of 44.6 receiving yards per game to them. The yardage total isn’t high, but the touchdown-count for guys coming out of the slot is. We’ve seen Brown be explosive and if he finds himself against a hobbled Greg Newsome who lines up as the slot corner 54-percent of the time, he’s going to beat him with his speed and elusiveness. Keep an eye on the injury reports just to play it safe but we expect Brown out there all game. 

Elijah Moore, WR Cleveland Browns

We noted the weakness of the Texans coverage is Desmond King out of the slot and that is exactly where we will see Moore who takes 44-percent of his snaps from the slot. He was well on his way to roasting Michael Carter II in Week 17 – fie catches for 61 yards and a touchdown – before he got knocked out with a concussion and even though he cleared protocol in Week 18, the Browns held him out. Rested and ready, he’s a solid option this week.

Devin Singletary, RB Houston Texans

In truth, I’m lukewarm on this play. I like Singletary and if playing a showdown contest, he could be a good way to differentiate from the rest of the herd. Most people look at the Browns highly-ranked defense and get scared, but Cleveland does allow 105.5 rushing yards per game and the 15 rushing touchdowns they’ve allowed is the ninth-most this season.

Kareem Hunt, RB Cleveland Browns

If he's healthy and playing, he's worth a look as I expect the Browns to hit with a strong ground attack. We've seen him involved as a complementary back, so if you're just looking to find ways to differentiate yourself from the herd, he should serve as a decent contrarian play to those using Ford.

DFS NFL Value Plays:

David Bell, WR Cleveland Browns

If you’re really looking to shake the tree for some dart-throws, Bell is definitely worth watching. Keep an eye on Cedric Tillman who is listed as questionable. If he is out, then Bell should see plenty of reps from all points on the field. Tillman is the better receiver overall, so if he’s healthy, we like him more, but Bell is not far behind. 

John Metchie, WR Houston Texans

With Robert Woods banged up and Noah Brown also dealing with a back issue, Metchie will continue to see a decent snap share. Monitor the injury reports because if Woods is going to be limited, this could even be a bit better than just your average dart-throw, especially for a showdown contest.

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