Updated: Friday, Jan. 19 at 11:40am ET
The 2023 NFL playoffs march on with the Divisional Round match-ups this weekend and whether you’re playing the four-game DFS slate or just Saturday-only, the Houston Texans facing the Baltimore Ravens is going to be a game that should do more than just pique your interest. Watching C.J. Stroud pick apart the vaunted defense of the Cleveland Browns was a thing of beauty as he and Nico Collins lit up a secondary that was ranking second overall in DVOA against the pass, but now face a much more daunting task in the Ravens who actually ranked first against the pass this year. Lamar Jackson is also ready to continue his MVP season, but will it be his arm or his legs that get the job done? When picking players for DFS contests, this game should offer plenty of options.
Texans vs Ravens Prediction: Lamar Jackson beats C.J. Stroud to AFC Championship
This has been a spectacular run for Stroud and the Texans this season and while it may come to a close this weekend, it won’t be because of a lack of effort. The Houston offense has gotten stellar performances from Nico Collins, Dalton Schultz and Devin Singletary all year and all three are expected to be leaned on by head coach DeMeco Ryans. But the Ravens defensive unit is fierce and will do their best to limit the Texans’ offensive production. Meanwhile Jackson should be on full-display this week. He should rack up some decent rushing yards given the Texans pass-rush, but with the way he extends plays with his legs, his receivers, most notably Zay Flowers, should find the holes in the zone coverage they’ll be facing and rack up yards and touchdowns.
Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens Odds
- Spread: Ravens -9.5
- Texans (+340)
- Ravens (-450)
- Total: 43.5
- Weather: Temperatures in the upper-20s with sustained winds of 10-15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph
Texans vs. Ravens Injury Report:
- John Metchie, WR (foot – questionable)
- Andrew Beck, FB (back – questionable)
- Maliek Collins, DL (hip – questionable)
- Sheldon Rankins, DL (ribs – questionable)
- Jonathan Greenard, DE (ankle – questionable)
- Jerry Hughes, DE (ankle – questionable)
- Christian Harris, LB (calf – questionable)
- Denzel Perryman, LB (ribs – questionable)
- Blake Cashman, LB (knee – questionable)
- Mark Andrews, TE (ankle – OUT)
- Tylan Wallace, KR/PR (knee – questionable)
- Jadeveon Clowney, LB (illness – questionable)
- Marlon Humphrey, CB (calf – OUT)
Best DFS Picks for Texans vs. Ravens:
Jackson hasn’t seen the Texans since Week 1 and while he didn’t exactly fare that well, we can cut him some slack given that it was the first game of the season in a brand-new offense. Since then, the Texans have only faced two mobile QBs as Anthony Richardson, in Week 2 only during select packages, ran for two touchdowns against them and Kyler Murray in Week 11 who threw for 214 yards and a touchdown while also adding 51 rushing yards and another touchdown. Now that Jackson has settled into Todd Monken’s world, we expect him to dominate both on the ground and through the air.
You just can’t argue with what he’s done this year. The stats for a rookie quarterback are outstanding – heck, the stats are outstanding for a veteran too. He may have lost Tank Dell, but has developed a fantastic rapport with his No. 1 receiver Nico Collins and tight end Dalton Schultz. Big games don’t faze him, so the pressure of the Divisional Round is not a concern. The cold weather and Stroud’s performance on the road, on the other hand, is a bit of an issue. I still think he has to throw in this game to keep pace with the Ravens which makes him a solid pay-down, but just keep in mind that, on the road, Stroud only average 231.7 passing yards with a 6:1 TD:INT. Not terrible numbers, but nothing eye-popping.
The Ravens could have some serious issues with Collins and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stroud take some early shots downfield like he did when he opened the Week 18 game against the Colts with a 75-yard TD strike to Collins. The Ravens were 11th this season in man-coverage use and, according to our friends over at Pro Football Focus, Collins had the second-highest grade against man-coverage this season. With Marlon Humphrey banged-up, Collins is almost a must-start for my lineups.
Until we actually see Mark Andrews back on the field for this game, Flowers is easily the No. 1 target in this passing attack. We’ve seen him and Jackson connect well, specially through the tail-end of the season where he amassed 245 yards on 19 catches with three touchdowns over his last four games. The Texans are likely to stay in more zone-coverage as Flowers was one of the absolute best in separation in man-coverage, but they were still in man-coverage roughly 21-percent of the time this season, so he and Jackson will find their moments to strike.
The Texans offense really started to take off once they realized Singletary fit their scheme much better than Dameon Pierce. His overall numbers may look pedestrian, but if you study his game log, his best moments came in bunches when he was receiving a steady diet of double-digit carries. In fact, over his last two games, he averaged 17 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown. Yes, the Ravens run defense is solid, but if the Ravens can get him 15-18 touches out of the backfield, he should provide you with solid numbers at low-ownership.
The veteran tight end has done everything we expected of him this season as he became a veritable security blanket for Stroud throughout the season. Thanks to the strength and speed of their linebackers in coverage, the Ravens ranked eighth in DVOA against the tight end and did not give up a ton of fantasy points to the position each week, but he is still the second-most targeted pass-catcher in this offense and should see a sustained workload. The Texans were able to feature their tight ends last week against Cleveland who was considered the best defense against the tight end, so expect Bobby Slowik to get creative again in this match-up.
Other DFS Picks for Divisional Round:
The Ravens used Beckham very sparingly down the stretch as they wanted to make sure he was fully healthy and well-rested coming into this match-up. When he is on his game, Beckham is one of the most dangerous receivers out there as he stretches the field vertically and has the speed and elusiveness to gain the separation he needs to succeed. With so many top wideouts still on the slate, his price is a bargain we don’t want to miss.
Everyone was surprised to see how much the Ravens ran the football in Monken’s offense, and Edwards, after J.K. Dobbins went down for the year, really shined bright with just over 800 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. The Texans have the second-best run defense in the league and showed last week that maybe Week 18 against the Colts was a fluke. Still, Edwards gets the short-yardage work near the goal-line and that’s going to be a very important asset to have this week.
With no Tank Dell, Metchie has gradually become the No. 2 receiver in this offense and continues to see a high snap-count. The target-share could be better, but with the way we’ve seen Stroud turn to him over these past few games, it looks like he could prove to be a decent pay-down who should remain an active part of this passing attack.
IF Andrews plays this week, it is tough to expect a full complement of snaps and an immediate return to his usual target-share, but he certainly cannot be ignored. He put in limited practices all week leading up to Wild Card Weekend and on Wednesday this week, he was listed as a full-participant. With the Texans ranking 19th in DVOA against the tight end, allowing an average of 64.7 receiving yards per game, Andrews should be considered as a solid contrarian play this week and then likely a must-start moving forward. UPDATE: According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Andrews will NOT play this week. He could return for the Conference Championship should the Ravens beat the Texans.
We definitely don’t want to forget Likely who, even if Andrews plays, should remain an active component of this passing attack. Monken hasn’t used two-TE sets (12-personnel/22-personnel) as much as we thought he would this season, but Andrews saw the second-highest target rate while he was active and likely picked up the slack when Andrews went down. Perhaps the two share the role more this week, but with the uncertainty surrounding Andrews, we could see Likely with the higher snap-count. UPDATE: Now that Mark Andrews is out for this game, I am even more bullish on Likely. I will have strong exposure to him in my lineups.
DFS NFL Value Plays:
I almost put him in the category above, but with news that Dalvin Cook has been added to the 53-man roster, I moved him to a value spot. The Texans run defense is stout, but they did rank 24th in DVOA against running back pass-plays which is obviously Hill’s wheelhouse. Still, with the addition of Cook, we just don’t know what the snap distribution will be, so consider him a solid low-cost option, slightly better than a dart-throw.
Bateman is another low-cost receiving option I like this week as he produces much better against zone coverage which the Texans run almost 80-percent of the time. We’ve seen him targeted inside the red zone as well, so if the Ravens are marching down the field, expect to see a few targets come his way with a decent possibility for a touchdown.
Woods is probably one of the better receivers in Houston facing zone coverage and could be leaned on a bit more in this match-up with the fact that the Ravens prefer playing zone over 71-percent of the time. Even as the elder statesman in this receiving corps, he’s still been able to identify the holes in the zone and find his way to a respectable target-share. They pulled back on using him late in the season, so there is a mild concern, but if we’re looking at this match-up as an isolated event, he fits the mold of a bargain receiver who could see an increase in workload.
I expect to see Agholor get a few looks when the Texans opt for man-coverage. He gets decent separation and has averaged four targets per game over his last five with four of those targets coming inside the red zone. He’s a dart-throw with upside as well, but I do like Bateman more.
The ultimate of dart-throws here. He gets a couple of targets here and there, but nothing to go crazy about. With the focus likely on Collins and Metchie, Hutchinson won’t see a big target-share, but he plays a fair amount of snaps, so there is potential.
Schultz is the primary, but we’ve seen Jordan mixed in as well. The Texans don’t run a lot of two-TE sets, but if the Ravens linebackers and edge-rushers start getting the better of the Texans offensive line, we could see more of Jordan as a block-and-release option.
We’ll see how the Ravens use him. Maybe he gets some work like we saw Melvin Gordon get, but this is only a play if you’re looking to get really weird and you’re a max-lineup player.
More NFL Divisional Round DFS Game Breakdowns:
- Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
- Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions