Patriots Texans Week One Recap

What was projected to be a back and forth high scoring game turned into a somewhat boring and predictable Patriots win. The score is misleading as the Texans made it close with a few minutes to play but the Patriots controlled this one from the outset, leading 21-6 at halftime and putting it on cruise control from there.

The Patriots looked sloppy to begin the game and were lucky the Texans looked even worse despite the lopsided score at the half. Without a clear number one wide receiver the offense struggled to click and the focus went back to Gronkowski in the passing game.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski caught 7 of 8 targets(the 8th being a pass interference penalty) for 123 yards and a touchdown. He accounted for a whopping 26%(107) of Tom Brady’s 412 Air Yards and an aDOT of 13.4% as he ate up the middle of the field against the Texans as this NextGen Stats chart shows.

rob-gronkowski-nextgenstats-fantasy-hard-knocks

Gronk was already TE1 for the year but with Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker going down in week one the gap between the small, elite group of tight ends and the rest of the player pool has gotten a lot wider. If you can trade for him and its reasonable do it now because if he can stay healthy he will be a league winner by the time the year is done.

Running Backs

Most analyst were projecting Rex Burkhead to be the lead back even coming off a preseason in which he did not play. He certainly saw the bulk of the running carries, rushing 18 times for 64 yards but was fair less efficient than Jeremy Hill up until Hill’s unfortunate injury. Hill will now be out for the year with a torn ACL further pushing Rex into the lead back role.

I on the other hand felt that even though Rex was the lead back the play for week one was James White. With Julian Edelman out and a lack of trusted receivers it just felt appropriate that Tom Brady would lean on James White in the receiving game while also seeing some carries himself.

White ended up leading the Patriots in targets with 9 but only converted 4 of them for 38 yards and 1 touchdown. While that’s not optimal, the usage is what we wanted and is promising moving forward, especially over the next 3 weeks.

The same can be said of Rex Burkhead. He was on the field for 49% of snaps and if that constitutes easing him in to action in week one look for that number to steadily climb as the weeks progress.

Burkhead and White were an even split seeing 37 and 36 snaps respectively and both saw 2 red zone targets with White pulling in one of his for a touchdown. Both are going to have stand alone value depending on your league. In the long term I believe the most value is going to come from Burkhead but in the short term against teams like the Jaguars, Lions, and Dolphins with Edelman out White is going to have a lot of upside in PPR leagues.

Receivers

The surprise here was the emergence of Phillip Dorsett, a 2015 first round pick who never fully reached his potential in Indianapolis. After seeing just 33% of snaps last year and going largely untrusted by Brady, Dorsett jumped to 76% of snaps for 7 targets resulting in 7 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Many had Cordarrelle Patterson as the breakout candidate but as mentioned in previous articles his route running has been sloppy and his preseason usage showed largely go routes and wide receiver screens. Week one should have come as no surprise than when he played only 21% of snaps and only saw one target and 3 receiver screens.

The Patriots signed Corey Coleman, another former first round pick and Bennie Fowler this week but don’t look for them to contribute right away. Coleman was highly touted out of college but has lacked the aptitude to pick up NFL offenses so far, getting cut by the Browns and Bills. There have also been rumors about his lack of work ethic which won’t pass here in New England. Coleman could have some value if he sticks but he should remain on waivers until he’s proven it.

Hold or buy Julian Edelman as he’s going to pay immediate value as soon as he returns to the field in week 5 against the Colts.

Houston Texans

I don’t think anyone expected the Texans offense to regress as much as it did on Sunday but from the first snap(a fumble) you could tell this was not going to go well for them.

Deshaun Watson looked rusty posting an inefficient 17 of 34 for just 176 yards, nowhere near his 301 yard 2 touchdown performance against the Patriots last year.

Both Lamar Miller and Deandre Hopkins did put up serviceable numbers for the day, albeit without a touchdown for either. Miller finished as RB26, just outside RB2 numbers. He was being drafted as RB19 so he fell right outside his typical range. Hopkins was drafted as WR2/3 and posted somewhat disappointing numbers as WR26 on the week but did manage 15.1 fantasy points in PPR leagues. If he had converted on a touchdown he would have catapulted to WR11 just behind Antonio Brown and just above Odell Beckham Jr. so the variance isn’t all that bad.

Look for the entire Texans offense to bounce back against what looks like a terrible Titans defense in week two.

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