Monday Night Football

Houston vs. Oakland
Vegas Projected Score: Raiders 25.75, Texans 20.25

Monday night’s game in Mexico City sets up beautifully for white-hot Latavius Murray, whose Raiders are favored by 5.5 points against a Houston run defense that ranks No. 24 in DVOA and has been clipped for a combined 65-311-2 (4.78 YPC) rushing line by enemy backs over its last three games. Since returning from a turf toe injury in Week 7, Murray has amassed touch totals of 20, 16, 21 with five touchdowns in three games. Rookies Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have stayed involved as rotating change-of-pace backs, but neither has posed a threat to Murray’s place atop the pecking order since the first few weeks of the season. In DFS contests that extend into Monday night’s game, I like the idea of using Murray and the Raiders’ defense together in a correlation play. … The matchup isn’t as appealing for Derek Carr against a Texans pass defense that ranks No. 11 in DVOA and has permitted top-12 fantasy quarterback finishes in just 2-of-9 games. Houston has yielded the NFL’s third fewest passing scores (8) and passing yards per game (196.8). Carr’s aggressive passing style and playmaking wideouts always give him enough upside to run in season-long leagues, but I wouldn’t bet on this being one of his best games.

Carr’s targets since Latavius returned three games ago: Michael Crabtree 33; Amari Cooper 28; Seth Roberts 19; Murray 13; Clive Walford 9; Jalen Richard 6; Mychal Rivera 5; Andre Holmes 4; Washington and Jamize Olawale 3. … The Texans have allowed just five 70-plus-yard games to enemy receivers through nine weeks. The Raiders’ best bet to clear that mark is Cooper, who has drawn eight-plus targets in 7-of-9 games. Cooper will mainly run his Week 11 routes at Texans RCB A.J. Bouye, who has played well this year but missed last week’s win over Jacksonville with an ankle injury and is a former undrafted free agent out of UCF with 4.55 speed to Cooper’s 4.42. … Crabtree will deal more with LCB Johnathan Joseph, who checked Marqise Lee (4-50-0) in Week 10 and is the kind of crafty veteran capable of matching wits with Crabtree’s savvy route running. Crabtree remains a solid start in season-long leagues with five games of seven-plus receptions and a team-high six touchdown catches. … The Raiders’ complementary pass catchers are usually safe to ignore. The Texans allow the NFL’s fifth fewest fantasy points to tight ends and Walford has seen below five targets in seven straight games. Roberts quietly leads the Raiders in red-zone targets (11), but his floor is rough if he doesn’t hit pay dirt. Roberts has one game above 50 yards all season and zero games above 70. He’s entirely touchdown or bust.

Quietly improving defensively after a painful start to the season, the Raiders have gone four straight games without allowing a top-12 fantasy quarterback while yielding consecutive point totals of 20, 24, 16, 26 in that window. Although some of the improvement has been opponent driven during a stretch of Trevor Siemian, Blake Bortles, Alex Smith, and Jameis Winston, it is also true that Oakland’s Week 11 opponent is its weakest yet. The Texans’ offense ranks dead last in the NFL in yards per play (4.7) and 29th in points per game (17.9) and is bad enough that the Raiders’ fantasy D/ST is worth teeing up as a streamer. Brock Osweiler has zero fantasy finishes above QB15 this year and zero games of 270 passing yards and is always a mere two-quarterback-league option regardless of opponent. … Oakland tightened up its run defense in a two-game sample before its Week 10 bye, holding Broncos and Bucs running backs to a combined 36-119-1 (3.31 YPC) rushing line in Weeks 8-9. While I’m not quite ready to declare the Raiders’ run defense an imposing matchup, the improvement is notable for the Week 11 cause of Lamar Miller, whose inability to effectively handle workhorse usage seemingly becomes more evident by the week. Miller has battled shoulder and ankle injuries recently, and in Week 10 logged only 15 touches on a season-low 38% of the snaps while Akeem Hunt (9 touches, 30%) added a spark off the bench with 53 total yards and Alfred Blue (7 touches, 32%) stayed involved as a big-back complement. Blue (calf) won’t play this week, but Hunt has earned a role in this emerging RBBC. Miller is a mid-range RB2 in season-long leagues.

DeAndre Hopkins will spend most of this game running routes at Raiders LCB David Amerson and RCB Sean Smith, who both have top-17 pass-coverage grades among 116 qualified cornerbacks at Pro Football Focus. While I would argue Amerson and Smith have not played quite as well as those PFF ratings indicate, Hopkins has been extremely inefficient for his own part with just two games over 60 yards all season despite drawing eight-plus targets in 7-of-9 games and a whopping 11.8-target average over the last month. Falling short of expectations even in the best matchups, Hopkins is a mere low-end WR2/high-end WR3 play in season-long leagues. … Hobbled rookie Will Fuller is apparently due back from his hamstring injury this week. Fuller remains a significant health risk and has cleared 40 yards just once since Week 2. … C.J. Fiedorowicz flopped (3-26-0) in last week’s matchup with Jacksonville’s tight end-stingy defense, but he played a season-high 87% of Houston’s snaps and remains usable for season-long owners in tight end binds, which are common at the weakest position in fantasy football. The Raiders are middling or worse in tight end defense, yielding the league’s 15th most yards (523) and sixth most scores (5) to the position. Fiedorowicz has drawn no fewer than five targets in six straight games.

Score Prediction: Raiders 24, Texans 17

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