The 2020 schedule makers weren’t kind to the Houston Texans. They opened up in Kansas City against the reigning Super Bowl champs before dealing with 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2. They came up short both times, and it doesn’t get any easier in Week 3, when the Texans will travel to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers defense that ranks near the top of the league in sacks, fewest yards and fewest points allowed.
The Steelers have complimented that stingy defense with an offense that has scored 26 points in each of its first two games. Ben Roethlisberger looks to be back in fine form after missing nearly all of last season with an injury to his throwing arm. That balance has the Steelers sitting at 2-0 as they prepare for Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt.
Date: Sunday, September 27
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Texans: 23rd vs. Pass, 24th vs. Rush
Steelers: 2nd vs. Pass, 1st vs. Rush
Texans: +3.5. +165
Steelers: -3.5, -141
OUT: LB Peter Kalambayi (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Duke Johnson (ankle), WR Kenny Stills (illness)
None on final injury report
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver, $5,200
Will Fuller is apparently dealing with a hamstring injury, which left him target-less in Week 2. Considering Fuller’s bad history with his hammys, his availability for Week 3 can’t be taken for granted. That could only help Cooks, who led the Texans with 95 yards on eight targets versus Baltimore. A big-play receiver who can line up all over the formation, Cooks is worth a shot in your lineups.
Jordan Akins, Tight End, $3,400
You may have noticed through two weeks that the Texans look like a team that could really use another receiving threat. If only there was something they could do about that. Akins isn’t going to replace the All-Pro Houston sent to Arizona this summer, but the athletic tight end has shown some signs of turning 2020 into a personal breakout year. He scored in Week 1 and then recorded a career-high seven receptions on seven targets for 55 yards in Week 2. More promising is the fact that Akins played 49 snaps, more than double of his tight end teammate, Darren Fells, and behind only Brandin Cooks among the Texans’ receivers. The Steelers don’t offer a good matchup to any position, but Akins should be able to turn in a few more chunk plays down the seam this week.
James Conner, Running Back, $6,700
Fantasy owners had to feel a little trepidatious with Conner in Week 2 following the Sunday morning report that he would split snaps with Benny Snell. Well, so much for that. Conner left just three carries for his backup while he rumbled for 121 yards and a TD across 18 touches. Conner’s balky ankle seems to be no worse for wear coming out of that game, so get ready to fire him up against a Texans defense that has allowed more than 300 rushing yards to running backs through two weeks.
Diontae Johnson, Wide Receiver, $5,400
JuJu Smith-Schuster is still more expensive ($6,600), but the gap between him and Johnson shouldn’t be so wide. The second-year man is starting to blossom and has been a very worthwhile fantasy option through two weeks. He has hauled in 14 of a team-high 23 targets; only DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Amari Cooper have seen more footballs sent their way. As long as Big Ben stays healthy, the Steelers’ passing game will remain potent, and you could argue that Johnson is currently at the head of their receiving corps.