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Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Eagles vs Texans: How To Manage DeVonta Smith, Brandin Cooks

Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Eagles vs Texans: How To Manage DeVonta Smith, Brandin Cooks article feature image
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Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Eagles WR DeVonta Smith (#6)

  • To start Week 8 in the NFL, we have Ravens vs. Buccaneers.
  • Baltimore's offense is banged up, while Tampa Bay has struggled to score of late.
  • Samantha Previte breaks down key fantasy start/sit decisions for Thursday Night Football.

The Week 9 iteration of Thursday Night Football brings us a veritable David and Goliath matchup between the one-win Texans and undefeated Eagles.

The Eagles (7-0) enter this lopsided, road contest as two-touchdown favorites. They have been outstanding this season and are the betting-favorites at +175 odds to win the NFC. The well-rounded squad ranks No. 3 in offensive points and yards per game and No. 2 in overall defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.

The Texans (1-5-1) have been the opposite of that. Their defense ranks 30th in defensive DVOA and their offense has scored the fourth-fewest points per game this year.

Some lineup decisions, like starting A.J. Brown, Jalen Hurts, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders and Dameon Pierce are easy. Below are some fringe players at each position you may be on the fence about starting in the Eagles vs. Texans Thursday Night Football game based on matchups, injuries and trends.

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Eagles Week 9 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em

WR DeVonta Smith

Smith has been up-and-down all season. He kicked off the year with a Week 1 bagel with zero catches on four targets against a hapless Lions team. Two weeks later, he caught 8-of-12 targets for 169 yards and a touchdown and was the WR1 for the week.

Smith has four games with double-digit fantasy points and three games with five or fewer fantasy points in half-PPR scoring. In Week 8 against the Steelers, he caught 5-of-8 targets for 23 yards while Brown had a monster day and caught 6-of-11 targets for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

Verdict: Start as a WR3/flex. Smith remains the clear-cut No. 2 behind Brown. He has boom-or-bust potential, but at least his odds of “boom” are higher this week against Houston’s defense, which has been relatively tougher against wide receivers, though that may be more of an artifact of game script. Their defense ranks bottom three in overall defensive DVOA and has been absolutely abysmal against the run.

My primary concern would be that the Eagles jump out early and go on cruise control to run out the game, which could create fewer opportunities for the former Heisman Trophy-winner.

Texans Week 9 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em

WR Brandin Cooks

Editor’s note: Brandin Cooks is reportedly going to miss Eagles vs. Texans due to injury.

Cooks overcame poor quarterback play and was the WR16 in half-PPR last season. He reeled in 90 catches for six touchdowns and 1,037 yards — his sixth 1,000-yard season in the last seven years.

Cooks was a popular preseason sleeper pick who has not lived up to expectations thus far. He has just two games with double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR scoring (Weeks 1 and 4). He has found the end zone once all year and is on a 17-game pace for his worst season since 2019.

Verdict: Sit. Many — myself included — thought Cooks might be on the move ahead of the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday. Unfortunately, he will be staying in Houston and is tweeting cryptic messages which could indicate his discontent with the team. Cooks missed practice on Wednesday and is listed as dealing with wrist and personal issues.

Suffice it to say that his status may be in jeopardy for Thursday night’s game for personal- or health-related reasons. It’s a brutal matchup against the Eagles, whose defense ranks top two in pass DVOA and total DVOA and has allowed the tenth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this year. Cooks is a risky, low-upside play this week who I would only start if desperate.

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