Josh Jordan

Fantasy football under-the-radar plays — Week 1

James White should be very active in a high-scoring game against the Texans. New England Patriots/Facebook

It’s finally upon us. Week 1 of fantasy football, and this year is going to be even more difficult to navigate than ever. There’s a lot of uncertainty as we head into the opening week, so I advise everyone to starts there studs. That’s why you spent a high pick on them in the first place. Of course, Le’Veon Bell should be firmly on your bench even if he shows up and is active against the Browns. There’s just no way of knowing how much work he would get. I am going to pick some players I like this week that aren’t odvious starters. Everyone should be starting the David Johnson’s of the world, so I’ll look at some players that aren’t a sure thing.

I’ll be using some of the stats from the end of last season to make my suggestions, and there are clearly some flaws with these numbers. The coaches know what they need to correct in the off-season, so they work to improve their deficiencies, plus, free agency and the draft brings in new players that weren’t on the team last year. Because of this, we have to take last year’s numbers with a grain of salt. Without further ado, here are some plays I like for this weekend.


Derrick Henry (TEN): The Titans have a nice matchup against the Dolphins in Week 1 and Miami gave up the 2nd most points to running backs from week 12 on last season. It’s hard to know how the carries will be split between Henry and Dion Lewis, but we should get our answer on Sunday. Clearly, I like Henry a lot better in non-ppr. He’s not a must-start for me this week, but he should be okay as a No. 2 RB.

James White (NE): The Texans had quite a bit of trouble stopping the run last year. From week 12 on, they gave up the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs. The good news for Houston is they have a lot of players back from injury on defense, but the Texans typically give up points to the running back position. It usually comes from TDs, especially in the years that the Texans had a dominant defense. Look for James White to have a nice game out of the backfield on Sunday. Brady doesn’t have Edelman for the first four weeks, so I believe White will get an uptick in targets. A wheel route TD from White would not surprise me at all.

James Conner (PIT): I think Conner will have a nice game against the Browns this week. DeAngelo Williams produced at a high level when Bell has been out in the past, and I think Connor will follow suit. I know there’s a lot of hype around Cleveland, but I’m not buying in. Conner is a must-start until Bell decides to show up.

Lamar Miller (HOU): Miller hasn’t exactly looked spectacular, especially running behind the Texans below-average offensive line, but I think sheer volume will get him there for fantasy. There should be a lot of scoring in this game, and Miller can be used as a No. 2 RB on Sunday.


JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT): He has a great matchup against the Browns, and they’ll be looking to limit Antonio Brown. The Steelers should throw the ball quite a bit this week, and Smith-Schuster can capitalize. The Browns gave up 36.5 FPTS/G to WRs from week 12 on last year, and I think Smith-Schuster will get his fair share of those points.

Chris Hogan (NE): I love Hogan this year and especially Week 1 against the Texans. I think he may have Johnathan Joseph on him, and that’s good news for Hogan owners. Houston’s corners typically have trouble dealing with bigger receivers, and Hogan comes in at 6′ 1”. He also has pretty good speed being a 4.5 forty guy, and the Texans’ corners aren’t all that fast. I think Gronk will see plenty of attention, and that opens things up for Hogan and James White.

Jamison Crowder (WAS): I think Crowder has a nice opportunity to catch some passes this week against the Arizona Cardinals. Alex Smith may have pushed the ball down the field more last year, but he’s been “Captain Checkdown” for most of his career. Look for Crowder to catch a lot of balls out of the slot with Patrick Peterson covering the outside receivers primarily.


Eric Ebron (IND): I’m hearing some good things about Ebron in the Colts offense, and Luck’s arm strength hasn’t been all that impressive in the preseason. Ebron played well against the Bengals last year (83-yds, 1TD), and I think that continues this week. He’ll see his fair share of checkdown passes from Andrew Luck.

Jordan Reed (WAS): He’s healthy, at least for the time being. I like him for the same reason I like Crowder this week, so I think he’s worth a shot. Use him before he dies.

That’s all I have for this week. For more fantasy info, make sure you check out my show Moneyline on ESPN 97.5 every Sunday from 10-noon. Jerry Bo and I will get you ready for kickoff and answer any questions you may have. Also, follow us on Twitter. Good luck Week 1!




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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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