Houston Texans fans alike — I have been playing this great game for more than 25 years and am happy to be providing fantasy analysis to the Locked on Texans website and podcast this year. Although my overall focus will be on the Houston Texans, we will also offer tidbits on other teams and strategies that will hopefully help both new and veteran fantasy owners alike. Let’s take a look.
When the calendar hits this time of year, various thoughts cross my mind. One thought is that Houston’s better weather months are getting closer. Another is how great Houston Restaurant’s weeks are and what places have the best deals.
And of course I always realize why this is one of my favorite times of year. It is the heart of the fantasy football draft season, where draft gatherings and parties bring friends together and all of your researching and strategizing comes full circle in quest of a championship.
One concept I want to mention before we take a closer at the Houston Texans is ADP. In case you are not familiar with ADP, it stands for Average Draft Position and states where players are typically going in drafts. One website that provides ADP information is Fantasy Football Calculator and when I took a look at their data before finishing this article, I saw that the ADP in standard leagues for DeAndre Hopkins is 1.11.
That means Hopkins is being picked 11th in the first round of a 12-team league. So if Hopkins were to fall well into the second round in your league, you would be getting a steal. ADP values will fluctuate throughout the preseason, but if you are paying attention to them and your league rivals are not, you are going to gain an edge.
To help you crack the code to fantasy glory, here is our simple, no-nonsense rankings scale:
GOLD MEDAL PLAYERS – Fantasy superstars
SILVER MEDAL PLAYERS – Dependable weekly starters
BRONZE MEDAL PLAYERS – Players who will be at the lower end of the starter scale. This includes wide receivers likely to be classified as WR3s, running backs who fall under the umbrella of flex players, and quarterbacks who are worthy starters in two-quarterback leagues but are borderline starters/matchup plays in many formats.
HONORABLE MENTION – This category is for players who are worth having on your roster. Most often, these players will be quality backups for bye weeks or sleeper candidates who have the potential to be valuable. An example would be a backup running back capable of producing good numbers if the starter ahead of him was injured.
DISHONORABLE MENTION – Players you really don’t want on your team, but they’ll have an outside chance of making waves and might be worth picking up if the circumstances are right.
SLIME IN THE ICE MACHINE – The value of these players is so cold you’ll think they’ve been living in an ice machine. Since they won’t help your team win a title, they have a heavy aura of slime. Stay away from slime in the ice machine! We now present our thoughts on Houston Texans as they get ready for their first preseason game in Kansas City. Rest assured, things will change between now and September and we will keep you posted on those changes:
GOLD MEDAL PLAYERS:
WR DeAndre Hopkins – Earlier this year, horse racing fans were treated to a Triple Crown winner in Justify, and Hopkins is capable of pulling off an NFL version of the Triple Crown by leading the league in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. His thirteen touchdowns in 2017 led the league and he was fourth in yardage and sixth in receptions. And to think so many of his accomplishments took place without Deshaun Watson. If his Clemson comrade stays healthy, Hopkins will be one of the safest and best picks in fantasy football. His first-round ADP that was mentioned earlier is completely justified.
SILVER MEDAL PLAYERS:
QB Deshaun Watson – I fully realize that some of you reading this will be perplexed that I do not have Watson as a gold medalist. Rest assured, I am a huge fan of the young quarterback and will be hoping he can come back at full strength and have great success. And during his brief tear through the league last year, he was a gold medalist in pretty much every game outside of his first start when the Houston Texans won a low-scoring battle with the Bengals. So what are my reasons for being conservative with his ranking?
First, we all need to see if Watson is fully healthy in the preseason. Second, if Houston’s defense lives up to the hype, the Houston Texans may be able to play more conservatively and get involved in fewer shootouts, limiting Watson’s numbers. Third, quarterback is a pretty deep position this year and using a premium pick on Watson could be costly if he has any kind of sizeable slide. In the end, there are way more reasons to draft Deshaun than not draft him. It’s just important to notate reasons to be cautious.
Houston Texans Team Defense – Right off the bat, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus look to be back at full strength. In another dose of positivity, new additions such as Tyrann Mathieu, Aaron Colvin, and Justin Reid are poised to give the secondary a boost. And although Jadeveon Clowney is limited at the moment, signs are pointing towards him being ready for week one.
The revitalized Houston defense is capable of delivering a lot of big games and is capable of starting most weeks. However, if you are the type of optimistic owner who believes you are automatically going to qualify for your league’s fantasy Super Bowl, it is worth noting that the Houston Texans will be traveling to Philadelphia in Week 16, which is when most leagues stage their Super Bowl.
Although you need to keep an open mind about having other defenses on your roster in lieu of that and also because the Houston Texans are playing at New England to begin the season, you will enhance your roster’s credibility by using the Houston Texans more often than not.
BRONZE MEDAL PLAYERS:
RB Lamar Miller – There’s a modestly popular saying out there stating “possession is ninth-tenths of the law.” How exactly does that relate to fantasy football? While there is a sizeable contingent of Houston Texans followers who would like to see D’Onta Foreman operating as Houston’s main man in the backfield, Foreman opened camp on the active/PUP list and his availability for opening day and the first part of the season is in question. If Foreman is sidelined, Miller will have possession of the starting job and own solid fantasy value as a result.
Miller has proven he is not someone you can build your team around but he will come at a lower draft day price than quite a few backs. At last glance, his ADP on Fantasy Football Calculator was in the fourth round in standard leagues. Lamar has compiled over 1,000 total yards and scored six touchdowns each of the past two seasons and if you are an owner that passes up running backs early for other positions, Miller could easily be part of your plans.
WR Will Fuller – If you want to draft the most vanilla fantasy team possible, Fuller is not for you. After all, this is the guy who can either tantalize with a long touchdown reception or traumatize with an incomprehensible drop at the worst possible time. Fuller has also missed a fair share of time with injuries but the numbers he compiled during the four games he played with Watson last year are undeniable.
In that span, Fuller scored seven touchdowns and averaged 70 yards a game. That type of touchdown pace probably cannot be duplicated, but fantasy football teams have to have difference makers and Fuller is capable of single-handedly winning games for you when he gets on a roll.
RB D’Onta Foreman – Fan favorite Foreman fell victim to the vicious injury bug that struck the Houston Texans in 2017, suffering a season-ending injury during his best performance as a rookie when he rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns in Houston’s last win of the season against Arizona.
Still recovering from a torn Achilles, owners should not be shocked if Foreman starts slow, whether he is ready to go at the beginning of the season or later on. Nonetheless, if you have the roster space or an injured reserve spot like some Yahoo leagues, Foreman is worth stashing. Other running backs will get hurt or fall into a slump, and it seems like every year that there is someone at the position who emerges as a hero late in the season, like Miami’s Kenyan Drake last year. Foreman is capable of being a stretch drive standout.
K Ka’imi Fairbairn – Provided there are no problems with Watson staying healthy, Fairbairn’s stock ought to rise with the Houston Texans provided he can improve his accuracy. The Houston Texans would surely like to see him improve beyond 80 percent accuracy on field goals. Nevertheless, Fairbairn did connect on three field goals from beyond 50 yards, a plus given many fantasy leagues award extra points for kicks beyond 50 yards. At the moment, Fairbairn is probably not worth a draft pick. He looks like someone who could help as a bye week replacement and maybe more if everything breaks right.
RB Alfred Blue – A team player who always gives maximum effort, Alfred has shown in the past that he can grind out the tough inside yards. Blue has also shown he can compile numbers if given the chance. In 2015, he rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries in a victory over Tampa Bay. Last year, he rushed for 108 yards against Pittsburgh, one of the few bright spots as the Steelers routed the Houston Texans on Christmas Day.
On the downside, Blue is not a great receiver. With many fantasy leagues rewarding points for receptions, that is a noteworthy negative. Most significantly, he never gets a large role unless the Houston Texans are desperate. While his value would rise if Foreman is unavailable, Blue is not worthy of a draft pick at this point in time. At best, he might become a priority free agent.
WR Keke Coutee – Of the players vying to be Houston’s slot receiver, Coutee would seem to have the most upside. The speedster out of Texas Tech who the Houston Texans took in the fourth round back in April has earned plenty of praise so far. Unfortunately for Coutee, he is now sidelined with a strained hamstring and will be playing catch up when he returns. Keke projects as a bit of a boom/bust player who can hit on some big plays and maybe help fantasy teams on occasion, but not often enough to warrant regular playing time.
WR Braxton Miller – Miller has been a disappointment since the Houston Texans selected him in 2016, producing a mere 34 receptions in his first two seasons. Chatter throughout the Houston Texans circle has him possibly being cut at some point, but the injury to Coutee gives him some breathing room. Although anyone catching passes from Watson cannot be counted out entirely, it would take a dramatic turnaround from the former Ohio State quarterback before anyone should give him a spot on their roster, including the Houston Texans.
WR Bruce Ellington – After missing the 2016 season with a torn hamstring, Ellington signed with the Houston Texans after being cut twice by San Francisco and the New York Jets. He was sidelined at the end of the season again due to a bad hammy, but made an impact at times. Most notably, he hauled in four passes for 59 yards and a score against New England.
There were other times where he was fairly invisible. Because Coutee is unproven and Miller has not dazzled, Ellington may be the safest option as the receiver for the Houston Texans who sees the most playing time behind Hopkins and Fuller. Between his injury history and the fact his role could be up in the air all season, it would be hard to justify giving Bruce a home on your roster unless something happens to the players ahead of him on the depth chart.
SLIME IN THE ICE MACHINE:
TE Ryan Griffin – In 2016, when then-starting quarterback Brock Osweiler was relentlessly targeting tight ends, Griffin caught 50 passes. Unfortunately, concussion issues cost Griffin a large portion of the 2017 season and tight ends are not the focal point of the offense. If Griffin can put some distance between himself and the other tight ends on the roster he might be worth a look, but his overall outlook is not promising.
TE Stephen Anderson – Outside of catching five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Tennessee, Anderson did very little down the stretch when he had plenty of opportunity. Naturally, Deshaun Watson will make everyone look better and Anderson could grow in his third season. Stephen could eventually come into fantasy value if everything breaks right or he could have a long-term home on the waiver wire.
TE Jordan Akins – Someone in the Houston front office must have been a fan of the old television show Crossing Jordan, as Akins was one of two tight ends drafted with the first name of Jordan. Or they were trying to copy Cincinnati, which currently has two tight ends named Tyler on their roster. Akins is an older rookie than most, as he spent several seasons in the farm system of the Texas Rangers. As a third-round pick in a year when the Houston Texans had limited selections, he will get every opportunity to move ahead of Griffin and Anderson. He will need a tremendous preseason to get on the fantasy radar.
TE Jordan Thomas – A sixth-round selection out of Mississippi State, Thomas is the other tight end with a first name of Jordan on the roster. His position on the depth chart is low and he is a long shot to make any kind of waves, but with none of the players ahead of him assured of anything, stranger things have happened, especially for this Houston Texans team.
RB Tyler Ervin – Ervin has been working to make a return from a torn patellar tendon that cost him most of the 2017 season. Prior to the injury, he had not made much in the way of contributions and it is hard to see that changing as far as his role for the Houston Texans.
In a nutshell, these are the players that Houston Texans/fantasy football owners alike must keep an eye on whether you add them to your roster or not. Do you agree? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
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Houston Texans: Week 8: A power-rank of the AFC South
How do the Houston Texans rank among the teams in the AFC South? It’s time rack ’em up and take a glance as the team gets ever closer to the midpoint of the season. Read more to find out. Do you agree with the assessment?
As we approach the midway point of the 2018 regular season in the NFL, the Houston Texans have clawed their way back to the top of the AFC South division after a huge win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Going into this season, I think it was universally agreed upon that the Jaguars were the best team in the division, led by its stellar defense and ground-and-pound offense. But since my last power rankings of the division, the entire AFC South has flipped upside-down.
After Week 4, these were my rankings for the division:
#1- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1 record at the time)
#2- Tennessee Titans (3-1 record at the time)
#3- Houston Texans (1-3 record at the time)
#4- Indianapolis Colts (1-3 record at the time)
Since then, the Jaguars have started to unravel, Marcus Mariota has been exposed as the below-average quarterback he is, Houston has not lost a game and Indianapolis has still suffered from a lack of talent on defense. Now let’s get into my updated power rankings of the division going into Week 8.
#4- Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans won a lot of big time games in the first four weeks against teams like the Jaguars, the Eagles and the Texans. Since then, they have lost to the Buffalo Bills, who are one of the worst teams in football this season. They were also shutout by the Baltimore Ravens, who do have a very good defense this season but not being able to score a single point throughout an entire game is inexcusable.
This past week they also lost in a close game to the Los Angeles Chargers, who are a very solid team; however, I just don’t believe the Titans have what it takes to make those big plays at the end of games to squeak out wins when they have the chances. The Titans have some solid, young pieces to build around to be a very good football team but I believe it is time for them to move on from Marcus Mariota if they do want to take that next step.
#3- Indianapolis Colts
The Colts’ offense struggled with a lack of a running game early on in the season; but this past week, Marlon Mack had huge game against the Bills which will definitely allow for some balance and let them open up the playbook a lot more in the second half of the season. In the past three games, the Colts have put up a total of 95 points, yet somehow they are 1-2 in those games.
That should tell you all you need to know about their defense. Andrew Luck currently has 20 touchdown passes to eight interceptions but I expect the interceptions to slow down immensely with the return of Marlon Mack. The only games they will win will be shootouts because they have a lot of trouble keeping opposing offenses off the field.
#2- Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags have begun to implode. They have given up 90 points in their last three games which is the most of any team in the division. In their last game against the Texans, Blake Bortles was benched after losing two fumbles and failing to put any points on the board. Jalen Ramsey has put a target on the back of that “Sacksonville” defense with all his trash talk this off season and they have struggled to stop anybody in their last few games.
I mentioned in my last power rankings piece that I was worried about Leonard Fournette not being on the field due to a hamstring injury. I was waiting for Bortles to come back down to earth and be the quarterback that everyone knows he is. Last week, the Jags traded a fifth-round pick to acquire Carlos Hyde from the Cleveland Browns, so it does not sound like Fournette will be back any time soon. Hyde is also a good running back and T.J. Yeldon can definitely not be overlooked. Their offense is a one-trick-pony and everybody knows it. Their offense goes, as their running backs go. With Fournette out for three straight games, they have not been able to move the ball effectively which has led to their three-game losing streak. It is hard to be a powerhouse team with a dominant defense and no offense whatsoever.
#1- Houston Texans
In Week 7, the Texans had a convincing win against the Jacksonville Jaguars and right now, the team is clicking on all cylinders. Deshaun Watson is playing well, the defense is flying around, and DeAndre Hopkins is making a case that he is the best receiver in the NFL. Every time the Texans need a big play, he shines. He currently has 47 receptions for 707 yards and four touchdowns. He is on pace to have well over 1,000 yards this season but can he get to 2,000? We’ll have to see. The Texans have some real weapons on offense and they are starting to reach their stride.
They have a game against the Miami Dolphins this week which could really put some distance between them and the rest of the AFC South. The Titans — who are in 2nd place in the division — have to travel after their bye week to play the Cowboys. Dallas is undefeated at Jerry World this season but have yet to win on the road. The Jaguars will travel across the Atlantic to play the Philadelphia Eagles next week in London which will be a tough matchup for them.
The Texans have all the pieces to be a good team in football. They have a great young quarterback, they have an excellent pass rush with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, they have a big play maker in Hopkins and they have a solid running game that can move the chains. Sometimes throughout the course of the season, you can see teams that just look like they’re playing with a new attitude and are just hungry. This year it’s the Texans.
I’m not saying they’re the best team or they’re going to win the Super Bowl but they remind me of Jacksonville and Philadelphia last year. As of late, they play with a chip on their shoulder and they just look like they’re ready compete with anybody. They have a lot of potential and to climb back to first place in the division after starting out the season 0-3 was huge for them. If they can string together a few more wins on this current four-game win streak they’re on, they have a chance to permanently perch themselves at the top of the division when it’s time for the post season to come around.
Where do you think the Texans will end up? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Breaking down the Lamar Miller effect
What’s the Lamar Miller effect and how does it pertain to the Houston Texans? It’s time to break down the latest strategy used for the dynamic running back. Will it work? Take a look to find out more.
Houston Texans faithful — Lamar Miller did not get off to a good start in the 2018 season as he had rushed for 271 yards and no touchdowns through the first six weeks. Entering the Week 7 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miller had run for less than 50 yards in his last three games and had less than 20 carries in every game but the season opener against the Patriots.
Sunday’s game was a completely different story as Miller had 22 carries for 100 yards, providing the Texans a spark at running back that they did not have all season. Miller ran through the Jaguars in the first half as he had 75 yards on only 13 carries. His five-yard rushing touchdown late in the first half was a symbol of his hard-nosed running as he muscled his way through a defender to put the Texans up 13-0 late in the first half. Although the Jags’ were able to limit Miller to just nine carries for 15 yards in the second half, it goes to show that this strategy to keep this offense potent — and preventing Deshaun Watson from taking unnecessary hits — is sound.
The Texans’ offensive line play was good in the run game as Nick Martin and Greg Mancz created holes on the right side for Miller to run through. Most of Miller’s rushing yards came between the tackles so having decent blocking from the line as a whole helped. Julién Davenport and Martinas Rankin struggled in pass protection as Deshaun Watson had to act as an escape artist during the game but they were solid in the run game.
The Texans’ offensive line has been under fire throughout the season as only the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns have allowed more than 26 sacks this season. The offensive line was able to push Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and the rest of the Jaguars’ defensive line as Miller was rarely touched behind the line of scrimmage. The good offensive push allowed Miller to take on Myles Jack and Telvin Smith at the second level with a good head of steam.
Miller’s decision-making throughout the game was great as he constantly picked the proper hole and did not hesitate when the hole emerged. He ran through arm tackles and churned out extra yardage that helped the Texans maintain their early lead in the first quarter. On 3rd and 21 with the ball on the Jacksonville 45, Watson handed the ball off to Miller to attempt to get into field goal range. Miller took the hand-off, burst through the gaping hole on the left side, broke a couple tackles and was finally tackled at the Jacksonville 29 after a gain of 16 yards.
His 16-yard run allowed Ka’imi Fairbairn to kick a 48-yard field goal to extend the Texans’ lead to 6-0. Miller’s ability to break the first tackle made it almost impossible for the Jaguars to comeback in the second half as he was falling forward throughout the game. Miller’s 100-yard game against the Jaguars was his first since Dec. 11, 2016 and he needs to have more 100-yard games if the Texans want to compete in the AFC. The addition of a running back to hit the century-mark every game along with a dynamic young quarterback and one of the NFL’s best wide receiver duos make the Texans a legitimate threat to the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.
Can Miller keep this performance up consistently? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: The storyline that fans may be missing this season
Are the Houston Texans now the favorite to win the AFC South? Robert asks Chronicle Texans Blogger Steph Stradley. Plus, Stradley looks at why the Texans biggest issue is a young offense, how the offensive line is a ‘group of misfit toys’ and what storyline Texans fans might be missing this season.
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Houston Texans: Week 7: The good, bad, ugly vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Houston Texans were able to secure their 4th straight and sole possession of the division lead. What’s working and what’s not? It’s time to discuss the notables that happened in this matchup. Take a look to find out more.
The Houston Texans are now in sole possession of 1st place in the AFC South after a gritty 20-13 victory on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans have now won four games in a row and seem to be forming an identity in the process. Let’s recap on what was good, bad and ugly after Week 7:
How about Lamar Miller shocking everyone and running with a reckless abandon in the 1st half? Miller had over 70 yards rushing in the first two quarters and his first rushing touchdown of the season just over halfway through the second quarter. He finished with his first 100-yard game since December 2016 and the Texans as a team finished with 141 yards rushing on the day. The pass blocking was shaky to start the game so the Texans started pounding the ball and the offensive line opened up some solid lanes. I mentioned in my pregame story that the Texans red zone offense against the Jaguars red zone defense would be a matchup to watch. Houston won that battle today with the Miller touchdown and DeAndre Hopkins darting past cornerback Jalen Ramsey for an easy six inside the five-yard line.
Defensively, the Texans forced a first-half shutout for the second week in a row and forced two Blake Bortles fumbles on the afternoon; that led to a Blake Bortles’ benching and a Cody Kessler appearance. The two fumbles led to 10 Texans points and Tyrann Matthieu added an interception in the 4th quarter for the third turnover of the day, and for the first time this season Houston did not turn the ball over themselves. Special teams are also proving to be one of the best units in the NFL, with punter Trevor Daniel doing his part and the coverage building off of last week and making sure the Jags had terrible field position all day, with an average starting position at the 15-yard line. Ka’imi Fairbairn is becoming a threat any time the Texans get inside the 40-yard line and that has to make fans feel good.
Second half adjustments. The Jaguars were able to key in on Lamar Miller after halftime and if it wasn’t for the defense forcing the second Blake Bortles fumble at the Texans’ 12-yard line that led to the Hopkins touchdown, then the offense wouldn’t have sniffed anything in the form of points in the last two quarters. And when Kessler came on in relief of Bortles, you would have liked to see Romeo Crennel dial up more blitzes and put more pressure on Kessler instead of rushing four and sitting back in zone. Kessler had 156 yards passing and a touchdown in the second half which shouldn’t have happened.
Sacks and pre-snap penalties. The Texans offensive line woes continued early when Deshaun Watson went back to pass, which is why Houston turned into the run game. Jacksonville sacked Watson four times for 28 yards, continuing their pace of giving up the most sacks in the league. There was also several delay of game and false start penalties on offense, also leading the way in another undesirable category this season: pre-snap penalties. They didn’t add up today as they have in previous games but these mistakes will eventually catch up to this offense again if they do not sort it out.
It’s a short week as the Texans welcome Brock Osweiler back to Houston, along with his Miami Dolphins, Thursday night at NRG Stadium.
Do you agree? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
Interested in writing for Locked on Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
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