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.
Interested in writing for Locked on Texans? Tweet us @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop a line at [email protected]
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Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season
The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.
The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.
DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.
While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.
Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.
In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.
His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.
An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.
The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the 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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