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: Jalen Ramsey’s latest riff about Deshaun Watson
What’s there to say about Jalen Ramsey’s latest riff about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson? Let’s discuss this further.
Houston Texans faithful — Jalen Ramsey had recently had an interview with GQ Magazine in which he was asked about his opinion on quarterbacks around the league and in perfect fashion, he clearly personified himself without holding back. First, he was asked who he thought were the good quarterbacks in the league and this is what he said:
“Aaron Rodgers does not. Tom Brady doesn’t. I gotta think now, about all the teams … I think Marcus Mariota is a great quarterback for their team. I think Tyrod Taylor is actually a better quarterback than he gets credit for.”
He then followed that up by saying he was still unsure about Jimmy Garoppolo but then stated this:
“Deshaun Watson, he’ll be the league MVP in a couple years. One hundred percent. There’s not even a debate about that. Him and Carson Wentz, for every year starting now until five to ten years, it’s gonna be them two. They’re that good.”
This is extremely high praise from somebody who does not give out many compliments, especially considering he plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Houston Texans’ division rival. But if anybody has a first-hand perspective of how good Watson really is, it’s him. Ramsey is going into his third season as a professional but has emerged as one of the league’s most talented and outspoken players as of late.
The great thing is that these two teams will meet twice a year and a Hopkins/Ramsey match twice a year is as exciting as it gets in the division. Ramsey is a prolific cover corner with tremendous play making abilities and also is notorious for being one of the league’s best trash talkers. It will be interesting to see how Hopkins handles Ramsey’s tactics and how the two go at each other because it will be a competitive battle for years to come.
That’s how I feel, what about you? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.
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Houston Texans: Preseason Week 1: Fantasy Football Twists and Turns
So just how well did the Houston Texans do fantasy football-wise against the Kansas City Chiefs? Here’s what went down with a quick whip-around of action across the league.
While Drake is asking “Kiki Do You Love Me?” we are taking a closer look at some notable Houston Texans and NFL fantasy news. The first week of preseason is generally less eventful than the subsequent preseason weeks, but there was no shortage of news as every team took the field for the first time in 2018.
For the Houston Texans and their fans, the greatest sight was seeing star quarterback Deshaun Watson back in action in Kansas City. While it was nothing more than a cameo appearance, it confirmed Watson is on track to start opening day and should get more work in the next couple of weeks. Watson still has one of the highest average draft positions among quarterbacks on the Fantasy Football Calculator website at the fourth spot in the fourth round, with only Aaron Rodgers being higher. Some say that’s too high of a spot to take a quarterback, but for those wanting to hitch their wagon to Watson, that’s currently the range to look for him on draft day if he impresses during the rest of the preseason.
After Watson’s comeback, the biggest story for the Houston Texans was rookie tight end Jordan Akins. Fighting with Ryan Griffin, Stephen Anderson, and fellow rookie Jordan Thomas for playing time, Akins hauled in two touchdown passes from Brandon Weeden. Naturally, positive showings in preseason can lead to overreaction. Akins will not be shooting up the tight end rankings just yet. However, at a crowded position for Houston, he at least stood out and for now, becomes someone to watch. The Houston Texans would love to find a solid third target behind DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
Speaking of Weeden, he and wide receiver Sammie Coates certainly had their moments. But both players have not impressed in previous regular season stints with other teams. The preseason can be a time to overreact, but it often involves fans getting giddy over youngsters with upside. No one needs to be getting excited about either player at this point in time.
If you want to get excited about another player on offense for the Houston Texans, try running back Troymaine Pope. He caught two passes for 38 yards against the Chiefs and could find a way into the mix behind Lamar Miller, especially with little clarity yet on the status of D’Onta Foreman.
And now it’s time to go beyond the Houston Texans and look at some other tidbits from around the league:
Press Your Luck
There was another AFC South team welcoming back an elite quarterback. For the first time since the 2016 season, Andrew Luck was in the lineup for the Indianapolis Colts. Luck saw more playing time than Deshaun Watson, completing six-of-nine passes for 64 yards. The news was not all rosy for Indianapolis, as running back Marlon Mack suffered a hamstring strain that will keep him out of action for a bit and cause even more uncertainly in the Colts backfield. The Colts also lost promising rookie wide receiver Deon Cain for the season.
Nonetheless, Luck’s showing brings some hope back to Indianapolis. Currently at Fantasy Football Calculator, Andrew’s ADP is at the end of the seventh round. That might be too soon for the wait for a quarterback crowd, but it’s not exorbitant for a player of his potential, especially considering you could still draft another safe option after that. Provided everything continues to go smoothly, Luck also makes T.Y. Hilton a safer pick.
One of the most disappointing stories from around the league comes from our nation’s capital, as Washington lost intriguing rookie running back Derrius Guice for the season with a torn ACL. Although Chris Thompson is locked in as Washington’s third-down and passing situation back, Guice was expected to supplant Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley with ease and carry the load for the Redskins.
Complicating matters further for the Redskins is that Thompson is still recovering from a broken leg. It is thought he will be ready for opening day, but it is not an absolute lock. If Thompson can perform like he did last year before getting hurt, he will be the running back on the Redskins you want to have on your team. But what if he’s not ready out of the gate? The onus would probably fall on Perine, who was generally unremarkable last year. For what it’s worth, he did manage over 100 yards and a touchdown against a good Saints team in one start last year and Washington’s first two games are winnable against Arizona and Indianapolis. Volume is volume and if Perine (or Kelley) are going to get a lot of it, they can be a value in the later rounds.
Better Rookie Running Back News
Although there are several rookie running backs capable of making noise in 2018, most of the buzz rightfully centers around Saquon Barkley. Barkley, the one rookie regularly going in the first round of fantasy drafts, is currently dealing with a hamstring strain that is not believed to be serious. And let’s hope it not, because the former Penn State product showcased his skills on his very first carry, rushing for 39 yards. It can risky to bank on a rookie so early in a draft, but as long as he’s healthy, Barkley looks like he will be worth the risk.
On a night where the Denver Broncos seemingly reached the point of no return with quarterback Paxton Lynch, Royce Freeman was a bright spot. The former Oregon Duck rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown on four carries, highlighted by a 23-yard touchdown run. Devontae Booker has not done enough during his first two seasons to have any kind of stranglehold on the starting job. Defense are going to have to respect the pass more in the Mile High City with Case Keenum taking over at quarterback, which ought to help open things up with the running game. Currently with a late fourth-round ADP at Fantasy Football Calculator, Freeman’s ceiling is getting higher.
Let’s Talk David, not Goliaths
Always bad but rarely boring, the supposedly improving Cleveland Browns are generating tons of headlines. Some of it is from Hard Knocks. Some of it is from polarizing quarterback Baker Mayfield and questions about how soon he will take over as Cleveland’s starter. Some of it is their ongoing dalliance with Dez Bryant and the mystery of Josh Gordon’s whereabouts. And then there is rookie receiver Antonio Callaway, who seems to habitually be found at the intersection of crime and scene.
So let’s talk about someone on the Browns who seems to be just playing ball and doing well at it. Second-year tight end David Njoku, who showed promise as a rookie by scoring four touchdowns, made two visits to the end zone last Thursday against the New York Giants. It often takes longer for tight ends to find their stride and Njoku seems to be finding his. Jarvis Landry should rightfully be the top target for Cleveland quarterbacks, but outside of last year when he scored nine touchdowns, Landry has never been a big touchdown generator. We have no idea if Gordon will be a factor or again fade away. Callaway could be a star or get suspended for a long period of time. And Bryant, if he is brought in, did not exactly dazzle in Dallas last year. Add it all up and Njoku could lead a better Browns team in touchdown receptions. You could take him as your second tight end and potentially get a steal.
He’s David, but Also a Goliath
Since his injury involved a wrist and not a knee, there has been very little reason to be antsy about the return of star Arizona running back David Johnson. Nevertheless, for those who had doubts, Johnson was phenomenal in a limited appearance against the Los Angeles Chargers, carrying the ball twice for 28 yards. Roundly considered to be a top five fantasy player by most experts, Johnson is usually behind the likes of Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott on many draft boards. He has the potential to outplay them all. Consider yourself fortunate if you have the fourth pick and Johnson is there.
In Denver, Kirk Cousins performed on Minnesota’s opening drive of the preseason like he had already played in the Twin Cities for several seasons. The drive culminated in a touchdown drive to playoff hero Stefon Diggs, who hauled in three receptions from Cousins for 35 yards. Cousins, a respectable fantasy option in Washington, is an ideal target for owners who want to wait a bit on draft day to snag a signal caller but not wait too long. With Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph, Cousins has a superior supporting cast than he had in Washington. It would be hard for Cousins to flop with that trio backing him up. Even if Minnesota has a stronger ground game with Dalvin Cook returning after missing most of his rookie season, Cousins will be dependable. Currently the eighth quarterback being drafted at Fantasy Football Calculator with a seventh-round ADP, adding Cousins after loading up at other positions could vault your squad into championship contention.
So what do you think? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!
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Houston Texans: 2018 Preseason Game 1: Defensive Grades vs. Chiefs
Who were the shining stars on defense in the Houston Texans’ first preseason game? Robert and Brian hit on the studs and duds in the latest Pro Football Focus grades. Plus, we go one-on-one with special teams guru Johnson Bademosi.
He tells us about meeting a Houston sports legend, explains his work in “American Football Without Borders” and gives us the keys to being a standout special teams player.
Plus, you’ll hear about the near impossible path a new Houston Texans tight end took to the NFL.
Email [email protected] for Questions or Comments.
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Houston Texans: 2018 Preseason Game 1: Offensive Grades vs. Chiefs
So just how well did the Houston Texans do on offense this past Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs? Rob and Brian talk about that plus give insight on the Houston Texans offensive linemen that are trending up or down.
Who were the other stars of the offense outside of Jordan Akins and Brandon Weeden? The duo also discusses a life moment that has followed the team’s latest acquisition as well as Hue Jackson‘s unusual punishment of a player violating NFL rules. Take a listen to find out more!
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