Which Houston Texans should you have on your Fantasy Football roster? You’ll be surprised as to who to start or sit. Plus, join the journey in a whip-around of the latest NFL injuries. Top 5 matchups for points? Take a look.
Houston Texans faithful — for many fantasy owners out there, draft day has come and gone. Hopefully you are happy with your roster and confident you have a championship contender. If not, be aggressive with making moves on the waiver wire and pursue trades that you think will steady the ship.
If your league has not held your draft event yet, or you want to know more about the ramifications of last weekend’s headlines around the league, we have you covered, along with a look ahead at some of the most interesting games on tap for week one.
None of the headlines generated by the Houston Texans dominated the overall NFL news, but there is considerably more clarity on the roster at key fantasy positions. Running back D’Onta Foreman was officially placed on the reserve/PUP list and will miss the first six games of the season, locking Lamar Miller into a lead role. Veteran Alfred Blue would be next in line should something happen to Miller.
At wide receiver, the release of Braxton Miller ensures Bruce Ellington and rookie Keke Coutee of a larger involvement in the Houston offense. Neither player is roster-worthy in most formats at the moment, but could eventually offer some help on the waiver wire when rosters get tighter. With Coutee being limited during the preseason, Ellington has more viability right now. However, Coutee may have more upside once he settles in.
Houston also waived tight end Stephen Anderson, which means Ryan Griffin and rookie Jordan Akins are atop the depth chart. Akins gained notoriety when he scored two touchdowns against Kansas City in the preseason, but neither Akins nor Griffin needs to be occupying space on your roster.
Additionally, the Houston Texans released kicker Nick Rose. Rose did not mount much of a challenge to incumbent Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has been going undrafted in most leagues. He does not show up on ADP data at the Fantasy Football Calculator website. Nonetheless, with the Houston Texans’ offense expected to show improvement, Fairbairn might be a useful roster addition at some point, especially when bye weeks set in.
Of course Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are no-brainer starters for opening day up in New England. Miller and Will Fuller are also worthy starters. It is a tough draw for the Houston Texans defense and you need to have an alternative lined up. Tom Brady will lean heavily on Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan with Julian Edelman serving a suspension. Running backs Rex Burkhead and James White will also be factors in the passing game in what could be a high-scoring affair.
Now it’s time to tour the rest of the league:
Don’t Ring the Bell?
It was assumed that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, holding out for the second year in a row, would report by Labor Day weekend just as he did last year. Many fantasy owners calmly selected Bell with a top five pick based on that scenario.
But the weekend passed, and Bell never reported. There was panic at the disco and all throughout the fantasy world. As of midweek, he still hadn’t shown up. And now owners are forced to ponder a question that was unfathomable not that long ago – should we bench Le’Veon Bell for week one? The Steelers seem tired of his act and Bell will have plenty of rust. Even last year on opening day, he generated a meager 47 total yards against a Cleveland team that finished 0-16.
In the end it would be hard to bench Bell. However, if you are in good shape at running back beyond Bell, you need to strongly consider it. The decision would also be easier to make if you handcuffed Bell with James Conner.
Could the Oakland Raiders have picked a worse way to head into the season? There was the stunning trade of superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. There was the release of wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who was acquired from Pittsburgh earlier this year for a third-round pick and will now never play a down for the Silver and Black.
On paper, the departure of Bryant takes a weapon away from Derek Carr, but with the Oakland defense now in a higher state of decay, Carr is going to be facing larger deficits and will be forced to throw more. Even if Oakland is not trailing by a large margin, they are going to have to score victories by the shootout route. He should be a solid QB2 for your team. Jordy Nelson may be the biggest beneficiary, as Nelson and Amari Cooper are locked in as Oakland’s top receivers. Bryant was always a wild card capable of being a fantasy superstar on any given week, but now, he is just part of a wretched Raiders offseason.
Jerick McKinnon Suffers Torn ACL
San Francisco signed former Minnesota runner Jerick McKinnon with plans to make him their lead back, letting Carlos Hyde get away to Cleveland. Unfortunately, McKinnon was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL during a Saturday practice. As a result, backup running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Breida immediately became hot commodities.
When Morris was originally signed by San Francisco, some cited it as a classic case of Morris landing the job because he “knows the system.” When 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was Washington’s offense coordinator in 2012 and 2013, Morris rushed for 2,885 yards and scored 20 touchdowns during that span. Indeed, it was the highlight of Alfred’s career to this point, but he did average 4.8 yards per carry last year with Dallas and saw a decent amount of playing time during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.
The problem with Morris is that he is not much of a receiver. His single-season high for receptions is 17. Breida, who spelled Hyde last year, had 21 receptions. It must be noted that fullback Kyle Juszczyk hauled in 33 passes, but had seven rushing attempts in 14 games. Given the complete lack of running opportunities, Juszczyk only deserves a home in deeper PPR leagues. The San Francisco backfield show will larger belong to Morris and Breida now. On the surface, Morris is better in standard leagues and Breida is better in PPR. While Morris will indeed likely get more touchdown chances, a case can be made that Breida has more upside, since he will get carries and catch passes. Both have the potential to be regular options for flex spots.
With the regular season soon to be underway, we will take a look at five notable NFL games that might offer a lot of fantasy fireworks:
Atlanta at Philadelphia:
Playoff hero Nick Foles is officially getting the start for Philadelphia. His heroics were not based on his performance against the Falcons, as Atlanta limited him to 246 yards and zero touchdown passes. Coming off a down preseason, Foles is not a great option this week. If you picked Carson Wentz in your league, hopefully you drafted someone who can fill in as a starter until Wentz returns. As far as the rest of the Eagles are concerned, at least Foles will not torpedo the offense, ensuring Zach Ertz remains one of the top tight end plays on the board. Nelson Agholor is worth starting with Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins out and Jay Ajayi will probably be leaned on more to take some pressure off of Foles.
In his last two starts in Philadelphia, Matt Ryan has thrown for just 477 yards and two touchdowns. While Ryan ought to rebound this year overall, you can do better at quarterback during week one. Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones are also looking to rebound somewhat in 2018 and need to be in your opening week lineup. Tevin Coleman is an acceptable flex, but Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, and rookie Calvin Ridley should stay on your bench. Naturally, the Atlanta defense gets a boost with Foles in the lineup.
Dallas at Carolina:
The main double-header game on FOX will feature a battle between two squads dealing with depleted offensive lines. It will also feature one elite fantasy running back in Ezekiel Elliott and one hoping to become elite in Christian McCaffrey.
Elliott is the only must-start on the Dallas side of the equation. Quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receivers such as veteran Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup largely landed on fantasy teams as backups. This game will give you an opportunity to see how Prescott clicks with his new targets before you might have to use him down the line. Hurns and Gallup may force their way into lineups sooner than Prescott if either of them can dominate target share.
We are still stunned the Cowboys cut kicker Dan Bailey, who had been outstanding for them up until last year when injuries caused a decline. Unless there is something we do not know about regarding Bailey, the decision to waive him must have amounted to cost-cutting by owner Jerry Jones. Brett Maher is now the kicker for the Cowboys.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is happy to have tight end Greg Olsen back after Olsen missed significant time in 2017 due to injury. The duo could get off to a hot start against a Dallas defense that is typically not daunting. McCaffrey will get his first chance to prove all of the hype was justified and we suspect he will perform well. Playing Devin Funchess as your WR3 or flex makes plenty of sense. This game will also mark the debut of Carolina’s first-round draft pick, wide receiver D.J. Moore out of Maryland. At the moment, Moore is not someone to rely upon, but he is someone to watch closely.
San Francisco at Minnesota:
We have touched on the situation at running back for San Francisco already, but there is another pressing question for the 49ers. Will this be the first game quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo loses as San Francisco’s starter? After coming over from New England last year, Jimmy G was 5-0, including victories over three playoff teams. When we last saw the Minnesota defense, they were melting down in Philadelphia in the NFC championship game. Nevertheless, the Vikings still have one of the top defenses in the league and Garoppolo’s undefeated streak could come to an end. At a minimum, you should consider another choice at quarterback this week.
All of the passing game components are set in place for the Vikings, with quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen poised to produce good numbers for fantasy managers. The main thing to watch for Minnesota is the distribution of carries in the backfield. Although Dalvin Cook was great last year before suffering a season-ending injury, Latavius Murray has proven to be a capable if not great back throughout his career and there has been talk of Murray still getting a decent amount of carries despite Cook’s return. While we would have no qualms with starting Cook against San Francisco, Murray is worth a look if he’s out there on your league’s waiver wire in the event he gets enough carries to be used as a flex.
Seattle at Denver:
Five years is an eternity in the NFL. Five years ago, these teams were on a collision course for a Super Bowl showdown with each other. Now, they are retooling teams trying to get back in an elite position. And both teams have no shortage of fantasy story lines.
In Seattle, Russell Wilson remains one of the NFL and fantasy football’s best quarterbacks. Nonetheless, the Seahawks lost Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson in free agency. Top returning target Doug Baldwin missed the entire preseason with a knee issue. Wilson is probably going to regress some statistically, but how much? It really depends on Baldwin. There was a tweet recently from a Seattle Times reporter saying Baldwin was at 80-85% health and the knee was something he was going to be dealing with all season. As Wilson’s most trusted target, any significant issues with Baldwin would cause headaches for Wilson. Tyler Lockett and potentially Jaron Brown are capable of stepping up to some degree, but the team does not have much at tight end and probably will not get much out of veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Wilson is going to remain a QB1, but he may be more steady than sensational, especially this weekend with the imposing Denver defense on the other side of the field.
Also for the Seahawks, the tilt with the Broncos will be Chris Carson’s first chance to further distance himself from rookie Rashaad Penny as Seattle’s lead running back. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll seems high on Carson. It is not the greatest matchup of all-time, but you should not be scared to start Carson if you rolled the dice with him on draft day.
Shifting over to the Denver side of the equation, the hope is that new quarterback Case Keenum will prop up the values of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. By himself, Keenum may not have a lot of fantasy value, but Thomas and Sanders have struggled in a post-Peyton Manning world. With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor gone, the Legion of Boom has become a memory, with only Earl Thomas still around and he’s just coming back from a holdout. Do not overvalue the Seattle defense based on their past reputation. Sanders and Thomas should both be started.
There is also lots of hope in Denver (and for fantasy footballers) that rookie running back Royce Freeman will provide an instant impact. While Devontae Booker is still around and will probably siphon some carries, Freeman is simply better and capable of producing a proficient week one performance.
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers:
The defending AFC West champion Chiefs will be squaring off against the team most likely to steal their crown in a battle of high-powered offenses. It will be the second career start for Kansas City’s second-year signal caller, Patrick Mahomes. Both the Kansas City brass and fantasy owners have high hopes for Mahomes, who played high school ball at Whitehouse High School outside of Tyler, but the Chargers defense can be formidable, especially with first-round pick Derwin James poised to make an impact in the secondary. If you think Mahomes can generate some plays that will override his mistakes, he’s worth starting, albeit more as a streamer based on your roster than a must-start. Kareem Hunt scored three touchdowns against the Chargers defense last year and had 389 total yards. Hunt was going to be in your lineup anyway, but we thought that was a nice tidbit. Tyreek Hill also had success against the Chargers last year. Travis Kelce did not, with just 47 receiving yards, but sitting him would be silly. We would tread lightly with Sammy Watkins.
The big story for the Chargers is the return of Antonio Gates. The future Canton inductee was long rumored to be returning for a reunion with Philip Rivers after Hunter Henry was lost for the season, but now it is official. While his career accomplishments speak for themselves, Gates is essentially a fantasy backup at this point in his career who will catch an occasional touchdown. Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers has a favorable matchup as the Kansas City defense will be weaker in 2018. Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon will be fantasy fixtures all across the landscape, with unrelated Tyrell and Mike Williams probably good for spot starts along with Gates.
Starting next week, we will begin a feature called Hired/Fired. “Hired” players are ones you want to acquire off the waiver wire or through trades, while “Fired” players are the ones you need to send packing.
Are you ready for the upcoming season? Let me know what you think by sounding 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: Rob and Brian’s final sign-off from Locked on Texans
Brian and Robert say goodbye to Locked on Texans. After 540 episodes, we bid a tearful farewell to Houston Texans faithful, reminisce about our tenure and share some final thoughts on the Houston Texans future.
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]
Houston Texans: Identifying the team’s most glaring weaknesses
What are the Houston Texans biggest weaknesses going into the 2019 off season? Rob and Brian bring on State of the Texans’ BigRon to discuss what needs to be done to fix a team that has tons of potential to be dominant. What’s the best way to improve the offensive line? Is Julién Davenport still worth developing and what should we expect to see in additional development?
How about the thought of shifting Greg Mancz to center and Nick Martin to guard? The trio also discusses the future of Whitney Mercilus on the roster as well as certain defensive lineman not getting enough playing time. What else? Take a listen to find out more!
Houston Texans: Le’Veon Bell and plethora of free agent running backs
What’s the best way for the Houston Texans to fix the running backs position for the 2019 season? They certainly can do better than bringing back Alfred Blue. Rob and Brian talk about what the team needs to do and gives their top free agent running backs to help this offense flourish. Is bringing in Le’Veon Bell a possibility? Can the Houston Texans get the back they want in this season’s draft?
The duo discusses that plus gives their thoughts of Indianapolis Colts’ firing offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the interesting back story that likely factored into the move. Plus, Gary Kubiak finds a new job in the NFL. What else? Take a listen to find out more!