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Fantasy Football Team Previews: Houston Texans

How will the Houston Texans perform without DeAndre Hopkins?
What should fantasy football manages expect from Deshaun Watson in 2020? (Twitter // @PFF_Fantasy)

2019 Summary

Record: 10-6 (1st in AFC South)

2019 Offensive Points-Per-Game:23.9 (12th)

2019 Total Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: -5.8% (18th)

For a second-straight season, the Houston Texans won the AFC South. Deshaun Watson turned in another solid season, finishing as QB2 in fantasy football from Week 1 through 16. DeAndre Hopkins was not exceptional for his standards, but he did finish the year with 1,165 receiving yards and seven touchdowns en route to finishing the season as WR6 in fantasy. No other receiver on the team finished the season with more than 50 receptions. Carlos Hyde filled in nicely as the lead back, topping 1,000 rushing yards with a respectable 4.4 yards-per-carry behind a shaky offensive line. Duke Johnson Jr. had another solid year on a per-touch basis, but the team failed to utilize him as anything more than a change-of-pace back.

Major additions

  • FS, Eric Murray
  • WR, Randall Cobb
  • DT, Ross Blacklock
  • RB, David Johnson
  • WR, Brandin Cooks
  • DE, Jonathan Greenard
  • G, Charlie Heck
  • CB, John Reid

Major subtractions

  • FS, Tashaun Gipson
  • WR, DeAndre Hopkins

4 major storylines for 2020

Who will emerge as the Texans’ No. 1 wide receiver?

Hopkins’ departure from Houston means there is a massive void on the depth chart. Hopkins was Watson’s clear go-to target, but now Will Fuller V, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills Jr. and Randall Cobb will all have to pick up the slack. Health is obviously a major factor, but I believe Fuller V will emerge as Watson’s top option. Fuller V is the most talented player from the bunch and he is the most familiar to Watson. His track record with Watson is important, as the team has a better QB rating, yards-per-play, and third-down conversion rate when he has suited up. The quarterback has also gone on record stating that Fuller V will be one of the top wide receivers in the NFL this season.

Can David Johnson get it done in Houston?

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a truly dominant season by Johnson. In fact, it’s been four years since Johnson’s epic 2016 campaign, which was the last time he rushed for more than 4.0 yards per carry in a year. Joining Houston, Johnson has a great opportunity to contribute in both the rushing and receiving game. The Texans have the fifth-most vacated targets (167) in the NFL and considering what the team gave up to acquire him (DeAndre Hopkins) it’s likely that Johnson is deployed by head coach Bill O’Brien as much as possible. Currently owning an ADP of 42.63 in NFFC drafts, Johnson is a great value and an excellent target for fantasy owners that want to pass on RBs in the first couple of rounds.

How will Hopkins’ absence affect Watson’s fantasy value?

Losing your No. 1 wide receiver is never a good thing for a quarterback. Losing your No. 1 wide receiver who is also arguably the best in the NFL during an offseason altered by a global pandemic is on a whole different level. I think it’s pretty obvious to say that Watson will be negatively affected by Hopkins’ exit, but I think the fourth-year pro will be able to retain the value wee’ve seen in the past with a caveat. The team made an obvious effort to supplement the receiver room in his absence, adding both Cobb and Cooks to join Stills Jr. and Fuller V. The issue I have with this assortment of receivers is their durability. Fuller V and Cooks both posses lengthy injury histories, and injuries to one or both would severely deplete the team’s positional talent and negatively affect Watson’s fantasy prospects. While at the time being I don’t see Hopkins’ absence derailing Watson’s success, a wide receiver room with injury concerns offers some risk.

Can Cooks return value in 2020?

Currently, Cooks is being selected as WR37 in NFFC drafts. A WR4 in 12-team leagues, Cooks may seem like an afterthought or a not so sexy selection given the players going around his ADP. Diontae Johnson, CeeDee Lamb, Christian Kirk and Jerry Jeudy are all being selected within his neighbourhood. The truth is, with 167 vacated targets, there’s a good chance Cooks sees more volume in a less talented Texans wide receiver room than he did on a loaded Los Angeles Rams squad. Injuries are concerning given Cooks’ troubling concussion history, but if your strategy is to draft running backs early, Cooks seems like a nice mid-round option. There’s enough attempts for both Cooks and Fuller to be successful. He’s also only one season removed from a WR16 finish.

Sleeper and Bust

Sleeper: Duke Johnson Jr.

I know I spent an earlier portion of this article raving about David Johnson, but Duke Johnson Jr. has always peaked my interest. The University of Miami’s all-time leading rusher has never been given an opportunity to show what he can do as a starter. He owns a career 4.4 yards-per-carry mark and has caught 40 or more passes in each of his five years in the league. If David Johnson falters or battles injuries, Duke Johnson Jr. could emerge as a potential RB1 in fantasy. He’s currently being drafted in NFFC drafts at an ADP of 130.18.

Bust: Deshaun Watson

As mentioned earlier, losing Hopkins will hurt Watson as he’ll be without a perennial All-Pro player at his disposal. The current cast is solid, but banking on Cooks and Fuller V to play out the entirety of this season seems like a bit of a far-fetched proposition. He’ll still be a solid QB option, but I wouldn’t select him at his NFFC ADP of 67.22.

Texans Players in Rally Towel’s Top-200 Fantasy Football Rankings

34. RB, David Johnson

62. QB, Deshaun Watson

78. WR, Will Fuller V

82. WR, Brandin Cooks

146. RB, Duke Johnson Jr.

Download Rally Towel’s 2020 PPR Fantasy Football Cheatsheet here.

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Follow Rally Towel on Twitter here.

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