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Jerry Bo: Houston Texans 2018 fantasy football outlook

DeAndre Hopkins is a fantasy stud. Houstontexans.com

Training Camps have officially started, and football fever is spreading quickly. As we gear up for the kickoff of the 2018 NFL Season, fantasy football drafts approach fast. Many storylines will break throughout the preseason, but many of the primary skill positions for fantasy purposes are set. Let's dive into some of the key players on this year's Texans roster that could help win your fantasy football title.

DeShaun Watson

The hopes and dreams of this Texans squad heavily rely on the quarterback's shoulders. Yes, the team is filled with stars on all levels of the roster, but after years of suffering at the quarterback position, the small sample size of brilliance has the Houston fan base asking for more. A magical run that saw him tally 168.8  total fantasy points, Watson averaged 24.1 points per game, ranking first by a substantial amount over second place Russell Wilson (21.7) in the category. Something historically profound, Watson's touchdown rate was 9.3%; that's an alarming number counting only four quarterbacks have cleared 7.9% since 2000. The league average was 4.3. According to the strength of schedule, Watson faces the third easiest schedule vs. the pass, something that also justifies his high ADP. Many draft boards have the Texans play caller as the second overall quarterback being drafted behind only Aaron Rodgers. To lock up Watson, you might have to reach as he is currently being selected at the top of the fourth round of drafts with an overall ADP of 37.1.

Lamar Miller

Not the most attractive pick, Miller is currently being drafted as the 22nd overall running back. With an ADP that puts him in the middle of the third round, Miller could be a steal with the return of Watson, as he benefited with the star quarterback in the lineup averaging almost 5 more points in PPR scoring during the six games he started. The only problem is his lack of consistency and explosiveness as of late. Well, we say lack of consistency, but he was uniformly mediocre, failing to eclipse the 75-rush yard mark during the regular season.  2017 also saw Miller record a career low with 3.7 YPC while only scoring three rushing touchdowns, the same amount he had as a pass catcher. A lot of his season depends on the health of Watson and the return of D’Onta Foreman who was starting to overtake the position before a season-ending injury. Something else to keep an eye on throughout the preseason will be the touches of Alfred Blue, as it was him that led the team in carries (46-27) down the stretch from weeks 15-17.

D’Onta Foreman

Placed on the active/PUP list to start camp. That leaves open the possibility he begins the season on the reserve/PUP, which would cost him six games.  "Work in progress right now, recovering from this injury. He's improving, but time will tell whether he's available to us when we kick off." - Texans GM Brian Gaine.

Alfred Blue

Nothing more than a week filler if there is an injury in the depth chart ahead of him, Blue starts the year as the third option depending on the status of Foreman.

DeAndre Hopkins

A man that needs no introduction, Nuk hopes the return of Watson will rocket him back to the top of the wide-out ranks. A sure-fire WR1 in Watson's six full starts under center, Hopkins was able to cement a 6.3/91.8 yard average in the half dozen sample size. When the star quarterback went down for the year, he still carried a 6.4/91.9 yard average while catching ducks from Tom Savage and T.J Yates. Hopkins led the NFL is receiving touchdowns with 13 and finished as the top overall receiver in standard scoring with 213.8 total fantasy points on the season. Nuk made a massive leap from his 2016 performance where he ended as the 35th overall WR averaging 7.4 PPG. Last season he dominated, almost averaging double that with 14.3 fantasy PPG. With a healthy and focused Watson, look for Hopkins to finish in the Top 3 wideouts for the season, serving as an essential piece to your fantasy championship puzzle.

Will Fuller

Manos de Piedra -- aka stone hands, but not the ones spoken in the boxing realm. On the gridiron, a receivers hands are referred to as soft, well at least the great ones. Over his short career, Fuller has had trouble dropping passes, but the emergence of Watson as a star last season saw the speedster tear up defensive backs. With Watson, Fuller was able to turn his 13 receptions into seven touchdowns in just four games. Now, we know we are due for negative regression, but what can extra time with his quarterback do for him as last season he missed the beginning of the season as he recovered from a broken collarbone sustained in training camp. Fuller is currently being drafted extremely high falling at the bottom of the 5th round as the 24th overall wide receiver with an ADP of 57.7.

Braxton Miller
Bruce Ellington
Keke Coutee

All will be battling for the third spot on the receiver depth chart. With Hopkins running over 90% of his routes outside and Fuller 75%, the battle for the slot receiver will be fought throughout training camp. The 4.43 electric fourth round rookie out of Texas Tech, Coutee promises to be a deep threat, as almost 40% of his total receiving yards in college came on passes of 20+ yards downfield.

Tight ends

The Position this year will truly be a battle to find normality. After an absurd amount of concussion scares,  C.J. Fiedorowicz retired leaving the door open for Ryan Griffin. The only problem is the concussions must have been contagious as Griffin sustained two of his own. In the games he did play, Griffin failed to record over five receptions and only scored one touchdown, making him non-relevant in fantasy leagues.

Jordan Akins, rookie pick 98, could be someone to replace Griffin.

Defense

The defense will try to erase the mishaps of 2017, as the history books won't ever show the truth in the injuries the team endured last season. A stable of stars returning healthy has the optimism around the Houston fan base at an all-time high. The Texans hope to rise back to the top ranks of the league on the defensive side of the ball after ranking 2nd in 2014, 4th in 2015, and 4th in 2016 before dropping to 25th in fantasy points for a defense in 2017. The additions of Tyrann Mathieu and Aaron Colvin will help out a defensive backfield that ranked 25th in DVOA vs. the pass but only ninth vs. the run. Look for the defense to be fast, aggressive, and create turnovers leading to some high scoring weeks as a defense throughout the season. With the Texans facing the softest SOS this season, the game script should include them leading games more often, ultimately traversing to more chances for sacks and interceptions when teams have to risk more. Houston is currently being taken as the seventh defense overall off the board in drafts somewhere around the 11th round.





 

 

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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