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Jerry Bo: Houston Texans 2018 fantasy football outlook

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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Reed Sheppard to Houston seems to be the common consensus. Composite Getty Image.

French 7-footer Alexandre Sarr has widely been projected to follow the footsteps of fellow countryman Victor Wembanyama as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

But Sarr isn't the only big man expected to have his name called.

Though the June 26 draft isn't loaded with bigs, it does have the two-time national college player of the year and a two-time national champion available.

UConn's Donovan Clingan won two national championships and could go in the lottery with his strong pick-and-roll skills and shot-blocking ability.

Purdue's Zach Edey is expected to go much later in the first round due to his lack of mobility and perimeter shooting, but he is the first two-time national player of the year since Ralph Sampson, so there's likely a place for him in the NBA.

This year's draft also includes Kyle Filipowski from Duke, Indiana's Kel'el Ware and Baylor's Yves Missi, so there will be chances for teams looking to add size.

Then again, some team may even take a chance on using a first-round pick on Southern California's Bronny James, son of NBA career scoring leader LeBron James.

1. ATLANTA HAWKS: Alexandre Sarr, center, France

Sarr doesn't have the all-around skills of Wembanyama, but then no one really does. He's still extremely talented, an athletic 7-footer who can wreck rims and the hopes of opposing shooters. Sarr's shot still needs some work, but he could end up becoming a franchise player in the next few years. Atlanta fans should love watching him throw down lobs from Trae Young.

2. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Zaccharie Risacher, forward, France

Many NBA mock drafts have Risacher going No. 1 — and for good reason. The 6-foot-9 forward has the skills of a guard and should be a perfect fit for today's NBA. Risacher is a superb catch-and-shoot wing who can beat defenders off the dribble and has a huge defensive upside with his length and athleticism. He may end up being the franchise player the Wizards need in their rebuild.

3. HOUSTON ROCKETS: Reed Sheppard, guard, Kentucky

The Rockets need shooters and Sheppard is certainly that. The 6-3 guard may be the best shooter in the draft — his 52% mark would have led Division I last season if he had enough attempts to qualify.

He has a high basketball IQ — both parents played at Kentucky — and averaged 12.5 points as a freshman.

Last week's mock draft also had Sheppard going to the Rockets.

4. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Stephon Castle, guard, UConn

The Huskies were loaded with talented players in their title defense last season and Castle had no trouble fitting in as a freshman. The 6-6 guard is a solid playmaker who can get his own shot and is a hard-nosed defender. His size and athleticism could end up making him one of the best players of the draft, particularly if he improves his outside shot. Even at 19, he’s already a proven winner.

5. DETROIT PISTONS: Matas Buzelis, forward, G League Ignite

Buzelis bypassed college basketball to play in the G League and improved his draft status by gaining muscle while rounding out his game. The 6-8 forward is an excellent playmaker who can see over defenders and finishes strong at the rim in transition. Buzelis will need to work on his perimeter shooting, though: He hit 27% from 3 for the Ignite last season.

6. CHARLOTTE HORNETS: Donovan Clingan, center, UConn

Clingan's a proven winner as the massive anchor to UConn's back-to-back NCAA titles. Though he doesn't fit the NBA mold of a perimeter-shooting big man, the 7-2, 280-pounder is a load for opponents inside at both ends of the floor and would be a great fit for a Charlotte team that was 25th in the NBA in blocked shots last season. Clingan also is excellent at finishing on lobs, which could be a great fit with LaMelo Ball running the point in Charlotte.

7. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Rob Dillingham, guard, Kentucky

Portland was last in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season and Dillingham's 44% mark in his lone season at Kentucky was nearly 10 points higher than the Blazers' percentage. Though small at 6-1, 165 pounds, Dillingham has a big game with an ability to score at three levels and has the quickness to beat defenders off the dribble. His size could be a liability on defense.

8. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Ron Holland II, forward, G League Unite

Holland could end up being the best defensive forward in the draft. The 6-7 forward has a nose for the ball defensively — he averaged more than 2 steals a game in the G League — and is excellent in the open floor. Holland can create his own shot, but needs to make more after shooting 24% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game last season. The Spurs are at least in a position to wait for him to develop.

9. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Dalton Knecht, guard, Tennessee

A knockdown shooter, Knecht could be a great complement to Ja Morant. The 6-6 shooting guard is superb at shooting off screens and can fill it up in a hurry, like he did while scoring 37 points against Purdue in the Elite Eight. Knecht is close to a finished product already, a 23-year-old who should contribute right away.

10. UTAH JAZZ: Tidjane Salaun, forward, France

Salaun can make it three French players as lottery picks in this year's draft. The 6-9 forward fits the NBA style of play. He can shoot it from deep and improved his game — not to mention his frame — while playing in the French LNB Pro A, the same league as Wembanyama before his move to the NBA. Salaun may be a longer-term project, but has massive upside.

11. CHICAGO BULLS: Cody Williams, guard, Colorado

He’s a thin 6-8, but has the size and athleticism to shoot over or get around defenders. Williams can create his own shot, is an excellent finisher and has good playmaking skills for a shooting guard. He shot a respectable 41% from 3 during his freshman season and has a huge defensive upside with his length and agility.

12. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Ron Holland, forward, G League Unite

Holland could end up being the best defensive forward in the draft. The 6-7 forward has a nose for the ball defensively — he averaged more than 2 steals a game in the G League — and is excellent in the open floor, which would be a great fit in OKC. Holland can create his own shot, but needs to make more after shooting 24% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game last season. The Thunder are at least in a position to wait for him to develop.

13. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Devin Carter, guard, Providence

The 6-3 guard has a massive wingspan and vertical leap, which helped allow him make a big jump from 13 points to 19.7 last season. Carter has a high basketball IQ, is a hard-nosed defender and an excellent rebounder for a guard. The son of former NBA player Anthony Carter, he was the Big East player of the year in a league that included Clingan and Castle.

14. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Ja'Kobe Walter, guard, Baylor

The 6-5 guard was not shy in putting it up from 3 for the Bears as a freshman, taking more than four a game while shooting 34%. His long wingspan and athleticism give Walter the potential to become a defensive stopper at the next level. Shot selection and adding a bit of muscle to his 197-pound frame will be the biggest adjustments in the move to the NBA, but he's only 19, so there's plenty of time.

15. MIAMI HEAT: Nikola Topic, guard, Serbia

At 6-6, Topic is a superb passer with great vision and size to see over defenders. He also has the strength to get into the lane and can finish strong at the rim, making him able to control a game even without being a great 3-point shooter. Would be projected to go higher — maybe with the Spurs’ first pick at No. 4 — but medical tests showed he has a partially torn ACL in his left knee, which he injured twice last season in Europe.

16. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Jared McCain, guard, Duke

He was Duke's toughest competitor during his lone season in Durham and is an elite shooter who could fit in on any team. McCain is an excellent shooter off screens and in the pullup game, but can also run the point if needed. He has a high basketball IQ, so should pick up the NBA game fairly quickly.

17. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Kel'el Ware, center, Indiana

The 7-footer with a 7-5 wingspan has the length and game to have an immediate impact in the NBA. Ware quickly moved up NBA draft boards during team workouts and is a strong rim protector. He's also excellent on lobs and shot 43% from 3 last season, making him the type of stretch big man NBA teams covet.

18. ORLANDO MAGIC: Carlton Carrington, guard, Pittsburgh

The player known as “Bub” gets buckets in bunches and loves the pull-up J. The 6-4 guard has good size to play point guard and, at 19, has plenty of time to develop. His biggest downside: perimeter shooting. Carrington didn’t lack for confidence in his freshman season, attempting 6.1 3s per game, but shot 32% from the arc.

19. TORONTO RAPTORS: Zach Edey, center, Purdue

Even with a lack of mobility and perimeter shooting, Edey was still the first repeat AP national player of the year since Ralph Sampson. At 7-4, 300 pounds, he dominated the college game and will be a handful even in the NBA. The Canadian would be a popular pick by the Raptors.

20: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Tristan da Silva, forward, Colorado

Any team could use a steady, do-it-all type of player and da Silva is just that. The 6-8 forward doesn't have eye-catching athleticism, but he is smart and has the size and strength to endure the rigors of the NBA. He also can guard multiple positions and may be the most NBA-ready player in the draft after playing four years in Boulder.

21. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: Isaiah Collier, guard, USC

While Bronny James got much of the hype in Southern California, Collier was the higher-rated prospect out of high school. Once projected as a lottery pick, his draft stock took a bit of a hit during an inconsistent lone season with the Trojans. Even so, Collier has the type of game and solid frame that could translate well in the NBA. The 6-3 guard plays hard with the strength and quickness to get past defenders, but needs to work on his perimeter game after shooting 34% from the college 3-point line.

22. PHOENIX SUNS: Tyler Kolek, guard, Marquette

The Suns have plenty of firepower led by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker but could use a true point guard to help get them organized. The two-time All-American can certainly do that and also provide points when needed, and should be a familiar name to new coach Mike Budenholzer from his time coaching in Milwaukee.

23. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Yves Missi, center, Baylor

Missi knows his game and sticks to it. A high-motor 6-11 forward, he is a rim runner and shot blocker who didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer last season. The Cameroon native should transition well to the pick-and-roll game of the NBA and is a thunderous dunker, as he proved during his lone season with the Bears.

24. NEW YORK KNICKS: Kyle Filipowski, center, Duke

New York is loaded with Duke fans and Filipowski could be an instant favorite. The sturdy 6-11 center may not be an elite rim protector or a consistent 3-point shooter, but he has good footwork and plays hard. The Knicks had a solid run into the second round of the playoffs and Filipowski could be another piece to help push them deeper.

25. NEW YORK KNICKS: Terrence Shannon, guard, Illinois

Shannon can flat-out score and has shown he can do it in big moments. Sexual assault accusations might have made teams leery of taking the dynamic guard in the first round, but the Knicks might be willing to take a chance following a not guilty verdict earlier this month.

26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Johnny Furphy, guard, Kansas

The 6-8 Australian has a smooth shooting stroke and gets his shot off quickly. He also has good touch around the rim and good instincts on defense, often leading to steals. Furphy is not much of a shot creator off the dribble and needs to work on his individual defense, so he could need a year or two of development.

27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: DaRon Holmes II, forward, Dayton

The 6-9 forward is good in the pick-and-roll game and a strong finisher at the rim. Holmes has improved his outside shooting, hitting 39% from the 3-point arc after shooting 32% the season before. He can defend multiple positions, but would be undersized as a center in the NBA. He also isn’t much of a shot creator, but his pick-and-roll skills may offset that.

28. DENVER NUGGETS: Jaylon Tyson, forward, California

Denver's bid to repeat as NBA champions hit a wall in the second round when its top players were stretched to the limit. Tyson could give them a solid boost off the bench. The 6-6 guard has good size, finishes strong at the rim and is a decent perimeter shooter. He increased his scoring average nearly 10 points to 19.6 last season, so has shown the ability to develop his game.

29. UTAH JAZZ: Bobi Klintman, forward, Wake Forest/Australia

The back end of the first round is typically filled with potential projects and Klintman is an intriguing one. The 6-9 stretch forward from Sweden has good length, both physically and shooting ability. Klintman moves more like a guard and is a good passer for a big man. He will likely need a few years of development before becoming ready, but is worth the risk late in the first round.

30. BOSTON CELTICS: Bronny James, guard, USC

The champion Celtics already have a loaded roster, so there's room to take a chance on LeBron's son. Bronny James has an incredible feel for the game after learning from his father and has a solid 6-4 frame. He had a so-so freshman season at USC, averaging 4.8 points and 27% shooting from 3-point range, but has the potential to be a solid pro. James also could come with a huge bonus if his father follows through with his intention to play at least one season with his son.

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