Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Chris Molina, Chris Tyler, & Joe Zollo
Deshaun Watson was sacked more times last year than any quarterback in the league. As a result, the belief was that the Texans had no choice but to select offensive linemen early and often. After the Eagles leapfrogged them for OT Andre Dillard, the Texans took Tytus Howard — a behemoth with raw skills — to protect Watson’s blindside. They doubled down at offensive tackle with Max Scharping, hopefully providing Watson a pair of bookends that will have his back for the next decade. Lonnie Johnson Jr. will have an opportunity to compete right away for playing time with Bradley Roby and Kevin Johnson after Kareem Jackson left for Denver. If you’re a Lamar Miller believer, be happy- the Texans didn’t select a running back until round 7 (and added Karan Higdon as an undrafted free agent). – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The duo of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins is amazing. They combined for almost 700 fantasy points in 2018. Just imagine what Watson’s numbers would’ve looked like had Will Fuller remained healthy all year. Fuller and Watson have a relationship that breeds touchdowns. Those are the kinds of babies I want to nurture. Add in 2018 draftee Keke Coutee, and Watson has one of the most dangerous trios with which to work in the NFL. Lamar Miller has three consecutive years with the Texans over 200 carries and has been uninspiring in all of them. Now that he’s finally healthy, D’Onta Foreman will push for his share of carries and give Miller a run for his starting spot. Remember, he finished his last year at Texas with over 2,000 rushing yards. There’s a mystery at TE with the Jordans jockeying for TE1 duties. Thomas showed up in the red zone last year and should remain a weapon when Watson gets the offense in range, but don’t expect much more out of the TE position from Houston this year. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Deshaun Watson set the fantasy world on fire in 2017 before succumbing to a torn ACL after seven games. In those seven games, he had an astronomical 9.3% TD rate. Let’s put that in perspective. Patrick Mahomes just had a 50-touchdown season. His TD percentage rate? 8.6%. Fast forward to the 2018 draft season. The buzz was real. Watson’s ADP climbed to as high as the fifth round, and he was being taken off the board as the QB2-5 across all platforms. The analysts and “never draft a QB before round 9″ truthers weren’t having it, though. He was recovering from a surgically repaired knee, and they said there was no way he was going to keep up the 9.3% touchdown pace. They were right. Let’s explore Watson’s 2018 season, then I want you to guess where Deshaun Watson finished as a fantasy QB last year – if you don’t already know.
Last year, Deshaun Watson completed 345 passes on 505 attempts for 4,165 yards and 26 passing touchdowns. Watson also chipped in 551 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Watson was only fifteenth among QBs with 505 pass attempts last year, while the Texans were twenty-seventh overall in pass attempts. Watson was also fifteenth among QBs in TD percentage at 5.1%, and finished eighteenth — below the league average — in passing yards per game. Keke Coutee, his slot receiver, only played six games with almost seven targets per game. Will Fuller, another wide-receiver weapon for the Texans, only played in seven games, on pace for 1,140 yards and nine touchdowns. They both missed the last month+ of the season. The Texans, as an offense, were fifteenth in total yards, seventeenth in passing yards, eighth in rushing yards (thirty-first if you don’t include Watson’s rushing yards), and eleventh in points-per-contest. Do you have a guess yet?
Deshaun Watson, between weeks 1-16, was QB8 (only 12.8 fantasy points behind Aaron Rodgers, who finished as QB5). That’s right. Despite everything working against him, Watson was still a top 8 QB. What does that immediately tell you? There’s room for improvement. For example, Rodgers threw the ball 597 times- 92 more than Watson. If Watson attempts that many passes, it’s an extra 66 completions for 420 yards, and three to four more touchdowns. That’s at least 34.8 more fantasy points in a six-points-per-touchdown league. Watson would have been QB4. Let’s do two more. Andrew Luck was the QB4 in the same time frame, and he threw the ball 639 times. Watson would have an extra 80 completions with that number of attempts, 640 yards, and four to five more touchdowns. That’s at least 49.6 more fantasy points and now sitting at QB2. Finally, Big Ben was QB2 with 675 pass attempts. An extra 170 attempts would give Watson an extra 110 completions, 987 yards, and six touchdowns. At this point, Watson would have challenged Mahomes for the mantle of QB1. Those three quarterbacks should see a significant decline in pass attempts. Watson, and the twenty-seventh ranked pass volume Texans attack, should see a rise.
The team is fully healthy going into this year (hello, D’onta Foreman). Therefore, there is potential for an even better fantasy season for Deshaun Watson. His rushing should stay the same or rise, as we saw Watson run wild in college (600 yards a season), and he is now more than a year removed from his last knee surgery. His passing production should also rise because of the likely increase in completions and attempts. It isn’t unforeseeable to see a slight uptick in his TD% too. He went from 9.3% to 5.1%. If that increases to that elite 6.0% level, then that’s another 3-4 touchdowns as well.
Watson’s ADP right now has him going at the back of the fifth round (5.12), as QB4 (behind Mahomes, Luck, Rodgers). If you are looking for a top eight QB that has QB1 upside, then that’s great value. This is especially true considering he’s going with Tarik Cohen and Hunter Henry at that fifth/sixth turn, 12-16 picks behind Andrew Luck (Watson finished 20.08 fantasy points behind him), and a few picks behind Rodgers (Watson had three more QB1 games than Rodgers last year). Don’t be afraid to live a little. – Chris Molina
Will Fuller and WR4 should not be in the same sentence, yet sadly, it is. Will Fuller is currently being taken as a WR4 with an ADP of WR32. He isn’t even towards the bottom of the WR4s- he is near the top and on the cusp of being a low-end WR3. For a guy who has played just 17 games over the last two seasons while being lackluster in both, his current draft status is incredibly high considering the talent around him. In 2017, Fuller had the attention of then rookie QB DeShaun Watson, and that helped him put up seven touchdowns on just 28 receptions. That helped raise his fantasy stock that season, even though he was only present for just 10 games. Last season, Fuller had a few good games, but you have to take into account the sub-par games to fully understand why he should not be drafted highly this season.
If you don’t know the name Keke Coutee, you would be forgiven due to the fact he was a rookie last season and only appeared in six games, starting only two of them. Why you should know his name, you ask? Well, whenever he was in the lineup, Will Fuller was an afterthought in the offense. Fuller and Coutee were both present in the lineup throughout weeks 4-7. Coutee had 30 targets with 21 receptions, 196 yards, and one touchdown during that span, while Fuller had 19 targets with 14 receptions, 165 yards, and one touchdown. Take the three games Fuller played without Coutee in the lineup: 26 targets with 18 receptions, 338 yards, and three touchdowns. If you have a brain, then you can dissect that Keke Coutee is Will Fuller’s kryptonite. Coutee is going to be more present in the offense this season, so do not take Fuller too high- it will not pan out. – Joe Zollo
In a nutshell, how can you not trust DeAndre Hopkins? He may have the best hands in football and in an offense that ranked twenty-seventh in pass attempts and first in sacks allowed, but Hopkins finished as WR4 last season and is currently going as WR1 in Sleeper mock drafts. When you look at Hopkins’ history in the league, the only things that have slowed him down were Brock Osweiler, and being a rookie. Four out of the last five years, Hopkins has topped 1,200 receiving yards. The only year he didn’t? Brock Osweiler. Four out of the last five years, Hopkins has averaged more than 75 yards per game. The only year he didn’t? Brock Osweiler. Four out of the last five years, Hopkins has scored six or more touchdowns in a season. The only year he didn’t? Brock Osweiler. Four out of the last five years, Hopkins has finished as WR14 or better. The only year he didn’t? Brock Osweiler. Yeah, I think you get the picture.
Over the last two seasons with (mostly) Deshaun Watson at quarterback, Hopkins is tied with Antonio Brown for the most receiving touchdowns in the league. Also over the last two seasons, Hopkins has the highest percentage of weeks as a top 24 option at WR in Fantasy (not counting Julian Edelman, who missed all of 2017 and the first four weeks of 2018). The Texans, as a team, had the sixth highest completion percentage in the league last year. Hopkins is the unquestioned number one option on the Texans- he had 32.3% of his team’s targets last year, easily the highest in the league. With the number two and three options, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee, consistently missing time with injuries, it’s hard to imagine Watson trusting Hopkins any less in 2019. While I expect his market share to fall below 30% in 2019, Hopkins should still challenge for 100 receptions, 1,400 yards, and 10 touchdowns. And really, that’s what you’re looking for from a potential first round pick. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
In recent years, when talking about a prospect from San Diego State, it’s always been a running back. This year, they have given us a tight end, and man is he something special. Kahale Warring is a 6’5’’ 250 pound athlete with tremendous potential going to the next level. During his time at SDSU, he totaled 51 catches for 637 yards and eight touchdowns. Warring has the capability to find open zones in defenses, and he’s way too physical for man-on-man coverage with safeties and linebackers. When you add in his 4.6 speed, it only helps illustrate how much of a mismatch he can be. Warring, unlike most tight ends in the NFL, can also pass/run block which will make him useful on third and fourth downs when you need a critical playmaker. Warring has the potential to be a universal name in the NFL, and with the receiving corps and quarterback already in place in Houston, it’s only a matter of time. – Chris Tyler
I drafted this guy in my dynasty league last season because his name is incredible. Keke “Do You Love Me” Coutee is a second year slot receiver out of Texas Tech, and he is a solid talent that can rack up receptions for you in your PPR leagues. Keep in mind that all of my sleepers are based off of PPR because if you aren’t in a PPR league, you should reassess your values. If you read the “Fantasy Downside” section above with Will Fuller as the highlight, you would know he is the downside due to the presence of Coutee. Whenever Coutee was in, he outshined Fuller and was the focal point of the offense after DeAndre Hopkins. There is not much talent after Hopkins when it comes to Houston’s offense, and Coutee has the opportunity to solidify his status as the number two option in the offense. Coutee’s current ADP is WR44, which is about where he should be. Coutee can be a solid first guy off the bench in four WR leagues and a solid bench player with FLEX ability in all leagues. – Joe Zollo
Houston always has an underrated defense. They have a menace in J.J. Watt with a bunch of solid compliments in the front seven and secondary. Too bad none of those “solid compliments” are any good in fantasy football. This is not rocket science, ladies and gentlemen. J.J. Watt is good at football and really good in fantasy football. His 2016 and 2017 seasons may have let him fall off the radar due to his injuries, but he was back and as dominant as ever in 2018. When Watt plays all 16 games, he is consistently in the Top 10, if not the Top 5 with some seasons being ranked DL1. He finished inside the Top 5 last season as DL4, and he is now primed once again to sit atop the leaderboards of defensive linemen in fantasy football.
There were three guys ahead of Watt: Danielle Hunter, Aaron Donald, and Calais Campbell. Watt finished two points behind Campbell last season, and can easily jump him. Aaron Donald, in my opinion, is the best DL in the entire league. However, Watt can surpass him in terms of fantasy football and Danielle Hunter had a career year last season and will most likely not repeat that same success. Get ready for J.J Watt to be DL1 once again. That is, of course, if he can stay healthy. – Joe Zollo