A Look Inside: 2021 Houston Texans

Last year, everyone was certain the New York Jets would finish with the worst record and land the number one overall draft pick. When looking at the 32 NFL teams heading into the 2021 season, I don’t know how you can’t look at the Houston Texans and think they won’t have the number one pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

They haven’t had a draft pick in five years (I’m being facetious, but you get it), they have a terrible defense, and their star quarterback not only doesn’t want to play for them but has a string of sexual assault charges pending against him.

Will anyone on this team have fantasy relevance? Let’s take A Look Inside and find out.

Note: You can follow the entire Look Inside series with this link and you can watch the full No Punt Intended episode with special guest Howard Bender on Youtube below!

Quarterbacks

Let’s start with Deshaun Watson. We all know how great he is — he led the league in passing a year ago and finished as the QB5 (6 pt/pass TD) — but his unhappiness with the organization led to him requesting a trade. That was red flag number 1. Then, over 20 women accused Watson of different forms of sexual assault, further clouding his availability for the 2021 season (and potentially more years). Red flags 2 through infinity.

The Texans signed former Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor to be a presumable stop-gap in the event that Watson’s legal situation gets worked out (or they can convince him to play for them going forward). If Taylor is the starter, you can kiss any hope of fantasy relevance for the Texans’ skill position players goodbye. In his lone start for the Chargers last year, the offense looked pitiful in scoring only 16 points. He threw for 208 yards, zero touchdowns, and had only seven rushing yards.

To add more clouds to the storm forming over Houston, the team spent a third-round draft pick (their first pick of the draft) on Stanford QB Davis Mills. Maybe Mills comes in and lights the league on fire like Justin Herbert did a year ago. Or maybe he’s a rookie third-round pick that struggles in the pros after only 11 career starts in college. In any event, I’d wager that no Houston quarterback will finish in the Top 30 in fantasy this season.

Running Backs

When Bill O’Brien traded away arguably the best wide receiver in football (DeAndre Hopkins) for a washed-up running back (David Johnson) and a second-round pick, everyone just laughed. After the season Hopkins had in Arizona and the season David Johnson had in Houston, we’re still laughing. Johnson played in only 12 games, finished with a shade over 1,000 total yards, and was the RB21 in PPR (RB16 in points-per-game). That was with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Things won’t get easier without him.

Last year, Johnson split the backfield with another D. Johnson — Duke. But after Duke’s release this offseason, the Texans decided one backup wasn’t good enough, so they brought in two. Mark Ingram (from Baltimore) and Phillip Lindsay (from Denver) will form yet another committee and will undoubtedly make fantasy managers cringe. It’s anyone’s guess how this will shake out, but if last year is any indication, this will be a two-man show with Johnson and Lindsay. After watching Mark Ingram play football last year, does anyone really expect him to play more than five games?

Heading into drafts, I’d view Johnson as an uninspiring RB3 with a low-end RB2 ceiling. Lindsay is an RB4/5 depth piece in the event Johnson suffers yet another injury.

Wide Receivers

I will remain a fan of Brandin Cooks. Last year, I wrote about how he was the Texans WR to roster heading into 2020, and then he finished as the WR17 to Will Fuller’s WR32. Before anyone brings up PPG; I don’t care. A player’s greatest asset is availability, and that’s something Fuller never is — available. Back to Cooks. In five of his last six seasons, he’s topped 1,000 receiving yards and finished as a top-20 fantasy WR. He is the unquestioned WR1 on this team and, if Watson was the QB, I’d be hyping up Cooks as a top-20 WR. But I’m not banking on Watson being there, so sadly, I’m going to have to fade Cooks as a result. Trust me, I’m dying inside.

Behind Cooks is one of last year’s free-agent acquisitions — slot receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb is heading into his 11th season and, let’s be honest, there’s nothing to be excited about. He hasn’t had more than four touchdowns in a season since 2015, has only one season with more than 1,000 yards, and didn’t even top 500 yards last year — and Watson threw for 4,823 yards.

Even further behind those two are a bunch of unknowns, has-beens, and never-was. Andre Roberts, signed from Buffalo this offseason, is currently penciled in opposite Cooks. Keke Coutee hasn’t taken off with any consistency, and that was with Watson at QB. A couple of young players: 2nd-year man Isaiah Coulter and rookie Nico Collins should get a chance once Houston’s season falls off the rails. (So, after Week 1, right?)

If you’re spending any draft picks on a Texans wide receiver, it’s Cooks. Just be prepared for some inconsistency en route to a top-40 season.

Tight Ends

While Darren Fells was something of a red zone threat for Houston, he’s now in Detroit. That leaves last year’s “best” Houston TE, Jordan Akins atop the depth chart. Just like every TE in the fantasy football landscape, we just hope for touchdowns. Kahale Warring is still around, but can he stay healthy? Maybe all hope of TE production in Houston comes from rookie Brevin Jordan. If anyone has seen No Punt Intended, they’ll know I’m the biggest Brevin Jordan fan on the planet. It’s inexplicable to me that he fell to them in the 5th round. His YAC ability will do wonders for whoever is throwing him the football, but he has an uphill battle as he begins camp as the TE3.

All told, just do yourself a favor and avoid Houston TEs in fantasy this year.