2020 Fantasy Previews Part 13: Houston Texans

The Houston Texans were a strange team last year. While doing research on them, I found that they lost their first game and won their next two games. The lost their fourth game and won their next two games. This loss followed by two win pattern continued for the entire season and they finished 10-6. This was due to the Houston Texans having one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They finished 28th in yards allowed, 29th in passing yards allowed, 25th in rushing yards allowed, and 19th in points allowed. The offense made up for this, as they were in the upper middle of the pack in most major offensive categories. In the playoffs, the Texans came back down 16-0 and beat the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card game. In the divisional, they got off to a hot start on the Kansas City Chiefs as they were up 24-0 and then lost 31-51. This was one of the more epic playoff collapses in recent history. The road to the playoffs will be a little bit more difficult for them in 2020 as the Houston Texans have the 8th ranked strength of schedule. The defensive line should improve next year with the additions of Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard from the NFL Draft. Look for the Texans to make a playoff run with an above average offense and an improved defense.

Projected depth chart:

Quarterback: 1. Deshaun Watson 2. AJ McCarron

Running back: 1. David Johnson 2. Duke Johnson

Wide receiver: 1. Brandin Cooks 2. Will Fuller 3. Kenny Stills 4. Keke Coutee

Slot receiver: 1. Randall Cobb 2. DeAndre Carter

Tight end: 1. Darren Fells 2. Jordan Akins

Quarterbacks - Can you guess who the only quarterback to average over 20 fantasy points per game in each season since 2017? It's not Patrick Mahomes or Drew Brees. It's Deshaun Watson. He is the only quarterback in the NFL to average over 20 fantasy points per game each of the last three seasons. This consistency means you know what you are going to get when you draft him.

In 2019, Watson was one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy. He had 3852 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 413 rushing yards, and 7 rushing touchdowns. Watson finished as the QB4 and was fairly consistent. He had over 15 points in 11 of his 15 games and over 25 points in 6 of those. Deshaun Watson did regress in a couple of categories since 2018. He regressed in: completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards, interception, passer rating, rushing attempts and rushing yards.

For the 2020 season, expect Deshaun Watson to be a top quarterback, even without Deandre Hopkins. He still has enough quality pass catchers on his team to help pick up the load. Watson is going around the 4th-5th round, right around Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott. You can't go wrong with either of these guys. Watson is the type of player that you know what you are going to get from him and a great player for your team if you are willing to pay the price.

Running backs - In 2019, the Houston Texans went with a 1-2 punch at running back with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. This was one of the most even 1-2 punches for fantasy purposes as only 0.8 fantasy points separated them. Duke Johnson finished as the RB29 and Carlos Hyde finished as the RB30. Both of these players were solid flex options as they both averaged just under 10 fantasy points per game.

Clearly, neither of these two were good enough for the Houston Texans. Over the offseason, in one of the most baffling trades in a long time, the Texans traded star receiver DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson. Johnson was averaging 20.2 fantasy points per game before he got injured and surprisingly benched by Kliff Kingsbury. If Johnson were to keep this up for the whole season and not gotten injured, he would've finished as the RB2 with 323.2 fantasy points.

David Johnson will bounce back in 2020. I don't even see why he wouldn't. He has had two injuries that have sidelined him in his career. One where he fell awkwardly on his wrist and another where someone stepped on him. David Johnson is being taken around the third round and that is amazing value for someone who will be the workhorse running back on the Houston Texans. He will still get a ton of volume, even with Duke Johnson taking some of the third down work. David Johnson is a similar receiver to Duke Johnson and a better runner, so I can see them almost completely phasing Duke out of the offense as the season goes on.

Wide receivers - Last year, the Houston Texans had the services of one of the best receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins. He has gotten over 125 targets every year since 2014. Last year he had 150 targets. He caught 104 of those for 1165 yards and 7 touchdowns. Hopkins finished as the WR5 and was also really consistent. He had 15 or more points in 11 of his 15 games. Hopkins had 7 or more targets in every game last year and had double digit targets in 7 of those.

During the 2019 offseason, the Texans traded for Brandin Cooks from the Rams. This move didn't really mean much until a little later. The Texans didn't want to pay DeAndre Hopkins a big contract so they traded him away. This meant Cooks would be the new WR1. Before 2019, Cooks had averaged no less than 13.8 fantasy points in every season he played.

Brandin Cooks is going around the 7th-8th round and is a huge sleeper for 2020. Cooks has proven to be a capable number 1 receiver and there are 150 targets gone from last year. Will Fuller and Kenny Stills are both deep ball guys who you don't know what you are going to get from them. Randall Cobb is getting up there in age and will likely regress. Cooks is primed to take that WR1 spot that has received over 100 targets ever year since targets became a stat. None of the other receivers really interest me as viable fantasy options as they either are too boom or bust or don't get enough volume.

Tight ends - Darren Fells and Jordan Akins both had their moments last year. Fells finished as the TE17 and Akins finished as the TE25. Akins, only had 2 games over 10 points and finished with 89.8 fantasy points. Fells was the type of tight you could usually find on your waiver wire and pick him up for a bye week. Fells had 4 games over 10 points and had 7 touchdowns.

I am not looking to target either of these two tight ends for 2020. Fells probably won't get 7 touchdowns and Akins didn't receive enough volume. More targets will go to David Johnson and the run game should be relied on a bit more. The Texans wouldn't trade their best receiver for someone they are not going to use. Fells and Akins should be on your waiver wire and would be good bye week pickups as you might get lucky with them.

Fantasy analysis:

Star: Deshaun Watson

Bounce back: David Johnson

Sleeper: Brandin Cooks

Not targeting: Will Fuller (too injury prone), Randall Cobb (old), Kenny Stills (not enough volume), Keke Coutee (not enough volume), Duke Johnson (not enough volume), Darren Fells (not enough volume), Jordan Akins (not enough volume)

I hope you liked 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 13: Houston Texans. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 14: Indianapolis Colts. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Houston Texans offense for 2020 fantasy.

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