The New-Look Houston Texans In Fantasy And Reality
How do the Houston Texans look in Fantasy and Reality after the loss of Deshaun Watson?
Really? We in the city of Houston couldn’t have one whole day to bask in the glow of Earned History while planning what part of Downtown to watch the Astros’ championship parade? Nope. Less than 18 hours following a 56-year wait come to a beautiful symphony of elation and the reality that the city of Houston was home to the best baseball team in the world, came the tragic (and, in a sports sense, there’s no other word to describe it) news that Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson was lost for the season with a torn ACL on a damned non-contact drill.
The last time I saw such a sudden collapse from sheer joy to abject terror, the cats in the U-Boat in Das Boot returned home to…well, if you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil it (hint: it doesn’t end well).
There are two sides to this. Let’s hit the Fantasy and then the brutal reality that comes from having a top-end sports car replaced by the truck Fred and Lamont Sanford used to keep their junk business running, albeit with no Aunt Esther nor Rollo to ease the pain.
Fantasy: No sooner than I had written about how Will Fuller deserves to be a WR2 despite the “all he does is catch touchdowns” mantra hovering over him came the news of Watson’s injury. In a Fantasy sense, there is no bigger loser than Fuller, who was part of a lethal play-action attack that averaged 9.2 yards per pass each time Watson used it. According to Football Outsiders, the Texans had the eighth-best offense in the league according to its DVOA metric with much of that attributed to Fuller and the revived Hopkins, who was rated as the league’s best receiver according to Football Outsiders’ DYAR metric.
Back to Fuller: among receivers, he’s ranked third in Fantasy points. Keep in mind he didn’t play until Week 4. He’s third among all receivers despite having just 22 targets and 13 receptions. Let that sink in for a moment, especially if you own him. After it’s sunk it, feel free to cry because with Tom Savage under center, he’s likely bound to become Michigan J. Frog when it comes to his Fantasy value.
DeAndre Hopkins is third in the league with 76 targets, yet expect his 9.5 targets per game to see a considerable dip now that Savage will likely force the Texans to revert to a shorter passing game that will see tight end Ryan Griffin become the temporary big winner here. Griffin, who caught 50 passes last season, has just 13 receptions on 26 targets in the first eight games but will see those numbers take a considerable climb until C.J. Fiedorowicz returns. Ditto for running back Lamar Miller, who should see his targets per game take a hike up from the 2.65 he has averaged while also getting more carries now that the Texans’ offense will go from Speed Racer to Speed Buggy.
Hopkins should maintain so level of Fantasy value while Griffin works his way toward being a mid-tier TE2. Miller will see a rise of sorts in PPR formats, but if Texans coach Bill O’Brien’s sudden newfound love of the ground game doesn’t see results, keep rookie D’Onta Foreman’s name in mind.
Reality: In one fateful misstep, the Texans gave the Jaguars and Titans dibs on the AFC South title.
You can use all the overworked phrases you’d like. Next Man Up, never underestimate the heart of the champion, on this team we fight for that inch, etc. None of it matters when you lose the most exciting player in the league (Watson), the decade’s most dominant defensive player (J.J. Watt) an All-Pro left tackle (the departed Duane Brown) and an up-and-coming superstar pass rusher (Whitney Mercilus) and expect to reach the postseason. The Texans offense comes into the weekend as the league’s highest-scoring attack at 30.7 points per game. With Tom Savage, they’ll look more like the middling, dull as watching paint dry unit that finished 28th in the league last season.
There is no mistaking the fact that Savage is not the type of quarterback one envisions as a playoff-caliber passer. Hell, that’s why they traded up for Watson. Unlike last season, the Texans don’t have an elite-level defense that can shut down opponents while the offense scurried around like drunk rats just long enough to scrounge a touchdown here and there. In case anyone hasn’t looked, Houston is 29th in points allowed per game at 26.9.
The Texans are fortunate in that they won’t face an elite passer until Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers come to NRG Stadium on Christmas Day, but road trips to the Rams, Ravens, Titans, Jaguars and Colts remain on the docket while the rest of the home schedule offers up the Carson Palmer/David Johnson-less Cardinals and winless 49ers before Pittsburgh gathers around the yule log. Unless Savage becomes the 1999 version of Kurt Warner, it won’t be long before Houston fans turn their attention to the Rockets in between hopes of a chance of running into Kate and Justin Verlander at the Galleria while Christmas shopping.
Stop with the disgust of the Texans not giving Colin Kaepernick attention. We all knew that wasn’t going to happen. Seriously, did you really think Bob McNair – who gave more money to Donald Trump than any other owner in the league – was going to sign “that sonofabitch?” Please.
For a city that has survived years of numerous heartache from its sports teams, there is little question this is was the most bittersweet 24 hours in Houston sports annals. All you do, Houston, is enjoy Friday’s parade and start counting down until pitchers and catchers report to begin defense of the World Series title.
We’ll always have November 1, 2017. No injury can take that away from Houston.
If you need to replace Deshaun Watson as your Fantasy QB, here are nine replacements to target.
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