All Hat and No Cattle: 2020 Preview of the Houston Texans

By Connor Rigg

Houston Texans

​The Texans had a solid season last year, making the playoffs with a 10-6 record. They eventually collapsed against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. During the off-season, Bill O’Brien made one of the most egregious trades in NFL history. They traded star WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for David Johnson and his massive contract. Texans brought in Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb and tried to fix the defense. Can the new-look offense provide any fantasy value? What WR will set himself apart from the pack? Will DJ return close to his 2016 form? Let’s find out.

QB: Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson had another solid season in his 3rd year with the Texans. He threw for 3,852 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions while rushing for 413 yards and 7 touchdowns. That’s what makes Watson so valuable, his legs. His season was a step down from his 2018 campaign, though. He threw for 313 fewer yards, three more interceptions, and 138 less rushing yards. He still finished as the QB4, which is where he finished in 2018. Without Hopkins, it’ll be interesting to see whom he tends to lean on. My bet will be Brandin Cooks if he stays healthy. I think Watson runs more this season, and could easily surpass 600 rushing yards. He should be a top 6 fantasy QB yet again.

RB: David Johnson, Duke Johnson

David Johnson is coming off an injury-riddled season, and there was a play last season where he looked like he was carrying a bus on his back. Let’s hope DJ is finally healthy because he does have some more left in the tank. In his first six games last season, he had 613 yards from scrimmage with 5 total touchdowns scoring 154.3 PPR points (25.71 PPG). However, DJ makes his money in the receiving game rather than the running game. He had a very pedestrian Y/A with 3.6 and 3.7 in 2018 and 2019. According to Football Outsiders, Texans ranked 21st in run blocking and 27th in pass protection. The biggest question is, can DJ stay healthy enough to make an impact? Watson checks down to his RB’s roughly 8.9% of the time, according to Pro Football Focus, so that’s where DJ needs to make his mark. I look for DJ to have an excellent season, and he will be a top 20 RB with upside for more.

Another D. Johnson on the team also will be involved in the game plan. Duke Johnson has been very efficient with his touches since entering the NFL. When traded to the Texans, we all thought he would get his shot as a three-down back. But, Bill O’Brien laughed at that thought and signed the corpse of Carlos Hyde to steal carries. Throughout his career, he’s been mainly used as a receiver, averaging around 55 receptions, 516 yards, and 2.2 touchdowns per season. But with the other DJ coming into town, how much of a workload will he receive? I think he will receive about 5-8 touches a game, but if something happens to DJ, Duke Johnson has upside.

WR: Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, Keke Coutee 

Brandin Cooks has been a baller when he is healthy, and the only question is his durability. Before last season, Cooks had four straight 1,000-yard seasons, excluding his rookie year. He’s played with some great QB’s as well: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jared Goff, and now Deshaun Watson. Cooks is a field stretcher, which is shown by his yards per reception (14.3). According to PFF, Watson is the 2nd best deep-ball thrower in the NFL, which lines up with Cooks’ skillset. Cooks can be viewed as a WR2 with WR1 upside if he can stay healthy.

Will Fuller is a very talented WR who seems to get injured every season. He’s the prime definition of boom or bust. Fuller’s boom games are insane (14-217-3, 7-140, 5-125-2, 5-124-1), but he also provides a low floor and can lose a week for you. If Fuller can stay healthy for an entire season, he can easily be a top 12-15 WR because he is that talented. But you can almost put down Fuller missing 1-2 games a season at this point. View him as a WR3 who can win you weeks but watch out for duds.

Randall Cobb comes over from the Cowboys, where he played pretty well (55-828-3) and will play the slot role for the Texans. Cobb won’t command a large enough target share to where you can start him every week, but he may have some useful weeks. The target distribution from Watson is anyone’s guess at this point, but I can see Cobb getting anywhere from 70-80 targets this season. He’s a decent option as a WR4/5.

Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee may be on the trade block this season. Coutee mainly played the slot, and now the Texans brought in Cobb to take that role. Stills is a field stretcher and has had some decent games in the past. But he’s the same player as Cooks and Fuller except not as good. Neither of these players is fantasy relevant, in my opinion, unless injuries happen.

TE: Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, Kahale Warring​

The Texans used both two tight ends in 2019, splitting the targets evenly between Darren Fells and Jordan Akins. Fells had some useful fantasy weeks with 34 receptions, 341 yards, and 7 touchdowns on 48 targets. Akins also performed well with 36 receptions, 418 yards, and 2 touchdowns on 55 targets. Jordan Thomas and Kahale Warring both missed substantial time with injuries. This tight end situation is very messy, so avoid this group if possible.

Connor Rigg – Dynasty/Redraft
Ride or Dynasty
Twitter: @Conbon45