The Houston Texans finished last season with an 11-5 record, narrowly winning a tightly-contested AFC South division. Despite the successful regular season, the Texans ended up losing, 21-7, to the Colts in the Wild Card game, where Deshaun Watson could only muster up 235 yards and one touchdown. The Texans’ offensive line woes were a major issue in 2018, as they led the NFL with 62 sacks allowed. These issues persisted in the playoffs when Watson was sacked three times in the Wild Card game. The lack of a sturdy offensive line and the lack of a true running game rendered this offense to be one-dimensional. Starting running back Lamar Miller only managed 18 rushing yards on five carries in the Wild Card game, providing no reason for opposing defenses to respect the ground game. From a fantasy perspective, the passing game is where the value is at.
Key Departures:Alfred Blue, RB; Ryan Griffin, TE; Demaryius Thomas, WR
Key Acquisitions:Jahleel Addae, S; Darren Fells, TE; Matt Kalil, T; AJ McCarron QB
2019 Fantasy MVP
DeAndre Hopkins, WR
Despite starting all 16 games for the Texans last year, Hopkins admitted he played through the most pain he had ever experience in his career. You wouldn’t have known it, however, as Hopkins still finished with 115 receptions, 1,572 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Hopkins also saw an insane 163 targets, fifth-most in the NFL. While it’s almost a given he will live on the injury report all season, he’s become one of the most reliable wideouts for DFS purposes, posting double-digit DKFP in all but one game last season. With no reliable running game and a woeful offensive line, the Texans should once again be a pass-first offense, which bodes well for Hopkins. Hopkins should also benefit from the likely return of Will Fuller, who is expected back from his torn ACL by Week 1. Fuller provides a vertical threat to keep opposing defenses honest, allowing Hopkins to have more space to operate with less defensive attention on him.
2019 Fantasy LVP
Lamar Miller, RB
I alluded to it above, but this Texans run game is just #bad. Miller reached the 20 DKFP threshold just three times all of last season, yet the team remains committed to him as their starting running back. The Texans offensive line should benefit from the additions of first-round draft pick Tytus Howard from Alabama State and second-round draft pick Max Scharping from Northern Illinois, but it was interesting that the team only used a seventh-round draft pick on running back Cullen Gillaspia. It’s noteworthy because D’Onta Foreman is the backup running back behind Miller as the team let Alfred Blue walk in free agency. Foreman only played in one regular season game in 2018 as he worked his way back from an Achilles’ tear and is reported to be in fantastic shape entering the 2019 season, meaning it could be a matter of time before he takes the starting role from Miller if he can stay healthy. From a DFS perspective, Miller is just not someone who oozes with fantasy appeal. He caught just 25 of his 35 targets last season and isn’t a factor in the passing game, which is a huge deal on a full-PPR site like DraftKings. Miller is only 28 years old and he did manage a respectable 4.6 yards per carry, but he had as many rushing touchdowns as Watson (5) last season, who is more than capable of calling his own number near the goal line. I don’t see myself rostering Miller very often this upcoming season.
2019 Breakout Player
Keke Coutee, WR
Keke, you don’t have to ask if we love you, because we do. Coutee only played in six games as a rookie, but his presence was felt in the Wild Card game where he led the team with a massive 11-110-1 line on a team-high 14 targets. With a full year under his belt, I’m expecting we see Coutee break out like my acne this season. Keke dealt with hamstring issues all of last season and was never fully healthy, but he says he’s feeling good and has spent the offseason addressing that injury. The return of Fuller does put a slight dent into the Coutee’s appeal, but Coutee gives Watson a reliable slot receiver that he can dump the ball off to quickly behind his crumbling offensive line.
Game script is going to be massively important with the Texans, as Houston was a different team when handling a lead. At one point the Texans won nine straight games, and Watson threw the ball 25 or fewer times in six of those nine games. In other words, when the Texans were up and could afford to take their foot off the pedal to some degree, they took full advantage of that and didn’t push Watson. That’s going to limit Watson’s ceiling as he’ll have to be uber-efficient in games where he’s only throwing 25-30 times. Hopkins will be a viable target every week for me, but I’ll mainly use a Hopkins/Watson/Coutee stack in games where I expect a negative game script and they are forced to air out (it could come as soon as Week 1 against the Saints on the road). The biggest thing I’ll be watching this preseason is the health of Fuller, as he adds another dimension to this passing game. If Fuller comes back 100% healthy and Coutee can take the next step that I’m expecting him to, this is going to be a fantasy-friendly offense we’ll want plenty of shares of in DFS this season.
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