With ESPN and Yahoo NFL Fantasy Football leagues starting shortly, and Best Ball leagues already going, our goal is to get you prepped early for your upcoming NFL fantasy drafts with our team previews that feature a look into key positional additions and departures, breakdowns, and possible sleepers.
We’ll be releasing four team previews per week, starting June 25 and going through August 16, beginning with the AFC East.
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Last day’s preview:
- Key Fantasy Departures: Targets
- Offensive additions
- Best Ball ADP
- Positional breakdowns: QB, WR, RB, TE, O-line
- Preseason players to watch
- Betting guide
- NFL Fantasy players to target
- Biggest question mark
- Fantasy football sleepers
- Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings
- News and updates: check back throughout the next two months
- Final thoughts
Fantasy Football Overview
Head coach Bill O’Brien is the de facto offensive coordinator, though after leaving the position unfilled last year, he has promoted “offensive quality control coach” Tim Kelly to the role. Not much should change.
The Texans season will again come down to health. If they can keep DeShaun Watson upright, and get a full season out of their home run hitting, field stretcher Will Fuller V, the offensive will put points on the board with the best of them.
The Texans league bottom feeder offensive line has some added depth this year, with the addition of first round pick Tytus Howard and second round pick Max Scharping, as well as the return of 2018 FA addition Seantrel Henderson.
Pace: 7th (27.37 seconds per play)
Rush Rate: 8th (44%)
Pass Rate: 25th (56%)
Key Departures: Targets
- Ryan Griffin: 42
- Demaryius Thomas: 31
- Alfred Blue: 24
- Bruce Ellington: 12
Key offensive additions
Best Ball ADP
- 7) DeAndre Hopkins
- 66) DeShaun Watson (QB3)
- 70) Lamar Miller
- 78) Will Fuller V
- 90) Keke Coutee
- 117) D’Onta Foreman
DeShaun Watson is currently going in a QB tier with Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, in the 60-75 range. He’s got the most upside of out quarterback not named Pat Mahomes, but he takes a lot of hits and has an elevated injury risk.
Watson was pressured on a league high 45% of his dropbacks, while taking a league high 62 sacks last season. He also held onto the ball for over three seconds per play, the longest in the NFL. Though these stats look bad, they’re a bit of a plus for Fantasy purposes, especially if you’re as good as Watson has been under pressure.
PFF had Watson rated as the best scrambling QB in football last year, averaging 7.7 yards rushing per attempt. He also boasted a league high 69.2 adjusted completion percentage under pressure, and was third in the NFL with 686 yards passing outside the pocket.
Where he’s being drafted, Watson is a medium risk, upside pick who could challenge Mahomes for the top spot this year if everything breaks right. He finished as the 4th highest scoring fantasy QB last year, and over a full season would have finished first in 2017 had he not been injured.
If healthy, this is one of the most exciting WR corps’ in the NFL, with three WRs going in the top-100 picks in Best Ball Drafts.
DeAndre Hopkins might be the best WR in the game. He’s usually the first non-RB going off the board in fantasy drafts. And Hopkins’ production may actually increase in 2019. A healthy Will Fuller V and Keke Coutee should mean less double-teams and Hopkins dealt with a number of nagging injuries in 2018. Hopkins finished last season with an NFL high 92.5 receiving grade while putting up a 115-1572-11 line on 163 targets. There’s no reason not to expect a similar stat line this year.
As outlined in our Best Ball strategy guide, Will Fuller V is the kind of player you want to target in the mid-late rounds of Best Ball drafts. He has that week-breaking upside that’s going to register in your top -three WRs 5-8 weeks a year. In seven games last season, he had three 100-yard receiving games and four TDs. Fuller finished last year in the top-25 in Average Separation, Catch Rate and Targeted Air-Yards.
Keke Coutee was a popular waiver add last year, after putting up 11 catches and 109 yards on 14 targets against the Colts in Week 4. In fact, he bookended his season with another 11 catch, 110-yard performance on 14 targets in the WC game against, you guessed it, the Colts. Coutee battled injuries as the season went on, and outside of those two weeks, he was less than impressive. In a run-heavy offence with so many mouths to feed, Coutee is being over-drafted right now, but if Will Fuller V misses any time, he’ll be the main benefactor. His PFF 65.1 receiving grade ranked 5th on the Texans, behind the ageing Demaryius Thomas.
Is this finally the year D’onta Foreman splits time, or even takes over lead duties from the incumbent Lamar Miller? With a 117th Best Ball draft position, drafters certainly seem to think so. Alfred Blue is finally gone, and 150 rushing attempts up for grabs as a result (Miller missed two games last year), Foreman should see an increased role in this offence after missing all but eight snaps last year with an achilles injury. He was a popular 2017 deep sleeper after putting up 2,000 yards for Texas in his Jr. season.
Behind a bad run-blocking OL, with a looming threat of a time share, drafting Miller is not exciting. He’s a floor play, who’s a decent value at his draft position, but the total lack of upside mean you don’t have the league winning possibilities that some of the backs going in that range provide. It’s plausible to imagine a scenarios where Derrius Guice, Tevin Coleman, or Rashaad Penny take over lead duties and carry your team to fantasy glory behind 1,700 total yards and 10 TDs. It’s harder to envision Miller providing your team with those kinds of numbers.
But Bill O’Brien offenses run at a high rate, and Miller is a good bet for 200+ touches. At the end of the day, you’re getting low-end RB2 production for the price of an RB3 so, depending on the construction of your team, he may be a good fit.
The Texans offence has never relied heavily on TEs, and there’s no reason to think that would change this year.
The majority of targets up for grabs in this offence were due to the departure of Ryan Griffin (42). Second year, sixth round pick Jordan Thomas flashed signs last year and may push for the starting job. As a red-zone threat, he’s a decent super-deep sleeper and dynasty pick, as well as a weekly bare-min flier in DFS should he take over the starting role. After catching 20 of 23 targets last year, Thomas finished with a respectable 72.6 receiving grade from PFF.
Pass blocking: 20th
Run blocking: 32nd.
The much-maligned Texans unit allowed a league high 62 sacks last season. Yes they were bad in pass protection, but if you dive a little deeper, they weren’t as bad as that number suggests. Pass-block win rates, a new NFL Next Gen Stats metric that measures how effective lineman are in the first 2.5 seconds of a play, gave all the Texans an above average grade. So, part of the blame goes to DeShaun Watson, who hangs onto the ball an average of 3.02 seconds, the third highest number in the NFL.
Where the Texans really struggle is in the run game, where they ranked dead last in PFF’s run blocking rankings last year. They’re expected to move Martinas Rankin from tackle to guard and they get back 2018 signing Seantrel Henderson, who returns after breaking his ankle in the first game last year. The oft-disappointing Matt Kalil was added to the fold as well.
The Texans also drafted two possible starters in the first and second round of the NFL draft in Tytus Howard and Max Scharping, but it’s likely both will find themselves in the rotation this year.
This is a deeper unit than last year, and if they can stay healthy, they should make marginal improvements.
Preseason Players to Watch
- Can D’Onta Foreman make a name for himself and take snaps away from Lamar Miller?
- Is Jordan Thomas going to be a part of this offence?
Ben Rasa’s Fantasy Football and Betting Guide
Houston Texans 2019 O/U Win Total – 8.5 (Over +110 , Under -145)
The Texans have plenty of talent and certainly are a team to watch in 2019, if they can stay healthy. Every year there are a slew of injuries that derail this young and explosive offensive core, but there’s no doubt this team is full of players that you want to take a look at during your Best Ball and Fantasy Football drafts.
Ben’s Favorite Player to Target
DeAndre Hopkins – WR
Hopkins is as good of WR that the NFL has and with Watson healthy they are a premier duo in this league. Now that Will Fuller is set to return from a torn ACL and Keke Coutee established himself as another weapon on the outside the Texans passing offense is loaded and Hopkins will lead that group. With the other options on the outside teams will have to be honest across the board and regardless there isn’t much you can do against a guy like Hopkins. He is going to be the first WR off the board in drafts, but I see no reason to hesitate if you are picking in the back half of the first round and want the top pass catcher on your roster.
Is there anywhere else to target besides the passing attack?
The Texans come into the season as one of the more unbalanced offensive units in the NFL. Watson and the pass catchers are poised for big things while the RB position is a huge mess. Lamar Miller looked ineffective most of last year, while Alfred Blue has moved on, leaving D’Onta Foreman as the backup and other option in the backfield. Foreman is another Texan who is coming off major injury after a torn achilles in 2017 and it’s a reasonable question to wonder where he is at and how much he can contribute. Add in a shaky at best offensive line and it does seem like it’ll be DeShaun Watson creating on the go and using all the talent on the outside in almost any game script.
Fantasy Football Sleeper
Keke Coutee – WR
As I mentioned earlier I don’t see a ton to this offense with Watson to Hopkins being the go to combo. Will Fuller is the wildcard with his gigantic home run ability. Coutee may be the third option, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a role and be an important piece of this passing attack. He’s a perfect fit with his abilities in the slot and won’t draw too much attention making him a nice target in PPR leagues in the later rounds. Coutee may not have the mega upside that Fuller possesses, but to me he is a much safer option and the opportunity cost will be much lower when you consider where you have to draft each player.
Awesemo’s NFL Fantasy Football Rankings
Check back in mid-July for season-long projections and rankings from the #1 Fantasy Sports Player.
Updated throughout preseason and training camp because we all know things can change quickly in the NFL.
The AFC South is one of the tougher divisions in football. All four teams have shown major promise and the ability to contend in this league. On the flip side all four teams have major faults and there won’t be that much that separates the winner from last place. The Texans, like most teams, need their Star QB to stay healthy. And Watson is going to have to carry the load offensively without a running game to rely on. The defense should hold up, but there’ll be plenty of games where the passing attack has to outscore the opponent. That’ll lead to plenty of fantasy production for Watson and his WR group which is one of the best in the league.