Fantasy Football

2015 Fantasy Football Team Preview: Houston Texans

The Texans are one of those teams that pretty much has everything but a decent quarterback. They have the best defensive player in football, a star running back and a potential superstar receiver. Their offensive line and defense is solid, there’s just one gaping hole. The quarterback. They have strapped a helmet on one terrible QB after another. They will hope to turn it around this year and make a run at the playoffs. The Colts have a stranglehold on the division; however, a wild card is very possible with the Titans and Jaguars on the schedule for four games.

Quarterbacks

The Texans quarterback situation is not yet settled. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett will duel it out in training camp. The favorite to win the job is Hoyer. Hoyer has more experience from his days in Cleveland. Both QBs spent time in New England behind Tom Brady. Personally, I’d roll with Mallett. He just has more upside. We know Hoyer isn’t horrible, but he also isn’t anything particularly special. Mallett is a question mark, nevertheless, he has more potential and upside. This is a situation worth monitoring during the preseason. With that said, odds are you won’t want to own either of these guys on your fantasy team.

Running Backs

When healthy Arian Foster is arguably the best fantasy weapon in the league. Foster finished third among running backs in fantasy points per game last season behind only Le’Veon Bell and Demarco Murray. However, health has become an issue over the past few seasons. Now 29 years old heading into the season, he has missed 11 games in the past two seasons. Still, when he’s on the field he lives up to his Arian the Barbarian nickname. Last season in 13 games, Foster rushed for 1,246 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. He also caught 38 passes for 327 yards. He also punched in 13 touchdowns.

Foster is being drafted in the RB10-12 range based on his ADP so he has tremendous upside. Nonetheless, he may be more necessary to handcuff than any back in the league. His primary handcuff is Alfred Blue. Blue’s biggest issue was that he couldn’t get on the field when Foster was healthy because he was miserable in pass protection and a less than stellar pass-catcher. He’s been working with Foster on his third-down skills this season to help remedy that issue. When he got the opportunity to start, Blue did put up a 156-yard game during the three-game stretch.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins is a budding star in this league. Despite a miserable quarterback situation, he’s still a very strong WR2. He’s a nice add in the third round. After that, things get a bit dicey. Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington are the favorites to start behind Hopkins with Shorts in the slot and Washington outside. Rookie Jaelen Strong will also try to make an impact. Nonetheless, he may be a better option in dynasty leagues. He has long-term upside, still, he’s a longshot to be fantasy relevant this season.

Tight Ends

The Houston tight ends are nothing to write home about. The top pass-catcher will likely be Garrett Graham. In four seasons, Graham has never completed a full 16-games season and has maxed out at 49 receptions. Second-year TE C.J. Fiedorowicz will also be in the mix, but he’s viewed more as a blocker. He caught only four passes as a rookie.

Defense

Houston is a defensive team and you can’t talk about the Texans defense without immediately mentioning J.J. Watt. Watt is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and by far the top IDP option in the NFL. Last season, many believed he should have been the league’s MVP. In 2014, Watt made 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, forced five fumbles, recovered four and had a pick. Not to mention his five touchdowns (three on offense).

Vince Wilfork will join the Texans defensive line this year. If Jadeveon Clowney can get healthy, the Texans could have a top fantasy defense, though they’re already very good without him. Brian Cushing is a solid linebacker when healthy and Jonathan Joseph has quietly been a great fantasy corner. Look for safety Stevie Brown to try to add some playmaking ability to the secondary. There are a lot of very good players and IDP options on this defense, but it all starts and ends with Watt.

Player to Watch

Hopkins is a 25-year-old star and will look to explode this season now that he’s the undisputed top receiver. Andre Johnson has left for greener pastures and now Hopkins is the man in Houston. Last year he caught 76 passes for 1,210 yards and six TDs. That was with a considerably worse quarterback situation. This is the season he goes from very good to great.

Key Stat

In 2014, the Texans went from having a league-worst 11 turnovers forced in 2013 to a league-high 34. The team also went from 2-14 to 9-7. There is likely a direct correlation between the two statistics. If Houston can continue to make plays on defense, they will continue to win. They need to in order to mask their quarterback deficiencies. Foster averaging a TD per game would not hurt either.

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