32 Teams in 32 Days: Houston Texans
32 Teams in 32 Days
Hello, fellow fantasy football degenerates. In my “32 In 32” series I will be going team by team breaking them down from every aspect you can think of. From their records, team statistics, Vegas lines, contract situations, individual statistics, fantasy numbers, draft picks and implications, free agency updates, and more. Everything to recap 2018 and preview 2019.
In part two of the series, we are going to break down the AFC Southe division champs. The Houston Texans are one of the bright, up and coming franchise. They have a very talented dual-threat quarterback, a top-three wide receiver plus a few other dangerous receiving threats, and a steady enough running back. They made the playoffs for the third time in four seasons and have only had one losing season under head coach Bill O’Brien. This is their story…
Houston Texans (11-5, Division Winner)
The Houston Texans took a huge leap forward in 2018. Coming off a 4-12 season in which they saw their young quarterback tear his ACL in practice during the week leading up to Week 8 of the NFL season. That injury sealed the deal on their season but in ’18, Watson returned and so did the Texans. After a rough 0-3 start, Houston bounced back strong with nine straight victories and 11 out of the last 13. This stretch included two overtime victories to start it off. They headed into the playoffs and took it on the chin from the division mates and left their home building after going 6-2 there during the regular season (5-3 on the road). All in all, a very good year for the young team. Let us peak at the teams they will play in 2019.
Houston Texans 2019 Schedule
|vs.||Indianapolis Colts||10||6||0||0.625||3.4||Past Matchups|
|at||Indianapolis Colts||10||6||0||0.625||3.4||Past Matchups|
|vs.||Jacksonville Jaguars||5||11||0||0.313||-4.0||Past Matchups|
|at||Jacksonville Jaguars||5||11||0||0.313||-4.0||Past Matchups|
|vs.||Tennessee Titans||9||7||0||0.563||0.2||Past Matchups|
|at||Tennessee Titans||9||7||0||0.563||0.2||Past Matchups|
|vs.||Denver Broncos||6||10||0||0.375||-0.5||Past Matchups|
|at||Kansas City Chiefs||12||4||0||0.750||8.9||Past Matchups|
|vs.||Oakland Raiders||4||12||0||0.250||-9.3||Past Matchups|
|at||Los Angeles Chargers||12||4||0||0.750||6.0||Past Matchups|
|vs.||Atlanta Falcons||7||9||0||0.438||-0.1||Past Matchups|
|vs.||Carolina Panthers||7||9||0||0.438||0.9||Past Matchups|
|at||New Orleans Saints||13||3||0||0.813||10.1||Past Matchups|
|at||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||5||11||0||0.313||-2.6||Past Matchups|
|Baltimore Ravens||10||6||0||0.625||7.0||Past Matchups|
|New England Patriots||11||5||0||0.688||5.2||Past Matchups|
11 teams scored more than 25 points a game in 2018 and the Texans were one of these averaging 25.1 points a game(11th). They ran the seventh most plays in the league with 1,040 but were only 15th in the league with 362.6 yards per game. Their efficiency clearly was not the greatest as they were 14th in total first downs with 20.8 per game and ranked 20th in third-down efficiency at 37%. The reason they were able to still score a decent amount of points even with that inefficiency? Their defense took the ball away and they held onto it. As a team, they ranked second in the league in turn over ratio just behind the Seahawks with a +13. Also, the 13th fewest penalties committed help that out as well.
- Points Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (21.1-25,1/+4)
- Yards Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (320-362.6/+42.6)
- First Downs Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (19.56-20.81/+1.23)
- Third Down Conversion Rate 2017-2018/ Difference (36.36%-37.01%+/+0.65%)
- Penalties Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (7.75-6.56/-1.19)
- Turnover Ratio 2017-1028/ Difference (-12/+13/+25)
2018 Vegas Lines
|G#||Opp||Spread||Over/Under||Result||vs. Line||OU Result|
Results vs. Line: 7-9-1
As Underdog vs. Line: 2-2-0
Favored vs. Line: 5-7-1
Over: 7 Under: 10 Push: 0
The Texans Quarterback bounced back pretty well from last years ACL tear. He did not miss a single snap this year. Even in a Texas showdown where Watson took some major punishment several times especially near the goal line, the young quarterback showed his guts and played through the pain. He got to know Jaylon Smith very well and walked away from the game with some very sore ribs. A slow start had people wondering but most concerns were put to rest in a Week 8 game against Miami when Watson completed 16 passes and had 5 touchdowns. Although the season would not reach these heights again, the former Clemson Tiger was on his way to a top-five finish in fantasy and a playoff birth in real life.
Watson’s 2018 Season
- QB4, 331.9 Fan Points
- Completed 345/505 Attempts (68.3%)
- 4165 Yards (8.2 Y/A – 12.1 Y/C)
- 26 TDs (5.1% TD Rate) 9 INT (1.8% INT Rate)
- 99 RuAtt, 551 Yards, 5 TD
- Total QBR 63.0 (QB Rate 103.1)
Watson was not afraid to let it fly in ’18 as he ranked fifth in the league in total AirYards (2,469 AirYards, 4.9 Per Att-fourth) and likewise, the knee must be feeling alright because he ran the ball the third most amongst quarterbacks and his 5 touchdowns ranked third in the league as well. The fact that he was able to throw for the 11th most yards in the league was pretty impressive as his receiving corp was largely injured throughout the year. Having 78 red zone Att (eighth in the league) and 21 and zone attempts rushing (second) definitely helped him out. Being on his rookie deal through 2022 will help the Texans build their roster up to try and capitalize on his discounted price.
We knew the Texans quarterback would not repeat his amazing 9.3 touchdown % but, 5.1% is not bad at all. He also took a step back in total QBR form 83.6 down to 63.0, yards per attempt down slightly from 8.3 to 8.2, and yards per completion from 13.5 to 12.1. Watson did though improve upon his quarterback rating from 103.0 up to 103.1 and his interception % pretty drastically down from 3.9% to 1.8%. He showed some great strides even with regression in 2018. Let us look at the players that helped him get that top-five rank after a free agency look…
Watson – “Watson’s recovery from ACL surgery went about as smooth as anyone could hope. He returned in peak form after an offseason of almost exclusive positive news regarding his recovery. While he did have a bit of rust to start the year with 7 interceptions in his first 6 games, he eventually found his rhythm, throwing only 2 the rest of the regular season.”
2019 QB Free Agency Update
AJ McCarron signed a one-year deal, coming from Oakland and Joe Webb has resigned. Again, a one year deal.
Brandon Weeden has yet to sign with a team.
The Running Backs
Lamar Miller had the least productive season he has had since his second year in the league. The opportunity was certainly there though as the Texans ranked fourth in the league in run plays at 29.5 P/G and Miller faced a staked front (eight defenders in the box) only 22.4% of the time which ranked 34th in the league. Even with the down season, he still finished as an RB2 this year. Strangely, Miller was far more efficient against a stacked front averaging nearly twice as many yards per attempt as when he faced less man in the box. yards per attempt rushing is not a great statistic but when it’s up at 7.5 against a stacked front and 4.2 against a six or less man front is something to take note of.
Miller’s 2018 Season
- RB22, 147.6 Fan Points
- 210 RuAtt (15.0 AttP/G), 973 Yards (69.3 YdP/G), 4 100 Yard Games
- Caught 25/35 Targets, 163 Yards (6.5 Y/R)
- 5 RuTD, 1 ReTD (6 Total)
- 235 Touches, 1,136 Yards (4.8 Y/T)
Lamar Miller Running Back, Houston Texans
So you wanted more volume. Well, you got it but was it worth it? As you again can see below, Miller in four seasons, but on 53 fewer touches, averaged over half a yard (.5853) more per touch and he scored 3 touchdowns more than his last three seasons put together. Miller also ran for 3 fewer yards on those 53 fewer touches. Volume may not always be the key but in this running backs case, it certainly was not. 5.8 more rushing attempts per game have only translated into 8.7 more yards per game.
At the same time, Miller’s passing game work has gone down considerably. The 25 fewer receptions on 33 fewer targets have only meant one good thing (2 more touchdowns) but when you look at the total touchdowns scored (22 in MIA, 18 in HOU), you start to see the reason for the drop in fantasy point efficiency.
Why Is Miller A Winner?
So, you may be looking above and asking yourself why is Lamar Miller on this list? Have we not seen this act before? Would D’Onta Foreman be the starting running back in Houston if he could have stayed healthy the past few seasons? Certainly, you would probably be right in asking those questions. But, let us look at a few of the factors that played into this choice. Firstly, we begin with the 2019 NFL draft.
Draft Picks Relevant To Miller
- Round 1/ Pick 23 – Tytus Howard OL, ALST
Height: 6-5, Weight: 322
- Round 2/ Pick 55 – Max Scharping OL, NILL
Height: 6-6, Weight: 327
- Round 7/ Pick 220 – Cullen Gillaspia RB, TXAM
Height: 6-2, Weight: 235
As you can see above, the Texans made it a priority to draft offensive line early as they now roster two 2019 top-60 picks in their O-Line room. This is a big deal for more than just Miller as you can see here…
In The Running Back Room
The Texans did draft a running back in the seventh round of the draft but Cullen Gillaspia profiles as a primary fullback and an extra run blocker can only aid in Miller’s positive outlook for 2019. Alfred Blue has moved on and it looks to be the Lamar Miller Show this season. Damarea Crockett (Missouri) and Karan Higdon (Michigan) both went undrafted but were snagged by the Texans as UDFAs but no real draft capital went to anything that will not help Miller in 2019. Is he going to win you your league? No, probably not but the job should be safe for another year.
Miller was spelled throughout the year by Alfred Blue. Blue picked up one start late in the year in which fantasy owners that needed a spot start when he only totaled eight touches for 40 total yards and did not score against an Eagles defense that was coming off a week in which Ezekiel Elliott did whatever he wanted essentially. In all, Blue totaled 170 touches (150 Rush, 20 Rec) for 653 yards and two scores.
It will be interesting to see what happens this offseason as late in ’18, D’Onta Foreman (89th overall, 2017 Draft), someone who the Texans are high on, came off PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) after recovering from an Achilles injury. He flashed at times in his rookie year but Foreman did not really see an opportunity. Going into next year though, look for this to change. Foreman’s injury concern was really the only reason Blue was brought back in 2018. Miller is signed through 2020.
Foreman – “D’onta is facing one of the more daunting tasks for a RB, returning from an Achilles tear. That said, he does have age on his side as well as over a year of recovery time. I think Foreman is worth stashing on the chance he is an exception to the rule.”
2019 RB Free Agency Update
Alfred Blue has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars which could lock D’Onta Forman into the RB2 slot for the Texans as the Texans did not draft a threat to him if the health can sustain at all.
NUK And The Rest Of The Receivers
DeAndre Hopkins enjoyed the first full season from a quality quarterback in his career. The victim of subpar quarterback play has been able to overcome it throughout his career had his most efficient season as a pro with a catch rate over 60% for the first time (70.6%). Nuk ranked second in the league in receptions (7.2 P/G, 115 total, a career high) and yards (1,572), fifth in targets (165) and third in AirYards (1,217) this season. He used that opportunity to cross the goal line 11 times and be ranked in the top-five in all formats.
Hopkins also ranked top six in the league in Target Share (32.9%, first in the league), RedZone Target Share (32.9%, third), EndZone Target Share (44.4%, sixth), RedZone Receptions (15, fourth), Total TDs (11, fourth), Fan Points per Game (20.8, third), Fan Points per Pass Route (3.26, second), and with a Dominator Rating of 40.0% for second in the league. This was tied for the most efficient season of his career in standard and second most in PPR. Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the league and should be a top-three wide receiver in all formats heading into 2019. Nuk is signed through 2022 and it would seem crazy to cut a player like Hopkins but following 2020, the Texans could part ways with the receiver for just $3,000,000 or 1.5 million the following season.
Hopkins’ 2018 Season
- WR4, 218.5 Fan Points
- Caught 115/165 Targets (70.6%) 7.2 P/G
- 1,572 Yards (13.7 Y/R, 9.53 Y/T) 7 100 Yard games
- 11 TDs
If the Texans could have stayed healthy they would have had a pretty formidable receiving corps. Will Fuller has been unsustainably efficient any time he can stay on the field But he has absolutely been a factor in the passing game. He has 11 TDs on his last 60 receptions and caught by far the career-high percent of his targets at 71.1%. Also as Tyler Locket showed us though, unsustainable efficiency can be sustained. Health is Fuller’s biggest hill to climb as he is recovering from an ACL tear suffered on Oct 25th. He is projected to have a late July, early August recovery time.
Fuller – “I’m not expecting much from Will Fuller in fantasy this season. ACL tears take time to heal and Fuller’s tear came in the second half of the fantasy season. I’d expect him to start 2019 slow and underproduce in his first year back”
Their young slot receiver Keke Coutee showed some pretty good ability in limited fashion especially in his first two games of the year when he averaged 8.5 receptions on 11 targets for 80 yards and half a TD and in the playoff game against Indianapolis (Caught 11/14, 110 yards, 1 TD). A multitude of injuries shortened what could have been a solid rookie campaign.
Keke – “Coutee spent the majority of his rookie campaign on the sidelines nursing a nagging hamstring strain. The good news is that he should have plenty of time to heal and prepare for 2019. No long term concerns from me, just a case of bad luck in 2018.”
After Coutee’s and Fuller’s injuries this season, the Texans traded for Demaryius Thomas (Thomas ruptured his Achilles on 12.23.219) who outside of one two-touchdown game was largely underwhelming. He only saw more than six targets once and after his first game with the team, never eclipsed more than 59 yards. He was released by the team on February 13th.
2019 WR Free Agency Update
Demaryius Thomas got in quite a bit of trouble after the season was over but was able to sign a deal with the Patriots.
Ryan Griffin led the tight ends of the Texans in production in ’18 as far as yards, targets, and receptions. 24 receptions on 43 targets for 305 yards but he did not cross the goal line. Griffin is signed through 2020. The two rookie tight ends both were active for all 16 games this season but it was the lower of the draft picks in Jordan Thomas that was more productive. Thomas caught 20/27 targets for 215 yards and scored 4 times. All 4 of his TDs came inside the red zone and all from within the 15-yard line (13, 11, 7, and 2). Respectively, Jordan Akins did have 10 more yards receiving while catching 17/25 targets but didn’t cross the goal line.
The Texans spent a little draft capital on the tight end position this year when they took the San Diego State tight end with the 86th overall pick. This honestly seems like a somewhat wasted pick for the team and for the player. Houston has tight ends that they have spent money and capital on. Kahale Warring has a lot of raw ability but needs to work on some of the fundamentals. The nice thing for him is that with so many other young tight ends on the team, he has a legit shot at getting a big role.
Kahale Warring TE, SDGST
Height: 6-5, Weight: 252
2019 TE Free Agency Update
Darren Fells has signed a one-year deal coming over from the Cleveland Browns.
The Terrible Offensive Line
Here are some more excerpts from the recent piece I did featuring Lamar Miller.
As you saw above in the running back section, the Texans made it a priority to draft offensive line early as they now roster two 2019 top-60 picks in their O-Line room. This is a big deal for more than just Miller as you can see here…
Houston Offensive Line (2017-2018)
- Sacks allowed 2017 – 54 (3.375 per game), 2nd most in the league
- Sacks allowed 2018 – 62 (3.875 per game), The most in the league
- Rushing yards per attempt 2017 – 4.1, 16th in the league
- Rushing yards per attempt 2018 – 4.3, 19th in the league
The Texans were in serious need of a revamped offensive line as it affects far more than Lamar Miller. He can benefit from every aspect of the improvements though. Not only will better blocking improve the yards per attempt. As we should all know by now, the offensive line dictates the majority of that metric. Also, Improved pass blocking can allow for more time to find an open receiver. This can mean more downfield passing, which in turn, can mean a loosened up front seven. Fewer defenders on the Texans side of the ball will also allow quarterback Deshaun Watson more time to go through his progressions and possibly find Miller on a dump off or late over the middle to aid in the passing game volume instead of having to scramble.
2019 O-Line Free Agency Update
RT Kendall Lamm has signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. Houston has signed LT Matt Khalil to a one year deal to help bolster the offensive line that was straight bad in 2018.
2018 Fantasy Relevant Draftees
98th Overall, TE Jordan Akins
- Caught 17/25 Targets, 225 Yards
103rd Overall, WR Keke Coutee
- Caught 28/41 Targets, 247 Yards, 1 TD
211th Overall, TE Jordan Thomas
- Caught 20/27 Targets, 215 Yards, 4 Tds (All in the Red Zone)
With The 23rd Overall Pick In The 2019 NFL Draft, The Houston Texans Select… (Prediction from January 20th, 2019.)
I would look for the Texans to either try and trade up for O-Line help or depending on what happens with their running back room in the coming months, they could elect to draft a running back. This isn’t looked at as the strongest running back class but since he has declared, Josh Jacobs seems to be the favorite among the “experts” to be the first RB off the board. There is a lot of time between now and then though.
Well, I was right about one thing when I predicted this. They did go offensive line but running back was apparently nowhere near the top of the board.
- Tytus Howard OL, ALST
Height: 6-5, Weight: 322
- Lonnie Johnson CB, UK
Height: 6-2, Weight: 213
- Max Scharping OL, NILL
Height: 6-6, Weight: 327
- Kahale Warring TE, SDGST
Height: 6-5, Weight: 252
- Charles Omenihu DL, TEXAS
Height: 6-5, Weight: 280
- Xavier Crawford CB, CMICH
Height: 5-11, Weight: 187
- Cullen Gillaspia RB, TXAM
Height: 6-2, Weight: 235
Click here for a list of the Texans 2018 injuries.
Moving Into 2019
Cap Space – $39,236,226
Houston will be interesting moving into 2019. Watson had a slow start but took some steps forward. He was never going to do what he did in his short rookie stint but he has improved in some areas. A higher completion rate (+6.5%) and he cut his INT Rate by more than half from 3.9% down to 1.8% (-2.1%). If the receiving corps is healthy, it could effect Hopkins volume a little but it could also pull some coverage away from him. He is a locked in top three receiver in all formats. Demaryius Thomas was released in February. They will be looking for Fuller and Coutee to stay healthy and step up in a big way. The team is loaded with young tight ends so we need to monitor the situation through training camp to see who can maybe get a majority role for this offense.
Houston will be looking for Miller and Foreman to carry the load, as it looks right now, behind their newly revamped offensive line. As you saw above, it needed all the help it could get. I see the Texans as a team that could have two top-24 wide receivers and possibly three top-36. Their quarterback is one of the best assets to own as he has the dual-threat combination we all love. Miller should be steady and finish in the RB2 range but I would do my best to sell in dynasty ASAP. Capitalize on the one year he might have left. Good luck everyone!!!