In the past, your Houston Texans have been limited to only a handful of players worthy of starting lineups (unless you play in an IDP league), but this season, an overhauled Houston offense presents some interesting options for your fantasy team. DeAndre Hopkins made a splash last season, carrying the Houston offense (and many of our fantasy teams) into the playoffs. This season, Hop gets some help in the form of a new tier-one RB, new QB, and a plethora of talented receivers. Until the offensive pieces fall into place following the preseason, these are the projections for fantasy value of Houston Texans players this year.
Hopkins was fantasy gold last season. With 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns, he was 4th among fantasy receivers, averaging around 200 points in standard leagues. Hopkins worked magic despite a humiliating hodgepodge of QBs at the helm, but the addition of Brock Osweiler this offseason has the potential to provide some stability for the wideout. The only negatives fantasy-wise for Hop are the additions of Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, both of whom could vulture targets and touchdowns. Despite the competition, Hopkins remains a top-tier receiver and will still be a top pick off of the board in all fantasy leagues. He is unanimously projected as the fourth or fifth WR to come off the board this season.
I liked Miller when he was in Miami (minus the week that he torched the Texans for roughly a million yards), but the kid was vastly underutilized there. That's a good thing for Houston (and your fantasy team) because it means Miller has plenty of gas left in his tank. The Texans haven't had a true workhorse back since the last time Arian Foster was healthy, and Miller has been waiting for more carries. He will step in and get a healthy workload, one that has the potential to grow even larger if Osweiler doesn't play up to potential and Houston has to lean on the run. Miller could very well rack up absurd points this season as an RB1. He should be a top 10 back when your draft comes around.
Osweiler has immediate potential for success (a) because he is the uncontested starter and (b) because of the talent in his receiving corps, led by Pro Bowler Hopkins. He also has a talented RB in Lamar Miller, and versatility and options in Fuller, Braxton Miller, and Tyler Ervin. Osweiler's position in your fantasy draft will rest on your faith in the QB and how you feel he will perform in Houston. Personally, his lack of starts make me hesitant to draft him. Until he's proven as a starter, there are plenty of QBs I would rather rely on. But if you're feeling lucky, Osweiler has great upside potential, and all of the offensive tools in place for a successful season.
Houston's defense, led by perennial Pro-Bowler J.J. Watt, is generally a solid fantasy option. This season, they stand to be even better than in years past. Benardrick McKinney and Whitney Mercilus are improving with every snap, and Jadeveon Clowney is returning from another injury-plagued season with the potential for a breakout year. Brian Cushing is still a monster, Watt is still the best player at his position, and the Houston defense is primed for another exceptional season. Though the special teams has been an issue in the past, it has also been a focus for the Texans moving forward. Draft the Houston DEF/ST with confidence this year.
This is where things get a little blurry in Houston. Strong, Fuller, and Braxton Miller will all be in the running for targets, and until the preseason plays out, it will be hard to determine where their values lie. Strong has been my favorite to get the second WR position in Houston, partly because I liked his explosiveness last year, and partly because Bill O'Brien was crooning his praises in minicamp. Last season, Strong showed flashes of great potential, with 12 of his 14 catches going for either a first down (nine) or a touchdown (three). Strong is definitely someone to keep an eye on moving toward fantasy drafts, though whether or not he is draftable will depend on how the Texans' preseason plays out.
Fuller is the other clear option for the WR2 slot in Houston. The first round draft pick out of Notre Dame is fast and could be the speedy counterpart that Nuk needs. His deep threat is his greatest strength, and he will certainly hold fantasy value down the line. The Texans seem to have faith in Fuller, but his hands scare me. He dropped 14% of his passes last season. If he can prove that he's capable of being a reliable target, and if he beats out Strong for the starting role, Fuller could be a nice pickup this season. His value, like Strong's, will rest heavily on the preseason.
Ervin is an exciting option for Houston, potentially contributing to both the run and passing games. With a workhorse back like Lamar Miller in the lineup, Ervin doesn't stand to hold much fantasy value unless injuries propel him up the depth chart. I'll be keeping an eye on him throughout the preseason, though, in case he lights it up or proves a favorite redzone target for the Texans.
I like Braxton Miller as an option for the Texans. His transition from QB to WR gives him a unique perspective, and he certainly has the physicality and speed to be a playmaker. But until Houston's offense settles into place, Braxton Miller stands to be more of a versatility weapon for the Texans. If injuries to WRs hit Houston in a big way, Miller could have some value, but for now he will be limited by the other talent on the roster.
Anderson is my reach player on this list. It is unlikely that the UDFA will have any immediate impact on the Texans' roster or your fantasy football team. But Houston's TE position has been, to put it politely, kind of garbage since Owen Daniels left. That means that the position is essentially up for grabs. If Anderson can earn himself some playing time during the preseason, he could be a steal in fantasy leagues. He's obviously not draftable at this point, but he's someone to watch moving forward.