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What ESPN Fantasy Football Tells Us About The Houston Texans Offense

If we’re talking fantasy, I wish the season would start already.

NFL: Washington Commanders at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For the Houston Texans fanbase, Fantasy Football can feel like an escape from Alcatraz. In previous years, I’ve personally avoided drafting Texans players to avoid the crushing feeling of watching Texans game while rooting against my own team when my own players aren’t scoring.

ESPN’s recent fantasy football projections for the 2023 season shines a light into the Houston Texans projected offense. With so many new faces and a new offensive system, it’s exciting to see how the experts evaluate Houston’s new offense.

Dameon Pierce will be the bell cow, but won’t crack 1,000 yards

ESPN predicts Pierce will see increases in carries, yards, and touchdowns, but those aren’t enough for Pierce to have his first 1,000 yard season. Interesting enough, the analysts at ESPN don’t believe Pierce will be more efficient this season even with a new interior offensive line. They stick with 4.3 average yards per carry for the sophomore running back.

CJ Stroud will have more interceptions in his rookie season than in his entire collegiate career

Houston’s new QB is predicted to throw 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his first year in the NFL. Those stats are a far cry from his productivity; both seasons he threw for over 40 TDs ad six INTs.

Rookies are renown for their tribulations coming from college. Take a look at any of Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Patrick Mahomes, or Jalen Hurts’ first seasons in the league. Each of them have subsequently improved, but that means Stroud is most likely in for a trudge of a season.

Dalton Schultz will be the Texans primary receiving target

A quality tight end is a receiver’s best friend. Schultz is being brought in from that team just north of here to improve the offense’s fire power and provide additional blocking support. Schultz has quietly racked up three quality seasons in a row, but saw a dip in performance this past season after missing two games and being the focus of opposing defenses.

Schultz should shine in Houston’s tight end-first offense and be the center point of the offense. That could mean he will be blanketed in coverage as teams stifle his production, or he can shine in an offense that emphasizes.

Nico Collins will have a breakout season

While he’s no DeAndre Hopkins, Collins has been a nice buffer between Houston and utter disaster in the passing game. Even while he’s missed considerable time over the past two years, Collins has been a reliable threat for Houston.

Year three will be a critical season for Collins as he faces new faces all around him. Pressure from new veterans Robert Woods and Noah Brown plus two rookies Tank Dell and Xavier Hutchinson will strain Collins’ hold on the wide receiver one position. If Collins can hold off the battalion of new pass catching options, he’ll outpace the 688 yards the ESPN analysts believe he’ll accumulate.

Teagan Quitoriano will surpass Brevin Jordan the second tight end role

Bobby Slowik’s offense is predicated on Shanahan and Kubiak-ian philosophies, which rely on two tight end formations. Tight ends’ versatility will be a premium, and that’s what second-year tight end Quitoriano can provide. Both him and Brevin Jordan were brought in back to back years to supplement the tight end role, but only Quitoriano has shown the ability to both block and catch the ball. ESPN only has Quitoriano slated for two TDs, but I anticipate him to record five or more TDs due to a high volume of red zone targets.

Considering Houston’s emphasis on drafting slot receiver types in John Metchie III and Tank Dell, this indicates a shift from pass-first tight ends of Brevin Jordan’s ilk. This paradigm shift will tilt the balance of power to players like Quitoriano in Houston’s new offense.

Xavier Hutchinson will be a non-factor

In the most debatable, stat-less fact of ESPN’s predictions, they’ve left out the Texans’ sixth round draft pick from their estimations this season. That could be a grave mistake. While Hutchinson will be buried on the depth chart, he’ll be a vital asset in a wide receiver group far from stratified. Hutchinson will be directly competing with Noah Brown for playing time in four and five receiver sets. Hutchinson was a highly productive leader at Iowa State and has the upside to overthrow Nico Collins even on the roster. However, he has plenty to prove on an offense that will be running mainly formations with as many running backs and tight ends as receivers.