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  • Texans fantasy football outlook 2016

    2016 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Houston Texans team outlook
    Texans head coach Bill O'Brien made sweeping changes to his team's offense this offseason, perhaps in an effort to keep owner Bob McNair from making sweeping changes to his coaching staff next offseason.

    After getting blasted in the playoffs 30-0, O'Brien and his staff signed quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller to lucrative free-agent deals. Not only do they replace older and more injury-prone players at their positions (Brian Hoyer and Arian Foster), but they should rejuvenate the offense. It's vital to the Texans, who averaged 21.2 points per game during the season but only beat one playoff team from 2015.

    The constant from last year was and still is DeAndre Hopkins. Fantasy owners who invested in him were plenty happy after he put up one of the best seasons even from a Texans receiver, which is saying something since Andre Johnsonplayed there for 12 years. With 10 games of 10-plus Fantasy points (same as Antonio Brown), over 190 targets (just like Brown), 111 receptions (OK, Brown's got him there) and 11 touchdowns (one more than Brown), Hopkins has emerged not only as a legit No. 1 receiver, but one who doesn't need a top-tier quarterback throwing to him. Osweiler should prove to be the best passer he's ever had. Though the prospect of Miller reasserting the run game and a pair of fast rookie receivers threatening the number of targets to go around is real, Fantasy owners are still very excited about taking Hopkins with a middle-to-late first-round pick.

    With apologies to everyone who previously drafted Miller, this is going to be the season he breaks through. In Miami, Miller seemingly couldn't get the opportunity to serve as an every-down back. He only had two games with 20-plus carries and 10 games with 20 or more touches. He played there for four years. The Texans made a statement when they signed Miller to a four-year deal with $14 million guaranteed -- he was the guy to replace Arian Foster, who was released. O'Brien's offense is predicated on running the ball well, so expect Miller to get the opportunities he rarely had with the Dolphins. Believe it or not, the lack of touches he had with the Fins -- just 638 carries and 117 catches -- will actually benefit Miller's Fantasy owners this season. The workload, the speed added to the Houston offense, the schedule over the second half of the season and the potential for as many as 1,500 total yards puts Miller among the Top 10 rushers in Fantasy. Don't be shocked to see him get picked just after 15th overall in all drafts, and don't be afraid to be the person who does it.

    Some rookie receivers come into the NFL and make an instant impact. Most don't. Fuller and Miller should spend their rookie seasons learning while on the job in an offense that isn't catered to them. Rather, they're the ones who will serve in specific roles to help the offense achieve its goals. Fuller's deep speed will force defenses to keep their safeties off of the line of scrimmage, which will help the Texans run game. Miller, with a superior mix of athleticism and smarts, could fill out the slot for the Texans and be an easy catch-and-go outlet for Osweiler while also threatening defenses with his fleet feet. The big problem is that these rookies will take targets away from each other and won't put up consistent Fantasy numbers so long as Hopkins is doing what is expected. Both are worth nothing more than late-round picks.

    If the Texans had their way they'd run the ball 40 times a week. They'll rarely have it their way, and they know that, which is why they got Osweiler. They couldn't possibly go back to Brian Hoyer after he melted down in the playoffs last season, so when Osweiler became available in free agency the Texans jumped at the chance and gave him a four-year deal with $37 million guaranteed. It's an obscene amount for a quarterback who's started seven career games, recording multiple touchdowns in just two of them and passing for over 300 yards once. Osweiler is a good caretaker, but for him to post amazing numbers he'll need his receivers to make plays every single week. Easy for DeAndre Hopkins to do, not so easy for his new rookies and everyone else in Houston to do. Osweiler shouldn't be near any Fantasy rosters.

  • #2
    58. Last season, the Houston Texans had four different running backs with 80 touches. Their highest-ranked fantasy back was 40th at the position in ESPN standard scoring. They attempted the 16th-most run plays in the red zone last season.

    59. The Miami Dolphins ranked 26th in that category in 2015.

    60. Since entering the league in 2012, no RB averages more yards per carry in the red zone AND has scored more touchdowns in the red zone than ... Lamar Miller.

    61. In the six games last season in which Brock Osweiler played the entire game, 44.7 percent of his completions went to players that were NOT wide receivers.

    62. During the Bill O'Brien era in Houston, non-wide receivers have accounted for 31.1 percent of receptions.

    63. Lamar Miller's receptions by season since he came into the league: 6-26-38-47.

    64. Since the start of 2014, Le'Veon Bell has 403 carries for 1,917 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

    64a. Since the start of 2014, Lamar Miller has 410 carries for 1,971 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.

    65. In his two years under O'Brien, Arian Foster averaged 23 touches a game. That would work out to be 368 touches in a full 16-game season.

    66. Last season, on 241 touches, Miller was the sixth-best running back in fantasy.
    86. In the final seven weeks of the 2015 season, John Brown ran as many routes as DeAndre Hopkins.

    86a. Hopkins led the NFL in routes run last season.

    87. The only WRs in the NFL who averaged more air yards per target and saw more than 100 targets last season were Mike Evans and Allen Robinson.


    • #3
      24. Brock Osweiler, QB, Texans. Bye: 9.
      Brock Osweiler was one of the big winners of the draft, as the Texans acquired plenty of talent - Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, Nick Martin - to help him transition into the new offense. However, his fantasy outlook isn't as great; Houston's excellent defense will make it so Osweiler doesn't have to throw all that much. He won't be compiling garbage-time numbers very often.

      Projected 2016 Fantasy Stats: 3,900 passing yards. 26 passing TDs. 10 INTs. 60 rushing yards. 1 rushing TD.
      Projected 2016 Fantasy Points (ESPN Scoring): 252.

      6. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans. Bye: 9.
      Lamar Miller is very talented, and it's a mystery as to why the Dolphins never figured out how to use him properly. I have to imagine that Bill O'Brien will actually use Miller correctly, and if so, Miller could be a dark-horse candidate to lead the league in rushing.

      Projected 2016 Fantasy Stats: 1,200 rushing yards. 40 catches. 290 receiving yards. 11 total TDs.
      Projected 2016 Fantasy Points: 215.
      Projected 2016 PPR Fantasy Points: 255.

      4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. Bye: 9.
      It's amazing what DeAndre Hopkins has been able to do with horrific quarterbacks. Catching passes from Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Weeden in 2015, Hopkins caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers could be even better if Brock Osweiler plays as well as he did for Denver last year.

      Projected 2016 Fantasy Stats: 118 catches. 1,730 yards. 13 total TDs.
      Projected 2016 Fantasy Points: 251.
      Projected 2016 PPR Fantasy Points: 369.
      48. Will Fuller, WR, Texans. Bye: 9.
      Of all the first-round rookie receivers, Will Fuller appears to be in the best situation. He'll have Brock Osweiler throwing to him; he figures to play a lot this year; and defenses won't be able to focus on him because of DeAndre Hopkins. It's difficult to trust rookie wideouts, but I'd be willing to take a flier on Fuller if I can get him in the late rounds.

      Projected 2016 Fantasy Stats: 59 catches. 840 yards. 6 total TDs.
      Projected 2016 Fantasy Points: 120.
      Projected 2016 PPR Fantasy Points: 179.
      85. Jaelen Strong, WR, Texans. Bye: 9.
      Jaelen Strong caught six passes for 56 yards in the season finale of his rookie campaign, but racked up eight receptions otherwise. Unfortunately for Strong, Will Fuller was drafted to be the No. 2 receiver. Making matters worse, Strong will have to battle Braxton Miller to be the No. 3 wideout.

      Projected 2016 Fantasy Stats: 34 catches. 480 yards. 3 total TD.
      Projected 2016 Fantasy Points: 81.
      Projected 2016 PPR Fantasy Points: 115.

      Pretty much the early general consensus,

      Too low on Strong imo.


      • #4
        Houston Texans: Lamar Miller fantasy football outlook

        Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller was in a bizarre situation during his time with the Miami Dolphins. He was a top player without a place. A number one running back treated like a second tier talent.

        Dolphins fans and fantasy football owners alike were embittered and confused by the detrimental offensive plan laid out by former head coach Joe Philbin.

        In the possession of a running back coming off a 1,099 yard season, Philbin had the opportunity to showcase Miller in what could have been his breakout season. The four-year veteran was ready to carry the load —he was practically begging for it— but Philbin never gave Miller the opportunities that would’ve allowed him to operate at his maximum potential. Because of this, he was lured away to the Lone Star State.

        Now the lead back in a run centric Houston Texans offense, Miller will have the platform he vied for during his four years with the Miami Dolphins.

        Let’s take a look at Lamar Miller, and find out why he could be one of the top five fantasy running backs in 2016.

        Houston has had one of the most potent run offenses in the NFL during the last two seasons. In 2014, they were number one in total run attempts (551), and run attempts per game (34.44).

        In 2015, they fell to fifth in both categories, averaging 29.5 rushing attempts per game, with 472 total attempts.

        However, the drop off wasn’t without reason.

        In 2014, the Texans had Arian Foster for (almost) the entire season. In 13 games, Foster had 1,246 yards off of 260 attempts, which is 44 more than Miller has received in any of his individual seasons. Foster was the burning coal that made the Texans offense chug, and when he was gone, the offense simply didn’t work correctly.

        Now, Miller will fill the void. As easily the best back on the team, he will take on all the carries that would have gone to the now departed Foster. I mean, he surely didn’t get paid $14 million in guaranteed money to share carries with Alfred Blue. He’s the man now, and fantasy owners will reap the benefits.

        Miller could even exceed what Foster was able to do simply because he is better at staying on the field. He’s only missed three games in his four year NFL career, and he’s played all 16 games in three consecutive seasons.

        He is gifted with better than average pass catching ability, and finished with 397 receiving yards last season. He’s improved this aspect of his game each year, and the Texans will give him ample opportunity show off his versatile skill set. For fantasy leagues with PPR bonuses, this gives Miller even more value, and will make him especially tempting once the likes of Le’veon Bell and Todd Gurley are off the board.

        In all formats going forward, Miller should be drafted as a top tier talent. This means taking him in the mid-to-late second round, and higher than the likes of Ezekiel Elliot (this season) and Doug Martin. I’d value him right along side guys like David Johnson and Jamaal Charles, and I think he can do better than both based off how many opportunities he’ll receive, and how durable he’s shown to be over his career.

        Miller should be taken around the mid third-to-fourth round in dynasty start-ups. He’s 25, so younger guys like Elliott and Johnson should take precedent. If you’re going for a “win now” mentality, you could consider taking him higher in the third, but understand that his outlook will be pretty murky once his four year contract with the Texans is up. My suggestion would be to grab him in the third round after you have a couple big name wide receivers locked up.

        Potential: RB1

        Likely Scenario: RB1

        Worst Case Scenario: RB2

        Pros: Will get plenty of opportunities. Has recorded only five fumbles in four years. Good pass catcher who’s improved every season. Fairly young at 25, and is very durable. Scored ten touchdowns last season off of minimal usage. Averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2014, and 4.5 in 2015.

        Cons: Didn’t always take advantage when given more responsibility. Doesn’t always make strong lateral cuts.

        Extra Fun Fact
        Miller had 638 carries in his four years with the Miami Dolphins. In the two seasons where Arian Foster played all 16 games, he combined for 678 total carries.


        • #5
          Rotoworld Texans Fantasy Preview
          Texans Year in Review

          2015 Pass Attempts Rank: 9th (619)
          2015 Rush Attempts Rank: 5th (472)
          2015 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 1st (1,127)
          2015 Yards Per Play Rank: 31st (4.9)

          Projected Starting Lineup

          QB: Brock Osweiler
          RB: Lamar Miller
          WR: DeAndre Hopkins
          WR: Will Fuller
          TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz
          TE: Ryan Griffin
          LT: Duane Brown
          LG: Xavier Su'a-Filo
          C: Nick Martin
          RG: Jeff Allen
          RT: Derek Newton

          Passing Game Outlook

          Brock Osweiler had a bumpy seven-start run in Denver last season, shining on Gary Kubiak's scripted early-game plays before running into trouble in second halves. Whereas Osweiler posted a 5:1 TD-to-INT ratio and 72.2% completion rate in first quarters of games, he completed under 54% of his passes in third and fourth quarters, throwing four touchdowns and three picks. Although you may read elsewhere that Osweiler has a "cannon" -- assumptions presumably derived from his towering size (6'7/242) -- Osweiler's arm is better described as average. He also struggles to read coverage and doesn't throw with anticipation. Desperate for any kind of quarterback answer, Texans GM Rick Smith signed Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million deal and will bank on coach Bill O'Brien's past signal-caller successes on top of a run-heavy approach. O'Brien got the most out of Christian Hackenberg at Penn State,Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014, and Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, and T.J. Yates last year. The Texans have finished the last two seasons first and fifth in the league in rushing attempts. Houston's up-tempo style and the presence ofDeAndre Hopkins do make Osweiler an intriguing late-round QB3 in two-quarterback and best-ball leagues. In re-draft, Osweiler would do well to emerge as a viable streamer against bad pass defenses.

          DeAndre Hopkins' game reached new heights post-Andre Johnson last season, finishing third in the NFL in receptions (111), receiving yards (1,521), and first-down catches (83), and seventh in touchdown grabs (11) and 20-plus-yard receptions (19). A route technician with elite ball skills, Hopkins is one of the NFL's toughest receivers to cover. There was a mildly concerning split inside his third-year breakout, though. Whereas Hopkins posted an absurd 133-1,774-11.4 receiving pace with the Texans allowing an average of 28.4 points per game in the initial seven weeks, his pace stats fell to 94-1,324-10.7 as Houston's defense stiffened, holding its last nine opponents to a 12.7-point weekly average. That final nine-game pace still would have made Hopkins last year's overall WR7 in both PPR and non-PPR scoring, and he was the WR9 in points per game from Week 8 on. While the best 2016 projection for Houston's defense probably lies somewhere in between last year's splits, this is a case where I believe we shouldn't overthink. Hopkins is a premier talent worth consideration beginning in the mid-first round of drafts.

          Presumably for stylistic reasons, the Texans bypassed more-complete receiver prospects Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell in order to make Will Fuller the No. 21 overall pick. GM Rick Smith probably believes Fuller's lid-lifting style will better complement route-running maven Hopkins while serving to stretch the field, perhaps opening up running lanes for Lamar Miller. Blessed with 4.32 jets at 6-foot, 186, Fuller has short arms (30 3/4") and tiny hands (8 1'4") and committed 21 drops over his final two college seasons. His game is built on finesse and a special ability to outrun coverage. On a run-committed team where Hopkins will continue to vacuum targets, Fuller profiles as a low-volume role player who will struggle for bankable week-to-week usage. In an ideal world for the Texans, Fuller will compete for the league lead in yards per reception and threaten defenses with the occasional splash play. Barring an injury to Hopkins, it's hard to imagine Fuller returning consistent re-draft value. I do like him as a high-volatility WR7/8 in best-ball leagues, where Fuller usually goes in the 13th-15th rounds.

          The top-two contenders for Houston's third receiver job are Jaelen Strong and Cecil Shorts. 28-year-old Shorts took a $1 million pay cut following a pedestrian 2015 campaign wherein he managed a 42-484-2 receiving line on 75 targets, mainly manning the slot between Hopkins and departed Nate Washington. Annually plagued by soft-tissue ailments, Shorts missed five games with shoulder, hamstring, and groin injuries last year. A 2015 third-round pick, Strong earned increased playing time late in his rookie season but did little with it. He has also battled weight fluctuation problems and was arrested for marijuana possession this February. Still only 22 years old, Strong did draw praise from the coaching staff for improved offseason conditioning and possesses a compelling athletic profile with 4.44 timed speed and a 42-inch vertical at 6-foot-2, 217. The Texans' complementary pass catchers are unlikely fantasy contributors, but Strong arguably offers the highest ceiling of the group should the light flip on in year two.

          Tight end jobs will be up for grabs at Texans camp, where Ryan Griffin figures to enter as the favorite for receiving work ahead of in-line blocker C.J. Fiedorowicz, third-year UDFA Anthony Denham, second-year UDFA Eric Tomlinson, and rookie UDFA Stephen Anderson. Texans tight ends have combined for meager reception totals of 32 (2014) and 42 (2015) in Bill O'Brien's two years as head coach. Griffin, 26, spent Weeks 2-9 on injured reserve/designated for return with a sprained MCL last season. He averaged under four targets per game after returning, topping 40 yards once. The 65th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Fiedorowicz averaged under ten yards per reception in his college career and has 21 catches through 31 NFL games. Fiedorowicz does offer real-life value, grading out as PFF's No. 6 run-blocking tight end among 73 qualifiers in 2015. Anderson may be the most intriguing long-term prospect. He is an 80th-percentile SPARQ athlete and was a favorite pre-draft sleeper of Rotoworld college football guru Josh Norris. Just 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Anderson will likely struggle to ever earn regular snaps in the pros.

          Running Game Outlook

          Hellbent on reestablishing themselves as an efficient rushing offense after finishing last season 28th in team yards per carry (3.67), the Texans invested a four-year, $26 million contract into Lamar Miller, who has been one of the NFL's most efficient runners despite terrible rushing environments in Miami. Miller has averaged 4.81 YPC over the past two seasons, a two-year mark superior to Le'Veon Bell (4.76), Doug Martin (4.49), Adrian Peterson (4.48), Mark Ingram(4.42), DeMarco Murray (4.35), and LeSean McCoy (4.30). Miller has also made major strides in the passing game. Last season, he set career highs in catches (47), receiving yards (397), catch rate (83%), and yards per reception (8.4) while grading out as a top-three pass-blocking back at Pro Football Focus. For the first time in his career, Miller projects as a true high-volume workhorse on a team that will treat him as its offensive centerpiece. Still only 25 years old, Miller warrants draft consideration beginning near the top of round two in 12-team leagues.

          The Texans will hold another camp battle at No. 2 tailback, where two-down plodder Alfred Blue returns ahead of passing-down type Jonathan Grimes, versatile fourth-round pick Tyler Ervin, and diminutive burner Akeem Hunt. Although Blue is painfully inefficient (3.48 career YPC) and offers little in the passing game, the Texans' coaching staff has thought enough of him as a spot-duty runner to give Blue 15 or more touches in 12 games over the last two years. Blue would be the favorite for carries and goal-line work should Miller miss time. Ervin presently appears buried on the depth chart, but he is worth stashing in Dynasty leagues and monitoring by deeper-league re-draft owners. Ervin runs 4.41 with explosive marks in the vertical (39") and broad (10'10") jumps and excelled as a senior bellcow at San Jose State, where he logged 22.6 carries per game. That's an eye-popping feat for a 5-foot-10, 192-pound back. Ervin piled up 87 receptions in his college career and scored five touchdowns as a returner on special teams.

          2016 Vegas Win Total

          The Texans have gone 9-7 in each of Bill O'Brien's two years as coach. They finished 2015 on a tear, winning seven of their final nine games before an embarrassing 30-0 loss to Kansas City in the Wild Card Round. This year's Texans have a Vegas Win Total of 8.0. They are pre-season favorites in seven of their initial 15 games, and were assessed as having the NFL's tenth most difficult schedule by Warren Sharp. Despite their flashy offseason additions, I still see Houston as a 7-9 win team in an AFC South where improvement should be expected across the board. The Texans otherwise face the AFC West and NFC North in addition to New England (road) and Cincinnati (home). Combined with a tough slate, my skepticism of Osweiler and Houston's defensive personnel beyond J.J. Watt leads me toward the under on their 2016 Win Total.


          • #6

            Is DHop a buy, hold, or sell?