NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Houston Texans 2020 roster for fantasy football. The biggest offseason move was losing DeAndre Hopkins in a trade to the Cardinals for David Johnson. That trade will likely go down as one of the worst in history, but let’s move on. They did grab Randall Cobb from the Cowboys to help replace Hopkins, but we know that is impossible.
Starter: Deshaun Watson
Backups: A.J. McCarron
Last season Watson was QB4 overall, but QB2 in fantasy points per game. His passing numbers alone weren’t special, as he completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,852 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but he also rushed 82 times for 413 yards and seven touchdowns to give him a huge fantasy boost.
With DeAndre Hopkins gone, much of Watson’s production now lives in Arizona, but as we saw last season, much of his production also relies on rushing stats, which he should continue to excel in as long as he’s healthy.
His receivers aren’t chump change, but Will Fuller, who should be the new No. 1 receiver, can’t seem to stay on the field. If Fuller, Stills and Cobb can have healthy seasons, Watson should be able to manage another strong fantasy season without Hopkins, but it will take a lot of injury luck.
Starter: David Johnson
Backups: Duke Johnson
David Johnson was an unbelievable fantasy stud in 2016, as he totaled 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns, giving him 373 touches at 5.7 yards per touch. A hand injury ended his 2017 season early and then 2018 was a down year despite totaling 1,386 yards and 10 touchdowns, as he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and just 4.5 yards per touch. Then last season was awful for Johnson, as he suffered through an ankle injury and then lost the starting job to Kenyan Drake despite being considered healthy for game days. He did have strong receiving numbers considering his workload, but again averaged under 4 yards per carry.
If we could assume Texans coach Bill O’Brien would use Johnson extensively as a receiver, especially with Hopkins gone, we could feel a little better about Johnson’s fantasy production. Unfortunately, O’Brien hasn’t been one to throw the ball to his backs much and Johnson’s backup is also a good pass-catching back. The team might bring Carlos Hyde back, but that doesn’t seem to be in the works, so Johnson and Johnson may be the two backs to get work, which would help narrow fantasy production into just them.
Starters: Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, Randall Cobb
Backups: Keke Coutee, DeAndre Carter
Will Fuller, if healthy, should have a huge 2020 fantasy season, but we have yet to see Fuller put a whole season together healthy. That makes things tough for projecting fantasy points, but it does give Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb higher ceilings for fantasy if they need to up their work due to a Fuller injury.
Fuller, as usual is a risky fantasy pick, but the reward would be great if he could give you 13+ full games in 2020. While Stills should be a little safer and had at a better average draft position. It’s an interesting conundrum, but one that is worth working on, as there will be a bunch of targets waiting to be picked up with Hopkins out of town.
Starter: Darren Fells
Backups: Kahale Warring, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins
Darren Fells was the touchdown maker last season for the tight ends, but split time with others throughout the season. The wild card this season is Kahale Warring, who is somewhat of a project, but one with good upside. If he can win the starting job outright and get in on those Hopkins’ targets, he could be a diamond in the rough.