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Projecting Houston Texans skill-position depth chart and fantasy impact

The Texans face uncertainty at more than just the quarterback position.

Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans takes the field against the Baltimore Ravens at NRG Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Less than 15 months ago, the Houston Texans held a 24-0 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round. The Texans went on to blow that lead, beginning a catastrophic sequence of events that saw the franchise fall from contender status to laughing stock of the NFL.

This offseason has done little to improve the Texans’ standing in the league. The team conducted widely criticized general-manager and head-coaching searches that produced Nick Caserio and David Culley, respectively. While the duo will have plenty of time to validate their new gigs, they have plenty of work to do managing an undermanned (but somehow expensive) roster.

Quarterback

1. Deshaun Watson
2. Tyrod Taylor
3. Davis Mills

Running back

1. David Johnson
2. Mark Ingram II
3. Phillip Lindsay

Wide receiver

1. Brandin Cooks
2. Randall Cobb
3. Keke Coutee
4. Chris Conley
5. Nico Collins
6. Andre Roberts

Tight end

1. Jordan Akins
2. Kahale Warring
3. Brevin Jordan
4. Pharaoh Brown

Biggest offseason changes

While Deshaun Watson technically remains atop the Texans’ depth chart at quarterback, it seems unlikely he will start for the team in Week 1 (and quite possibly beyond). Early in the offseason, Watson’s mounting dissatisfaction with management resulted in a trade demand, one from which he did not back off following Houston’s hiring of Culley. Not long after, a litany of civil lawsuits filed against Watson alleged a pattern of sexual misconduct. With the quarterback’s legal situation unlikely to resolve in the near future, the possibility of NFL suspension looming, and his desire to force a trade showing no signs of abating, it seems someone else will begin the season under center for the Texans.

Biggest questions for fantasy football

With Watson effectively on the shelf for the foreseeable future, quarterback becomes the largest question facing the Texans this season. The team brought on veteran Tyrod Taylor in March to stabilize the position, a role he has played in each of his last two NFL stops. Even so, Taylor cannot lift the offense the way Watson did for so many years. At the same time, Houston’s other apparent option, second-round pick Davis Mills, will probably require significant work in practice before he earns the coaching staff’s confidence. If Taylor struggles, the pressure to bring in Mills could become overwhelming.

But regardless of which quarterback starts, the Texans also have to settle a lackluster backfield. David Johnson returns after a disappointing 2020 campaign with 31-year-old Mark Ingram and Denver Broncos castoff Phillip Lindsay joining him. None of the trio has run particularly well over the past two seasons and the limited supporting cast do little to alleviate those concerns. Houston hopes one of them will emerge as a lead back, but a timeshare could result instead.