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More of the results in football — real life and Fantasy — than we'd like to admit comes down to who can stay healthy. Every team deals with injuries, so no one is allowed to use them as an excuse, but the Houston Texans dealt with arguably the most crushing injury in 2017 and so much of their 2018 season comes down to recovering from that.
DeShaun Watson was a revelation during his six and half games before his injury. He threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns. He ran for 269 yards and two scores. If you just double his production, for a 13-game projection, you get 3,398 passing yards, 538 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns. A full season projection would be one of the greatest Fantasy seasons of all time.
But of course you can't do that.
Watson isn't likely to match last year's efficiency (8.3 Y/A, 9.3 percent TD rate) ever again in his career, at least not over a full season. But even if you assume he regresses to 7.6 Y/A and a 5 percent TD rate, you're still looking at a top-five Fantasy quarterback in Bill O'Brien's offense. Quarterbacks who run the ball like Watson does and throw it accurately are Fantasy gold.
Watson's injury (an ACL tear) is one that modern medicine has made much easier to return from. His teammate D'Onta Foreman isn't as fortunate. Foreman tore his Achilles after a rookie season in which he looked like the most talented running back in Houston. It's fair to say that if he was 100 percent healthy most of us would be projecting him to take Lamar Miller's job.
There's still some hope that Foreman could be ready for the start of the season, in which case he'd have enormous upside. Just recognize the potential that he could start training camp on the PUP list.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
Bill O'Brien went more balanced last year, but that may have been as much about circumstances as anything. He took it really slow with Watson in his first start, and spent most of the second half of the year balancing terrible quarterback play with a banged up defense. I don't expect the Texans will throw the ball 580 times, but they're still going to be high on pass attempts because they run so many offensive plays. What will be more interesting is how many of those targets go to DeAndre Hopkins.
In 2017 33.7 percent of the Texans pass attempts went Hopkins way. In 2015 that number was 31.4 percent. In Hopkins' disappointing year in between that number slumped to 26 percent. If Watson stays healthy, Hopkins may not need 170 targets to be a top-five receiver, but he'll need them to challenge Antonio Brown.
- Everybody's thinking about what could be if Foreman gets back to 100 percent, but there's another side to that equation. if he starts the year on IR Miller could be one of the true workhorses in Fantasy.
- Fuller has a career catch rate around 54 percent, but he caught 13 of 22 targets from Watson last year. If he could be a 60 percent guy he could be startable even with Hopkins' heavy usage.
- Ryan Griffin led the tight end group in targets when Watson was healthy but Stephen Anderson is still the most athletic tight end on the roster and the only one I'd draft in Fantasy.
Braxton Miller will battle Keke Coutee and Bruce Ellington for snaps in the slot, but the team will also use Stephen Anderson there as well. With Hopkins' enormous target share these receivers are at least one injury away from any sort of Fantasy relevance. But Coutee and Ellington are both Dynasty stashes.
Alfred Blue has been re-signed, seemingly as a safeguard in case Foreman is not ready for the start of the season. Blue would technically be Miller's handcuff in that situation, but he wouldn't be a handcuff I'd be excited to draft in the first 15 rounds.