Fells agreed Wednesday with the Lions on a contract, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.
With reports surfacing earlier this week that offseason pickup Josh Hill is leaning toward retirement, the Lions acted quickly to bring in another veteran body at tight end in Fells. The 6-foot-7, 270-pounder is expected to offer most of his value as a blocking-oriented alternative at the position to starter T.J. Hockenson, but the 35-year-old Fells has also shown some ability as a pass catcher, particularly in the red zone. He topped 300 receiving yards in both of his past two seasons in Houston, scoring 11 touchdowns during that span.
The Texans released Fells on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
It's reasonable enough that a rebuilding team would cut a soon-to-be 35-year-old, though the Texans aren't exactly loaded with talent at tight end. Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, Kahale Warring and Ryan Izzo inhabit the Houston depth chart, while Fells will now become an unrestricted free agent. Fells averaged only 1.7 receptions for 20.4 yards in 32 games with the Texans, but he did score touchdowns on 11 of his 55 catches. The combination of competent blocking and red-zone utility should give Fells some real-life value as a backup option, though he's unlikely to achieve fantasy relevance.
Fells was not targeted in Sunday's 41-38 loss to the Titans.
This was the fourth time over the last 10 games that Fells was not targeted. A surprise leader among tight ends with seven touchdowns last season, Fells was not presented with as many opportunities in 2020; his 28 overall targets and four red-zone targets this season were lower than the 48 and 13 he had in 2019. Fells has one year left on his current deal, but he has dropped behind Jordan Akins, who is also under contract for 2021, in terms of playing time and targets.
Fells secured one of two targets for a 22-yard touchdown in the Texans' 37-31 loss to the Bengals on Sunday.
The veteran tight end, who's shown a nose for the end zone in the past, was back in the scoring column Sunday for the first time since Week 6 courtesy of a 22-yard grab with 6:15 remaining. The score was the final one of the day for the Texans and gave Houston a relatively short-lived 31-27 lead. Despite hitting pay dirt Sunday, Fells remains fairly deep down the depth chart in Houston's pass-catching corps and is difficult to trust in a Week 17 matchup against the Titans to close out the season.
Fells caught his lone target for 15 yards in Sunday's 36-7 loss to Chicago.
Fells finished behind Jordan Akins (six targets, 36 snaps) once again in targets but saw more action (40 snaps). Houston's tight ends could play a role going forward as the team's wide receiver depth chart has taken a significant hit. Brandin Cooks (foot) was inactive Sunday, while Will Fuller (suspension) is done for the season, and Randall Cobb (toe) is looking at shutting down.
Fells did not catch his only target in Sunday's 26-20 loss to the Colts.
Fells had one or fewer targets for the fourth time in the last six games, a big departure from his usage usage in 2019 when the 34-year-old led NFL tight ends with seven touchdowns. Houston's tight ends have played a reduced role in 2020 in favor of the team's wideouts, and that state continues Sunday even while the Texans played without Will Fuller (suspension), Randall Cobb (toe) and Kenny Stills (released).
Fells played 28 snaps and was not targeted in Thursday's 41-25 win over the Lions.
Houston's tight ends did not figure prominently Thursday with just three targets among quarterback Deshaun Watson's 25 attempts. It was the second time in the last five weeks that Fells didn't get a touch, and his fifth straight game under 30 yards and without a touchdown.
Fells caught both of his targets for 29 yards while playing 21 snaps (34 percent) in Sunday's 27-20 win over the Patriots.
Fells trailed both Jordan Akins (31 snaps, 51 percent) and Pharaoh Brown (27, 44 percent) in playing time, but he remains part of the three-headed TE grouping. With injuries to Randall Cobb (toe) and Kenny Stills (quadriceps) forcing them to leave Sunday's game early, Houston could rely on its tight ends more heavily in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.
Fells caught his lone target for 15 yards in Sunday's 10-7 loss to Cleveland.
On a windy day in Cleveland that limited downfield passing, the Texans didn't make great use of their tight ends -- just four targets in 30 attempts. Both Fells and Jordan Akins, Houston's top two tight ends, had just one target each, while third-stringer Pharaoh Brown had two targets and a touchdown.
Fells caught two of three targets for 26 yards in Sunday's 27-25 win over Jacksonville.
Fells saw his playing time shrink with the return of Jordan Akins. He still led Houston tight ends with 33 snaps, ahead of Pharaoh Brown (25) and Akins (25), but the window closed on him seeing north of 50 snaps. The good news for Fells and the team's other tight ends is that the position group was given eight targets, its third highest total of the season -- this after no tight end was targeted in Houston's previous game, a Week 7 loss to the Packers.
Houston interim head coach Romeo Crennel said Fells was not targeted in Sunday's loss to the Packers because of Green Bay's defensive scheme, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Crennel said his wide receivers were able to get open and make plays, so it would appear the game dictated receiver usage. It was curious to see Fells, who has three touchdown receptions this year, without a target in 78 snaps. The 6-foot-7 tight end usually presents a large target in the red zone, but the Texans had to settle for field goals on two trips inside the 20. The Texans are on a bye Week 8, and Crennel hopes tight end Jordan Akins (ankle) will be ready to play Week 9 against the Jaguars, which would impact Fells' playing time.
Fells was not targeted in Sunday's 35-20 loss to the Packers.
This was another game that got away early from the Texans, who were down by 21 points at halftime and never got within two scores of the Packers after that. That led to heavy usage for Houston's wide receivers at the expense of its tight ends. The game snapped Fells' touchdown streak at two games. With Jordan Akins (ankle) working his way back from an ankle injury and Houston entering a bye week, Fells' playing time could take a hit in Week 9 at Jacksonville.
Fells will elevate to the No. 1 spot on Houston's tight end depth chart with Jordan Akins (ankle) having been deemed inactive for Sunday's matchup against the Packers.
With Akins sidelined for each of the past two weeks, Fells has totaled eight receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns in matchups against the Jaguars and Titans. The 34-year-old also logged starts between Weeks 1 and 4 while Akins was available, but he's become more of a go-to passing-game option of late, with nine targets over his past two appearances.
Fells caught six of seven targets for 85 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 42-36 overtime loss to the Titans.
Fells stepped up with fellow tight end Jordan Akins (concussion) sitting out for the second consecutive week. The 34-year-old tight end has displayed a nose for the end zone, with three touchdowns this season and 10 since the start of 2019. Fells' second-quarter trip to the end zone in this one came from one yard out on fourth down. He'll look to stretch his touchdown streak to three games in Week 7 against the Packers.
Fells is set to operate as the No. 1 tight end with Jordan Akins (ankle/concussion) ruled out ahead of Sunday's game, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com reports.
Fells participated in a season-high 86 percent of the team's snaps with Akins out against the Jaguars last week, but he still saw just two targets, matching his total from each of the previous two weeks. The fact the veteran tight end turned one of them into a 44-yard touchdown is promising, but Fells still remains a last-resort touchdown-dependent option for fantasy managers unless the Texans choose to start involving him more in the offense.
Fells recorded two receptions on two targets for 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 5 against Jacksonville.
Fells did the majority of his damage on a 44-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter. His only other catch came earlier in the contest on the Texans' second drive, which ended with a field goal. Fells was the top tight end option for the team in the absence of Jordan Akins (concussion), but Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb combined to see targets on 25 of Deshaun Watson's 35 pass attempts. That leaves Fells as a touchdown-or-bust type option even if Akins remains out in Week 6 against the Titans.
With Jordan Akins (concussion) unable to practice Wednesday, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Fells becomes the lead tight end in preparations for Week 5 against the Jaguars.
Akins is also dealing with an ankle injury as the Texans prepare for their home matchup against division rival Jacksonville. After Akins was removed from last week's loss to the Vikings, Fells stepped in as the lead tight end and caught two passes for 21 yards while playing a season-high 52 snaps (80 percent).
Fells caught two of two targets for 21 yards in Sunday's 31-23 loss to Minnesota.
Fells played a season-high 52 snaps after Jordan Akins left the game due to a concussion. Akins, who had three targets in 19 snaps, had moved ahead of Fells on the depth chart, but it could be Fells lining up as the primary tight end Week 5 at home against Jacksonville.
Fells was targeted twice in Sunday's 28-21 loss to the Steelers in Week 3.
Fells, who was held without a catch for the first time this season, started for the third straight game but has clearly dropped behind Jordan Akins as a tight end target. The one hope for Fells is that his 2019 started similarly before he went on to catch seven touchdowns. He's caught four of eight targets for 41 yards and one touchdown thus far.
Fells caught two of four targets for 23 yards and a 10-yard touchdown catch in Sunday's 33-16 loss to the Ravens in Week 2.
Fells, who tied for the lead among tight ends with seven touchdown receptions in 2019, snagged his first score of the season Sunday. He and Jordan Akins share the tight end job, but Akins (nine targets) has drawn more attention from quarterback Deshaun Watson than Fells (six).
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