The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Houston Texans (4-12)
For their season opener, the Texans decided to go with Tom Savage as their starter, who lasted just one half of that contest before head coach Bill O’Brien made the switch to Deshaun Watson. After posting modest numbers in his first NFL start against the Bengals in Week 2, Watson went nuclear between Weeks 3 and 8, amassing 1,473 passing yards and 18 passing touchdowns during that span. Extrapolated over a full season, Watson’ 2017 stats are 3,882 passing yards, 614 rushing yards, and 47 total touchdowns (43 passing, 4 receiving), which would have certainly placed him in the fantasy MVP conversation had he not suffered a torn ACL in practice after the Texans’ Week 8 loss to Seattle. Armed with a pair of dynamic wideouts in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, Watson projects as one of the first quarterbacks to go off the board in 2018 fantasy drafts, assuming all goes well with his knee rehab.
Two full seasons into Lamar Miller’s tenure as the Texans starting running back, and it appears the Dolphins were on to something by not utilizing him as a workhorse, as Miller’s yards-per-carry (YPC) plummeted for a second year in a row (4.0 in 2016 to 3.7 in 2017). Additionally, Miller did not record over 100 rushing yards in any game this season after achieving the feat four times the year prior (in fact, Miller’s 2017 single game high was just 75 rushing yards in Week 4). While it’s now painfully evident that any visions of Miller becoming Arian Foster 2.0 will not be coming to fruition, Miller will still have value as a low-end volume-based RB2 going into next season, although the Texans are likely to bring in some competition. A preseason ankle injury to Alfred Blue paved the way for third-round rookie D’Onta Foreman to assume the role of Miller’s backup. At times, Foreman looked better than Miller, bringing an element of power to the run game that the veteran lacked. In Week 11, however, Foreman was lost for the year due to an achilles tear, an injury with a notoriously difficult recovery time frame. Foreman should be considered legitimately questionable to start training camp, and could possibly start 2018 on the PUP list. Alfred Blue regained backup duties after Foreman was lost, and actually out-touched Miller in Weeks 15 through 17, a timeframe in which Blue accumulated 238 of his 316 total yards. Blue is set to become a free agent this spring, and won’t be anyone to get excited over if he lands with a new team.
Going into 2017, it wasn’t clear if DeAndre Hopkins was more like the guy who put up 187 catches for 2,731 yards and 17 scores across the 2014/2015 seasons, or the guy who went just 78-954-4 in 2016. The answer was most certainly the former, as Hopkins turned out to be one of the best value picks in fantasy football considering he was typically being drafted after guys like Amari Cooper and Doug Baldwin. The most impressive thing about Hopkins’ 2017 season was what he did after Deshaun Watson was lost for the season, as the wideout managed 51-772-6 over his final 9 games with the combination of Tom Savage and T.J. Yates throwing him the ball (which really has to reflect poorly on Brock Osweiler, the Texans starting quarterback for the 2016 season). With the Texans having finally secured top-end quarterback talent, and Antonio Brown (another year older), Julio Jones (end zone allergies), and Odell Beckham (coming off a serious ankle injury) all face some degree of scrutiny heading into the offseason, Hopkins should be viewed as nothing less than a top-four wideout for the 2018 season with a legitimate argument to be made as the first overall at the position. A collarbone injury suffered during training camp kept Will Fuller out of the Texans first three games of the season, though he immediately stormed back on to the fantasy scene with 279 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns from Weeks 4 through 8 upon returning. Looking like a legitimate waiver wire steal, Fuller’s wings were promptly clipped by losing Deshaun Watson and a rib injury suffered in Week 10, as Fuller amassed just 15 catches and 144 scoreless yards from Week 9 onward. Fuller should enter 2018 as a solid WR3 with WR2 upside, with the primary concern being that he’s now missed 8 total games due to injury over his first two NFL seasons.
C.J. Fiedorowicz experienced a mini-breakout in 2016 with 54 catches for 559 receiving yards and four touchdowns, a performance for which the Texans rewarded him with a three-year $21 million contract extension last summer. Unfortunately, repeated concussions limited Fiedorowicz to just 5 games in 2017 (and his playing career appears in doubt) though the team maintains optimism of a return next season. With Ryan Griffin also suffering from his own concussion woes, former undrafted free agent Stephen Anderson finished the season as the Texans’ starting tight end. Anderson was a popular waiver pickup after is 5-79-1 performance in Week 13, but he was only able to catch three more passes for 20 yards the rest of the season. From a pure athleticism standpoint, Anderson should be the guy heading into 2018 (seriously, check out this snag), though the Texans tight end situation will be one to monitor closely going into training camp to see who emerges as Deshaun Watson’s g0-to option at the position.