Houston Makeover Vs Untimely Dallas QB Shift by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt
The Preseason is winding down and we’re now a week away from the start of the season. You’re all deep into draft mode or have already completed your drafts. I have 2-3 drafts left, I can’t remember because I over committed this season. It’s like I’d rather spend all my free time on football than anything else. Not a bad thing, just means this is the time of year when my friends know I’m unavailable on Sundays (and Mondays.. And Thursdays..).
This week I want to focus on the Texas teams. I’ve been wanting to tackle the makeover in Houston and the hype in Dallas for a while now. Arguably, the Houston Texans have sustained the biggest overhaul this offseason. After the QB shuffle they had last season, they went for it with signing Brock Osweiler. They moved on from Arian Foster signing Lamar Miller, who’s been frustratingly under utilized in Miami. Finally, they picked up some talented rookies in WR Will Fuller & RB Tyler Ervin. Meanwhile in Dallas, we have the much hyped first round pick, crop top legend, Ezekiell Elliott. We also have the sad reality that Tony Romo may need to consider retirement after sustaining another injury. Followed up the the new hype train of the rookie Dak Prescott.
Osweiler is the shiny new QB the Texans have been looking for. Despite only having 8 career starts, he’s been in the league 4 years and been learning from under one of the greatest to ever play the game, Peyton Manning. If Manning’s attention to detail has rubbed off at all on Osweiller, you can bet that Brock will the be classic “student of the game”. He’ll eager to learn and live up to the needs in Houston. It also helps having the incredible talent of DeAndre Hopkins as your #1 WR and the newly signed, seasoned vet in Lamar Miller behind you. Agree with all the hype or not, but you can not deny the fact this move does anything but help the offense in Houston. Let’s hope Brock is able to break the trend of QB uncertainty in Houston. I’m drafting Brock in 2 QB leagues as a late round pick, because why not? He’s throwing to Hopkins, can’t be that bad right?
QB Situation in Dallas
In the first few minutes of Tony Romo taking the field for his first preseason game, he goes down and stays down from a hard hit. We now know he suffered a stress fracture to his L1 vertebra and estimated return is 6-10 weeks. According to medical specialists this approximation could easily be shorter or longer. This recovery is highly symptomatic and monitored by pain the player is feeling. It is important to note this is his third back related injury. Running down his list of injuries really quick from 2008 to now: Broken pinkie, broken left collarbone, ruptured disk, two transverse process fractures, left collarbone (again), and now this. It would be sad to see Romo’s career end based on injury, but you can’t deny the thought of retirement has to be in his mind. How much more can his spine and body really take? Moving onto the Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott, who’s had a great showing this preseason. Defenses are significantly less intense in the preseason, so he has yet to be fully tested. He will get that test game 1 against their #1 division opponent the NY Giants, upside being they’ll be at home. Am I drafting Prescott? Probably not, but I’ll be keeping an eye on his numbers to see if he’s a viable QB 2 option for 2 QB formats.
Which RB to Own
Do you take the unproven, much hyped rookie? Or the under utilized seasoned vet? The Ezekiel Elliott vs Lamar Miller debate is an interesting one. There’s no doubt that Elliott is incredibly talented. However rookie RBs are risky. He could have an outstanding season or sustain a week 1 injury and you’ve now blown your first round pick. Elliott has already had a minor hamstring issue this off season and that’s enough to create a pause in your drafting him. Based on the beating RBs take I’m hesitant to take an untested rookie. I can agree he’s worth a late 1st round pick but I wouldn’t pick him over Todd Gurley or David Johnson.
Meanwhile you have Lamar Miller, who in many drafts is going right after or right before Elliott. Houston ran the most running plays last season of any NFL team. So you have no doubt Miller will be getting used early and often. The question: is he ready to be used this much? Is he conditioned and ready for that responsibility? Answer: I think so. He had struggled last season going unused and many chanted “Free Lamar Miller.” We know he’s talented because despite his low targets, he maximized each opportunity he had leading him to a top 10 finish last season. Miller is an obvious second round choice though I’d easily understand him going late in the first round.
Effects on Top WRs
Now, how can we realistically expect the new QB situations in each camp effect their top wide receivers. I think both situations have a lot in common. Both QBs are brand new to their respective systems, while both have seasoned wide receivers that are very comfortable in their leading role. It’s really just a matter of the QBs not screwing it up. Prescott will likely be throwing frequently and quickly so it’s a good thing Bryant is getting back up to speed post injury and still has the hands to make brilliant catches. I do not see Bryant’s numbers going down. I see team meetings going like this: “Dak your first job is: hand it off to Elliott. 2nd: throw the ball to Dez. That’s it. You have two jobs, don’t get fancy.”
As for DeAndre Hopkins, we know he can make beautiful music with any QB throwing to him. He had 192 targets and 111 receptions, for 11 TDs, behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Hopkins is an open and shut draft case. He’s young, talented, and will see a large volume in targets. Draft him, just do it.
The Back Ups
The rookies and vets to keep an eye on are also draft worthy on both teams. In Houston you have the highly touted rookie Will Fuller, his deep speed has potential for numbers worthy of a late draft pick up. (Depth behind Fuller: WRs Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong.)
Terrance Williams on the other hand has seen marginal improvement season to season, and after Bryant’s foot injury last season, Williams did little to rise to the occasion. (Depth behind Williams: Cole Beasley, Bryce Butler, Lucky Whitehead (Punt return opportunities).)
Tyler Ervin is in a great position as the backup to Lamar Miller. Despite his smaller size he’s aggressive and highly athletic. His abilities in pass catching are a big help too. He leads his RB rookie class with 45 receptions from San Jose State. All making a great handcuff to Miller.
Alfred Morris has reportedly taken the lead over McFadden, and would be a worthy starting RB2 if Elliott gets hurt. He’s a must own handcuff for Elliott owners.
Check Your Draft Boards
When prepping for your draft be sure to take note of these players (if you haven’t already). Despite the hype and new situations surrounding a lot of them, there is no denying they’re worth owning. If you’re lucky enough to pick up Hopkins in a PPR format of Elliott second round in standard, know you’ve made a great draft pick. More importantly if you already own Miller and/or Elliott, be sure you’ve picked up their handcuff, because if I’ve learned anything from fantasy, it’s that anything, and I mean ANYTHING can happen. Happy Drafting!