Houston Makeover Vs Dallas Rookie Takes Over

Houston Makeover Vs Dallas Rookie Takes Over 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.

Brocklobster Time

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!

Sam Holt

Follow Sam’s 2016 quest for another Dynasty Fantasy Football championships on twitter @SamanthaRHolt

Also by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt…”This is How We Dynasty Football”

and Fantasy Stock Drops From 2016 Draft by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt


Houston Texans Team Profile 2016

Houston Texans Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

There have been four head coaches of the AFC South Division Houston Texans. Don Capers was the first, followed by Gary Kubiak, who was fired mid-season on December 6, 2013. ( He was replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for the last 3 games.) In the 2013 off-season, Bill O’Brien was hired to be the 4th Texans’ next head coach. O’Brien had previously served as the NE offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick. Heading into his 3rd season, O’Brien  serves as both the Texans’ head coach and offensive coordinator.

2016 Team Outlook–
In 2014, Houston’s 9-7 record didn’t come close to winning the AFC South Division, but in 2015, the Houston’s record of 9-7 did win the AFC South. The Indianapolis Colts couldn’t match their 2014 11-5 record, with QB Andrew Luck out most of the season, so Houston leaped on top. With question marks still at quarterback, it will be difficult for Houston to challenge a healthy Andrew Luck and the Colts. ( the Jacksonville Jaguars are an interesting sleeper team)

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

The Indianapolis Colts have only needed only 2 great quarterbacks playing for them since 1998 (Prior to QB Andrew Luck’s injury in 2015). Meanwhile the Texans have struggled with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, TJ Yates, Brandon Weeden, Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, Matt Leinart, Sage Rosenfls, David Carr, Tony Banks and Dave Ragone! Texans owner Bob McNair has made to clear to the GM and head coach that he isn’t a fan of Hoyers. If there is a Week 1 starting quarterback in this NFL Draft, he probably won’t be there at Houston’s No. 22 overall. UPDATE: The Texans have signed former Bronco QB Brock Osweiler

RBs– Arian Foster has only played in 25 games over the past 3 years. Foster ruptured his Achilles tendon on October 25, 2015, in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Two days later, Foster was placed on injured reserve. On January 14, 2016, the Houston Chronicle reported that the Texans would likely release Foster before the 2016 season. RB Alfred Blue played 14 games in 2015, ranking only 50th among NFL running backs. The top 5 running backs currently headed for the 2016 NFL Draft are 1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, 2. Derrick Henry, Alabama, 3. Alex Collins, Arkansas, 4. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech and 5. Devontae Booker, Utah. UPDATE: The Texans have signed former Dolphin RB Lamar Miller

WRs– DeAndre Hopkins, also known as “Nuk,” was drafted by the Texans in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football at Clemson. You know that you have a great NFL offensive weapon, when he can put 1521 receiving yards and 11 touchdown receptions (ranking #6 wide receiver in the NFL) with 4 different quarterbacks in 2016. Houston selected two wide receivers back-to-back in the 2015 NFL Draft, WR 6’2″ Jaelen Strong in Round 3, and 6’0″ Keith Mumphery in the 5th Round.

Ryan Griffin, CJ Fiedorowicz and Garrett Graham all had minimal action in 2015. Griffin topped the group 251 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. There are talented free agents tight ends looking for new teams this year, including Dadarius Green, Dwayne Allen and Zach Miller, if Houston feels they are upgrades. 2016 Free Agents-

former Texan place kickers Randy Bullock and Nick Novak (13 games in 2015) are both free agents this year.

LE J.J. Watt earned his third Defensive Player of the Year award in the past four seasons. Despite this honor, the Houston defense took a few steps backwards in 2015, dropping from 6th top defense in 2014, to 8th in 2015. The Texans were a pedestrian 13th vs the run last season. Houston used their 1st two selections in the 2015 NFL Draft on 6’0″ CB Kevin Johnson and 6’4″ ILB Benardrick McKinney.

2016 Houston Fantasy Surprises–
Only the Panthers ( Week 2), the Dolphins ( Week 7), the Saints ( Week 12) and the Patriots ( Week 14) were able to slow down wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in 2016. His best game of the season came in Week 6 vs the Jaguars- 10 catches for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB Alfred Blue was moderately effective when given the opportunity, ending 2015 as the 40th running back in the NFL. In Week 3 vs Tampa Bay, he had 31 carries for 139 yards and 1 TD.

2016 Free Agents that Houston Needs to Address–
WR Nate Washington, K Nick Novak, P Shane Lechler, RB Chris Polk, RB Jonathan Grimes (RFA),OG Brandon Brooks, OT Chris Clark, DE Jared Crick, C Ben Jones, FS Quintin Demps, SS Eddie Pleasant (RFA), OLB John Simon (RFA)

2016 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Houston is at quarterback, running back, at safety and on their defensive line. The Texan’s first pick doesn’t comes until the 22nd selection of the first round.

Did You Know–
The name Texans has a long history in professional football. The Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City to become the Chiefs. The San Antonio Texans played one year in the Canadian Football League. The Houston Texans of the NFL began play roughly 25 years after the Houston Texans of the WFL left town.

Team Home Page: www.houstontexans.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team Profiles- Houston Texans

Team Profiles- Houston Texans by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Bill O’Brien is the current head coach and offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. This is his first head coaching job in the NFL. O’Brien has spent most of this coaching career at the college level, but was with the New England Patriots from 2007-2011. He served as a wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and was promoted to offensive coordinator in February 2011. In 2012, he was hired by Penn State to take over a program that had just endured the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. O’Brien finished his first Texan season with a 9-7 record. O’Brien is an offensive minded coach, who has a solid defense, so the fit should work. 2014 was still a reflection of the team HC Gary Kubiak had built, so it will be interesting to see what changes O’Brien makes in 2015, to mold the team into his design.

2015 Team Outlook–
The AFC South has the Indianapolis Colts, and the other 3. Other than some question marks at the running back position, the Colts have all the pieces in place to easily lead the AFC South in wins again in 2015. The Texans meanwhile, have lots of pieces missing, so while the Colts are repeating, the Texans will be rebuilding. The other 2 teams, Jacksonville and Tennessee, only had 5 wins total between the two teams in 2014. Jacksonville is growing around a “just OK” quarterback in Blake Bortles, drafted in 2014, and Tennessee keeps drafting and plugging in a different QB, seemingly every year. The AFC South will finish in 2015, like it did in 2014. Colts winning the division, Houston in 2nd place, and the other 2 teams out of contention.

2015 Fantasy Outlook–

It’s almost unfair that the Colts have needed only 2 great quarterbacks playing for them since 1998, while the “other 3″ struggle to have just a competent QB on their roster…for any season. The “other 3″ are Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville. Of the 3, only Jacksonville knows who their 2105 quarterback will be. The Texans have QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Tom Savage listed on their roster, but last year the Texans traded for Ryan Mallett, and there are rumblings that the Texans want him to start in 2015. (It didn’t cost Houston much to get him from New England, only for a conditional 6th round pick.) Mallett is a free agent however, so Houston first has to re-sign him. UPDATE: Texans Acquired a 2016 seventh-round pick from the Jets in exchange for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sign former Brown QB Brian Hoyer. Re-signed QB Ryan Mallett.

RBs– RB Arian Foster’s may have a reputation for being injured often, but for a running back who carries the ball as many times as he does, Foster actually plays a lot, and for most of every season. RB Foster missed half of 2013 due to a lingering back injury, but in the other 4 seasons since 2010, the workhorse has only missed a total of 6 games. Foster played 13 of the 16 regular season games in 2014, and ended the year as the #5 RB in the NFL. Foster totaled 1373 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 TDs. UPDATE: It didn’t take Foster long to get injured! Out at least 8 weeks of regular season. Alfred Blue, a 6’2″ 223 pound running back drafted by the Texans in the 2014 sixth round, is Foster’s back-up.

WRs– There aren’t many wide receivers who spend their entire career with one team, but WR Andre Johnson could be a guy that joins that elite group. Johnson was drafted by the Texans third overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, he is second all-time in NFL history in receiving yards per game trailing only Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. He holds nearly every Texans receiving record. The Texans have expressed a strong desire that Andre Johnson retire a Texan, and hopefully he does. 1st rounder in the 2013 draft, WR DeAndre Hopkins is now the #1 wide receiver in Houston and ended the past season as #14 among all WRs. The Texans have a lot of young wide receivers on their roster right now, and some of them have to step it in 2015, or Houston needs to find some new WRs that will. UPDATE: Texans release Andre Johnson, who then signed w/ Indy. Texans sign former Jag WR Cecil Shorts. With Houston’s 3rd pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they selected 6’2″ WR Jaelen Strong who will battle newly-signed WR Cecil Shorts for the starting position opposite WR DeAndre Hopkins.

Like Green Bay, Baltimore and New England, Houston has always been an offense that has incorporated a big, sure-handed tight end into the play-calling. (TE Owen Daniels comes to mind.) The Texans have drafted a tight end in 3 of their last 5 NFL drafts. TE Garrett Graham, drafted in 2010, was the 49th ranked TE in the NFL in 2014, with only 197 yards and 1 TD. HC O’Brien might just be a guy who’s tight ends don’t play a significant role in any offense.

Randy Bullock was selected by the Houston Texans in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, becoming the first kicker ever drafted by the team. In 2013, Bullock became the first NFL kicker since 1985 to have a field goal percentage less than 62 percent with at least 20 attempts. K Bullock rebounded in 2014, successfully hitting 30 of 35 field goals, including 6 out of 6 in Week 16.

One of the biggest stories of the 2014 NFL season, was the dominating, week after week performance of J J Watt, AP’s Defensive Player of the Year. Watt became the first defensive lineman to score five touchdowns in a season in a season since 1944. Watt scored 3 TDs on offensive and 2 on defense. As a team, the Houston defense ranked #4 in the NFL for 2014. Only the 49ers and the Browns had more INTs. Unlike some teams who’s defense are being dismantled by free agency, most of Houston’s key defensive players will be returning for the 2015. UPDATE: Signed FS Rahim Moore and former Patriot NT Vince Wilfork.

2014 Houston Fantasy Surprises–
J J Watt’s 5 touchdowns. When Arian Foster plays, he averages 22.9 touches per game which is still the 4th-highest workload in the league. Andre Johnson only scoring 1 TD from Week One to Week 13, and only 3 total for 2014.

2015 Free Agents that Houston Needs to Address–
QB Ryan Mallett (re-signed)- OT Derek Newton (re-signed)- DE Ryan Pickett- OL Brooks Reed Signed w/ Atlanta)- CB Kareem Jackson (resigned)- S Kendrick Lewis (Signed w/ Baltimore)

2015 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Houston is at quarterback, corner back, and at wide receiver. The Texan’s first pick doesn’t comes until the 16th selection of the first round, so it’s unlikely they’ll address the QB position unless one of the top 3 QBs drops that far in the upcoming NFL Draft (QB), shoring up their secondary is a top priority for Houston (CB) and 3 of Houston’s last 4 drafted wide receivers have not turned out to be play-makers, so they may address this position again (WR). UPDATE: Houston’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- HOUSTON’S DRAFT

Did You Know–
JJ Watt’s contract made him the NFL’s highest paid non-quarterback player in the NFL? Prior to the start of the 2014 season, JJ Watt agreed to a six-year contract extension, worth $100 million, $31 million he received at signing and he will receive $21 million at the start of the 2016 season if he is still on the roster. He will be!

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team Home Page: www.houstontexans.com