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Texans fantasy football preview: Deshaun Watson's upside limited after Houston's curious offseason plan

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The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Houston Texans.

In the aftermath of the Texans dealing their star QB's top target, where do you feel comfortable drafting Deshaun Watson?

Scott: Watson’s a fade for me, a pass. His star receiver left town, his best holdover receiver has an extended injury history, and it could take a while to get comfortable with new additions Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks and David Johnson. Do you want to bet on Bill O’Brien? Do you want to bet on this offense line? I love Watson in general, but loathe his 2020 setup.

Matt: Watson is simply too good and despite the DeAndre Hopkins trade, the supporting cast is too solid to see him fall too far out of the top-five quarterbacks. That said, I don’t think the offensive ecosystem is set up for Watson to have QB1 overall upside. He’ll have spike weeks in good spots and chasing those will be appealing. But given how his 2020 outlook appears as of now, he seems like the epitome of the trap single-digit round quarterback. Ultra-safe but lacks the ceiling to differentiate between guys going post-Round 10.

Andy: I can’t say with any certainty that I’ll have Watson on any rosters, except in dynasty. There’s no easy way to put a positive spin on his offseason for fantasy purposes. It’s not simply the net loss of talent at receiver in Houston, which is significant, but also the fact that the offense suddenly has several new pieces in prominent roles. In a year in which offseason programs and camps will be abbreviated (or nonexistent), we’re expecting Watson to quickly develop rapport with a pair of new receivers (Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks) and a new featured back (David Johnson). It’s not an ideal setup in season that’s likely to reward continuity. Watson is currently my QB7, but, realistically, I’m going to wait at the position if I don’t land Jackson, Mahomes or Murray.

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Given the DeAndre Hopkins trade, who is the receiver to draft in Houston when considering price tag?

Andy: First of all, you are under no obligation to draft any Houston receivers. Again, it’s hardly ideal to have so many important new faces in the offense this year, on such a compressed offseason schedule. If you’re gonna make me draft a Houston receiver, I’ll take Will Fuller at his dirt-cheap Yahoo ADP (117.5). His injury risk isn’t really much of a concern if I’m getting him outside the top-100 picks, as something like a WR4. Fuller has repeatedly demonstrated that, at his best, he’s capable of massive single-game performances — the sort of multi-touchdown efforts that win matchups. If he ever gives us a full healthy season, he’s going to be a fantasy machine.

Matt: Don’t think there is anyone in this group that will be considered a “must-draft” at any price point. Brandin Cooks is the odds on favorite to lead the team in targets and is the safest bet. However, if one is to fall to a point where they do become a value, it’s Will Fuller. I know, he gets hurt. He’s likely going to be drafted at a spot where all that risk and then some is baked into his cost. Grab him as a WR4/5 and deploy him as a high-ceiling flex in games where the Texans have a high implied point total or good matchup.

Scott: I’ll grab some Randall Cobb best-ball shares, just looking for cheap volume. But otherwise, this is not a pool I’ll be fishing in. Will Fuller’s been too hurt too often for me.

At what point does David Johnson become a value due to volume?

Matt: Does the “who else are they going to give the ball to” guy ever truly work out? It’s never a player I’m happy to draft. That said, Johnson becomes palatable in the late sixth, early seventh round. In a best ball draft we recently conducted as a staff, he was the last player remaining in a tier of backs that are the favorites to lead their team in touches. I bet he outscores several players in that crew, like a David Montgomery, Mark Ingram or Le’Veon Bell-type. And I typically want my fantasy backs to be tethered to good quarterbacks and have pass-catching chops. Johnson checks both boxes. However, he’s as unexciting as it gets and you better have your RB1 and multiple receiver spots filled with high-ceiling players if you’re accepting the once-great Johnson on to your squad.

Andy: Just to be clear, I’m not endorsing DJ as some sort of draft steal. Last season, he appeared to be cooked. Yes, Houston has plenty of incentive to revive his career and, yes, the team coaxed a solid season out of Carlos Hyde in 2019. But the Texans also have a skilled backup in Duke Johnson and DJ hasn’t averaged better than 4.0 YPC since 2016. At the moment, I’ve got him ranked behind Fournette, Conner, Montgomery, Mostert and Le’Veon Bell, a player I wouldn’t touch. If you want to call DJ a steal in some middle round, cool. I’m not particularly excited to invest at any price.

Scott: Probably around the sixth round, because the depth chart is fairly thin and Bill O’Brian would probably like to justify the deal. But I want to make this clear, Johnson is a reactive pick for me, nothing close to a proactive pick.

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

Houston Texans projected 2020 lineup
Houston Texans projected 2020 lineup


Andy: Is it a hot take/taek to say that Will Fuller can finish as a top-12 fantasy receiver? Well, he can. His fantasy value is entirely tied to health. Fuller’s best game of the 2019 season was literally one of the greatest in the history of his position. He’s as explosive as any big-play threat in the league, and he’s the one high-volume skill player in Houston’s offense who has years of history with Watson. He’s a lock for a monster year if he can simply stay on the field.

OVER/UNDER on 7.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Scott: So often Deshaun Watson can take a sad song and make it better, but the climb is all uphill in 2020. Bill O’Brien’s coaching record is strong given how bad the optics so often are, but this is the season bad choices likely catch up to him. The Hopkins trade was done for all the wrong reasons, and hastily at that. The Rams were so eager to dump Cooks, they set a new record for cap-hit absorbed in a trade; enjoy your new guy, Houston. Who, exactly, were the Texans bidding against when they bought Cobb? Tennessee and Indianapolis have better rosters in this division. The Texans look like an obvious UNDER, even at this compromised number.

Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB

Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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