2020 Houston Texans Fantasy Team Preview: What to Expect From Deshaun Watson in New-Look Offense

SI Fantasy's Team Preview series from high-stakes legend Shawn Childs aims to break down the Houston Texans to evaluate the offense, defense, coaches and everyone in between with a fantasy-slanted analysis.
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Coaching Staff

Over six seasons with Bill O’Brien as the head coach, the Houston Texans have a 52-44 record with four playoff berths (2-4). He has provided a winning season five times. O'Brien has been a coach for 11 seasons while taking over as Houston's general manager in 2020.

His decision in the offseason may very well lead to doom in his coaching career. He traded away WR DeAndre Hopkins for RB David Johnson, which goes against the NFL team-building grain. Running backs tend to be easier to find than elite wide receivers. O’Brien did land WR Brandin Cooks to soften the blow at wide receiver for the Texans in 2020.

In 2019, Houston promoted Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator after working in various roles in the system since 2014. His offense finished 13th in offensive yards, which was a third straight year of improvement. They scored 378 points (14th), helping the Texans to a 10-6 record.

Houston promoted Romeo Crennel to associate head coach, leading the way for Anthony Weaver to take over as the defensive coordinator. Over the previous four years, he worked as the defensive line coach. Weaver has eight years of coaching experience in the league, with all other positions coming from his defensive line.

The Texans fell to 28th in yards allowed and 19th in points (385) given up. They allowed 69 more points than in 2018 (316).

Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson (RANK - ADP)

The structure of the offense takes a new direction in 2020 after shipping the great WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for RB David Johnson. A second deal for WR Brandin Cooks will soften the hit at WR1, but it leaves Watson looking for a receiver he can trust in the most significant moments of the game.

His completion rate (67.8) was elite over the last two seasons while adding a warrior mentality as a runner (181/964/2). His sacks total (44) remains high despite shaving 18 sacks off his 2018 season (62).

Houston looks positioned to run the offense through the running back position while looking to take some deep shots in the passing game. Randall Cobb helps the depth at wide receiver, but Watson needs WR Will Fuller to stay healthy to hold his top five QB value.

Still a top-five QB for me, but I can’t pay a premium for him on draft day based on the questions at WR1. On the positive side, Houston looks to be moving in the wrong direction on defense. Watson is projected for 4,401 combined yards with 32 touchdowns in the first version of his projections.

Running Backs

David Johnson (RANK - ADP)

Johnson struggled in one (7/14/1) of his first six games, but he gained 613 combined yards with five TDs and 30 catches over this stretch. After leaving Week 7 with an ankle injury, Johnson lost his starting job with minimal playing time and chances (100 combined yards with one TDs and six catches) over the final nine games.

His yards per rush have been low in 2018 (3.6) and 2019 (3.7) while remaining a top threat in the passing game (36/370/4 – 10.3 YPC).

In 2019 for the Texans, Carlos Hyde ranked 29th in PPR leagues (245/1070/6) despite limited chances in the passing game (10/42).

Getting older with many battles with injuries. I have him projected for 1,576 combined yards with 12 TDs and 53 catches, making him a value play for me.

Duke Johnson (RANK - ADP)

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Wide Receivers

Brandin Cooks (RANK - ADP)

Cooks saw his streak of four seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving end in 2019, and it wasn’t due to his two games missed due to a concussion. He ranked 15th in WR scoring (221.20) in 2017 and 13th (243.20) in 2018.

After a slow Week 1 (2/39), he looks on his way to another successful year over his next three games (17/257/1). Over his final ten games, Cooks caught 23 passes for 287 yards and a TD on 41 targets. This year he’ll play for his fourth franchise in five seasons.

Cooks can’t fill the void created by the trade of DeAndre Hopkins, but he should see a rebound in his game this year while being an easy value play. I have him projected for 71 catches for 1,050 yards and seven TDs, which ranks 25th at wide receiver in PPR leagues.

Will Fuller, Randall Cobb & Kenny Stills

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Tight Ends

Darren Fells (RANK - ADP)

In his sixth season in the NFL, Fells set a career-high in catches (34), receiving yards (341), TDs (7), and targets (48) while being on the field for 50.9 percent of the tight end snaps. His best value came in three games (5/49/1, 6/69, and 6/58/2). Fells has never had a starting pass-catching job in his career—a flash or best-ball backup player, who will be found in the free-agent pool in most leagues.

Jordan Akins & Kahale Warring

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Defense

The Texans plummeted to 25th in rushing yards allowed (1,937) with 12 rushing TDs. Ball carriers gained a league-low 4.8 yards per rush with only 15 runs over 20 yards. Houston fell 22 spots in the rushing rankings from 2018 while allowing 1.4 yards per rush more.

They dropped one spot to 29th in passing yards allowed (4,276) with QBs tossing 33 TDs and 12 Ints. They allowed 12 catches over 40 yards while their defense recorded 31 sacks.

In the premium outlook, on defense you'll find write-ups for DE J.J. Watt, DE Charles Omenihu, DT Ross Blacklock, LB Whitney Mercilus, LB Benardrick McKinney, LB Zach Cunningham, LB Brennan Scarlett, CB Gareon Conley, CB Bradley Roby, S Eric Murray & S Justin Reid.

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Team Defense Outlook

The strength of this defense comes at linebacker, while Watt is the stud on the defensive line. The Texans need to solve their 2019 problems against the run plus reinvent a pass rush. I consider their cornerbacks neutral at best with one potential void at safety. More of a backup fantasy defense with the talent to be improved this year.

Free Agency, Draft, Offensive Line, Offensive Schedule & Defensive Schedule

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