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2021 Houston Texans Fantasy Team Outlook: With or Without Deshaun Watson, This Is a No Good, Very Bad Team

A fantasy football breakdown of the Houston Texans by high-stakes legend Shawn Childs


Over the past 10 seasons, Houston made six trips to the postseasons with seven winning years. Their franchise had a top-tier wide receiver (Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins) for 17 of 20 seasons in the NFL. In 2020, the Texans slipped to 4-12 due to continued failure on defense (30th in yards allowed and 27th in points allowed – 464).

David Culley on the sideline for the Baltimore Ravens during the 2020 season

Houston brought in David Culley from Baltimore to take over as head coach. He comes with an offensive background while never holding an offensive coordinator job. Culley has been a coach in the NFL for 27 seasons while spending most of his career working with wide receivers. The questions swirling about Deshaun Watson point to an all-out rebuild, leaving Culley in a precarious position.

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 over the last two seasons. Even with a slight bump in points scored (384 – 378 in 2019), the Texans dropped to 18th in the offensive scoring rankings.

Lovie Smith takes over the defense after spending the past five years coaching at Illinois. He ran the Rams’ defense from 2001 to 2003 before 12 seasons as a head coach for the Bears (81-63) and the Bucs (8-24). Smith helped Chicago to three playoffs berths.

Free Agency

Along with Watson off-the-field drama, Houston lost their top WR Will Fuller to the Dolphins. He played well in 2020 (53/879/8) despite a five-game suspension). Fuller has never played more than 14 games in his five seasons in the league.

DE J.J. Watt jumped ship and signed with the Cardinals. Over his last 24 contests, he had 76 combined tackles and nine sacks. Watts will start the year at 32. When healthy and in his prime, Watts averaged over 75 tackles and 17 sacks over 80 games. Injuries cost him 31 starts since 2015.

The Texans brought in Tyrod Taylor for insurance at quarterback. When at his best, he projects as a game-manager with some value rushing the ball.

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Houston added CB Desmond King and CB Terrance Mitchell to their secondary.

Los Angeles dealt King to Tennessee after six games. He continues to add value to the run defense with some success blitzing the quarterback. When at his best over his first three seasons with the Chargers, King made 189 tackles with 6.5 sacks, 17 defended passes, and four interceptions.

Mitchell set a career-high in tackles (65) in 2020 while also picking up 13 defended passes and three forced fumbles. His downside came from allowing big plays and some damage in touchdowns allowed. When keeping the receiver in front of him, Mitchell tends to give up a low completion rate.

The Texans signed LB Kevin Pierre-Louis and DE Jordan Jenkins to their defense.

Pierre-Louis saw the most playing time of his career in 2020 as a rotational player on passing downs. He’ll help defense kick returns while having a low ceiling in coverage (five touchdowns allowed last year).

Jenkins picked up 15 sacks between 2018 and 2019 with the Jets, but only two quarterback takedowns over 12 games last season. His run defense is below par. At best, he will see rotational snaps on passing downs.

The upgrades on the offensive line came via G Lane Taylor and C Justin Britt.

Injuries cost Taylor most of the last two seasons. He projects as a backup this year, with his best asset coming in pass protection. In 2016, he made 16 starts for the Packers.

Britt suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in 2019, which led to a lost season last year. Over his first five years with the Seahawks, he developed into a reliable player in pass protection. His plays in run blocking regressed over the past two years.


Davis Mills

QB Davis Mills 

Mills made only 13 starts over the previous two seasons for Stanford. He came off the bench to start over the second half of 2019. A Covid issue cost him Week 1 the following year, and Stanford only played six games for the season. Mills is a pocket passer with the arm to deliver passes on time all over the field. His lack of experience hindered his pocket presence and reading defenses. Mills projects to have a higher ceiling while needing to prove he can handle surveying the whole field and maintain toughness under duress in the pocket.

WR Nico Collins

Collins would better fit in a Deshaun Watson-led offense where his deep speed and size offer more value. His route running won’t create many wins over the short areas of the field, but he will command chances on fade routes at the goal line. Collins blocks well, which points to him being a game-breaker when his team plays from the lead in the fourth quarter. His hands grade well.

TE Brevin Jordan 

Jordan has a chain-mover feel in the passing game while lacking the foundation to handle his responsibilities in the blocking game. His route running works best with a clean release over the short areas of the field. Jordan fights hard after the catch, creating some big plays if he breaks a tackle or two.

LB Garret Wallow

Wallow comes with a high floor in tackles while owning a frame closer to safety than a linebacker. His play shines when attacking the line of scrimmage while having a balance between patience and fire. Wallow gets in trouble when facing blocks in traffic while willing to detour rather than defeat his man with contact. He needs to get stronger and improve his decision-making when covering run lanes.

DT Roy Lopez

He projects to be a run clogger with limited range. Even with a questionable first step, Lopez does his best work early after the snap. His pass rush and vision point to a rotational early-down player.

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Offensive Line

The Texans fell to 32nd in rushing yards (1,466), partly due to only 21.5 rushes per game. They scored 10 touchdowns on the ground while averaging 4.3 yards per carry and only had five runs over 20 yards.