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Should your 2017 fantasy football draft strategy involve Texans rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson?

By Pat Fitzmaurice
August 02, 2017

Think of Brock Osweiler as a giant bug. The Browns are that weird daredevil kid at school who says he’ll eat the bug—for a price. Members of the Texans’ front office huddled during recess, passed around a baseball cap, dropped in a couple of draft picks ... and soon the bug was gone. The Texans squealed in equal parts delight and mock horror as the icky creature disappeared, and the weird kid walked away with his pockets full after ingesting an unconventional source of protein.

Quarterbacks

PLAYER ADP FITZ RANKING ADVICE
DeShaun Watson QB24 QB26 Not yet

The Texans now hope to get semi-competent quarterbacking from the combination of Tom Savage and rookie DeShaun Watson. They traded up to the No. 12 spot in the draft to select Watson, who led Clemson to the National Championship last season. Some of Watson’s best traits are unquantifiable – leadership, moxie, poise in big moments. The Watson trait that fantasy owners will find more bankable is his running ability. Wastson ran for 1,734 yards and 21 TDs over the last two seasons – and remember that sacks count against a college quarterback’s rushing yardage. On his arm alone, Watson would be an unappealing fantasy option; his legs give him potential value.

About that arm, though ...

Watson threw 30 interceptions in his last two seasons at Clemson. At the NFL Scouting Combine, his velocity was clocked at 49 mph, a speed that drew a yawn from a state trooper parked nearby with a radar gun. Watson’s passing numbers probably won’t be pretty, and you might see opposing defensive backs tucking napkins into the collars of their jerseys when they take the field against the Texans. 

Wide Receivers

PLAYER ADP FITZ RANKING ADVICE
D’Andre Hopkins WR12 WR16 Avoid
Will Fuller WR71 WR59 Pluck

DeAndre Hopkins has an ADP of WR12 despite finishing as the WR36 last year. The high regard for Hopkins reflects the belief that the 111 catches, 1,521 receiving yards and 11 TDs he produced in 2015 are more representative of his abilities than the 78-954-4 stat line he turned in last year. I think it also reflects a disdain for our coleopteran friend Brock Osweiler, who’s presumed to be much worse than either Watson or Savage. I’m not comfortable with an early-round wager tied to the passing ability of the Watson-Savage combo, so Hopkins is a guy I’m avoiding this year, even though he’ll continue to be Houston’s alpha receiver.

Will Fuller became just the second wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to get 100 or more receiving yards in his first two NFL games. (DeSean Jackson was the other.) In Week 4, Fuller caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown and also ran back a punt 67 yards for a TD. From that point on, Fuller didn’t have more than 60 receiving yards in any game, as the Houston passing attack fell into a state of utter decrepitude. At WR71, Fuller is well worth consideration in the late rounds of drafts. His torrid start last year hints at vast potential, even though he fell back to earth before achieving orbit. Hopkins is a target hog, but there isn’t a great deal of target competition elsewhere on the roster. Fuller is known for having oven-mitt hands, but it’s easier to forgive the occasional drop when a receiver has the speed of a cheetah. I’m intrigued.

Braxton Miller, the former Ohio State quarterback, needs polish but has been working with Wes Welker and could quickly develop into a slot receiver worthy of attention in PPR leagues. Former Arizona State star Jaelen Strong is more of a suspect than a prospect at this point – that’s not a reference to his marijuana arrest last year, by the way—and this might be his last year in the league if he doesn’t make a mark in his third season. A relatively anonymous player worth monitoring in training camp: Wendall Williams. An undrafted free agent out of the University of the Cumberlands, Williams spent the 2016 season on Houston’s practice squad but has workout metrics so freakish that he damn near crashed the system at PlayerProfiler.com. Remember his name.

Tight Ends

PLAYER ADP FITZ RANKING ADVICE
C.J. Fiedorowicz N/A TE16 Consider

Speaking of names, C.J. Fiedorowicz has a great one, and he proved last year that he has some game to go with the name, finishing with 54 catches for 559 yards and four TDs. Ryan Griffin quietly caught 50 balls last year, but his average of 8.8 yards per catch indicates the sort of ceiling you’d find in a crawlspace. More intriguing is third-stringer Stephen Anderson, whose athleticism could eventually translate into fantasy utility (though probably not this year).

Running Backs

PLAYER ADP FITZ RANKING ADVICE
Lamar Miller TE13 TE12 Flirt noncommittally

We all owe Joe Philbin an apology, right? We cursed him and called him names for what we perceived to be his criminal underutilization of Lamar Miller in Miami. Miller finally got the workload we believed he was due, and his previously swoon-worthy efficiency numbers tumbled. After averaging 4.6 yards per carry during his four years with the Dolphins, Miller averaged 4.0 yards per carry in his first season with the Texans and scored only six touchdowns on a career-high 299 touches. He still managed to finish RB18 despite missing two games, and there’s a decent chance he’ll continue to play a workhorse role.

How you feel about Miller’s 2017 outlook largely depends on how you feel about rookie D’Onta Foreman, a third-round pick from the University of Texas. Foreman put up gaudy numbers for the Longhorns last year, rushing for 2,028 yards and 15 TDs. He played at 249 pounds in college and weighed in at 233 pounds at the Combine, but he has speed that belies his bulk, clocking 4.45 at his pro day. I’m pessimistic about Foreman’s rookie outlook. Foreman ran out of a spread offense at Texas last year, which inflated his numbers. He’s useless in the passing game as both a blocker and receiver. Foreman was arrested in mid-July for marijuana possession and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Miller has an ADP of RB13. I have him at RB12, but the drop-off from RB11 to RB12 in my rankings is steeper than the Mariana trench. Still, I might be interested in Miller if he slips into the latter part of the third round or beyond. 

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