The Houston Texans are coming off a more than forgettable 4–13 season in 2021. The Texans are now headed into the 2022 season with a few new changes and a lot of low expectations. With a new head coach in Lovie Smith, a great draft class, and a newfound trust in Davis Mills from many around the organization, Houston hopes to begin their trek towards the top of the AFC South again.
Many sportsbooks have set the Texans’ win total at 4.5, leading everyone to believe this upcoming season will be a repeat of the last. In terms of fantasy, there is some hope that a few players will jump into fantasy relevance, with one common name wanting to continue his consistency.
QB: Davis Mills
A second-year QB out of Stanford, Mills’ rookie season featured very high and very low highs. Beginning last season as the backup to Tyrod Taylor, Mills would see his first stretch of playing time in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. He would then start the next six games, which featured both a four-interception game against the Bills and two games with more than 300 passing yards. The rookie would then sit between weeks 9–13 before winning the job outright for week 14. Mills would impress in the season’s final weeks, bolstering a nine to two TD/INT ratio. To make a long story short, the rookie season of Mills was nothing short of a rollercoaster.
Throughout the offseason, analysts have expressed mixed feelings about Mills being the future of the Houston Texans. While some have looked at the improvements shown at the end of the 2021 season, some believe that Houston will use him as a transition QB with the expectation that the Texans will have their quarterback choice in the 2023 NFL Draft. No matter the future direction, Mills is the current solution and has received high praise from the organization. Though the Stanford product doesn’t currently boast QB1 overall ability or weapons, there is a chance that Mills is still viable for fantasy, especially in Superflex leagues.
Expectation: Davis Mills will finish as a mid to low-end QB2 with consistent numbers throughout the season.
RBs: Dameon Pierce and Marlon Mack
With a rushing attack that ranked as one of the least efficient in the league in 2021, there hasn’t been much hope for the Texans backfield this upcoming season. There are multiple question marks on the depth chart regarding the RB position, with some possible upside. The first of these is the fourth-round pick, Dameon Pierce. Pierce was a bowling ball at Florida and finished the 2021 season with a 92.0 PFF grade, which came in as the best in the nation for RBs. Pierce never handled a full workload at Florida, which has led to the question about his durability with the possibility of starting the season as RB1. There is still an open lane for Pierce to lead this team in carries and be the outright starter for the Houston Texans.
Expectation: Pierce will be the lead back for the Texans and finish as an RB3 with RB2 upside.
The offseason addition of Marlon Mack made a lot of sense for the Texans, as there was no clear lead back at the end of the 2021 season. Following a torn Achilles in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, Mack would find it difficult to break back the Colt’s game script when healthy, as Jonathan Taylor would take over the backfield. Coming in on a one-year $2M deal, Mack was a steal at the price, with hopes that he can still be the player he was before his injury. Projected to be the lead back in this offense to begin the season, Mack will need to show flashes to maintain that role throughout the season continually.
Expectation: Mack will be the change of pace back to Pierce and have his ceiling capped at an RB3 barring injury.
WR: Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins
Finishing the 2021 season with 90 receptions for 1,037 yards, Cooks eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in seven years. One of the most consistent receiving options in the NFL, Cooks has shown his ability to be successful with just about anyone lining up under center. While Cooks usually ends his seasons as a WR2 in fantasy, current ADP shows the Texans receiver going as a high-end WR3 in drafts. As Mills is expected to take another step forward, expect Cooks’ production to take another step in this offense.
Expectation: Cooks will lead the Texans in all receiving categories and finish in the middle of the WR2s in fantasy.
At 6’4” and 215 pounds, Nico Collins is an interesting piece of this offense. A second-year receiver out of Michigan, Collins hopes to make a big impact following only 33 receptions in his rookie season. With incredible size and speed(4.42 40-yard dash), there have been plenty of flashes through training camp that he can be a viable receiver. On a team searching for true playmakers, Collins could be a hidden gem finally starting to shine.
Expectation: Nico Collins finishes the year as a mid to low WR4 in fantasy, with a couple of boom games.
TE: Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan
As of the writing of this article, Pharaoh Brown has been named the starting TE by Lovie Smith. Brown has been seen as the “most complete” TE on the current roster, but he is a stronger blocker than receiver. Though he may begin the season as the starter, I believe Brevin Jordan will be the more relevant option for making big plays.
Expectation: Pharaoh Brown will lead the snap count at TE but will not be fantasy relevant in 2022.
Jordan is a player to keep an eye on heading into the 2022 season. After posting only 20 receptions for 178 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season, Jordan has seen a major uptick in praise and quality reps throughout training camp. Jordan is the best receiving option at TE for the Texans, and I expect him to take most of the pass game snaps from the position.
Expectation: Brevin Jordan will be utilized more in this offense and will be a low-end TE2 with upside.
Even with a low projected win total and no true league winners on this offense, there are a few solid pieces that could help your fantasy teams in 2022. From the always consistent Cooks to some hopeful second-year breakouts in Collins and Jordan, there is potential for some Texans players to solidify spots on your roster. I wouldn’t count on anyone to finish in the top 12 at their positions, but there could be a few diamonds in the rough that produce well above their ADP.
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