Houston Texans 2021 Fantasy Football Sleeper, Breakout & Bust

brandin cooks houston texans

Every summer, we take a deep dive into the fantasy football average draft position (ADP) of players on each real-life NFL team. We do this so that we can determine which guys are undervalued, overvalued, or valued just right. As we Goldilocks this ADP, our draft board forms based on our opinions of players and where they go in fantasy football drafts. Since drafters draft (mostly) by site algorithms, site algorithms drive ADP on that site. So, we use FantasyPros’ aggregate average draft position data in order to smooth out those edges. To really smooth out the edges, I will use half-PPR average draft position, which you can find here. We continue our series with the 2021 Houston Texans.

The 2021 Houston Texans are an absolute mess. There’s literally no other way to put it; they are a nightmare from top to bottom. Former GM and head coach Bill O’Brien left them in a lurch, Nick Caserio seems to be destined to fill his roster with as many backups as humanly possible, their new head coach canceled a month of offseason training because they did well in their limited time together already… and their star quarterback was telling everyone who would listen that he wanted out before nearly two-dozen women accused him of sexual assault. When you put it all in one place, it really pops how terrible this offseason was for the Houston Texans.

I am not confident in anything I am going to write here, as there is so much in the air for the Houston Texans. But, that doesn’t mean that we can just ignore them, so let’s figure out their 2021 sleeper, breakout, and bust.

For the sake of making this actionable, I’m ignoring Deshaun Watson’s ADP entirely.

Sleeper: Nico Collins, Wide Receiver (WR68, 204 OVR)

Nico Collins opted out of the 2020 NCAA season due to concerns over COVID-19, and whenever really played in a robust passing offense in Michigan, but he’s big and fast (4.45 pro day 40-yard dash at 6’4” and 215 pounds), so he’s turning heads as a sexy preseason sleeper. The Wolverines used him as a big play and touchdown guy (19.7 yards per reception in 2019, and 7 touchdowns in 12 games) and he could fill that “big wide receiver” role we’ve been grafting onto athletic tight ends like Kahale Warring for a while now.

Nico Collins went just inside the threshold for rookie year relevance (he went in the third round). So, he’s on the shortlist of rookies to look at, regardless of anything else. Collins is basically free, and unless the Deshaun Watson situation clears up, he probably shouldn’t get drafted. But, he’s definitely on a list of names that you should remember.

Breakout: Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver (WR36, 91 OVR)

I briefly considered calling this an “undervalued” pick because you can’t break out if you’ve had 1,000 yards in five of your last six seasons. You also can’t breakout if you’ve done that with 75 different quarterbacks in that span. Here’s the entire list of wide receivers who can say they notched at least five 1,000 receiving yard seasons since 2015: Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Brandin Cooks. That’s it, that’s the list. The average FantasyPros ADP on the other four guys? Pick 34 overall, 12th wide receiver off the board.

Even if Brandin Cooks doesn’t return that value, he’s in an elite production company, but the LOL Texans stink has gotten all over him. He is someone you should target to get in every single draft. There’s very little chance that he doesn’t smash his ADP, regardless of the quarterback situation.

Bust: David Johnson, Running Back (RB31, 75 OVR)

I mean, I guess? The Texans stink is all over every player’s ADP. It makes sense that no Houston Texans player is overdrafted because… nobody really wants to draft a Texan at all. David Johnson was a top-20 running back on a per-game basis in 2020, but that really felt like a best-case scenario. Since that point, the Houston Texans stacked the worst-case scenario on the worst-case scenario. There’s the aforementioned mess in the intro paragraphs, but also the running back room.

The Houston Texans went out and got Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram. Neither one of them are standouts compared to the rest of the league, but neither is David Johnson at this point. Volume drove his fantasy value last season, as he finished eighth in opportunity share. Unfortunately, he finished 40th in fantasy points per opportunity, 37th in juke rate, and 25th in yards created per touch (per PlayerProfiler.com) meaning he wasn’t good when he touched the ball, but he still touched it a lot. When you add Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to that situation, I can feel the upside drying up. He isn’t going to end up on any of my fantasy football rosters after the draft.

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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