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Sleeper Spotlight: Houston Texans

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Lestar Jean, WR
Age: 24

We almost had to pick Lestar Jean, right? After all, we hyped him up a little bit at the end of May and have had him pegged for this spot for the past three months, well before the hype train left the station. We even put him on your radar last year before he was hurt. While there are a few players worthy of sleeper status on the explosive Texans offense, Jean really does seem to fit the bill. The only problem may be the proverbial cat being out of the bag in your league.

Let’s first review some of the information we shared in May, just in case any of you missed it.

Jean went to school at Florida Atlantic, where he was a teammate of Cardinals tight end Rob Housler. He had a nice career there and posted 146 catches, 1,992 yards and fifteen touchdowns, including a solid line of 64/988/8 in his last season at FAU and was named their most improved player in the process. Jean was named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team in 2010 as he led FAU in receptions and yards. He was also fourth in the conference in receptions per game and led the league in yards per game with an average of 82.3 yards per contest.

He was invited to the 2011 NFL Scouting combine and posted the following results:

Height: 6’3″
Weight: 215
40 Yrd Dash: 4.61
20 Yrd Dash: 2.63
10 Yrd Dash: 1.62
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 14
Vertical Jump: 37 1/2
Broad Jump: 9’05″
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.43
3-Cone Drill: 7.45

Those combine numbers weren’t exactly a glowing endorsement of elite talent and he was knocked for his inability to separate, despite his prototypical size. He was also criticized pretty heavily for his route running, which many scouts found to be extremely raw. In fact, many of those same scouts felt he would simply try to muscle his way free at the NFL level and struggle doing so. Some of those FAU routes he ran also were perceived to be far from NFL quality as many of them were simply of the sideline variety. Jean has been quoted as saying he just ran “9″ routes since Pee Wee football because nobody could stop him. While that’s great, it also likely stunted his development.

All those concerns led to Jean going undrafted and signing with Houston in late July of last season. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by a shoulder injury. What’s telling is that the Texans didn’t stash him on their practice squad – they likely knew he’d be signed by someone else after he flashed some ability in last year’s camp before getting injured.

Coming in to this season, not much was expected of Jean. After all the Texans spent two high draft choices on receivers DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. However, it’s been Jean who has been making play after play in practices, earning him the nickname of “Big Play.” At the very least, he should battle those two for third receiver duties left vacant by the departure of Jacoby Jones. In fact, he may get the first shot at the gig. Here’s one of the plays he’s made thus far:

Plays like that make us believe his ceiling could be higher.

The Houston Chronicle has quoted wide receivers Coach Larry Kirksey to say, “The kid has really put time in as far as preparing himself. He has engulfed himself in the offense. He knows all three positions. His attention to detail is excellent. He’s got a ways to go, but so far we like what we see.” He also went on to compare the Andre Johnson and Lestar Jean situation to what he saw with Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice where after a while you couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

…and that’s where we pick it up again.

That comment was nuts.

In fact, since we talked last about Jean, Coach Gary Kubiak has thrown some cold water on his prospects by saying he’s not ready to confirm that Jean is going to be the third receiver this season.

Take a second to put that into context.

Many dynasty owners are paying for Jean right now thinking he’s the clear cut second receiver and the coaching staff is saying now he’s still not the clear cut third receiver.

While Jean will have ample opportunity to beat our Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey and others, he may not have a legitimate chance to unseat Kevin Walter early in camp. The Texans could even bring in a veteran receiver if they don’t feel any of their diaper dandies like Jean are ready to take on such a role. Patience is going to be the key with Jean, but it could certainly pay off. It’s been said that he has already learned all three wide receiver positions, so that could certainly help him this season.

It’s not time to go crazy with Jean thinking he’s the next Marques Colston or even the next Victor Cruz as some are already doing (though the starts to their NFL careers are eerily similar), but it’s beyond time to add Jean to your current roster in a deep league.

Ken Kelly
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Sensei John Kreese
10 years ago

These are my receivers:

Green, AJ
Harvin, Percy
Jones, Julio
Little, Greg
Smith, Torrey
Wallace, Mike

I also have AJ Jenkins and TJ Graham stashed.

Can you rank these guys for me? Who would you rather have?

Aj Jenkins
TJ Graham (return yardage league)
Lestar Jean
Josh Gordon

bbwayne
10 years ago

Great update on Jean. Even as a Texans and Jean fan, things have to be put in perspective. His upside is WR2 but likely WR3. Lets not forget that the Texans offense is run first and play action to A.J. Definitely grab Jean if he is somehow on the waiver wire. For those who capitalized on the hope, congrats. I had to “throw” Jean into deal over a month ago to get Britt. Easy decision.

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