Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the regular season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
It’s been just one season into Texans career, but already Osweiler is a front-running candidate for “worst free agency deal ever”. No, he’s no Albert Haynesworth, but the Texans shelled out a gaudy $72 million for the rights to bench Osweiler late this season as they made their playoff run. That’s got to feel pretty good to them.
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In fantasy terms, Osweiler produced 11.3 points per game this season, just the 31st-most among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts, behind Robert Griffin III and Blaine Gabbert and only a hair ahead of Case Keenum. Only two quarterbacks this year had a completion rate below 60.0%, a yards-per-attempt south of 6.00, and a touchdown rate under 3.00%, and Osweiler does not get Jared Goff’s rookie benefit of the doubt.
He’s barely clinging to QB2 value in even deep dynasty leagues. In our latest mock drafts, he went (deservedly) undrafted, well outside the top-32 quarterbacks. There’s little reason to trust Osweiler beyond the likelihood that the Texans go back to him at the outset of 2017 once more in an attempt to justify his contract.
Savage, the 2014 fourth-round selection out of Pittsburgh, was notable coming out of college for his big arm, slow processing, and inconsistent accuracy. That’s been exactly what he’s shown this season, when he took 73 passing attempts in relief of Osweiler. A 63.01% completion rate is fine, but it was a small sample size and he has just 461 passing yards (6.32 per attempt) and no touchdowns to show for it in the regular season. I own Savage in a 32-team league, and that’s exactly the depth where I’d feel comfortable burning a roster spot on him.
Weeden is “only” going on 34-years old and that’s the most appealing thing about him from a fantasy standpoint. He has 31 career touchdowns to 30 career interceptions over the last five years and a career completion rate below 60.0%. Enough said.
Miller topped 200 touches as a member of the Miami Dolphins each year from 2013 to 2015, but never had the backfield all to himself, and routinely lost usable volume of touches to his teammates. In his first season as a member of the Texans, Miller racked up a career-high 268 rushing attempts — a true testament to his unquestioned bell-cow back standing with the team.
In Houston, he saw big time volume and used that to his fantasy advantage, coming in 19th among fantasy running backs in total half-PPR points and 17th in points per game among the 42 running backs to top 100 rushing attempts this year. His 4.00 rushing yards per attempt were a career-low, but due to the increased volume of rushes that was to be expected. Still, his upside is undeniable: had he stayed healthy for a full 16 games, he was on-pace for 1,441 yards from scrimmage (would have been eighth-most among running backs) and seven total touchdowns in spite of a bad offense.
Miller can be a solid backend fantasy starter despite the situation. His big bugaboo has always been his ability to survive as a three-down back, and he played this season on the injury report seemingly every week. His ADP came in as the RB8 in dynasty last month, and that seems right, given his age and the fact that he is touching the ball 22 times per game in Houston.
Since being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft, Blue continues to be a solid injury replacement for whoever the Texans’ starting running back is. Over the 16 games when Arian Foster or Miller did not play and Blue had an opportunity (rushes plus targets), he has produced an average of 9.71 fantasy points per game. In those contests, he has churned out an average of 74.31 yards from scrimmage and has received 18.31 average opportunities.
Blue has little standalone value with the Texans, given Miller’s three-down status, but remains a strong handcuff and a good dynasty hold for when his rookie contract expires after 2017. If he finds a job as the early-down part of a committee (a la Spencer Ware), he could be a sneaky value, despite going outside the top-80 running backs by January’s ADP.
Ervin and Hunt share the “small-and-shifty receiving back” role for the Texans. They are nearly identical in stature (both 5’10”, 185-190 pounds), nearly the same age (23), and both very little-used by the Texans. Hunt has touched the ball just 51 total times on offense over the last two years, while Ervin saw eight offensive touches this year. Ervin has a slight edge as a deep taxi stash with his kick and punt return value; he fielded 41 combined returns this year. He’s the better bet to see playing time in the future; the Texans spent fourth round draft capital on him, and he was our final running back by January ADP (86th).
Grimes has had 79 rushing attempts for 387 yards (4.90 yards per attempt) and 49 targets over the past two years in injury replacement stints, and should be able to find a third-string job somewhere. That’s not good enough for you to worry about in most dynasty leagues, though. Remarkably, he came in as the RB82 in January ADP.
Nuk came into the 2016 season a consensus top-five dynasty asset, and was our third-highest player in August’s ADP from this past year. Little did we realize just how much playing with Osweiler would destroy his receiving value. Hopkins went from third overall in August to just the seventh-best among wide receivers in January ADP.
This year’s 954-yard, four-touchdown campaign was a far cry from the 1,521 yards and double-digit scores he racked up in 2015, and owners are feeling burned by Houston’s complete lack of offensive comprehension. Among the 38 wide receivers to play at least 800 snaps this year, Hopkins’s lackluster 0.145 fantasy points per snap was just eighth-worst — a hair above Chris Hogan’s and barely double Nelson Agholor’s.
So, what do we do with such a talented player? Hopkins will only be turning 25 next season, and there is almost literally no way he and that offense can get worse (knocks on wood). Since 1992, only five other wide receivers have seen 150 targets in a season and still earned fewer than 60 yards per game. Hopkins, as the seventh wide receiver in ADP, is at the absolute bottom of his value right now. He’ll be just fine.
If we’re looking for comps for Fuller’s rookie year, Greg Jennings’ 2006 campaign comes to mind. Jennings was a small, fast receiver too and snagged just a 43.3% catch rate for 632 yards and three scores. That kind of quiet overall output punctuated by big plays is a good reflection of Fuller’s season this year, as he too was a victim of Osweiler’s horrid inaccuracy and ineffectiveness. On a 16-game pace for just over 700 yards receiving, Fuller missed two games with an injury, but provided a compelling deep threat at times to pair with Hopkins’s possession impact.
In January ADP, Fuller came in at WR37, behind both Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell, fellow 2016 rookies who basically redshirted the year. He may slip further this off-season in market value, but will be finding his own NFL footing better and — like Hopkins — cannot possibly be more adversely affected by the passing game here. In only 14 games, he saw over 90 targets; he’ll continue to be a key part of this offense.
I’m old enough to remember when Strong was the cat’s meow, after Houston selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s penciled in very lightly as the third wide receiver for 2017, but that’s not a high-powered role in this offense. His stock has taken a huge hit due to poor quarterback play and spending a fair amount of the season on the injury report with a bum ankle, plus his off-field weight and recreational activity issues could prevent him from taking off in the dynasty world soon. Strong falls just outside the top-100 in January ADP.
Also a 2016 rookie, Braxton Miller found his way to the I.R. after off-season hamstring woes and in-season shoulder concerns. Before injuries claimed his season, he worked his way to 15 catches on 28 targets for 99 yards and a score out of the slot. Not a huge impact, but the third receiver in this offense isn’t a good role for fantasy. Miller is still making the transition to receiver, but turns 25 next year as a sophomore and needs a much better quarterback to be anything more than a stash.
Williams is a 26-year old rookie out of a small school, who happens to be ridiculously fast (4.19 forty-yard dash at regional combine). Mumphery is basically Ty Montgomery if the Packers never decided to use him at running back. Both are waiver wire fodder in all but the deepest formats.
Fiedorowicz is a hulking 6’5”, 265 pound monster as both a possession receiver and inline blocker, but many thought the latter was where his career would peak. The 2014 third-rounder saw just 31 targets from 2014 to 2015 combined, and it seemed that he’d be doomed to extra offensive lineman duties for the foreseeable future. Then 2016 rolled around, and the Texans’ offensive woes meant a short-yardage safety valve was needed.
This year, Fiedorowicz averaged just the 22nd-most fantasy points per game among tight ends, despite earning 559 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 89 targets. He remains a middling TE2 for dynasty purposes, but his ADP (outside the 38 drafted tight ends in January) reflects what could be a cheap value in leagues. His red-zone role in the short-term is interesting, especially for his price.
Griffin was the Texans’ sleeper tight of the future before it was cool, and finally topped 35 targets in a season this year. He’s always been an interesting receiving option, and finally got used that way with Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham out of his way. It remains to be seen where he lands in free agency, but he saw 442 yards and two touchdowns on 75 targets in a horrid offense this year, so it can only go up.
Anderson started 25 games at wide receiver for California in college before going undrafted last year. He has a receiving pedigree, totaling 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns on 101 catches, and the perfect move tight end physique. His athleticism and receiving résumé make him the presumptive heir to Griffin’s role if he leaves.
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