2022 Fantasy Football Houston Texans Team Preview

by Ryan Kirksey
2022 Fantasy Football Houston Texans Preview

Welcome to Fantasy Six Pack's 2022 Fantasy Football Houston Texans Team Preview!

Any analysis of the 2022 Houston Texans (from a fantasy or real-life perspective) would do a disservice to its readers if it did not address the massive elephant that just walked into the room earlier this week.

On June 7th, the New York Times reported that the Texans knew of the activity between former quarterback Deshaun Watson and the massage therapists he was seeing, and also provided him with a non-disclosure agreement for the therapists to sign. This bombshell of a report opens the Texans up to all kinds of punitive repercussions from the NFL. A Watson suspension will certainly come down from the league before the season starts, and (pending an investigation), the Texans are likely to be penalized unlike any team since the New England Patriots scandal of 2015.

Considering these allegations concern the sexual assault of innocent victims, the Texans should be prepared to receive the harshest punishment ever handed down by the NFL.

From a fantasy perspective, this means the Houston Texans need to be prepared to succeed with that they've got on the roster, perhaps for a couple of seasons. They are likely set to lose multiple draft picks, be fined astronomically, and could see high-ranking employees lose their jobs. After a year where not much went right in Houston and more damage is on the way, there still may be some faint glimmers of hope that this team can provide some fantasy assets in 2022.

2022 Fantasy Football Houston Texans Team Preview

Quarterbacks

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As the Texans desperately try to move on from the Deshaun Watson era, they turn their quarterback hopes back over to Davis Mills. Mills will start for Houston for the second straight season. Not much was expected out of the third-round pick out of Stanford last year, and he did struggle mightily out of the gate.

Mills ranked 39th in Fantasy points per game at the position in Weeks 1-10, even being outscored by the likes of Geno Smith and Trevor Siemian. But in the back half of the season, Mills really turned things around. In Weeks 14-18, Mills was 10th in quarterback fantasy points. He threw for more than 250 yards three times and had nine touchdowns to just two picks in that span.

His connection with his receivers (especially Brandin Cooks) was visibly more impressive week to week. With a better set of weapons at his disposal and a year of starts under his belt, Mills is a surefire QB2 target in Superflex leagues and might end up being a sleeper pick at QB28 in early rankings.

Kyle Allen filled in for Mills for two games last year due to injury, but only totaled 120 yards and one score in those contests. After only attempting 19 passes all season, Allen is only expected to see time on the field if an injury occurs to Mills.

Running Backs

Predictably, the David Johnson-Rex-Burkhead-Philip Lindsay-Royce Freeman-Mark Ingram running back experiment did not go well for the Texans in 2021. As a unit, they rushed for only 3.4 yards per carry and scored eight times in 17 games. Houston jettisoned all but Burkhead in the offseason, leaving behind their "number one" back from 2021. Burkhead led the team with 122 rush attempts and three rushing touchdowns. He did pile up 32 targets in 16 games and was kept to presumably be the third-down complement to their latest old-man/washed-up running back addition.

Marlon Mack requested a trade from the Indianapolis Colts as early as September last season when it became clear that he would have a very smalll role with the emergence of Jonathan Taylor. After Mack was a healthy scratch for two games, he wanted out. The Colts would not grant that wish until he was let go in the offseason, which prompted the Texans to scoop up the guy from their own division who used to run all over them.

Mack will be in his second year removed from a serious Achilles injury and signed a one-year, prove-it $1.25 million dollar deal with Houston. At just 26 years old, Houston is hoping Mack still has some juice left for first and second downs, but if that doesn't work out, their fourth-round draft pick may be waiting in the wings.

Dameon Pierce, currently listed third on the depth chart, was the 107th pick for the Texans and hails from the University of Florida. Pierce was a three-year starter for Florida even though they used a running back by committee approach. Despite touching the ball just 119 times as a junior in 2021, Pierce scored 16 times, including three receiving touchdowns. He is a load of a man, measuring at 5'10" and 224 pounds, and the closest comp being Chris Carson. If Mack is not fully recovered from his Achilles issue, Pierce could make some noise as a high-volume play. Perfect for an RB2 type if given the playing time.

Dare Ogunbowale will serve a role primarily on special teams and as an emergency back in case of injuries.

Wide Receivers

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If you're wondering if Brandin Cooks put up a top-15 season in PPR points per game with a mess at quarterback last year, the answer is yes, he did. Again. At 15.1 fantasy points per game, Cooks snuggled right in between CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown. He was targeted 134 times, 11th-most in the NFL last season.

Some might say that was just because there were no other viable options on the Texans last season. To that I say, "So what?" Cooks has been targeted at least 115 times in six of the last seven seasons, and now finally has two years in a row with the same quarterback. At WR20 right now, he does present a valuable opportunity. The only season in the last seven Cooks has not finished as a top-20 wide receiver was when he was injured in 2019.

This offense which ranked 19th in percent of pass plays and 28th in passing yards per game will likely not throw enough to make Nico Collins relevant this year. Collins never pulled down more than 69 yards in a game and scored once all season. If ever there was evidence that this could be a one-man show again, Collins' stats from 2021 prove it.

But the Texans could actually be looking to put the ball in the air more after seeing signs of life from Davis Mills in the last third of 2021 and drafting Alabama product John Metchie III 44th overall. The only problem? Metchie tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game in 2021 and is not quite ready to roll in offseason programs yet. Considering this is likely to be a bad team again and the Texans have no incentive to rush him back, we may not see Metchie on the field until mid-season. He was a dynamic pass catcher (he caught 96 balls despite Jameson Williams on the other side), but this might be close to a rookie redshirt year.

Chris Conley had over 100 receiving yards in a game one time back in 2019. So that's nice.

Tight Ends

After being inactive for seven straight weeks to start the 2021 season, Brevin Jordan then gave us 178 yards and three touchdowns over his next eight games. He had more than four targets one time, which resulted in 26 receiving yards and a score. Jordan Akins and his 33 targets from last year are no longer on the roster, so it's possible Jordan and Pharaoh Brown have a larger role in 2022. But the Texans ranked just 22nd in total targets to tight ends in 2021. The pie for these two to share is going to be awfully small.

I don't mind a dart thrown at Jordan as a TE2 in leagues that need that spot filled or have a TE premium. But this is not going to be a high-volume tight end room.

Final Thoughts

Off the field, dysfunction and turmoil are going to follow this team for a long time. Will it affect the product on the field and prevent the growth of some of this young offensive core? It's too soon to tell right now. But this passing game certainly has some sleeper pieces at their respective average draft positions, assuming Mills and Cooks build on their late 2021 rapport.

The running game is likely to be a constant headache and an injury would need to come to one before we could look at another as a potential workhorse. Rex Burkhead does have some appeal as a very late-round PPR option.

Texans fans hope that the team's play over the course of the season grows into something beautiful because, outside the confines of the field, this team is going to look quite ugly.


Check out the rest of our 2022 Fantasy Football Team Previews!

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