2022 Texans Fantasy Football Preview: Brandin Cooks remains a standout, but does anyone else here matter?

The Texans really feel like they are in a holding pattern right now as they rebuild, though maybe that isn’t giving Davis Mills enough credit as the potential answer — he was one of the best rookie quarterbacks last season despite being a mid-round pick. That being said, it seems more likely than not that whatever the next competitive version of the Texans looks like, there won’t be much overlap between that roster and this one. There’s plenty of opportunity for someone to step up here, but it’s not clear there’s much talent ready to take advantage.

2021 Review

Record: 4 – 13 (28)
PPG: 16.5 (30)
YPG: 278.1 (32)
Pass YPG: 194.4 (28)
RushYPG: 83.6 (32)
PPG: 32.1 (22)
RAPG: 24.7 (23)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Davis MillsQB29
RB: Rex Burkhead RB52, David Johnson* RB60
WR: Brandin Cooks WR20
TEA: Brevin Jordan TE44
*No longer with team

Number to know: 613

No player on Texans last season had more than 613 yards from scrimmage besides Brandin Cooks — the 613 belonged to Rex Burkhead, who played 16 games, finished as the RB52, and had four games in double figures in PPR points. The opportunity being available doesn’t necessarily mean someone is going to take advantage of it.

And that’s the problem with the Texans as we head into 2022. Cooks looks like a must-start Fantasy WR, as he averaged 15.4 PPR points in the 12 games Mills appeared in last season. I’m willing to take him as a top-20 wide receiver, and I’m probably going to have him on a ton of teams. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s anyone on this roster who have you to be drafted in a standard 12-team league.

The best candidates are probably Marlon Mack and Nico Collins, and perhaps rookie John Metchie, though he’s a question mark for the start of the season coming off a torn ACL suffered in the SEC championship game in December. Collins is a third-round pick from 2021 who had 33 catches for 446 yards and one touchdown as a rookie, with just three games with more than 50 receiving yards, so he’s got a lot to prove before he’s worth even a bench spot. Mack is a former 1,000-yard rusher who is just 26, but he had just 101 yards in six games last season after overcoming a ruptured Achilles — notoriously one of the most difficult injuries for running backs to come back from.

Any one of Metchie, Collins, or Mack could be a useful Fantasy option, and they’ll all presumably get the opportunity. However, unless we start to get really positive reports about any of them out of training camp indicating they are really cementing a high-volume role, all will be fringe relevant for Fantasy in what projects to remain one of the worst offenses in the league.

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks

1. (3) Derek Stingley, CB
1. (15) Kenyon Green, OL
2. (37) Jalen Pitre, SAF
2. (44) John Metchie, WR
3. (75) Christian Harris, LB
4. (107) Dameon Pierce, RB
5. (150) Thomas Booker, DE
5. (170) Teagan Quitoriano, TE
6. (205) Austin Deculus, T.

additions

QB Kyle Allen, QB Jeff Driskel, G AJ Cann, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, WR DaeSean Hamilton,

Key losses

S Justin Reid, QB Tyrod Taylor, DE Jacob Martin, CB Terrance Mitchell, OL Marcus Cannon,

Available Opportunity

244 carries, 65 RB targets, 39 WR targets, 34 TE targets

2022 preview

Rankings

Chris Towers’ projections

QB Davis Mills PA: 559, YD: 3801, TD: 22, INT: 14; RUSH — ATT: 43, YD: 151, TD: 1
RB Marlon Mack CAR: 108, YD: 431, TD: 3, TAR: 28, REC: 18, YD: 73, TD: 1
RB Rex Burkhead CAR: 86, YD: 345, TD: 3, TAR: 39, REC: 27, YD: 220, TD: 1
RB dameon pierce CAR: 172, YD: 690, TD: 5, TAR: 34, REC: 25, YD: 189, TD: 1
WR Brandin Cooks TAR: 130, REC: 88, YD: 1085, TD: 7
WR Nick Collins TAR: 84, REC: 50, YD: 603, TD: 4
WR John Metchie III TAR: 56, REC: 33, YD: 364, TD: 2
TEA Brevin Jordan TAR: 56, REC: 40, YD: 355, TD: 2

Biggest Question

Will anyone but Brandin Cooks step up?

Cooks has been perpetually underrated in Fantasy circles for most of his career, but nobody else on this offense had more than 613 total yards last season. There’s obviously room for someone else to be a contributor alongside Cooks, but Collins didn’t make much of an impact as a rookie, while second-round pick Metchie III isn’t guaranteed to be available for the start of the season coming off a turn ACL. Rookie RB Dameon Pierce might be the only other Texans player drafted in most leagues if we get good reports out of camp.

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

Metchie showed the ability to be both a big-play receiver and a chain-move in his final two seasons at Alabama, and that kind of versatility is good to see from a prospect. We didn’t get to see Metchie test at the combine, but he didn’t show true burner speed in college. What he did show was good route running abilities in a diverse route tree, and he could step onto the field as a starter for the Texans once he’s ready-which could be by Week 1, if you buy what Metchie has said publicly, at least . I think you can flip a coin between him and Collins as far as who is more likely to make an impact for Fantasy this season, and both are reasonable last-round stashes in deeper redraft leagues, but I’ll give Metchie the call here and hope we get promising reports out of camp.

Cooks averaged 9.6 targets per game when Mills played, and I don’t see much reason to think he won’t once again be heavily targeted. He had the worst yards per target of his career, and while that’s not unusual given the significant dropoff in QB quality relative to the rest of his career, it’s not unreasonable to think Mills could be more effective in his second season, which should only help Cook’s. If all he does is keep last season’s target number and catch rate but bumps his yards per catch up from 11.5 to 12.5 (his career mark is 13.8, by the way) while catching a touchdown on 5.3% of his targets (his career mark) , Cooks would have jumped up to WR13 in 2021. And I don’t think that’s the ceiling.

When I set out to pick a sleeper, breakout, and bust from every team, I guess I have to pick someone for every team. But Cooks is the only player on the roster currently being drafted inside the first 12 rounds in NFC leagues right now, so there really isn’t an obvious choice, assuming you believe in Cooks as I do. There is some risk that Cooks’ concussion issues will derail him, but that’s not enough to scare me off. So, I’ll stick Mack here, because I think there’s a decent chance he earns the job out of training camp and moves into the top-100, but there isn’t much upside for a back who doesn’t catch passes in a bad offense. This is a pre-emptive call, absent another candidate.

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