Man, what a great first-day of NFL free agency.
Though there were a few perceived winners in free agency on day one including the New York Giants — for spending a ton — and the New England Patriots — for not spending anything — the idea of “winners and losers” this early in the season is completely subjective. We still have to see how these players pan out for their teams. As it relates to fantasy football though, no team in the league made a bigger splash than the Houston Texans. I’ve seen many different opinions on the moves they made. Did they overpay for some players? Sure, but Houston realizes the weak division it’s in and the need to upgrade to possibly go further in the playoffs is of utmost importance to the franchise. It would’ve been far easier to outline the big free agency moves in my first piece of the 2016-’17 season, but I’m not in the business of putting out puff pieces; I’m in the business of winning you fantasy titles.
Let’s take a look at the team that had the best first day of 2016 NFL free agency and how it can help you win your league this upcoming season.
RB Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
For any Lamar Miller owner in dynasty leagues, the move from Miami to Houston has to be a celebrated one. Many times over the course of his tenure with the Dolphins, owners week in and week out were in an outcry over his usage. Looking closer at the statistics though, he finished 6th in scoring for Running Backs last year and 9th in 2014. With that said, he had only six double-digit scoring weeks last year and had only ONE game with 20+ carries. The complaints of usage from fantasy owners certainly are warranted, so will he get more work in Houston? He’s got only four years in the league and is still very young (age 24) in relation to the RB position. Miller has 638 career carries in four seasons, an average of 159.5 carries per year or 10.5 per game. That’s exceptionally low for a guy who has the ability to be a bell cow back.
Looking into the coaching staff in Houston, George Godsey is the offensive coordinator. For those of you not plugged into Houston Texans coaching, he used to be an offensive assistant in 2012 with New England and Bill O’Brien at the helm of the offense. The 2011-‘12 Patriots featured BenJarvus Green-Ellis at RB and while he didn’t pile up the yards (665) or carries (11.5/game), Ellis visited the end zone 11 times that season, tying him for the 6th most touchdowns among running backs that season. Do I think Godsey will be the true play caller in Houston this season? Of course not, just like he wasn’t in New England when he worked for Bill O’Brien (OC). Starting Right Guard Brandon Brooks signed with the Eagles, but the team welcomed the departure by inking former Chiefs OT Jeff Allen to a deal. Regardless, losing members of the offensive line that have been in your system certainly worries me. With that said, O’Brien is the Head Coach with the Texans now and if you’re signing a guy to a deal with around $6.5M annually, there’s no doubt in my mind that he will be featured not only because of how much they’re paying him, but there’s nobody else in that backfield even remotely on the same talent level.
Projected Draft Position: 02.07
QB Brock Osweiler – Houston Texans
As an admitted Denver Bronco’s hater, this move made me smile. Brock Osweiler, obviously still butt hurt about the way he was treated last year by coaching and management en route to a Super Bowl victory, told Denver GM John Elway to “shove it” by not taking calls from the team in the past two weeks and agreeing to a deal with Houston before free agency even began at 4 o’clock on Wednesday. Looking at this move for Osweiler from a fantasy perspective, it’s tough to compare Denver and Houston’s offenses because we don’t yet know where Mile High is going at the RB position with CJ Anderson a restricted free agent. There’s no doubt that ‘Nuk Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas are supreme talents, and Emmanuel Sanders has been a great security blanket for anyone behind center in the orange and blue. Nate Washington is the WR2 for Houston, but is a free agent so his future is up in the air. As I mentioned in my bit about Miller, losing RG Brandon Brooks in free agency to Philly hurts the offensive line, but there’s a good chance Houston will be looking to upgrade that position on the cheap in the draft. With all of that said, depending on where Denver goes under center, I like ‘Nuk a lot more than Demaryius in 2016. Is it ALL because of Osweiler? No, but allow me to elaborate..
Are seven games enough of a sample size to determine if Osweiler is the real deal? Obviously not, but that’s all we have to go off of. So in the seven games Osweiler started (Weeks 11-17), he scored in the single digits only twice. His best game came Week 15 at home against Pittsburgh and their leaky defense where Osweiler had over 29 fantasy points, 4th among QB’s that week. For people wondering what Demaryius Thomas did in that seven game span, he scored double-digit fantasy points in four of those weeks (11, 12, 18, and 17) and although Osweiler got benched in the Week 17 game against San Diego, he still threw a 72-yard TD to Thomas in the first quarter. Osweiler looks to his number one WR, simple & plain. From weeks 11-16 (not including week 17 because of his benching) Thomas had four games of double-digit targets, three of those coming in a row from weeks 14-16 where he saw 14 targets once and 12 of them twice. Point Osweiler.
Human highlight reel stud DeAndre Hopkins amassed 1,500 yards and 11 scores last season with absolute garbage monsters behind center. I’m not generally a huge fan of drafting at the WR position within the first 3 or 4 picks in your draft, but the NFL becomes a passing league more & more each year and this year is no different. Hopkins is among a few wideouts I would now take with an early first round pick this season. For Osweiler? Draft hype on him may push him into the mid 8th round by draft time, but watching what he does in the preseason will be something every fantasy footballer will be looking at so they can snag him and run a’la Carson Palmer last season. I’m excited for Osweiler in this offense with Miller, but even more excited for Hopkins to have a reasonable option at QB because to this point, there hasn’t been a competent starter to help out #10.
Projected Draft Position: 10.03