Bill O’Brien is a man with too many responsibilities for a billion dollar organization. Bill O’Brien comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, but he’s not as savvy. Luckily for O’Brien, the dominoes have fell in his favor in regards to appearing in the postseason. The Texans have made the playoffs in 4 out of the last 5 seasons including two wins. 

The Texan’s 2019 playoff appearance can be attributed to a nice home win against a depleted Patriots roster, and a shocker on the road against the Chiefs, but outside of that it seemed like they skated by. If Andrew Luck hadn’t retired, the playoff picture probably would have looked a lot different. Lost in the fact that the Chiefs made a historic comeback in the divisional round against the Texans is the fact that Bill O’Brien and the Texans were embarrassingly unprepared to maintain a lead after already winning at Arrowhead that season. Pat Mahomes very well could end up as the best quarterback of our generation, but the Texans blew it with questionable play calling being at the forefront.

Even after the loss to the Chiefs, the Texans chose to retain Bill O’Brien as their GM/head coach and now the Texans have given away their franchise wide receiver for next to nothing. There are reports that Bill O’Brien and DeAndre Hopkins had a series of riffs in the 2019 season which would explain why the Texan’s gave Hopkins away for below market value. Even if that was the case, and the relationship wasn’t reparable, this was a bad trade for the Texans from a football standpoint. 

The Houston Texans received David Johnson, a 2020 second round pick, and a 2021 fourth round pick while giving up Hopkins and a fourth round pick. To say David Johnson was a shell of himself in recent seasons is a bit of an understatement. DJ can better be described as a shell of a shell of himself, but the shell of the shell has been beaten over and over with a baseball bat. 

Year (omitted 2017: injury)

Rushing Yards YPC Touchdowns Receptions
2015 581 4.6 12 36
2016 1,239 4.2 20 80
2018 940 3.6 10 50
2019 345 3.7 6 36

The common theme here is regression in everything the past two seasons. In 2018, David Johnson got his ass handed to him behind a terrible offensive line. DJ did manage to finish as the PPR RB9 in 2018, but that is not what you paid for in drafts. His production had a nice spike in the middle of November 2018 with a 137 yard rushing game and following that up with a two touchdown game, but outside of that, it was pretty bleh. When Johnson was on the field in 2019, he was slower than his former self, carried the Q tag way too much, and  struggled to find an identity in the Kliff Kingsbury offense. The one thing that David Johnson has going for him in Houston is the revamped offensive line. If he can dig up some of the spark from his first two seasons in Arizona and replicate it in Houston he could provide some fantasy value if he’s drafted as a middle of the pack RB2. There are two issues, one being that his injury history brings a lot of risk with drafting him. The other is at this point, we don’t know where he will end up in fantasy drafts. 

Hopkins is also coming off of a down season. But a down season for Hopkins is still a pretty good season. Despite a very slow start, Nuk finished with his 3rd career 100 reception season and was able to find pay dirt 7 times. Hopkins also had a bit of an emergence in the first two weeks of the fantasy playoffs that should have eased the pain of those that drafted him but were still able to sneak into the playoffs. 

I don’t buy into the narrative that this offensive situation is a downgrade for Nuk. Kyler Murray is a quarterback with a lot of potential. Murray finished as a solid fantasy QB1 without the elite weapon that Hopkins is IN HIS ROOKIE SEASON. The Cardinals are going to throw the ball a ton. Hopkins still has the skill set that he has always had, getting open and making pause and rewind worthy sideline and touchdown catches. Hopkins will be more than fine and you shouldn’t avoid him in 2020 fantasy drafts. Old man Larry Fitzgerald can still be productive and I think that if this move hurts anyone, it’s mostly Christian Kirk. I’m not all that convinced that Christian Kirk can’t get solid production in this situation either. 

Fantasy impacts for other players on the Texans and the Cardinals

  • Kenyan Drake broke out for the Cardinals immediately after being traded from the Dolphins, even if it was only for one week at the time. Drake looked revamped and dangerous. He fit the Kliff Kingsbury offense like a glove. Things slowed down for Drake as the Cardinals backfield got “healthier” until weeks 15 and 16 when Drake took complete control of the backfield with a combined 303 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in those two games. Now that this will likely be Kenyan Drake’s backfield to lose, I will be an investor in redraft leagues especially if the market undervalues him. 
  • Kyler Murray is going to be great, but the gap between his production and draft price as he climbs draft boards is going to disappear and this takes away a lot of the value for me. 
  • DeAndre Hopkins leaving Houston is going to be devastating to Deshaun Watson’s dynasty and keeper value, but there could be value to be found in redraft/auction leagues. 
  • Duke Johnson stans will be bummed that he will be once again overlooked for a huge share of carries initially, but he could provide later round value because of David Johnson’s health history. 
  • This is a great opportunity for Kenny Stills to live up to his potential as a legitimate fantasy threat. 
  • Will Fuller’s value doesn’t change for me. Hell, he might even be a sell high in dynasty leagues to spicy owners who want to get cute. Fuller hasn’t been able to stay healthy to this point. 
  • I’m not a draft guru, but one would think that the Texans will spend an early draft pick or two on this very deep wide receiver draft class. This potential early wide receiver pick could be primed to have an immediate fantasy football impact taking the field with Deshaun Watson