The Carolina Panthers just made a big statement - they have their next quarterback picked out. They haven’t told us who, but we have to assume that’s the case when they are willing to trade DJ Moore and a boatload of picks to the Chicago Bears for the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Up until now, there was always the chance that the Chicago Bears make that top selection and then the Houston Texans would get their pick of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, or Will Levis. Now the Panthers will get their pick of the litter and the Texans just have to pray that it’s not the guy they want most. They just recently signed Robert Woods to go along with Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, and John Metchie so the weapons are in place.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Houston Texans Quarterback
The Texans have one quarterback under contract for 2023.
Davis Mills - age 24
Contract: Davis Mills was a third round pick in 2021 so he’s under contract through 2024.
Outlook: Such is the life of quarterbacks that aren’t drafted at a premium. You really need to capitalize on any chance you get because the leash is much shorter without a big investment. In this case, the Texans have a rare opportunity to draft a high-end quarterback in a solid class so they have to take it.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - There is absolutely zero point in trading Davis Mills in this moment right now. Don’t sell on bad news. There’s always the outside chance that the Texans only like ONE specific QB and the Panthers select him so they don’t draft one. Or they simply like another player better. Odds aren’t good, but it’s possible. There is also the chance the QB they take just flames out. Or he gets hurt. The only direction Davis Mills’s value can go is up from where it is right now. You can drop him in single QB leagues but, in superflex or two QB, just hold on a minute.
RESERVES/FUTURES: EJ Perry
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
It’s only speculation but, right around the time the Panthers trade was announced, the odds on CJ Stroud going first overall moved with DraftKings Sportsbook from +180 to -425, making him the heavy favorite. The previous favorite, Bryce Young, went from -160 to +350. That tells us that someone out there knew that, if the Panthers got the first pick, they were taking Stroud. It’s not a lock by any means but the Texans should probably put in a little extra work on who they like best out of Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis.
Houston Texans Running Backs
The Texans have three running backs under contract and two signed to future/reserve contracts.
Dameon Pierce - age 23
Contract: Dameon Pierce is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Dameon Pierce had the third most rushing yards of any rookie running back behind Kenneth Walker and Tyler Allgeier but he also missed four games - on a per game basis, his 72.2 yards led all backs. And that is especially impressive on a Texans team that was not competitive a lot of the time.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - Pierce obviously looked good running the football. And the Texans maintained general manager Nick Caserio who drafted Pierce. But they also have a new coaching staff coming in with DeMeco Ryans at head coach and Tim Kelly at offensive coordinator. The Texans don’t have much in terms of depth so there is a real possibility they bring in a complementary back to Pierce. And compounding that is the fact that Pierce struggled in pass protection - he graded out as RB 124 in pass blocking per Pro Football Focus. That’s not ideal considering there are only 132 teams. We’ve seen late round/undrafted guys like Michael Carter and James Robinson get vaporized overnight after good rushing seasons and, when I look at Dameon Pierce going for a first round pick on trade charts like Alex Korff’s, I’m taking the money and running. If the Texans don’t take an RB, Pierce’s value really isn’t going to shoot up because they could still just take one next year. If they do take a running back though, his value gets crushed. The first round pick will hold its value steady until you use it or trade it. Picks are far less volatile than players.
Dare Ogunbawale - age 28
Contract: Dare Ogunbawale is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: Ogunbawale’s name has been tossed around as a potential satellite back and he’s been used sporadically but never really carved out a consistent role.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - If he was going to have any value, it would have been last year playing alongside a rookie running back who struggled in pass blocking. But that didn’t happen so he’s a 28-year-old journeyman RB. Does not need to be held.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
If I were the general manager of the Houston Texans, I would not spend up on a running back. I’d look at the Super Bowl odds (which are bottom three of any team) and I’d look at this roster and decide to load up at the long-term positions in the trenches. Then, when this team is ready to compete, I’d spend up on a short-term luxury piece like running back. Alas, that’s not always how real-life GMs think. They look at a depth chart with just Dameon Pierce and Dare Ogunbawale and think “we need backs”. Or they simply take the best player available at any given pick, which sometimes is Breece Hall (as the Jets did with Michael Carter on the roster). Or sometimes the owner says we need to win right now to sell tickets and jerseys and that means weapons. Whatever the reason is, we can’t rule out them signing a guy like Leonard Fournette or drafting someone like Jamhyr Gibbs. Especially since their current starter was a Day 3 pick. We just have to cross our fingers and hope they decide to fill out the depth chart with cheap pieces behind Pierce.
Houston Texans Wide Receivers
The Texans have five wide receivers under contract for 2023 with four signed to reserve/future deals.
Brandin Cooks - age 30
Contract: Brandin Cooks is under contract through 2024. He cannot be cut or traded before June-1 and even then he would carry more dead cap ($16.2 mil) than savings ($10.2 mil).
Outlook: The Texans signed Brandin Cooks to an extension in 2022 which he called “a blessing” but then he changed his attitude pretty quickly during the season and called for a trade. The reality is that it’s not particularly easy to trade him given his contract so, if that’s what he really wants, he’ll need to work with the Texans to make something happen.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - You might say it’s crazy but, if I’m competing to win now, I’ll actually buy Brandin Cooks at his price. I’m not going to overpay for a guy like this which is why he’s labeled a “hold”. The reality here is that he’s either going to get traded to a competitor or he’s going to stay and be the top target for whatever rookie QB the Texans draft. Robert Woods is a fine player but Cooks is still the best pass catcher on this team. He’s essentially had 1,000 yards every time he’s been healthy and, even last year on a disastrous Texans team where he was practically holding out, he was on pace for over 900. For a competing team, Cooks is a solid WR and he’s the perfect WR4 for you to start for bye weeks or emergencies. The upside is always there with his speed.
Robert Woods - age 30
Contract: Robert Woods was just signed to a two-year deal worth $15 million with $10 million guaranteed.
Outlook: Robert Woods coming off ACL surgery spent a year with the Titans who are one of the lowest-volume passing teams in the league. Now he gets a fresh start with the division rival Texans.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - The profile for Robert Woods was never perfect for fantasy football. He really used his ability in the run-blocking game to brute force his way into a full-time role and then he parlayed that into a ton of targets with the high flying Rams. But, following the knee injury, he’s probably more valued for his all-around skillset, especially his blocking, than his ability to put together high-end performances so we’re looking to cash out on the news. He was worth next to nothing yesterday.
edit: Shoutout Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23 on Twitter) and the rest of the HH crew for bringing this update to us live.
Nico Collins - age 23
Contract: Nico Collins is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: Collins has struggled to stay healthy but he did take a step forward, surpassing his 2021 totals in receptions, yards, and touchdowns all while playing in four fewer games. With a good QB and a healthy season, this guy could pop at some point. Or he just might just be a role-playing split end.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - Our initial comp for Nico Collins was Kenny Golladay. Which most folks forget wasn’t a bad thing when Kenny Golladay was going for ~1,100 yards and 11 TDs with Matthew Stafford. He has the same size, speed, and draft capital that made Golladay a great split end and Collins should line up at split end with Brandin Cooks at flanker and Robert Woods at slot. He’s only 23 and the age apex for wide receivers is 26-29 so Collins has a lot of ball left to play. Woods and Cooks are both 30 so we’re into the waiting game now.
John Metchie - age 22
Contract: John Metchie is under contract through 2026.
Outlook: Metchie was picked in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft at pick 44 overall but was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia shortly after.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - We are all rooting for John Metchie. And there is something tantalizing as a comeback story and the unknown upside. But we also don’t know if he’ll ever play again so you can capitalize on that now to cash out. As a fairly conservative fantasy gamer, that’s my approach even though it’s fun.
Amari Rodgers - age 24
Contract: Amari Rodgers is under contract through 2024. He was claimed on waivers so he can be cut for $1.1 million with zero dead cap.
Outlook: Rodgers is looking like a likely roster cut given his cap situation.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - If he couldn’t carve out a role with Aaron Rodgers on that ghost ship WR crew then I have a hard time picturing him catching on somewhere.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
The Texans at this very moment are all set in terms of starters. They have every role covered in terms of split end (Nico Collins), flanker (Brandin Cooks), slot (Robert Woods and/or John Metchie). They really just need depth so I wouldn’t expect them to go crazy signing or drafting wide receivers moving forward. They’ll likely fill the roster with versatile backups and/or guys who can play special teams.
Houston Texans Tight Ends
The Texans have two tight ends under contract.
Brevin Jordan - age 22
Contract: Brevin Jordan is under contract for 2024
Outlook: We had high hopes for Brevin Jordan despite his Day 3 draft capital but he really has yet to pop. And that’s in spite of his opportunity.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - If he couldn’t get it done on these ghost ship offenses then it’s going to be even harder with a guy like Robert Woods in the mix now too. Sell him if there is any lingering name value.
Teagan Quitoriano - age 22
Contract: Quitoriano is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: He actually became the starting tight end of this team down the stretch but he ended the season with only seven catches on fourteen targets.
FREE AGENTS: OJ Howard, Jordan Akins
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
This team needs a tight end - plain and simple. They’re a perfect candidate to draft one or add one in free agency with this depth chart and they don’t even have a starter to “bring back” via free agency. Over the short term, the upside wouldn’t be high given the target competition. But Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods are both thirty years old now so any young tight end they draft could be tied to a young quarterback for a long time.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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