Training Camp 2-A-Days Texans and Saints
NFL teams primarily use two-a-days to get in shape for the upcoming season. We continue our 16 Two-A-Day previews updating on training camp, roster battles and Dynasty relevance.
The story of the 2017 Houston Texans can be attributed to the players that were not playing due to injury. Season-ending injuries to quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt derailed the Texans, as they looked to three-peat in the AFC South but instead finished with a 4–12 record. There were a few bright spots, namely wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns while earning first-team AP All-Pro team honors.
3.04 – Justin Reid, S, Stanford
3.16 – Martinas Rankin, C, Mississippi State
3.34 – Jordan Akins, TE, Central Florida
4.03 – Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
6.03 – Dike Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest
Deshaun Watson – Watson the first-round selection of the Texans in last year’s draft, looks to continue the roll he was on prior to tearing his ACL in week 9. The reality is that will be hard to sustain. He took hold of the starting job at halftime in week 1, after a lackluster performance to the season from Tom Savage. Watson started rather slow in his first start going 15/24 for 125 yards with an additional 67 yards and a TD on the ground. In weeks 3-8 he exploded (week 7 was a bye week). Watson averaged 20/31 284 and 4 with 6/37 on the ground. The week prior to his injury was a 19/30 402 yards & 4TD performance vs. Seattle. Watson is coming back off a second ACL injury (one to each knee), and in my opinion will remain a top 5 QB. I have seen Watson coming off the board in startups this year as the second QB. I believe that is a little aggressive. Watson is my 4th ranked QB and 53rd overall in my Dynasty PPR rankings.
Brandon Weeden/Joe Webb – There is no value in these two QB’s unless there is an injury to Watson once again. Weeden will have Superflex and 2QB plug and play value, Webb has no value regardless
Lamar Miller – Lamar Miller is a RB that I began fading in the latter portion of 2017 when it appeared that D’Onta Foreman’s workload was increasing and that he might steal the lead role. Now that Foreman is out and likely starting the season on the PUP list, I have gone the other direction with Miller. I like Miller and believe he has top24 RB potential. I would rank him higher, but he has proven in the past to lose some productivity with an increased workload.
Alfred Blue – Feels like Alfred Blue has been hanging around in the Texans backfield for a long time. The reality is this is only his 5th season with Houston. Blue will forever be a solid change of pace backup RB for the Texans. He doesn’t hold much value as his workload isn’t enough to sustain any productivity. If Miller goes down before Foreman gets back, he might be a plug and play RB based on matchups from time to time. I’m not holding a bench spot for that.
D’Onta Foreman – Foreman has enormous upside as a breakout candidate, but first he will have to bounce back from a torn Achilles and beat out Lamar Miller. Foreman will start the season on the PUP list. The earliest we will see him this season if at all is week 7. Foreman was injured in a game vs Arizona last season on a play in which he took an inside handoff 37 yards basically untouched to the end zone. That play showed us exactly what he is capable of and I sure hope he can recover from this injury. If you own shares in D’Onte, I suggest you hold and slide him into your IR designation.
DeAndre Hopkins – This guy is sick, he’s a freak of nature really. Nuk puts up numbers regardless of who is throwing him the ball. The idea of a full season with Deshawn Watson as his QB is just too good to be true. He is a great route runner with excellent hands, leaping ability and body control. Nobody catches more passes that he shouldn’t be caught than Hopkins. He’s elite and will continue to be with a great starting QB feeding him. DeAndre is my top overall ranked player in my PPR and PPR Superflex rankings.
Will Fuller – Fuller has been limited by injuries and inconsistent QB in his first two seasons. During the 2017 campaign, he missed 6 games and was forced to finish the season dealing with subpar QB play after Deshawn Watson’s injury. Fuller had a ridiculous run with Watson as his QB. Fuller had 13 catches on 22 targets for 279 yards and a ridiculous 7 TD’s in weeks 4-8. He caught 13 passes and 7 were for scores. Fuller will not and cannot maintain a 53% score rate per reception, however, I do see his receiving yards elevating to a level that enables him to break comfortably into the high-end WR3, low-end WR2 area.
Bruce Ellington – I have been following Bruce Ellington since I drafted him late in a start-up in 2016 when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Ellington was injured that preseason and missed the entire 2016 season. He was released by the 49ers and after a pit stop with the Jets, signed with Houston in August of 2017. In December he was placed on IR. Ellington totaled 29 catches for 330 yards and 2 TDS. If he can stay healthy he has the potential to hold off Braxton Miller and rookie Keke Coutee for the snaps and targets. I would anticipate at some point Ellington is passed by one or both. He’s worth a bench spot on your roster for now. At 27 years old Ellington’s Dynasty hourglass is running out of sand.
Keke Coutee – Coutee was receiving rave reviews from DeAndre Hopkins during OTA’s and Mini-Cap. Unfortunately, Coutee has been unable to suit up for any preseason action due to injury. At this point, it looks like he has lost out on his opportunity to start in the slot. With Braxton Miller being released, it would appear that Coutee has secured a roster spot none the less.
Ryan Griffin – Ryan Griffin has been with the Texans since the 2013 season. Griffin can’t block and doesn’t have the athleticism to be a focal part of the passing game. His most productive season was 2016 when he caught 50 passes. He appeared in 7 games in 2017 and caught 13 passes for 158 yards and a TD. Simply put you need to do better at TE than Ryan Griffin on your Dynasty roster.
Jordan Akins – The third-round selection in this year’s draft has reportedly made rapid strides in training camp. Akins impressed the Texans in his preseason debut, catching both of his targets for 20 yards and two touchdowns. Like Baltimore’s Hayden Hurst, Akins is a former minor league baseball player and is old for a rookie. He and has a chance for a year one impact. He should open the season with Ryan Griffin in two tight end sets. If there is a TE in Houston to own it looks like it should be Akins. I would let him sit on your practice roster for 2018 with the hopes he’s a viable option for you in 2019.
Stephen Anderson – The good news is Anderson led the Texans in catches last season. The bad news is it was 25 receptions on 52 targets, a catch rate of 48.1% for a TE isn’t great. Anderson was a WR a Cal and struggles to block and struggles in the RedZone. He is a TE to avoid.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are fresh off a successful season in which Sean Payton’s team went 11-5 before a crushing loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round. In the offseason, quarterback Drew Brees re-signed with New Orleans on a two-year, $50 million contract, while the team also signed wide receiver Cameron Meredith and tight end Benjamin Watson. The Saints had an extremely successful draft class last season, with rookie running back Alvin Kamara leading the way, and will look to do the same this year.
1.14 – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
3.27 – Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Central Florida
4.27 – Rick Leonard, T, Florida State
5.27 – Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin
6.15 – Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College
6.27 – Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech
7.27 – Will Clapp, C, LSU
Drew Brees – Brees finished last season as QB9, in what could be described as a down year for him. Dating back to 2012, the lowest Brees has finished prior to last season was 6th (2014 & 2015). Brees signed a two-year deal this offense and I would bet that these are his final two seasons. The Saints moved towards the run last season and I would anticipate that they would like to continue that this season. Regardless Brees in the man in New Orleans and he remains a QB1.
Teddy Bridgewater – The Saints traded a 3rd round pick to the New York Jets for Bridgewater and a 6th rounder. Teddy is insurance should Brees suffer any injury and is likely looking at an extension to remain with the Saints as backfill to Brees. Teddy Is a great bench stash in a Superflex and a 2QB league.
Tom Savage/Taysom Hill – With the arrival of Bridgewater, it would appear that the battle for the backup position in New Orleans has become a battle for a roster spot. Look for Hill to win this battle, he is a far superior and more versatile talent than Savage.
Mark Ingram – Ingram last season’s RB6 will miss the first four games of the 2018 season due to a PED suspension. The suspension can go one of two ways for Ingram in my opinion. He could come back with fresh legs and pick up right where he left off. On the other hand, he could be like the majority of guys returning from PED suspensions and struggle. I feel he is somewhere in the middle. This backfield is slowly becoming Kamara’s. Ingram has a role, but it won’t be as big of one in my opinion. If I own Ingram and I am not a contender I am shopping him now to get the most out of him. I feel his value starts to decline once he returns and struggles.
Alvin Kamara – Last season’s offensive rookie of the year had a season for the ages. Kamara finished as RB3, with 315 points on 201 touches. To put that into perspective, he finished 27 points behind RB2 Le’Veon Bell’s 342 on 205 fewer touches. Kamara is the poster child for regression this year, or he’s the greatest RB in NFL history. I’m betting on regression. Regardless he is still a RB1 and a must-own in all Dynasty Formats
Shane Vereen – Resurfacing in New Orleans, Vereen is hoping for some resurgence in the Saints passing game, he will begin the resurgence of his career in a familiar spot, on IR. This is likely the end of the road, expect Vereen to be released with an injury settlement.
Johnathan Williams/Boston Scott – Boston Scott the Saints 6th round selection was getting a lot of hype in the OTA and Mini Camp portion of the offseason as the Ingram replacement. He appears to have been passed by Williams in camp. I like both backs, but I am more inclined to throw Williams on my roster for now
Michael Thomas – Micheal Thomas is a WR1 and should be drafted as such in start-up drafts in all formats. In his first two seasons, he has averaged WR1 numbers. There have been 244 WR drafted from 2010-2017, and Thomas is just the third WR to average WR1 for his career. The other two are Antonio Brown & Julio Jones. Thomas will remain in the top 12 in 2018 and has a great opportunity to break into the top 5 WR. Thomas finished as WR6 last season and I see no reason barring injury that he cannot at the minimum maintain that position.
Ted Ginn – Ginn has had a nice career as a take the top off kind of WR. He will remain a WR that flashes from time to time. His value has taken a hit by age, a change in offensive philosophy and by Cameron Meredith and Tre’Quan Smith. I am not overly high on owning Ted Ginn at this point.
Cameron Meredith – The saints signed Meredith to a 2 year 9.6 Million offer sheet that the Chicago Bears declined to match. Meredith at the time of the signing was targeted to be the Saints #2 WR. He has struggled thus far in camp and has struggled to stay healthy. He caught 2 of 4 targets for 72 yards and a TD in the Saints final preseason matchup. Almost any WR in a Drew Brees offense holds value. If Meredith can stay on the field, he has the upside to start weekly in your lineup.
Tre’Quan Smith – Smith entered camp behind both Meredith and Ginn. His play in the preseason has secured a spot in the lineup and he is pushing past Ginn and likely Meredith as well. Smith is a great add in his rookie season to your Dynasty roster.
Benjamin Watson – Watson made the decision to return to New Orleans on a 1-year deal vs. retirement. He enters his 15th NFL season on 2018. Watson is two years removed from his career high 74 catch 825-yard 6 TD season. He is relevant in the Saints offense and worth a roster spot for one more year on your Dynasty roster