Houston Texans Depth Chart and Fantasy Preview: Stefon Diggs’ Impact on C.J. Stroud, Nico Collins, and More

    The fantasy outlook for the Houston Texans' players are much more favorable than a year ago -- is this an elite offense that you need a piece of?

    The Houston Texans‘ fantasy preview is one filled with optimism after an impressive first season from QB C.J. Stroud. The franchise made it clear this offseason that they are pushing their chips in while their signal caller is on his rookie deal, adding talented veterans to complement a young nucleus.

    Should fantasy football managers be aggressively targeting every member of this explosive unit?

    Houston Texans Fantasy Depth Chart

    C.J. Stroud, Davis Mills, Case Keenum

    Joe Mixon, Dameon Pierce, Dare Ogunbowale

    Nico Collins, Noah Brown, Xavier Hutchinson

    Stefon Diggs, John Metchie III, Johnny Johnson III

    Tank Dell, Robert Woods, Steven Sims

    Dalton Schultz, Cade Stover

    C.J. Stroud’s Fantasy Outlook

    Rookies impress us every season, but it’s rare that someone steps into the league and looks in control from Day 1. Stroud was just that, orchestrating a developing offense while setting an NFL record for passes thrown to start a career without an interception (192).

    By leading the league in passing yards per game (273.9) and TD/INT ratio, Stroud posted the third-best passer rating ever by a rookie (100.8). He joined Joe Montana and Tom Brady as the only QBs to lead the league in both of those categories in a single season — things couldn’t have gone better in Year 1.

    How does Year 2 line up? The franchise didn’t just tell us that they are fully committed to the Stroud era; they showed us. The Texans brought in Stefon Diggs and Joe Mixon to help solidify this as one of the best offenses in the league, thus elevating Stroud’s floor.

    He may not be Patrick Mahomes, and he doesn’t have the rushing equity of Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts, but after those three are off the board, he’s as good a bet as anyone at the position.

    The Texans even added a pair of offensive linemen in the NFL Draft for good measure. The arrow is pointing straight up for Stroud, and for a good reason. If you want upside under center but aren’t willing to pay all the way up for the more proven commodities, Stroud and Anthony Richardson are the two spots to look at, with me favoring whoever lasts longer.

    Joe Mixon’s Fantasy Outlook

    It only required a seventh-round pick from the Texans for them to acquire the veteran back, who has scored 37 times over the past three seasons. The best part? Joe Mixon succeeded as a part of an offense that is built in a similar fashion to this one (a franchise QB under center and multiple high-end receivers attracting defensive attention).

    Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that he is entering his age-28 season and is approaching 2,000 career touches. He caught multiple passes in 14 of 17 games a season ago, something that I have a hard time projecting to continue, given the age curve and the dynamic ability of this offense.

    As long as you view his 52-376-3 receiving line from 2023 as a ceiling and not an expectation, you’re free to consider Mixon as a viable RB2. It has become clear that the team is not the least bit sold on Dameon Pierce (2.9 ypc last season with a total of three touches during the two playoff games), thus paving the way for another bellcow season.

    Mixon‘s dynasty discussion is a bit different, but in terms of looking ahead to 2024, Mixon is to be considered a weekly starter who, in an elite offense, is likely to have his fair share of RB1 weeks.

    Nico Collins’ Fantasy Outlook

    We got it. The fantasy community had been heaping expectations on this 6’4” athlete, and he paid off in spades last year with an 80-1297-8 stat line to welcome in the Stroud era.

    We knew the big plays were in Nico Collins’ profile, but that wasn’t all we got last season. With high-end volume, Collins dropped just a pair of passes, and that gave Stroud the confidence to feature him whenever possible. That is a big reason why I favor him to lead this team in receiving stats across the board in 2024 — he already has a connection, and that should allow him to offer the best combination of ceiling and floor.

    Collins hasn’t gone consecutive games without a touchdown since before Halloween, a type of trend that only the game’s elite are capable of producing. The addition of Diggs lowers the floor a touch, but it also lowers the level of attention defenses can pay to him.

    I have him flirting with the WR1 tier, swimming in the same pool as established star Davante Adams and the toast of the community following the NFL Draft in Marvin Harrison Jr.

    Stefon Diggs’ Fantasy Outlook

    If you’re strictly checking out boxscores, there is no reason to worry about Diggs. All he did during his four seasons in Buffalo was clear 100 catches every season and return outstanding per-17-game numbers.

    That said, if you rostered Diggs down the stretch of last season or are a card-holding member of #BillsMafia, you’re well aware of the steep decline after a red-hot start.

    The last time we saw him in the end zone was Week 12, and he hasn’t reached 90 receiving yards since the middle of October. During the second half of 2023, he was no longer winning down the field, something that often happens with age.

    READ MORE: Stefon Diggs Being Traded to the Houston Texans Creates a Logjam at WR

    Naturally, all things need to be considered. The Bills had an offensive coordinator change, and Diggs clearly wasn’t happy being a part of the organization. Does that change now? Houston dealt for him and immediately tweaked his contract to make it something of a one-year deal — are they betting on a rebound?

    There are more questions than answers at the moment, but I saw enough from Diggs last season to think that, at the very least, he can still win on underneath routes. That may not be as exciting for fantasy managers, but it does profile as a strong role in this offense, given the field-stretching abilities of the other WRs on this roster.

    I’m treating the former locked-in WR1 as a low-end WR2 right now, understanding that the range of outcomes is great. Players don’t get better later in their careers, but the immediacy of the drop-off for Diggs was steeper than most. We should see a revamped version of him as a Texan, and the production should follow, even if it’s not what we associate with the name “Stefon Diggs” from years past.

    Tank Dell’s Fantasy Outlook

    It’s been a wild 12 months for Tank Dell, there’s simply no other way to put it. He was busy running past defenders for the first three months of the 2023 season (15.1 yards per catch with seven scores in 11 games) before suffering a fibular fracture while blocking during a touchdown run.

    The injury knocked him out for the season, a brutal end for both him and fantasy managers alike. Recovery was going well, but during NFL Draft weekend, he was caught in the crosshairs of a shooting and suffered a gunshot wound as a result.

    The injury was deemed minor and is not expected to hinder him in any way, but it’s been a tough stretch for a receiver who took the world by storm last fall.

    Much like Collins (and maybe this is more of a nod to Stroud than anything), I was impressed by Dell’s ability to earn targets. His size profile (5’10”, 165 pounds) is that of someone positioned to struggle more often than not, relying on the big play to pay off for fantasy managers, but by earning 10 targets on four separate occasions, he might well be the exception to the rule.

    My concern, of course, is the impact of Diggs. Could Dell be used only as a deep threat? How many targets are realistically available? Are there more floor games in his future?

    With those questions being something we won’t know until we are in the middle of the season, Dell is currently on the outside looking in at my top 30 at the position, ranking alongside players like Malik Nabers/George Pickens (clear role in a questionable offense) and both burners on the Kansas City Chiefs (Marquise Brown/Xavier Worthy).

    He is certainly worthy of a roster spot, but I’m just not comfortable counting on him weekly, something that I fear will be the expectation as his ADP comes into focus and his health is confirmed.

    Dalton Schultz’s Fantasy Outlook

    To me, Schultz is the answer to the “I don’t want to spend up at the TE position, but I also don’t want to lose double-digit points within my matchup either” conundrum. Schultz’s path to an elite fantasy season doesn’t exist, but he was essentially the same producer for the Texans last season as he had been for the Cowboys for years, and that’s good enough.

    The down weeks will be there, but that’s the case for most of the tight end position. Instead, I’m opting to take the optimistic route and embrace this cheap investment in one of the best offenses in the sport. Like Collins, he benefits from having a strong connection with Stroud, something that should keep his volume at a reasonable level, making him a non-exciting but productive option that you can grab in the later rounds to fill out your starting lineup.

    Texans’ Fantasy Sleeper

    You likely know the name of Noah Brown after he averaged 17.2 yards per catch in 2023, but he’s likely well off of your rankings page with three receivers clearly ahead of him on the depth chart, not to mention a starting RB and TE who could push for 100 receptions between them.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t forget about him altogether. His big-play ability is no secret, and he would slide in nicely to a fantasy-friendly role should Collins or Dell go down. You don’t have to roster him in shallower formats, but he is the rare WR handcuff that I’ll have an eye on as I round out rosters in deeper leagues where I have room to hold some players.

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