by Andrew Teuscher
Davis Mills: Davis Mills was thrust into a starting role last year due to an injury to Tyrod Taylor. Expectations for the rookie third round pick were non-existent. In his first stretch as a fill-in starter from weeks 3 to 8 he was the fantasy QB 25. Taylor again supplanted Mills briefly until week 13. Once Mills was the starter again in week 14 the former 5-star recruit from Stanford was as good as anyone could have hoped. Texans rookie QB maintained the starting job for the rest of the season and was the QB10 from weeks 14 to 18. His play was much improved and the woeful Texans even won a couple of his starts. Now Mills is the starter again in 2022 with no one threatening his job. He has no rushing ability to speak of so the upside for Mills exclusively lies in the fact that his team had to throw the ball 58% of the time because they are constantly losing. The Texans have the lowest over/under according to DraftKings so this will likely be the case again. Temper expectations and do not blindly believe that he is the next Dak Prescott or Russel Wilson coming out of the 3rd round. His most likely outcome is that he is thrown out there and allowed to struggle before being replaced by a new QB in 2023. But, in the meantime Mills could be an occasional streaming option if he is able to improve on what was the best rookie QB performance from 2022.
Marlon Mack: Mack returned last year from an achilles tear that he suffered in 2020. Before the injury he was the RB20 and RB21 with the Colts in 2019 and 2020. Now Mack has joined the Texans for 2022 and will assumedly be the top option in a crowded backfield. In 2021 Mack was relegated to being a backup to Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines as he recovered from the achilles. Mack was given a few opportunities to see if he still had it and he did not look the same at all last year. The nature of an achilles injury is that it can zap the explosiveness out of a runner for years after surgery. In 2022 the Texans RB will test how quick a player can come back to form after the devastating injury. Mack only received a 1 year small money deal so it seems like the Texans are unsure how much he has left as well. He will have every opportunity to try to prove that he can make a comeback with no other established competition opposing him. If Mack gets his mojo back he could be a top-24 option because he would receive a lot of touches. But, there is an equal chance that he is not physically capable of doing much of anything in 2022.
Rex Burkhead: The long-time Bengal and Patriot is entering his second season with the Houston Texans. Burkhead will be 32 this season as he tries to extend his long career. In 2022 he’ll be thrown into the mix of a busy backfield that will probably be led initially by Marlon Mack. Mack will be recovering from a torn achilles that he suffered in 2020, so Rex should have the opportunity to snag the lead role like he did at the end of last season. As the primary RB for the Texans from weeks 12 to 18 Burkhead was the RB16. If he is given the opportunity Burkhead could supplant Macks as the lead back and produce as the team's number one option. Though, the aged back will likely not be able to take the physical toll from receiving a large amount of touches. Regardless, he could be the main option in the receiving game and goalline opportunities while still getting a number of carries. If Rex takes the starting spot from Mack, he could be an emergency RB3 on your bench, or more than likely just a bye week or injury fill in off the waivers. He might also quietly be a backup option in Houston.
Dameon Pierce: Welcome to one of the most baffling cases in fantasy football this year. Pierce was selected at the very beginning of the fourth round. This is not typically where you see good fantasy RBs taken because it means the team has very little commitment to using them. What makes Pierce a bit different, though, is that no RB on the Texans has any commitment from the team. In fact the only RBs signed for 2023 are Dare Ogunbowale and Pierce, and the highest paid RB this year is a 32 year-old Rex Burkhead at $1.6 million. If Pierce is the best RB there is absolutely no reason why they wouldn’t just make him their lead back. The odds of this happening are not that far-fetched either because Marlon Mack is coming off a torn achilles and Burkhead is almost old enough to be Pierce’s father. It’ll all come down to if Pierce is good enough or not. The rookie RB did not put up gaudy numbers at Florida because the coach inexplicably did not make him the workhorse back even though he was the highest rated runner according to PFF. Pierce profiles as a bruising three-down back that could demand the majority of work out of the backfield this year. He is a great end of draft sleeper or potential week 1 waiver pickup.
Brandin Cooks: Cooks is entering his third year with Texans and his ninth year in the league. All he has done since entering the NFL is produce and he is set up to do so again in 2022. Cooks has six 1,000 yard seasons under his belt at this point and he is going to be one of the only options to throw to this year. He had the 12th most targets last year with 133 and the Texans are looking like they will be playing catch up for most of this coming season as well. Davis Mills’ potential was a lone bright spot in the Houston season this past year. Cooks put up numbers last campaign with Mills slinging him the ball and he finished as the WR20 on the season. If Mills takes a step forward or just stays competent there is no reason Cooks can’t put up similar numbers or better. Cooks is a safe back-end WR2-WR3 for 2022 with guaranteed volume.
John Metchie: Metchie was taken in the middle of the 2nd round in 2022 by the Houston Texans. Metchie spent his college years trying to find playing time in one of the greatest WR rooms of all time. He was still able to produce some in his Junior year and really broke out in his final season. Sadly Metchie tore his ACL at the end of last year and is hoping to not miss too much time in 2022 but certainly will miss some. When he takes the field he’ll likely compliment Cooks nicely by playing in the slot for Houston. This should mean some decent volume. If Metchie can get practice and reps under his belt, with second round draft capital the Texans are certainly hopeful he’ll be a weekly producer. He could be a name to pay attention to off the waiver wire as 2022 goes on because the Texans will have to throw the ball a lot playing from behind.
Brevin Jordan: Jordan is an athletic TE that was taken in the 5th round by the Houston Texans. He only played 9 games last season but is a name to note because as a rookie he was able to produce 4 top-12 weeks in his limited time (ppr scoring). Young TEs are not supposed to contribute much of anything so Jordan exceeded expectations by doing this. Jordan also has a path to be the clear TE1 in the Texans offense. If Jordan can keep developing alongside his young QB Davis Mills, the Texans TE will benefit from the team constantly playing from behind and there being a lack of target competition.
Andrew Teuscher is a fantasy-football enthusiast and certified fantasy try hard.