NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: DeAndre Hopkins trade leaves gaping hole in Texans offensive projections

The Houston Texans needed a running back. Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller are both free agents. It’s an NFL mandate that Duke Johson receive no more than 175 touches in a given year. They definitely needed a running back. But they probably need one bad enough to trade away their best offensive player. They did just that on Monday, dealing DeAndre Hopkins (and a pick) for David Johnson (and better picks). The result is a facelift for their offense.

More than 28% of the Texans targets over the past half decade have gone to Hopkins. Currently in line to fill that void are Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee. For that reason, I believe the Texans must plan on acquiring at least one more weapon in the passing game. Neither Fuller or Stills has ever shown the ability to earn significant targets, and Fuller’s injury history is long enough to convince even the most skeptical that injury-prone is a real thing. 

I did boost the target share for both Fuller and Stills. Fuller is now a No. 2 receiver with 115 targets in my projections. But remember that’s a 16-game projection. He’s never played more than 14 games in an NFL season.  

As for David Johnson, in the running game I think it’s fair to project a similar workload as to what Carlos Hyde saw in 2019. I still think Johnson is a better runner than Hyde, but the gap between them isn’t as big as it once was. Hyde received 56% of the team’s rush attempts last year, but only 3% of their targets. That’s because of Duke Johnson. I don’t have a strong lean as to which Johnson will receive the most targets, so I’m splitting the baby for now. It is possible the Texans have both of them on the field to help make up for the loss of Hopkins.

This makes Johnson a low-end No. 2 running back. There’s a lot of upside and risk at that cost. 

Finally, this trade is a mess for Deshaun Watson. Here’s my new projection for him and the rest of the Texans as of March 16.

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