HOUSTON TEXANS (11-6)
New faces: OTs Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, Max Scharping, WR Kenny Stills, DE Barkevious Mingo, OLB Jacob Martin, RBs Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, DE S Tashaun Gipson, CBs Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Bradley Roby, Lonnie Johnson, Jr. and Keion Crossen, QB AJ McCarron, TE Kahale Warring.
Key losses: GM Brian Gaine, DE Jadeveon Clowney, CB/S Kareem Jackson, S Tyrann Mathieu, TE Ryan Griffin, CB Kevin Johnson, WR Demaryius Thomas, S Andre Hal, RB Lamar Miller, OLs Julien Davenport and Martinas Rankin, CB Johnson Bademosi.
Strengths: QB Deshaun Watson started every game last year in second NFL season and put up big numbers despite being sacked NFL-leading 62 times. Now that Texans added franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil in trade with Miami and got OL Tytus Howard in first round of draft, Watson and offense featuring star receiver DeAndre Hopkins should be able to take another step forward and be one of most dynamic offenses in league. To do that they’ll need Johnson and Hyde to step up and fill void left when Miller sustained season-ending knee injury in preseason.
Weaknesses: The loss of disgruntled defensive star Clowney, who was traded to Seattle, big blow to front featuring J.J. Watt that was among strongest in league last season. Without his presence up front, there will be more pressure on secondary that has questions after team let Mathieu and veteran Jackson go in free agency.
Fantasy Players To Watch: WR DeAndre Hopkins. Ranked third in NFL with career-high 1,572 yards receiving last season. Could put up even bigger numbers in 2019 in third season with Watson. WR Will Fuller had 523 yards receiving and seven TDs in just seven games before season-ending knee injury. Fourth-year player healthy and poised for big season after struggling with injuries past two years.
Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl 45-1. Over/under wins 8½.
Expectations: Texans made playoffs for third time in four seasons last year, but coach Bill O’Brien, who will also serve as general manager this year after Gaine’s dismissal, needs to do more than simply make postseason in sixth season in charge. Watson and offense starring Hopkins and Fuller and with new addition Stills should improve behind stronger line. And if defense can overcome loss of Clowney and Watson continues development, Texans could be much better than last season as they try to make deeper playoff run.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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