Fantasy football players who miss out on the elite quartet of running backs can still make a pair of moves to boldly position for a championship. Selecting Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the first round isn't shocking. After all, Hopkins comes off a 2017 season that saw him catch 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns. Over the past three seasons, Hopkins has been targeted a whopping 518 times despite the offensive struggles of the Houston offense.
Fantasy football players who miss out on the elite quartet of running backs can still make a pair of moves to boldly position for a championship.
Selecting Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the first round isn't shocking. After all, Hopkins comes off a 2017 season that saw him catch 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns. Over the past three seasons, Hopkins has been targeted a whopping 518 times despite the offensive struggles of the Houston offense.
It's taking Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson next where pencils and jaws will drop.
Running backs have regained the upper hand atop most drafts and sound logic suggests waiting until the fourth or fifth round to consider a quarterback in standard leagues. In this case, throw logic aside and step out of the safe zone to roll the dice on what will be the best pass-catching duo available. Even with questions about his surgically-repaired knee, Watson is that good and has the potential to outpoint any running back not named Todd Gurley II, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson or Ezekiel Elliott.
High risk move? Why, yes, yet Watson averaged 43.2 fantasy points in his last five starts before tearing an ACL. Watson threw all but one of his 19 touchdown passes in that span, with six of those going to Hopkins, who averaged 95.6 yards and 9.4 targets per contest. With Watson at the helm, Hopkins averaged 16.2 fantasy points per game, giving them a combined total of 59.4 fantasy points between the duo.
Cornering the market on a QB-WR combo that potent is worth the risk, especially when fantasy players consider that the Texans open the regular season with five straight games against opponents (at Patriots, at Titans, vs. Giants, at Colts, vs. Cowboys) that were 21st or worse in fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. In a potential fantasy playoff scenario in Weeks 15 and 16, Houston gets the Jets (19th) and Eagles (24th), giving the gamble even more appeal.
Missing out on the top two tiers at running back means following up the Hopkins-Watson combo with a receiver such as Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals (or a tight end like the Eagles' Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce of the Chiefs), bolstering the team in a PPR format. The fourth round will unearth a solid back or two like Jordan Howard of the Bears.
If Watson is healthy and the Texans offense is that good, a fantasy title could be in sight.
CAUGHT IN A BIND
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (groin) will be out until late August, leaving his fantasy baseball owners in a major bind. There is some relief on the waiver wire, as Pirates backstop Elias Diaz has emerged as a solid hitter (.286 batting average, seven homers, 25 RBIs) and Omar Narvaez of the White Sox is quietly hitting .285 with modest power numbers.
There no such thing as completely replacing Sanchez, yet Diaz and Narvaez provide reasonable options to keep production sound behind the plate.
KEEPING UP WITH JONES
Youngster Erik Jones ($9,600/FanDuel, $8,400/DraftKings) snapped his four-race streak of top-10 finishes when he placed 16th in last week's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire but has a good opportunity to start anew in Sunday's Gander 400 in Pocono. Jones comes into the weekend having scored at least 21 points in seven of his last nine races.
Jones, who won at Daytona earlier this month, is a good sleeper pick as he seeks to end what has been an impressive July.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com