How Deshaun Watson's absence will affect Hopkins, Fuller and Miller


That's the word that immediately came to mind when news broke that Texans QB Deshaun Watson had suffered a torn ACL during Thursday's practice. With the rookie quarterback headed for surgery and the team's signing of Matt McGloin, it's clear his incredible rookie season is over.

Since making his first start back in Week 2, Watson has been fantasy's top-scoring quarterback. The Clemson product was red hot as of late, having finished either first or second among quarterbacks in fantasy points in four consecutive games. In only 6½ games of work, Watson paced the NFL in passing touchdowns (19) and also led all quarterbacks with 269 rushing yards.

The Texans are averaging an NFL-high 3.3 offensive touchdowns per game, but the loss of Watson obviously means expectations for this team need to be adjusted considerably.

Week 1 starter Tom Savage will be at quarterback for this weekend's game against the Colts. With Savage and Brock Osweiler under center, the Texans ranked dead last in the NFL with 23 touchdowns (1.4 per game) during the 2016 regular season.

Savage has attempted only 105 passes and has yet to throw a touchdown since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2014. He's completed 60 percent of his attempts; his average depth of throw is 9.3 yards; and he's averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. That's a significant difference from Watson, who completed 62 percent of his passes, posted an 11.0 aDOT and averaged 8.3 YPA.

Needless to say, Watson's injury is extremely bad news for the fantasy prospects of both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V. The two wideouts rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in fantasy points among wide receivers during the four weeks Fuller has been active this season. Hopkins had been enjoying a revival, sitting second among wide receivers in fantasy points after the team's quarterback woes limited him to a 27th-place finish in 2016.

Having finished top 10 in targets each of the past two seasons and currently third in the league in the category, Hopkins is sure to still see a ton of volume moving forward. He's handled a massive 35 percent of the Texans' targets this season, and Savage has directed 34 percent of his career throws at Hopkins. Of course, the star receiver's efficiency will take a dive. He caught 62 percent of his targets and averaged 8.4 yards per target on throws from Watson, but his career marks with Savage are 46 percent and 5.7, respectively. Hopkins is now best viewed as back-end WR1.

Fuller, meanwhile, hit a season-high eight targets in Week 8 but is averaging only 5.5 targets per game on the season. Averaging 21.5 yards per reception and having scored on seven of his 13 catches, Fuller was already a candidate for a trip back to Earth in the near future. The move to Savage is crushing for his value, as Savage is significantly less likely to hit him on those big scoring plays. Barring a boost in targets, Fuller should produce no better than fringe top-30 numbers at the position.

Lamar Miller sits 13th at running back in fantasy points and has scored only four touchdowns while averaging a lowly 3.6 yards per carry this season. This news surely knocks him down a few pegs and into the RB2 mix. Considering that his efficiency issues have carried over from 2016, don't be shocked if rookie D'Onta Foreman takes on a larger role down the stretch.

Savage, meanwhile, will be an occasional streaming option in deeper leagues but doesn't have near the upside of Watson. At tight end, C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion) is expected to return in Week 10, but he won't be a TE1 option with Savage under center.

Hopkins, Fuller, Miller and even Ryan Griffin (in deeper leagues) are worthwhile starts in most formats this week against the Colts' struggling defense, but the loss of Watson is obviously bad news for their prospects moving forward this season.