Stephanie Abbott

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JJ Watt: Productive Proven Commodity

It feels just like it was yesterday when the Texans had the number eleven pick in the 2011 draft. I was at the Texans draft party at NRG and we were ready for a playmaker. Then Roger Goodell delivered a blow to the party scene. The Houston Texans selected JJ Watt from the University of Wisconsin. Boos rang out as our team drafted a virtual unknown. Personally, I have never seen anything like it.

Watt, although perplexed by the boos, made a promise to Houston. His promise was that he would give Houston fans something to cheer about and all of himself. Eight seasons in, Watt has surpassed all expectations. After a few career-threatening injuries, Watt’s football mortality was often discussed nationally and locally. Would he ever be the same transcendent player he was before the back injuries and a freak plateau fracture? This season he has proven the critics and skeptics alike wrong. Not only has Watt maintained his his career averages, he has positioned himself yet again for an unprecedented fourth NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

According to Houston Texans PR, Watt is averaging .88 sacks per game, which is tops in NFL history since sacks became a stat. In only 99 games played for number 99, Watt is the leader or co-leader in five key all-time defensive categories: 20+ sacks seasons, DPOY awards, Player of the Month Awards, Player of the Week Awards, quarterback hits, and tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus shows that even though Watt missed almost two full seasons, he still leads the league in quarterbacks hits and sacks since 2011.

Watt is rapidly approaching another contract negotiation with the Texans. It goes without saying that the team will make it their mission for Watt to retire in a Texans uniform. It will become a broader conversation in years to come whether it makes good football sense, from a roster building prospective, but for now Texans fans will bask in the glory of having one of the top five greatest defensive players ever here in Houston. Much like Andre Johnson’s number 80, number 99 has become legendary in Houston, never to be worn again. The player many thought was past his prime is still wreaking havoc. Enjoy the ride Houston, because JJ Watt will be the Texans first first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Robert “Bob” McNair Dead at 81

Bob McNair, a Houston sports legend, died this evening at age 81 surrounded by his wife Janice and immediate family. Over the course of the last few years, Mr. McNair bravely fought various forms of skin cancer. Mr. McNair made his fortunes in energy. He epitomized hard work and excellence. He is also singlehandedly responsible for bring professional football back to Houston. For that we will proudly and boldly honor him.

If you have lived in Houston for a while, you remember when the Oilers left town in 1996. It was a sad moment for many football fans as they removed professional football from a state that prides itself in the sport. Bud Adams had threatened the move for years, but he was serious that time. For a while, Houston was devoid of football until 2002, when the NFL returned to Houston because of one man. While there were other people behind it, Bob McNair was the driving force in getting a team.

The team was called the Texans, and people instantly supported the team, while others still rooted for the team in Nashville. Fans watched as the Texans did the expansion draft to help build a team from scratch. They also saw the team pick up David Carr with the first overall pick that year. While success was hard to find early in franchise history, the Texans did make the playoffs in 2011. Over the years, the one thing the team seemed to lack was a real quarterback. That was until the team drafted Deshaun Watson. Bob McNair was instrumental in bringing the franchise quarterback to Houston. His guidance for the team will be sorely missed.

The Houston Texans organization released the following statement:

"It is with deep sadness that we announce Houston Texans Founder, Senior Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and philanthropist, Robert C. McNair passed away peacefully in Houston today with his loving wife, Janice, and his family by his side."

Mr. McNair will be known for his ownership of the Houston Texans but his impact far exceeds the football field. He and his wife Janice, with the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation, have given away tens of millions of dollars to make a great impact in Houston and the surrounding areas. In Mr. McNair’s own words, “If you're going to have a satisfactory standard of living, you're going to have to be competitive in this world. And you can't be competitive if you don't have a good education.” Educating people was his passion.

Mr. McNair often talked about getting older. His one desire was to see a Super Bowl trophy come to Houston. When it does he will be celebrating from a perch beyond the skies. This magical season has now taken on the spirit of its owner. We at Houston Preeminence extend our heartfelt condolences to the McNair family.

One Veteran's Story

It was 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night in 1992. I was five years old, had just started kindergarten, and was attending the first Texas high school football game that I can remember. During those years, it happened every year in Liberty County, Texas: the Dayton Broncos versus the Liberty Panthers. Only six miles separated these two deep-in-football-tradition towns. Back then there wasn’t a rivalry in this small county that could evoke so much emotion out of its players and fans alike. It was at War Memorial Stadium, where the X’s and O’s of football started to be ingrained in me by my grandfather, Harvey Charles Williams.

Harvey Charles was unlike anyone I’ve ever known. Those that knew him constantly talked about his smile, radiant personality, and love of all things black and gold. After deeper conversations with him over the last 30 years, I saw the scars he cared not to discuss. You see, my grandpa was drafted into military service for the Vietnam War. Like many other drafted young men, they put their hopes and dreams on hold for one of our most controversial wars. Papa never complained, though. He was proud of his military service. There were things about that time in battle that he wouldn’t speak about. I’ve learned that that is quite normal for veterans of war. He lost comrades and friends. Even though he came home, a part of him died in Vietnam.

He was a big dreamer. Once he told me that he dreamed of playing baseball professionally. He was an awesome pitcher with a fastball that was virtually unstoppable. Being in the still-segregated South, the opportunities were few. West Liberty High School is where he thrived in sports excellence. The old black high school still stands today, albeit unused. Riding by that building in Liberty, Texas, still reminds me how fortunate I was to be able to go to college and follow my dreams.

Harvey Charles was a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I know from many conversations that his bleeding of black and gold didn’t stop with the Liberty Panthers; it dictated his favorite pro team. Much like the local high school team, the Steelers gave my grandpa his weekly dose of pride in the fall.

I always carry at least one Steelers player on my fantasy team. This strategy was solely for my weekly football conversation with Papa. He didn’t care about about my love for all things fantasy; only how Antonio Brown was the reason I won the championship. I can hear him now: “Suga, you only win because you have them Steelers on your team.” I’d laugh while saying, “I know, Papa, but it’s all those Houston Texans too.” He supported my love for the Houston Texans; as long as it wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys, I was still deeply loved.

This football season is my first in my life without him. He passed away on January 31. Often brokenheartedly, I watch the Steelers highlights because, like him, I bleed black and gold to a certain extent. As I sit here on this Veterans Day, I am reminded that my favorite veteran is celebrating the festivities from a seat high above. There aren’t enough words to thank him for his service or for cultivating my love for sports. Today is somber in a lot of ways. It is a reminder that life is bigger than sports, but sports can also be the needed medicine for life.

Finally Julio!

Touchdown, Julio Jones! A drought that began 343 days ago, spanning 12 games, while racking up 115 Fantasy Points, is how long it took Jones to find the end zone for six. Toward the end of the fourth quarter Sunday, Jones took a bubble screen and cut up field for a 35-yard touchdown. As stated by ESPN Fantasy, since the start of the 2017 season, Jones leads wide receivers with over 2,000 yards. This season he has had five 100-yard games, but struggled in the red zone. This discrepancy mystifies fantasy owners everywhere concerning Jones’s lack of touchdown receptions during that time span. 

According to CBS Sports, Jones is the highest priced wide receiver in football averaging a cost of $8,000 on Draft Kings and FanDuel respectively. This outrageous purchase price finally paid dividends on Sunday as Jones caught his first touchdown since Rockstar by Post Malone was the #1 song on the Billboard charts. 

The question most owners are asking themselves is: “Is this the start of a trend or is it an anomaly?” Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons quarterback, conveniently forgets that he has a top five wide receiver In the red zone thus giving fantasy owners around the world anxiety about trusting his memory. For his career, Jones averages 96.2 receiving yards per game which is tops in the league since 2014, as stated by Pro Football Focus.

Heading into Cleveland this weekend, against a team that is struggling to find its identity, Jones and the Falcons offense should be feasting on the Dog Pound. However, Cleveland’s defense has shown flashes of competence. In 8 out of 9 games they have picked off the quarterback. Meanwhile, Ryan is doing an outstanding job protecting the ball this season. NFL.com highlights Ryan’s nineteen touchdowns to three interceptions. Those statistics reflect remarkable ball security. Pro Football Focus shows the Browns allow offenses to score an average of twenty eight points. Therefore, this game  should be another one where the Falcons pile on the points and Jones is able to cash checks in the end zone. 

For much of the last year, Jones has been a great option at WR1 or WR2. He amasses the yards that consistently rank him in the top ten of the position weekly. If Jones can manage to string together multiple games down the stretch with touchdowns, we could possibly be seeing another All-Pro season from the receiver. In fantasy terms that means wins, and we all know what wins mean... bragging rights and financial dividends. Cha-Ching! 

Fantasy Tidbits: 11/3/18

We have now found ourselves in the part of the season where multiple teams are on their byes and it is necessary to start your 3rd or 4th most ideal lineups. These are what I call the dog days of Fantasy. Here are some tidbits for Week 9.

Around the League

Lesean ‘Shady’ McCoy

Shady McCoy is not a good play against the Bears today. The Bears are the #3 rushing defense. They haven’t given up a rushing TD all season. The Bears are going to make Peterman beat them, and he won’t. At most I’d put McCoy in the Flex. If you have better options, bench him.

Phillip Rivers

Rivers is often forgotten about in fantasy leagues. It seems player fatigue is attached to him. Hasn’t he been playing for 20 years already? Rivers is only owned in 80% of leagues. If he is available in your league and you need a QB, he is a fantastic pick up. Today against the Seahawks should be a shoot out. Opposing QB’s are completing 66% of their passes against the former Legion of Boom. Rivers has 17 TD’s to 3 INT’s this season. The Seahawks have picked off 10 passes this season, but I don’t see Rivers turning the ball over for that to make a difference.

Hometown Fantasy Texans Versus Broncos

Phillip Lindsey

With Royce Freeman down, Phillip Lindsey will get all of the RB snaps against the Texans. All season, the Broncos have used a dual RB system with the two rookies. In limited time, with 50% of the offensive snaps or fewer, Lindsay has taken advantage of his opportunities. He is projected to rush for around 70 yards. The Texans do give up chunk running plays, but have only given up two rushing TD’s all season. That’s #2 in the league. I’d put Freeman on the bench or a Flex position. Personally, I’d stay away from the Bronco offense in fantasy today.

#4 (Watson) versus #4 (Keenum)

The battle of the #4’s isn’t really a battle at all. Watson is owned in 95% of leagues to Keenum’s 11%. Watson, in his de facto rookie season, is continuing to be a fantasy owner’s dream. Watson is completing 65% of his passes this season. In the first six games of the season, Watson was good for one interception every game. The last 2 games, Watson hasn’t turned the ball over to 6 TD’s.

When it comes to rushing, Watson averaged 40 yards per game the first 5 weeks. Since then, he has rushed for 29 yards in three games total. Watson has rushed 50% less the last two games. Billy O called a masterful game last Thursday. We will see if Watson stays in the pocket more. It will also be predicated on the OL. Chubb is hampered, but Miller is coming to feast. Watson is definitely a start in the QB1 position.

Keenum can only dream of Watson-type production. Despite having one of the best offensive lines in football, Keenum is playing very subpar. In three games this season, the Broncos don’t have a passing TD. Keenum has thrown an interception in every game this season. Expect the Texans safeties to be able to get a few INT’s. The Broncos traded one of their best and most durable offensive weapons this week, so expect lower production with the Broncos offense. The Texans have a weakness at corner due to injuries; if this offensive line can protect Keenum against the bull rush of the Texans star-studded defensive line, Keenum can go down field for some chunk plays. Keenum is not a good start in your league unless you have no other options. He is a bottom third QB this season.

Check back next Sunday morning for more Fantasy Tidbits. If you have any questions, find me on Twitter @MrsStephanieTA.