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Houston Texans

DeMeco Ryans talking up his receiving trio

The Texans might have the most compelling wide receiver group in the league. They’ve got three good ones, and it can be debated which of the group will finish with the best numbers.

I understand that Houston has traded for Stefon Diggs, but they’ve got a couple of quality holdovers. Both Nico Collins and Tank Dell were a lot more effective than Diggs last year. (Especially in the second half of the season, with Diggs’ role declining after the Bills switched coordinators.)

To me, Collins looks like a franchise-type guy. I’m definitely selecting him before Diggs. And Dell was awfully explosive last year before he got hurt. I’m not sure he won’t be better than Diggs also.

We just finished the Experts Poll for the magazine, with a 20-man field of industry experts and contest winners chiming in with their top 20 at each position. Collins came out higher than Diggs in that endeavor. Half of the 20 ranked Collins higher than Diggs, while five ranked Diggs higher (and five, if my math is correct, including neither among their top 20 receivers).

In the Experts Poll, 13 including Collins in their top 20, while only nine included Diggs. Only one vote for Dell (and it came from reader Dennis Thomas, who was the 2nd-place finisher in the Blackout Competition last year).

DeMeco Ryans, in an article in the Houston Chronicle, confirms that all three will play.

“You want different body types, different type of movers to cause as many problems for a defense as possible, right?” Ryans says. “We want to put defenses in binds, and I think with those three guys it allows us to do that because they are so different, and they can all do different things.”

Diggs, I’m thinking, will be more of a contributor rather than a main guy.

“It’s been fun to work with him. It’s been fun just to see the chemistry that starts to build in our locker room with him, our quarterback, the other receivers, offensive players, defensive players,” Ryans said of Diggs. “He’s going to be a really great fit with what we do here.”

As far as 2023 effectiveness, Diggs wasn’t as good as Collins or Dell last year. Diggs caught 107 passes, but he averaged only 7.4 yards per pass attempt (that’s including not only catches but also incompletions – yards per target). There were 58 wide receivers last year who saw at least 75 targets, and all but 16 of them finished with better averages than Diggs.

Collins and Dell, on the other hand, finished with high yards-per-target averages. Collins finished up at 11.9 – over a yard better than everyone except Brandon Aiyuk. And Dell finished in 14th of the 58 receivers in this group, averaging 9.5 yards per pass.

Note that the receiver ranking next-to-last on this chart also comes from the Texans – Robert Woods. He’s likely the guy Houston was thinking of when it traded for Diggs. If they can get more out of that third spot, that could be what really elevates this offense.

Note that both Collins and Dell last year averaged at least 4 more yards per catch than Diggs. The thinking with this trade could be to have Diggs replace Woods as their primary short-yardage guy. (Woods averaged only 10.7 per reception last year).

(I will not be selecting Diggs this year; he’s on my list of players where I’m operating under the assumption there will be owners in every league who draft him expecting him to be a lot better than what I’ve got him budgeted for.)

1.Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.105751,34217.9712.8
2.• Nico Collins, Hou.109801,29716.2811.9
3.George Pickens, Pitt.106631,14018.1510.8
4.Justin Jefferson, Min.100681,07415.8510.7
5.Tyreek Hill, Mia.1711191,79915.11310.5
6.DJ Moore, Chi.136961,36414.2810.0
7.Deebo Samuel, S.F.896089214.9710.0
8.Amari Cooper, Cle.128721,25017.459.8
9.Jaylen Waddle, Mia.104721,01414.149.8
10.Darius Slayton, NYG795077015.449.7
11.CeeDee Lamb, Dall.1811351,74913.0129.7
12.Rashid Shaheed, N.O.754671915.659.6
13.DeVonta Smith, Phil.112811,06613.279.5
14.• Tank Dell, Hou.754770915.179.5
15.DK Metcalf, Sea.119661,11416.989.4
16.Puka Nacua, LAR1601051,48614.269.3
17.Christian Kirk, Jac.855778713.839.3
18.Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.1641191,51512.7109.2
19.Mike Evans, T.B.136791,25515.9139.2
20.A.J. Brown, Phil.1581061,45613.779.2
21.Gabe Davis, Buff.814574616.679.2
22.Rashee Rice, K.C.1027993811.979.2
23.Jerry Jeudy, Den.875475814.028.7
24.Tee Higgins, Cin.764265615.658.6
25.Courtland Sutton, Den.905977213.1108.6
26.Jayden Reed, G.B.946479312.488.4
27.Jordan Addison, Min.1087091113.0108.4
28.JaMarr Chase, Cin.1451001,21612.278.4
29.Keenan Allen, LAC1501081,24311.578.3
30.Diontae Johnson, Pitt.875171714.158.2
31.Drake London, Atl.1106990513.128.2
32.Chris Olave, N.O.138871,12312.958.1
33.Brandin Cooks, Dall.815465712.288.1
34.Zay Flowers, Balt.1087785811.157.9
35.Chris Godwin, T.B.130831,02412.327.9
35.Josh Downs, Ind.986877111.327.9
36.Cooper Kupp, LAR955973712.557.8
37.DeAndre Hopkins, Ten.137751,05714.177.7
38.Jakobi Meyers, L.V.1067180711.487.6
39.Terry McLaurin, Was.132791,00212.747.6
40.Calvin Ridley, Jac.136761,01613.487.5
41.Adam Thielen, Car.1371031,0149.847.4
42.Stefon Diggs, Buff.1601071,18311.187.4
43.Michael Pittman, Ind.1561091,15210.647.4
44.Tyler Lockett, Sea.1227989411.357.3
45.K.J. Osborn, Min.754854011.337.2
46.Demario Douglas, N.E.784956111.507.2
47.Romeo Doubs, G.B.965967411.487.0
48.Tyler Boyd, Cin.986766710.026.8
49.Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Sea.936362810.046.8
50.Curtis Samuel, Was.91626139.946.7
51.Wan'Dale Robinson, NYG78605258.816.7
52.Davante Adams, L.V.1751031,14411.186.5
53.Jahan Dotson, Was.834951810.646.2
54.Garrett Wilson, NYJ168951,04211.036.2
55.Elijah Moore, Cle.1045964010.926.2
56.Marquise Brown, Ari.1015157411.345.7
57.• Robert Woods, Hou.754042610.715.7
58.Jonathan Mingo, Car.85434189.704.9

—Ian Allan

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