Houston Texans: 5 Biggest X-Factors entering the 2020 season

Gareon Conley #22, Lonnie Johnson #32 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Gareon Conley #22, Lonnie Johnson #32 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Darren Fells
Darren Fells #87 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

3. Darren Fells — Tight End

For most of his six-year career, Darren Fells has been an afterthought and a low-production tight end with a specific skill set. His stints in Arizona, Detroit and Cleveland were lackluster, never totaling more than 22 receptions, 315 yard, or three touchdowns in a season. He was able to break through for career highs in each of those categories during his first year with the Houston Texans, in which he managed 34 catches, 344 yards and an eye-popping seven touchdowns. Those statistics clearly don’t scream Pro-Bowler, but his value within the Houston offense cannot be understated, especially within the red zone.

Fells’ gargantuan 6’7, 270-pound frame makes him a mismatch against almost any defender, and with at least for other pass-catching weapons on the field around him, he will see a plethora of open looks. With Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, and Kenny Stills commanding attention downfield, Randall Cobb operating in the slot, and both Johnson running backs maneuvering the short passing game, who would be left to cover Fells in the middle of the field? His most successful plays last season came when Deshaun Watson extended the play, evading would-be tacklers or running fake QB draws, leaving Fells open for easy short-distance gains.

Darren Fells at 33 years old proved to be a luxury by ranking third among tight ends in terms of touchdowns. After being re-signed at 34 years old, Fells should not be slept on as an X-factor in the Texans offense.