Keke Coutee: Volume-Based Waiver Wire Pickup (2020 Fantasy Football)
What happens when a team with a talented quarterback loses three of their four best wide receivers in consecutive weeks? That’s easy — one of their reserve options turns into a waiver-wire stud.
Heading into Week 13, the Texans were without Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills, who were averaging a combined 10.8 targets per game. So with them gone, Coutee was well-situated to earn a healthy chunk of volume, even though the Texans had made him a healthy scratch six times this year.
How did he do? Coutee ended up with nine targets last week, and he turned them into a career-high 141 receiving yards. The third-year wideout should be good for similar volume moving forward.
The Texans took Coutee in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A Texas Tech alum, Coutee had flashed upside with Patrick Mahomes in 2016, but he managed to build on his strong sophomore campaign the next year without him around. He averaged an impressive 15.1 yards per reception and scored 10 touchdowns in his final college season.
Unfortunately, his collegiate production hasn’t yet translated into the NFL. In 19 games, Coutee has caught 64 total passes for 720 yards and two scores. The Texans use him primarily as a short-yardage slot receiver; he averages just 11.3 yards per catch, and his average depth of target (aDOT) was just 5.1 yards in 2018 and 7.4 in 2019. It’s increased to 12.2 this season, but he’s still doing most of his damage out of the slot. He had played 61.3% of his snaps out of the slot heading into Week 13.
Also, Coutee’s averages are a bit skewed by the massive 64-yard pass he hauled in against the Colts.
Blessed be the waiver wire 🙏 pic.twitter.com/EuVr4LFQMn
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 6, 2020
While Coutee hasn’t done much for Houston to date, he is an impressive athlete. He has an 86th-percentile 40-yard dash time (4.43 seconds) and boasts a 67th-percentile agility score. That said, he’s a small guy, so you have to expect that kind of athleticism. His speed score, which ranks players’ speed relative to their size, is in only the 35th percentile. That’s right around some other big-name slot receivers, like Julian Edelman (27th) and Tyler Boyd (34th).
State of the Offense
Over the last few weeks, the Texans released Kenny Stills, lost Randall Cobb to injury, and lost Will Fuller to suspension. They now have just five receivers on their roster: Coutee, Brandin Cooks, Chad Hansen, Steven Mitchell, and Isaiah Coulter. The Texans made Coulter a healthy scratch for Week 13, too, so Coutee faced even less competition last Sunday.
The Texans attempt 33.5 passing plays per game, which isn’t a ton, and they attempted an above-average number of them against the Colts (38). That said, the 10.8-target hole in their offense is quite appealing, and Coutee is the likeliest wideout to benefit — for now.
Randall Cobb can return from injured reserve as soon as Week 15. The Texans placed him on IR with a “significant” toe injury before their Thanksgiving trip to Detroit. While no one has officially called it turf toe, some medical professionals have speculatively diagnosed him with the injury.
I think Randall Cobb is dealing with a turf toe injury.
Typically this can result in a 4-5 week absence and I think it’s possible he lands on IR as a result.
— Adam Hutchison PT, DPT (@TheRealAdam_H) November 24, 2020
Since turf toe can linger for a bit longer than just three weeks, Cobb’s status will be worth monitoring for Week 15 and beyond. Other players have missed at least four weeks with the injury this season, so there’s a good chance that we’ll get two more weeks of Coutee without Cobb in the lineup. Once Cobb gets back, though, it’ll be difficult for Coutee to produce, as both receivers do most of their work out of the slot.
So, while we don’t know when Cobb will get back, it’s fair to assume that he’ll miss at least two more games. That gives Coutee matchups with the Bears (Week 14) and Colts (Week 15), both of which field top-10 defenses against opposing wideouts. Though he did just torch the Colts.
Fortunately, Coutee’s slot-based workload makes those opponents less frightening. With Brandin Cooks likely to draw Kyle Fuller and Xavier Rhodes in those matchups, Coutee should see a healthy number of Watson’s targets. How much he can do with them is unclear, but if last Sunday was any indication, he should at least be a viable streamer when he plays Indianapolis again.
Coutee isn’t a league-winner. That said, he’s a smart plug-and-play option for the next two weeks, and he’s worth a temporary add in all formats.
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