[T]his offseason Strong has looked, quite literally, like a completely different player, showing up at 197 pounds. Yes, we know that the offseason is the perfect time for a host of “best-shape-of-his-life” stories, but a receiver dropping 33 pounds — 14 percent of his body weight! — is amazing and worth noting.
“He’s a guy that a year ago today,” I was concerned about him from a conditioning standpoint,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “I just didn’t know what type of condition he was in. It wasn’t very good. He really at some point in time before training camp, he came back and passed the conditioning test and really took off after that.
“He contributed in some games last year. He had a really good offseason. He’s in really good shape. He’s playing well. Hopefully it continues. He’s a guy that we’re definitely counting on.”
Though Strong’s weight loss is news to many, it isn’t recent. As 14Team Mocker noted in February, Strong was already losing weight last offseason and throughout the season, because that’s what the coaching staff wanted. And apparently they’re happy with his current physique.
Luckily for Strong, we didn’t love him because of his waist line. We (and by “we,” I mostly mean Jon Moore) loved him because of his overweight college production. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s young — just three months older than rookie teammate Will Fuller.
14Team Mocker still loved Strong in February, especially because he was dirt cheap. And that was before the Texans drafted two WRs and Strong got pinched for marijuana possession. On the other hand, Justin Winn cautions that Strong’s story looks much like Cody Latimer‘s.
I’m more interested in how a the Texans’ new WR corps affects DeAndre Hopkins. Folks are already worried because of Hopkins’s first- and second-half splits. When the Texans started winning games and running fewer plays, Hopkins went from Antonio Brown-like targets and production to merely Allen Robinson-like targets and production.
Hopkins is likelier to settle in to a 10 target per game pace than revert to an absurd 14 targets per game. But a skinny Strong and speedy Fuller probably don’t change much. Per the Fantasy Efficiency App, Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts met expectations, averaging roughly zero fantasy points over expectation per target over 169 combined targets. Nothing spectacular, but good enough that we shouldn’t expect Fuller and Strong to blow them out of the water.