The failures don’t all fall on the offensive line. The Texans’ two qualified rushers, Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay, have both gained fewer yards than expected by Next Gen Stats tracking data. Lindsay has run 9.6 actual yards for every yard gained, which is league’s highest average by a wide margin. The second-least efficient running back, Las Vegas’ Kenyan Drake, has run 6.6 actual yards for every yard gained — three full yards fewer than Lindsay. This matches up with the eye test, as six of Lindsay’s 20 carries have not advanced past the line of scrimmage, with him often seeking to bounce runs outside only to find no hole.
The Texans RBs aren't really a highly-desired play by most fantasy managers anyway, but this confirms the struggles. The story pointed out the team does face a lot of "eight-in-the-box" formations by defenses looking to stop the run, and those defenses have proven to be good against the run the rest of the season too. For a while this offseason, it looked like Lindsay would be the team's primary ball carrier but that hasn't happened and doesn't seem to be in the cards based on his early struggles.
HOU RB Phillip Lindsay - 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook
Phillip Lindsay agreed to a one-year deal with the Texans worth $3.25 million with $1 million guaranteed. Lindsay joins veterans David Johnson and Mark Ingram (along with Buddy Howell and Dontrell Hilliard) on Houston's depth chart. The Texans' running game of Johnson and backup Duke Johnson struggled in 2020 and the Texans' running game was ranked last in the NFL in Football Outsiders' DVOA. Johnson was released earlier in the offseason. Lindsay, who made the Broncos' roster as an undrafted free agent in 2018, rushed for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl. He followed that up with another 1,000-yard season in 2019, rushing for 1,011 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite his success, the Broncos signed running back Melvin Gordon to a two-year, $16 million contract in free agency the following offseason.
His production dipped to 502 yards and a touchdown in 2020 due to having to share the load with Gordon and a combination of injuries that ultimately landed him on injured reserve.
2021 Bottom Line
Now that Lindsay finds himself in a three-way split, fantasy managers are going to have a difficult time assessing value in advance of the season -- an issue that will likely continue well into the season. But if, at the end of the season, Lindsay is the most productive Texans running back will anybody be shocked?