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NFL breakout players 2018: Texans TE Stephen Anderson should take a big leap with Deshaun Watson

Anderson can build off a promising 2017 now that Watson is healthy again.

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Texans backup tight end Stephen Anderson had a pretty good year in a bad offense last season. Of course, the only reason why the offense was so bad was because Deshaun Watson only played seven games due to injury. With Watson back in this season, I’m expecting Anderson to take a big leap forward with his production.

Anderson switched to tight end from wide receiver his last year at Cal. He appeared to still be adjusting to that change last season, his second year in the NFL. He’s a little light in the ass at 6’2 and 230 pounds which makes it harder for him to make the kinds of blocks bigger tight ends traditionally make.

In a practical sense, Anderson is built more like an H-back, but Houston used him quite a bit in traditional tight end blocking roles last year. He had his issues trying to not get blown up by defensive linemen, but he gave it all he had, which has to count for something I suppose.

When he had to make blocks on the second level and out in space against linebackers and secondary guys that are more in line with an H-back role, Anderson actually held his own pretty well, though, and his effort was good no matter what he was asked to do.

While his blocking could certainly be better, Anderson’s real value to the team is obviously as a receiving threat.

He’s straight-line fast and he can get up the field in a hurry, as he showed on several passes up the seam last year. Anderson is athletic enough to line up out wide or in the slot and get open against linebackers and safeties, which can make him a matchup problem when he sharpens up his route running a little bit.

The more he played last season, the more comfortable he looked in the passing game, especially when it came to knowing where to sit down in zones in order to get open.

Last year, Anderson came into the season as the third-string tight end, behind starter C.J. Fiedorowicz and backup Ryan Griffin, and still managed to come up with 25 catches for 342 yards and a touchdown with cats like Tom Savage and T.J. Yates throwing him the football. With Fiedorowicz’s retirement this offseason due to recurring concussions that limited him to only five games last season, Anderson has an opportunity to become an even bigger part of the offense this year.

And with Watson throwing him the football, I’m expecting his production to make a huge jump this season.

Confidence level: Low