The Houston Texans represent a virgin regarding the NFL Playoffs since their inception into the league in 2002. Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Texans fans have reason to believe that will change in 2008 and quite frankly I am on the bandwagon as well. The team has developing skill positions and a defense that has been built around DE Mario Williams (remember when everybody ridiculed the Texans for taking Williams over Reggie Bush?) and now features first round draft pick LB Brian Cushing out of USC. Basically, the Texans are trying to build a foundation whose main purpose is to stop Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts and I believe they are getting closer towards that objective. Furthermore, the Texans have multiple players who possess significant fantasy value including Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels. Let’s analyze the fantasy prospects for the Texans heading into 2009.
I have never really been sold on Schaub since his departure from Atlanta but I am slowly moving closer in that direction. Schaub is still not in my top 10 QB prospects but depending your particular draft strategy may represent someone that you hone in on come draft day. Schaub obviously has some nice weapons to work with and that improves his draft stock significantly. Johnson, in my opinion is the 4th best receiver in the NFL behind Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson and always posts amazing reception numbers. Johnson clearly is Schaub’s go to guy and there is nothing to say anything will change this year. Schaub has a cannon arm, and is getting much more adept at reading defenses and adjusting accordingly.
Furthermore, teams must respect Slaton with more defenders in the box thus allowing for more open lanes for Schaub to look down field. In summary, Schaub can be a low end number 1 fantasy QB for owners who utilize the drafting strategy of stockpiling RB’s and WR’s in the early rounds while waiting to get a QB in the later rounds. I am not a proponent of this strategy and do not think it is conducive to winning but as I have mentioned in other articles there are still plenty of ignorant fantasy owners who refuse to try anything different on draft day. As they say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. All in all though if you miss on one of the elite options at QB then Schaub is more than serviceable.
Slaton was a nice surprise for owners in 2009 similarly to Matt Forte and Chris Johnson bursting onto the scene with 1282 yards and 9 TD’s and he also chipped in with 50 receptions for 377 yards and 1 TD. I had the latter 2 ball carriers and they assisted me to a championship and Slaton followed suit by also helping countless owners to their leagues title. Needless to say I don’t think that Slaton will be there in the 10th-14th rounds which are probably where he was drafted in 2008. Where should Slaton be drafted in 2009? I don’t know if I am completely sold on Slaton yet but that is not saying much because I am not really sold on any of the top tier RB’s with the exception of Adrian Peterson and MJD. Bottom line is that Slaton will be picked somewhere in the late 1st round/early 2nd round and that will be good value for him. Personally if I am picking in the 8-12 range where Slaton would be a viable option I will most likely end up taking Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson.
Regarding the Texans receiving corps the focus lies with Johnson, Walter, and Daniels all of whom are viable fantasy options heading into 2009. Johnson is without question one of the top 5 WR’s in the NFL today but he is towards the bottom of that list for me on account of a couple variables. I have had Johnson a couple times throughout the years and both instances he has let me down be getting hurt and missing a lot of time and as a result I have avoided Johnson recently on draft day. Furthermore, Johnson piles up massive amounts of catches and yardage but never seems to score that much as evidenced by his career high 8 TD’s in 2008. I like Johnson but not nearly as much as I like Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, and Calvin Johnson all of whom have proved to be TD machines during their careers. Obviously however, you can’t go wrong with A.
Johnson as a number one fantasy WR as long as he stays healthy. Walter represents a WR that everyone seems to be afraid of and yours truly was a prime example of this last year. I drafted Walter late in last years draft and I watched him score TD’s from my bench week after week while suffering through the inadequacies of Jericho Cotchery from the Jets. For some reason last year I just couldn’t pull the trigger playing Walter more often even though he far outshined Cotchery in terms of numbers. The few occasions I did play Walter last year he did nothing but whenever he was on my bench (which was often) he produced in a big way. Don’t kid yourself as Walter is entrenched as the number 2 WR on a potent offense with a good QB. Moreover, having Johnson on the other side helps Walter out immensely as he constantly faces single coverage. Consider Walter as and excellent number 3 WR or Flex option in drafts this summer and if you get him late he is an absolute steal. At this time no other Texans WR warrants a draft selection this August.
Daniels is another overlooked option for most fantasy owners despite putting up good stats year after year and despite making his first Pro Bowl in 2008. Daniels caught 70 balls for 862 yards but only had 2 TD’s to show for all of his production. There lies owners concern with Daniels. He just doesn’t score that much so a lot of his catches and yardage totals go for naught. However, Daniels remains one of Schaub’s main targets and you have to think that the TD’s will increase and if they do Daniels will be a fantasy stud. In the very least Daniels is a very nice fantasy option if you miss on one of the elite TE’s such as Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, or Antonio Gates so keep him in mind on draft day.
Remember when everyone was ridiculing the Texans for taking Williams over Bush? Well, who is laughing now? I believe that would be Charlie Casserly and his former team the Texans because Williams is a Pro Bowler and Bush is rapidly approaching the term bust. The Texans have been improving their defense year after year in an effort to stop Manning and the Colts and I believe that they are getting closer. They continued that trend this year by drafting USC LB Brian Cushing with their number 1 selection in this year’s draft. Cushing and Williams along with DeMeco Ryans fortify a defense that is quickly becoming a unit to monitor especially if you are combing the waiver wire looking for a stop gap DST solution.
In summary, the Texans are a rapidly improving team on both sides of the ball and have no shortage of players who could greatly assist your fantasy team in some capacity come this fall. Next up: The Tennessee Titans.
Chris Limburg is the fanatical purveyor of gothicfootball.com: A Oakland Raider and fantasy football blog that provides commentary on everything that is the NFL and fantasy football. Sign up for my free newsletter at: http://www.gothicfootball.com