If we were to compare NFL teams to NBA franchises, the Houston Texans would be the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have a big three in Arian Foster/Andre Johnson/Matt Schaub and appear to be the next team on the rise to elite. Despite an injury-riddled 2011, Houston went 10-6 and made the playoffs for the first time in the young franchise’s history.
Here are the guys in Houston that you should have on your list come time to do the fantasy draft.
*Credit to Cold Stone Creamery for inspiring the categories for this set of fantasy previews. However, I cannot guarantee the fantasy players will live up to high expectations like their delicious ice cream does.
GOTTA HAVE THEM (Elite Category – These guys are must have for any fantasy team)
RB Arian Foster (2011 Finish: 4th ranked RB at 14.9 points per game)
Sure you can make a case for the Ravens Ray Rice or the Eagles LeSean McCoy at number one in fantasy drafts, but you then must admit you’re drinking the Foster haterade. Foster is not only bigger and more physical than both Rice and McCoy, he’s simply the best all-around back in the league (better catching ability than AP). Even though he missed a few weeks in 2011, he’s still been the league’s best fantasy back on a per-game basis in each of the past two seasons. Last season, the Texans trailed only the Tebow-led Broncos in rushing yards per game with 153.0 and led the league with 34.1 attempts per game. I wouldn’t expect them to repeat those numbers with a healthy Andre Johnson/Matt Shaub and loss of Eric Winston on the right side of the line, but they shouldn’t veer too far away. If Foster doesn’t go #1 in your league, jump for joy at number two or three, no matter the format.
WR Andre Johnson (2011 Finish: 67th ranked WR at 3.6 points per game)
Johnson burned owners in 2011 while dealing with some serious hamstring and knee injuries which has resulted in most experts knocking him out of the elite receiver class. I say not so fast because he’s still the AFC’s best wideout and should flourish with teams zoning in on Foster. Dependability hasn’t been a huge problem with him in the past and while he has missed 19 games over the past five years, Johnson is freakish enough to overcome almost any injury and play through pain. Heck, if you can get Johnson in the second or even third round, anyone should be happy with that.
LOVE THEM (These guys are game-changers who are a breakout season or two from becoming elite)
QB Matt Schaub (2011 Finish: 20th ranked QB at 9.4 points per game)
Here’s another guy I’m hoping can avoid another injury because 2012 could be a return to the 4,000 yards and 20+ touchdowns passing he threw in 2009 and 2010. With the running game not being as dominant as last season (due to loss of Winston), I think a healthy Johnson and Schaub will bring a little more balance to the Texans’ offense. Plus, Schaub is expecting to go in the eighth round and could be insurance or tradebait for one of the better quarterbacks who go down early in the season.
LIKE THEM (These guys are solid fantasy options who should help any fantasy team win)
RB Ben Tate (2011 Finish: 28th ranked RB at 7.2 points per game)
Tate is 2012′s ultimate handcuff. He’s skilled enough to fill in for Foster if needed (942 yards on 175 carries in 2011) and will be a running back lingering around in the eighth or ninth rounds of most fantasy drafts. It will also be interesting to see how many non-Foster owners pick up Tate just to piss off those who do own Foster. However, in deep leagues, Tate would be a great running back to have on your bench.
TE Owen Daniels (2011 Finish: 16th ranked TE at 5.0 points per game)
Putting my Wisconsin Badgers bias aside, Daniels seems to always be a sleeper pick at the tight end position and has yet to come through. For the first time in a while, he was healthy in 2011, but was plagued by not having Andre Johnson or Matt Schaub healthy for a significant portion of the year. If you’re still looking for a tight-end in the 12th or 13th rounds, you can do a lot worse than Daniels.
OUT OF STOCK (These guys can not yet be counted on to bring greatness to a fantasy team)
WR Kevin Walter
WR DeVier Posey
QB T.J. Yates
What do you think of the 2012 Houston Texans Fantasy Outlook? Did I miss anything or was it pretty spot on? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
More TSB Fantasy Team Previews:
Arian Foster (http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/m4K8nPLyrf3/Tennessee+Titans+v+Houston+Texans/HVeOxJQ-6Ew/Arian+Foster)
Andre Johnson (http://newspaper.li/andre-johnson/)