After beating up on a couple of over matched teams over the first two weeks, the Texans have their toughest test to date both on the field and for their players in terms of fantasy football. The Broncos are a tough team to figure out early in the season given the move made at quarterback and drastic change in style of play on offense from last last season and the up and down performances they've turned in so far this season. Before you set your lineup this week, check out my start 'em/sit 'em for week three.
Arian Foster - For most backs, the numbers Foster has put up so far through two games would look great, but the standards for the Texans star are much higher. Foster has averaged 94.5 rushing yards per game with three touchdowns during their first two games. The downside to those numbers, he's only averaging 3.5 yards per carry; Foster averaged 4.7 yards per carry over his first three seasons. Despite the drop in production, he's gone over 10 fantasy points in each game this season and remains a great fantasy option. This week Foster faces a rush defense that currently ranks 7th in yards allowed (71 yards per game), but they haven't faced any great running back yet with the Steelers injury problems at the position and Michael Turner having lost a step or two at the age of 30. Last year the Broncos ranked 22nd in rushing yards allowed which I believe is closer to their true ranking than seventh overall. The Broncos are undersized in their front seven and built more to rush the passer than stuff the run. At minimum, I expect Foster to rush for 75 yards and one touchdown; another double digit fantasy game.
Texans Defense - Atlanta forced four turnovers on Monday and really seemed to confuse Peyton Manning both with their late movement and their speed. The Broncos have issues with the interior offensive line and currently rank 21st in sacks allowed and 17th in QB hits allowed even with a quarterback who has a reputation of getting rid of the ball quickly. Through their first two games the Texans have three interceptions, six sacks, two fumbles recovered and have given up just 17 total points. The Broncos offense is obviously better than either team they've faced so far, but this isn't the Peyton Manning of five years ago that they'll be facing. I believe the Texans talented front seven will put pressure on Manning right up the middle, forcing one of the slower quarterbacks in the league to scramble, and will disrupt their offense and force at least one turnover, maybe two. In my opinion the Texans defense is without a doubt better than the Falcons defense and should have a good fantasy game this week.
Owen Daniels - He hasn't yet found the end zone this season, but led the team last week in both targets and receptions, finishing with six catches for 47 yards. The Jaguars played a lot of two deep safety looks and focused the effort of their defense around slowing down Andre Johnson. They accomplished that goal, but that left the middle of the field open for Daniels. Despite leading the team in receptions last week, he still finished the game under five fantasy points for the day in non PPR leagues. I would not start Daniels in a ten team league, but in a league of 12 teams, he's a decent option depending on the match-up of your other t tight ends. Daniels currently ranks 14th in my standard scoring league, but some of the guys ahead of him like Dante Rosario have scored all their points off of one game and will likely fall off. The Broncos have allowed 10+ fantasy points each week to opposing tight ends, they gave up four catches for 50 yards and one touchdown in week one to Heath Miller of the Steelers, and seven catches for 70 yards and one touchdown to Tony Gonzalez in week two. Daniels isn't posting monster numbers so far this season, but I like this matchup and at worst he's been Schaub's second leading target this season.
Andre Johnson - This is a soft start recommendation. Depending on your other options, I'd consider benching Johnson in 10 team leagues that only start two receivers; if your league has 12 teams or a WR/RB flex position than keep him active. The Broncos have allowed just two passing touchdowns this season and picked off five passes. I believe the Broncos defense is more vulnerable against the run and the Texans will likely lean heavily on the run to not only move the ball, but neutralize the Broncos pass rush. Johnson could still have a good day, Roddy White did against Denver last week, but I think the match-up makes starting him a gamble.
Shayne Graham - The veteran kicker has had plenty of opportunities this year and has made five of his six attempts so far. This weeks game taking place in the thinner air in Denver should also give him a boost; his only miss was from over 50 yards. Graham currently ranks 10th in fantasy points among kickers and remains a good start this week.
Matt Schaub - As I've said before, good players in real life don't always translate in fantasy football. Schaub has been accurate and led his team to two wins, but hasn't put up enough numbers to make an impact in fantasy football. Right now Matt Schaub ranks behind Ryan Tannehill and only above Jake Locker, Jay Cutler, Brandon Weeden, and Russell Wilson among quarterbacks who have started both games in my standard scoring fantasy league. Schaub will have good weeks and will ultimately finish in the top 10-12 among fantasy quarterbacks in my opinion, but he's not an automatic start this year. The Texans will lean heavily on their running game most weeks, especially when they have a big lead, which will hurt Schaub's fantasy performance. The Broncos have a great pass rush with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and a good corner in Champ Bailey making this a tough matchup for Schaub and a sit if you have him on your fantasy team.
Ben Tate - The third year back broke out with a big game last week after rushing for just six yards in week one. These up and down, Jeckyll and Hyde type performances will likely continue with his role as the Texans backup running back. When the Texans face teams with bad rush defenses or teams they'll likely blow out, Tate will be a good start with likely increased carries in garbage time, but that's not this week and I suggest that you keep him on your bench.
Kevin Walter/Keshawn Martin/Lestar Jean - Same as the last two weeks; none of these guys are targeted enough to warrant even owning on your fantasy team much less starting. So far this season the trio has combined for six catches and 59 yards receiving; keep them benched.