Fantasy football drafts have been going on for a couple weeks now and will continue all of this week and into the early part of next week. It's truly one of my favorite times of the year getting together with friends from high school, or college, or work and talking a little smack, tossing back a cold one, and talking football. If you haven't had your draft yet, here is how I rank the value of the Texans key players. Along with my opinion on Texans players from a fantasy angle, Jim Butz from Suicide Fantasy Football will add his own thoughts.
Matt Schaub (13th QB) - On the low end, Schaub is a high-end backup, but he has potential for a lot more. Schaub was the 2nd best fantasy quarterback in 2009 when he led the league in passing yards. The Texans offense has changed since then so I wouldn't expect those numbers, but if he and Andre Johnson stay healthy, he should move from a high-end backup, to a low-end starter in standard ten team leagues.
Projected Stat Line: 3,850 passing yards, 25 TD/12 INT
Jim - "Schaub is a guy right outside the top 10. I have him ranked 11 in my latest rankings, making him a starter. His value depends almost solely on the health of his #1 WR, Andre Johnson. If Johnson plays 16 games at the level he played 2 years ago, Schaub will move up to the 6th or 7th QB. If Johnson stumbles through another season missing time and playing injured, Schaub could fall to the 15 or 16 range. "
Arian Foster (1st RB) - Foster ranked 1st in 2010 in fantasy points among running backs, and 4th in 2011 after missing three games and most of a 4th game due to injury and rest. Not only is Foster one of the most explosive runners in the league, he's also one of the best all-around backs in the league with his ability as a receiver. Opposing defenses may find a way some weeks to take away one aspect of his game, but he's almost never held under double digits in fantasy points. In the 12 games Foster played in full last year, he was held to single digit fantasy points only twice. Going back over the last two seasons, Foster has either topped 100 total yards and/or scored a touchdown in 25 of 29 games. He's as consistent as they come and I would take him number one in your fantasy draft. There is some concern over the right side of the Texans offensive line after losing Mike Brisel in free agency and cutting Eric Winston since the majority of Foster's carries went to that side, but neither player they lost was thought of very highly before joining the Texans; I believe it's more the system than it was those two players.
Projected State Line: 1,350 rushing yards, 625 receiving yards, 15 total touchdowns
Ben Tate (35th RB) - The third year back out of Auburn is probably the best backup running back in the league, which makes his value in fantasy drafts hard to pinpoint. He'll get carries, but his totals will likely fluctuate quite a bit making it hard to depend on him. Unless Foster misses a game, Tate will never be a lock for double digit points, but he did have two games with 100+ rushing yards as a backup last season. His best value is as a handcuff for people who draft Arian Foster, but if your league starts a flex position with a third receiver/running back, Tate will be a solid starter there most weeks depending on the matchup.
Projected Stat Line: 875 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns
Jim - "Ben Tate is the problem of anyone who drafts Arian Foster. You are going to have to handcuff him with Tate and that is going to cost you a 4th or 5th round pick. As someone who would not take Foster in a draft at the top 3, I would probably stay away from Tate unless you're trying to steal him from the guy who drafted Foster."
Andre Johnson (5th WR) - If Johnson didn't have any injury concerns, I'd probably rank him 2nd, but he's missed 12 games over the last two seasons and I wouldn't risk taking him in the first round for sure, and maybe not the second round. Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald have with out a doubt passed him, but if he stays healthy and has his average year, he'll hold on to the third spot. I wouldn't bet on that and would expect him to miss at least 2-3 games if I drafted him. If he misses any more, Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Hakeem Nicks, A.J. Green, and Brandon Marshall may also pass him up. Johnson is still a number one receiver in fantasy leagues, but his days of 100+ catches and 1,500+ yards are over.
Projected Stat Line: 1,225 yards, 7 touchdowns
Jim - "Andre Johnson has slipped, but in my mind so has Larry Fitzgerald. I think Calvin Johnson is head and shoulders above any other WR. The question is would you rather a question mark in health with Johnson or a question mark in QB talent with Fitz. I personally would take Andre Johnson ahead of Fitz, because I can't see a scenario on John Skelton or Kevin Kolb finding their inner Johnny Unitas. "
Owen Daniels (12th TE) - Daniels has slipped a little since his Pro-Bowl season in 2008 but he's still capable of being a starting tight end in 12 team leagues. His biggest weakness in fantasy in recent years has been finding the endzone; kind of a problem. In the three years Daniels has played a full season (2007, 2008, 2011), he's averaged 63 receptions, 769 yards, but only three touchdowns. If Schaub stays healthy, I think Daniels is inline for a big year, especially with Joel Dreessen not there to steal catches and touchdowns after leaving for Denver.
Projected Stat Line: 725 yards, 5 touchdowns
Texans Defense (4th DST) - Last season the Texans ranked 6th in sacks, 14th in interceptions, 4th in points allowed, and were a top five fantasy defense. Mario Williams only played in five games last season so his departure doesn't hurt their value at all in my opinion. The biggest thing that holds them back and keeps them at 4th or 5th and not 1st or 2nd is not forcing enough turnovers. Lesser defenses like Seattle who gave up 37 more points and 744 more yards scored more fantasy points because they forced more turnovers and scored more defensive touchdowns. Bottom line, the best defense in real life, isn't necessarily the best defense in fantasy.
Jim - "In leagues where you don't draft individual defensive players, the Texans are second only behind San Fran to me in Total Defense. I love JJ Watt as a playmaker. The Linebackers are strong across the board and I look for an old friend of ours Quintin Demps to make some noise in a battle with Danieal Manning."
Shayne Graham (10th K) - The veteran wasn't the expected starter at kicker, but I think he is capable of being a starter on your fantasy team. Several factors play in his favor with things I look for in a kicker besides overall talent. Graham plays his home games in a stadium with a roof that will almost always be closed and plays for a team with a high scoring offense giving him plenty of opportunities and no wind to deal with in a majority of his games.
Projected Stat Line: 30-35 FG Attempts, 42-43 XP Attempts