Fantasy Team Previews: Houston Texans
Dec. 7 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Dec. 14 at Indianapolis Colts
Dec. 21 Baltimore Ravens
Dec. 28 Jacksonville Jaguars
The final four games of the season should provide a solid measuring stick to the direction new head Coach Bill O’Brien has the Texans heading. The biggest disappointment in the NFL last season was Houston, whom many had pegged to win the AFC. The season started well, as they Texans began 2-0 before losing 14 straight. QB Matt Schaub‘s horrible play, including an NFL record SIX consecutive games tossing a pick-six, cost both Schaub and Gary Kubiak their jobs in the Lone Star State.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback to start the season, Bill O’Brien will rely on his running game and that means Arian Foster. They will also utilize multiple tight ends but allowed Owen Daniels to escape to Baltimore. Despite wanting a trade out of Houston, WR Andre Johnson and his 12, 661 career receiving yards return to hopefully do damage to opposing secondaries. Johnson, when healthy, remains a top-10 fantasy receiver. He will have help if DeAndrea Hopkins, a second-year wideout from Clemson, is able to play a more consistent role and score more. Through his first nine games as a rookie, Hopkins grabbed 37 balls for 539 yards and two scores. In the final seven outings he had only 15 receptions for 263 yards and no TD’s. Hopkins can be a top-20 WR at his position if he can improve his route running and focus.
Instead of buying into the QB hype that surrounded the 2014 NFL Draft, with the No.1 overall pick, the Texans selected DE / OLB Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina. He will join the JJ Watt, who is a pillar on the other end of the Texas seventh raked defense. On the flip side, the defense surrendered 26.8 points, tied for 24th in the NFL. Houston didn’t help offset their turnover prone offense as they forced just 11 takeaways in 2013, worst in the NFL.
The Texans Randy Bullock was one of the worst kickers in the league last season. Only Garrett Hartley and Sebastian Janikowski converting at a lower rate than Bullock’s 74.3 mark. Bullock was mainly weak from long distance, hitting 12-of-17 attempts from 40-49 yards and going 1-for-5 from 50-plus.
Best Fantasy Player:
After averaging 372 touches from 2010-2012, Arian Foster finally broke down in 2013. Foster was cleared to return in April after undergoing back surgery. At 28, Foster remains a three down back and while he may not duplicate his 17 TD’s from 2012, a 30 percent drop would still give Foster a dozen end zone strikes making him still very much a valuable top of the rounds selection.
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC North, NFC East
Swing Games: Buffalo, at Oakland
Opponents ’13 Record: 44.1% (30th)
The Texans will face three playoff teams (four games) all season long in 2014 and three of them will take place at home. Swing games with Buffalo and Oakland are early in the year and should be wins for Houston. Four games with Tennessee and Jacksonville offer opportunity as well. Package that with the AFC North and NFC East and Houston doesn’t have a guaranteed loss on the entire schedule.