Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Joe

Joe's Articles

2006 Coaching Changes
Fantasy Impact: HOU

Team: Houston Texans
Previous Head Coach: Dom Capers (2002-2005)
New Head Coach: Gary Kubiak (DEN OC: 2003-2005; OC/QB Coach: 1995-2002; 49ers QB Coach: 1994)

Having spent the last eleven seasons in Denver, Gary Kubiak returns to his roots as head coach of the Houston Texans. His first experience as a coach in the NFL came in 1994 working with Steve Young as the 49ers quarterbacks coach. Young went on to throw 35 touchdowns that season, at the time a career high, and led the 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl title. The following season Kubiak left the San Francisco area to work in Denver, where he had previously spent nine seasons as a backup quarterback (1983-1991).

Mike Shanahan was in his first season as head coach of the Broncos that year, and hired Kubiak to be his offensive coordinator. Along with his responsibilities of running the offense, Kubiak doubled as the team's QB coach. It would take just three seasons before the Broncos' new regime won their first Super Bowl in 1997. The following year they defended their title, and repeated as Champions before Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway decided to call it a career.

In the seven seasons since, Kubiak has run an offense led by Brian Griese (1999-2002) and Jake Plummer (2003-2005). He has also used a myriad of running backs, ranging from the likes of Olandis Gary to Clinton Portis, to keep the Broncos offenses among the better units in the league. In Houston, Kubiak has some talented offensive players already in place, but he'll need the O-line to perform much better than it has in the past if the offense is to be successful.

Kubiak's Impact on the Offense

Quarterbacks: David Carr; Sage Rosenfels

With Kubiak in Houston, expect David Carr to be protected better than he was in 2005. The Texans O-line allowed 68 sacks last year, worst in the league, and as a result Carr's production was limited. A quarterback himself at the NFL level, Kubiak understands the importance of protecting the position. Not only will he rely on better blocking from the men up front to protect his QB, but the play action passes and bootleg rollouts incorporated into the offense should also keep Carr on his feet more often. After allowing 14 sacks more than any other team in the league last year, you should see a dramatic improvement from the Texans O-line in that category in 2006. That said, allowing 40-50 sacks this season would still rank them among the worst in the league.

Carr may not have a breakout season, but the new offensive approach, along with the addition of Eric Moulds to the wide receiver corps, should prove beneficial. Jake Plummer finished last season with 3,336 yards passing and 18 touchdowns while playing in Kubiak's system. He also scrambled 46 times for 151 yards and two more scores. Expecting Carr to produce statistics similar to those of Plummer's 2005 season is reasonable. Carr has never rushed for less than 151 yards since entering the league. With the number of rollouts he'll have this season, expect him to rush for over 275 yards for the third time in his four-year career. His passing totals should climb back over the 3,000-yard mark and he could also crack 20 touchdown passes for the first time in his career.

Running Backs: Domanick Davis; Antowain Smith; Vernand Morency; Wali Lundy

The Texans passed on the opportunity to select Reggie Bush with the number one pick in the draft, thereby cementing Domanick Davis as the team's featured back. While there are some durability concerns that surround Davis, he has managed to run the ball 230 or more times in each of his first three NFL seasons. He has totaled 3,195 yards rushing over that period, but his yards per carry has never been impressive, sitting at 4.1 for his career.

While Davis' injury concerns may loom throughout the season, he should remain as productive a back in 2006 as he has in his previous three years. Kubiak's offensive schemes should benefit his rushing style, giving him more cut back lanes to slice through. The more holes that open up for Davis to cut back against, the better use he can make of his agility. It should result in an improvement in his yards per carry. If he can get it up to a more respectable 4.5 this season, he could reach 1,200 yards rushing for the first time in his career. A solid receiver out of the backfield since entering the league, Davis should be good for 45-55 receptions this season as well.

You may see Antowain Smith, signed in the offseason, log over 160 carries for the seventh time in his nine-year career. His contributions to the offense however, shouldn't be enough to scare you away from drafting Davis. It's possible that second-year man Vernand Morency, or rookie sixth round draft pick, Wali Lundy will supplant Smith as the number two back on the depth chart at some point during the season. But their contributions are more likely to occur following an injury to Davis. Should Davis' knee issues linger into the season, both Morency and Lundy would be players to watch. At 34, Antowain Smith isn't a back that could fill in as a team's starter for a long stretch of the season.

Wide Receivers: Andre Johnson; Eric Moulds; Kevin Walter; Derick Armstrong; Jerome Mathis; David Anderson

After missing three games and going through much of the year with injuries to his knee and leg, Andre Johnson struggled in 2005. He compiled 63 receptions for 688 yards and 2 touchdowns and that was the worst outing of the talented receiver's young career. Entering the 2006 season, Johnson will be fully healed and playing opposite Eric Moulds, a reliable vet in the passing game. While both receivers are capable of producing 1000-yard seasons, it's unlikely that scenario will play out in the Texans offense. Moulds may be the more established vet, but at age 34, he is well past his prime. Johnson, on the other hand, could be entering his.

Expect both receivers to be productive members of the Texans offense. As the lead wideout, Andre Johnson should rebound from his subpar 2005 with the second 1000-yard season of his career. He should contribute with no less than 75-85 receptions and provide 5-7 touchdowns. Eric Moulds will likely catch 55-65 himself for 625-725 yards and 4-5 scores.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier; Mark Bruener; Matt Murphy; Owen Daniels

Jeb Putzier joins the Texans after spending the past three years with Kubiak in Denver. As the team's starting tight end the past two seasons, Putzier produced 73 receptions for 1,053 yards and 2 touchdowns. While his totals haven't been spectacular to fans of fantasy football, Putzier did manage to establish a role for himself in the Denver offense and impressed Kubiak enough that he decided to bring Putzier from Denver to Houston.

Average Putzier's numbers out over the past two seasons and you have 36 receptions for 525 yards and 1 touchdown a year. That's roughly what you can expect from him this season, but he comes with the upside of reaching 40-50 receptions if Carr finds him to be a reliable target.