QB Matt Schaub
(2012 QB Rank – #20, 18.0 FPts/G)
It has been three long years since Schaub’s career season in 2009 when he threw for 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns. Since then, the Texans have morphed into the league’s top rushing team and Schaub has seen his passing statistics plummet. While in 2012 he topped 4,000 passing yards for the third time, he threw for just 22 touchdowns while averaging a pedestrian 18.0 PPG. With a dominant rushing attack and Schaub’s lack of mobility, he doesn’t contribute much in the way of rushing stats, with just four rushing touchdowns in his nine-year career. With both Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels advancing in age and the lack of a proven threat opposite Johnson, Schaub’s fantasy prospects for 2013 are lukewarm at best. Consider him a mid-tier QB2 with little upside. Remember that even if running back Arian Foster were to be lost to injury, super-sub Ben Tate would take over.
RB Arian Foster
(2012 RB Rank – #2, 16.6 FPts/G; #3 PPR, 19.1 FPts/G)
After totaling 1,114 touches over the past three years, including 391 last season, there are concerns that Foster is a candidate for a subpar, injury-riddled campaign in 2013. The naysayers will point out that his yards per carry have declined from 5.0 in 2010 to 4.4 in 2011 and to a career-low of 4.1 in 2012. Perhaps that would dictate more touches for backup Ben Tate. With the team having used a first-round pick to acquire wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and with Andre Johnson posting a career-high 1,598 receiving yards in 2012, the Texans may decide to open things up in the passing game. Of course they’d have to ignore the fact that they have enjoyed most of their success using a run-based offense featuring Foster. To put it another way, would you put your Super Bowl aspirations on the shoulder of Foster or Matt Schaub? The bottom line is that the Texans will ride Foster as long as he remains healthy, and he has missed just three games over the past three seasons. A calf strain suffered in the offseason is cause for concern, but he will be ready for opening day. With 5,700 total yards and 47 touchdowns over the past three seasons, Foster’s upside is well known, and given his ability to remain healthy, his injury risk seems to be overstated. After Adrian Peterson, there is no better fantasy running back than Foster.
RB Ben Tate
(2012 RB Rank – #65, 4.1 FPts/G; #65 PPR, 5.1 FPts/G)
It has been a roller coaster ride for Tate during his first three years in the league. After missing all of his rookie season to an ankle injury, the Texans’ 2010 second-round pick burst onto the scene in 2011 with 942 rushing yards and four touchdowns. With expectations high in 2012, Tate crashed, missing five games to injury and earning double-digit touches in just two games all season. His production plummeted to 279 rushing yards, 49 receiving yards and just two touchdowns. Motivation should be high in 2013 as he enters a contract year and the chance to earn a starting spot with another team in 2014. That makes Tate a solid addition to your dynasty squad. In re-draft formats, Tate rates as a lower-tier RB3 and a must-have handcuff for Arian Foster owners. In leagues that use the flex option, Tate is a decent, if inconsistent, option.
WR Andre Johnson
(2012 WR Rank – #8, 11.5 FPts/G; #6 PPR, 18.5 FPts/G)
Entering 2012, expectations for Johnson were lowered due to a pair of injury-riddled seasons and his advancing age. He proved his skeptics wrong, topping 100 receptions for the fourth time in his career while reaching a career-high in receiving yards with 1,598. If there was blight on his season, it was his lack of touchdowns, as he found the end zone just four times, his lowest total in any season in which he played every game. Johnson will be 32 by opening day, so age and injury concerns will likely prevent him from being taken among the top five at WR in fantasy drafts. Those risks are somewhat offset by his lack of competition for touches in a Houston offense that has been unable to develop a solid threat opposite him. Johnson rates as a mid-tier WR1 because of his outstanding rebound season in 2012.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Because the Texans spent years trying to replace journeyman Kevin Walter, it’s easy to be skeptical of their offseason assertions that 2013 first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins is up to the task of providing a consistent threat opposite Andre Johnson. The Clemson product has good size at 6’1”, 214 pounds and displayed good hands in college, but he is more of an intermediate threat due to a lack of great deep speed. While that may limit his upside, he will see plenty of single coverage and has a clear path to a starting spot as a rookie with only the disappointing Lestar Jean in his way. That should mean plenty of opportunity for Hopkins, but the fact is that rookie receivers often struggle and the Texans are one the best rushing teams in the league—if not the best—and that limits his upside. With Andre Johnson not getting any younger, Hopkins is a solid option in dynasty leagues, but he is little more than a WR4 or WR5 in redraft leagues.
WR Lester Jean
(2012 WR Rank – #124, 3.0 FPts/G; #132 PPR, 3.9 FPts/G)
Given an opportunity to battle Kevin Walter for a starting spot last season, the 6’3”, 215-pound Jean fell flat, catching six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown while starting one game. The path to a starting spot isn’t so kind in 2013 with first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins the Texans’ likely starter opposite Andre Johnson. If there is any saving grace for Jean’s fantasy prospects, it is that second-year player DeVier Posey could be headed to the PUP list to open the season. Look for the speedster Jean to open the season as Houston’s top backup wideout with Keshawn Martin the main option out of the slot. Unless injury strikes one of the Texans starters early, Jean isn’t worth owning in most leagues.
WR Keshawn Martin
(2012 WR Rank – #128, 1.5 FPts/G; #127 PPR, 2.3 FPts/G)
Martin was mildly productive as a slot receiver for the Texans as a rookie in 2012. The 5’11, 190-pound Michigan State product caught 10 passes for 85 yards and a score despite not seeing regular playing time. Unfortunately, it took him 28 targets to haul in those ten passes, and that’s an unconscionably bad completion percentage for a slot receiver. More shifty than fast, Martin has little potential playing in a Texans offense that doesn’t regularly utilize a slot receiver and is loaded with plenty of young wide receiver prospects that possess more upside than he does.
WR DeVier Posey
(2012 WR Rank – #147, 1.4 FPts/G; #145 PPR, 2.4 FPts/G)
The Texans’ 2012 third-round pick was mostly a bust as a rookie until coming on somewhat late in the season, catching at least one pass in Houston’s final four regular-season games, as well as a touchdown in the playoffs. Unfortunately, a ruptured Achilles suffered in the playoffs makes him a candidate to open the 2013 season on the PUP list. With solid size and better-than-average speed, Posey has the potential to emerge as a weapon for the Texans, but with first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins now on board, he isn’t worthy of a spot on your fantasy roster.
TE Owen Daniels
(2012 WR Rank – #8, 7.2 FPts/G; #9 PPR, 11.3 FPts/G)
Last year we told you that it was time to give up hope that Daniels would regain the elite form he displayed over the first half of the 2009 season before suffering a torn ACL. While it seems pretty certain that Daniels, at 30 years of age, won’t regain that form, he played surprisingly well in 2012, hauling in 62 receptions for 716 yards and six touchdowns, a career high. With the Texans once again having issues at wide receiver opposite Andre Johnson, Daniels was targeted a career-high 104 times. While the team is high on first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins, the truth is that Houston still does not have a proven threat to play alongside Johnson, and that makes Daniels a lower-tier TE1 in 2013.