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2014 Player Outlooks – Houston Texans

By: — August 8, 2014 @ 8:59 am

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
(2013 QB Rank—#23, 19.9 FPts/G)

The Texans’ decision to not draft a quarterback with the top overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft has defined their offseason. Instead of talking about potential and talent at the quarterback position, fantasy owners are left reading words like “stopgap” and “game manager.” Fitzpatrick was unable to carry fantasy appeal after a strong start to the 2011 season as a member of the Bills and he failed to inspire in 11 contests as a replacement to Jake Locker in 2013. Interceptions have long plagued him and new head coach Bill O’Brien will certainly try to help his starting quarterback mitigate those errors this year. Throwing to future Hall of Famer Andre Johnson and emerging playmaker DeAndre Hopkins will give the nine-year veteran signal caller his best group of targets as a pro. That might not be enough to make him worthy of QB1 status but he should be a readily available plug-and-play option for a team that should do well in the field position game.

The Texans will make University of Houston alum Case Keenum the second-stringer to open the season after letting go of T.J. Yates prior to training camp. If Keenum starts, the entire offense will take a hit in terms of production. Rookie fourth-rounder Tom Savage has the size and arm to be developed into a quality pocket passer but should not be a factor into the team’s plans for another couple of years.

Arian Foster

Arian Foster’s 2nd-round ADP comes with a boatload of risk.

RB Arian Foster
(2013 RB Rank—#44, 10.6 FPts/G)

In terms of volume and schedule alone, Arian Foster offers as much fantasy potential as any other running back in 2014. After all, how many lead running backs under the age of 30 with no competition for carries in a run-heavy offense are there in the NFL? Foster’s 4.5 yard per carry average in 2013 and pass-catching abilities serve as further reminders that he was a top-three fantasy pick as recently as 2012. Of course, few need reminding of the injury risk attached to the upside of this plow horse. A back injury kept him out eight weeks last season and his medical file contains calf, knee and hamstring injuries. He is probably the poster child for injury risk at this point. Training camp has just opened and Foster has already missed practices with an apparent hamstring tweak. Houston is placing plenty of confidence in Foster this year with Andre Brown serving as his primary backup and an injury risk himself. Brown will steal a few series each game but the Texans offense will lean heavily on the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. In standard 10-team formats, Foster is an unnecessary risk in the first round. On the contrary, the deeper the league, the more valuable his upside becomes and owners will have to gamble on high-caliber guys.

RB Andre Brown
(2013 RB Rank—#49, 9.7 FPts/G)

Every fantasy owner’s pre-draft checklist should include the name of Arian Foster’s backup. Ben Tate is gone and Andre Brown is in. How much stock you put into Brown is a personal choice but at some point this season he will likely give fantasy owners a short term jolt of production. During his time with the Giants, he proved to be capable of running inside or outside, as well as receiving. He also proved to be unlucky in breaking his left leg twice. Anytime a running back suffers a major injury to the same leg you have to wonder how likely he will bounce back, as well as the likelihood of recurring issues in the same leg. After dealing with injuries, Brown has changed up his routine in an effort to prevent injury but that won’t change the fact that he won’t get enough carries to be useful unless Foster is sidelined. As a result, he is purely a handcuff.

RB Alfred Blue
(2013 RB Rank—N/A)

Alfred Blue, Houston’s 2014 sixth-round draft pick, is a big physical back with plenty of promise at the pro level. He’s competing with Andre Brown and Dennis Johnson to provide depth at the running back position. He was buried on the depth chart at Louisiana State and comes into the NFL with less miles on the tires than other rookie running backs. That being said, some scouts questions his durability since he has never shown to be a plow horse. He won’t be expected to carry the load just yet and is not likely to pass Brown out of the gate. He has made a favorable early impression at camp, however, and with two oft-injured players above him on the depth chart, Blue may become a deep sleeper for the 2014 fantasy season.

WR Andre Johnson
(2013 WR Rank—#12, 10.7 FPts/G)

Andre Johnson padded his Hall of Fame credentials with another productive campaign in 2013. His 109 receptions trailed only Pierre Garcon and Antonio Brown for the league lead. His days of being a steadfast fantasy producer are now dependent on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s decision making and arm, however. It went over so well with Johnson that he decided to hold out in hopes of forcing a trade. Since then, Johnson has reported and stated his desire to remain a Texan for the rest of his career. In 2013, Houston placed in the top ten of the NFL regular season for both passing attempts and completions – a feat that isn’t likely to happen with Fitzpatrick under center. Less targets and yards and a budding player in DeAndre Hopkins will lower Johnson’s ceiling. Adding to the negative vibes is a slight hamstring issue popping up early in training camp and his old age – he just turned 33 years old. Did I mention Fitzpatrick is his quarterback? Good. At best, he finds the end zone just enough to be a solid WR2 in most formats, but he likely won’t come at that cost due to his name value.

WR DeAndre Hopkins
(2013 WR Rank—#50, 5.8 FPts/G)

One of last year’s most hyped players during the preseason, DeAndre Hopkins failed to live up to expectations. Still young and developing, Hopkins is on the rise in fantasy drafts once again. With Andre Johnson still a major threat, Hopkins should make less mental errors in his second season and thrive in man-to-man situations. But the question remains, how many balls will he see in this offense? The good news is that new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick got a little more time to develop chemistry with the Clemson product during Johnson’s holdout. The bad news is that Johnson ended his holdout and Hopkins’ target projection limits his ability to truly breakout. His time in the spotlight on the fantasy stage will come, for now he is still the third option behind two franchise icons.

WR DeVier Posey
(2013 WR Rank—#123, 1.7 FPts/G)

After Hopkins, the Texans are short on talent at the wide receiver position. Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey, Alan Bonner and Travis Labhart are in camp and at least one, if not two of them are not likely to make the final roster. All are fairly young with Posey being the biggest target. Labhart is a bit small but could make the team working out of the slot. None should make a fantasy impact this year, though.

TE Garrett Graham
(2013 TE Rank—#16, 7.0 FPts/G)

Part of the garbage that was taken to the curb last year included longtime fantasy tease Owen Daniels, who was released in March and subsequently signed by the Ravens. Houston is likely to use more than one guy at the position in the new offensive scheme but Garrett Graham will man the “Move TE” role that offers the most fantasy potential. Graham’s elevation on the depth chart comes on the heels of a promising 2013 campaign. During a four-game stretch between Weeks 11 and 14, Daniels was thrown to 47 times, catching about half of them and scoring twice. An increase in playing time and a conservative offense should yield over 100 targets, making him a nice value to owners in deeper leagues. Behind Graham are two young and rather large targets, Ryan Griffin and rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz. Both players stand 6’6” tall and weigh over 250 lbs., making them ripe for short-yardage packages.

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