QB Matt Schaub (QB - #15) - Sleeper (undervalued)
When Matt Schaub is on the field he tends to do well for fantasy owners. The problem is Schaub tends to spend as much time watching as he does playing. The injuries he has suffered are not his fault, but that doesn't make losing him any easier for fantasy owners. Last year Schaub only made it through nine games; in week 10 Tampa Bay's Albert Haynesworth rolled up on Schaub's right foot causing a serious and season-ending lisfranc injury, At this point it appears Schaub will be healthy in time for the start of training camp and combined with the Texans vaunted ground game, this offense could do some serious damage. If you're a gambling owner then Schaub is your man - over the past 5 years Schaub has only made it through 16 games twice. However, since he won't be drafted as a QB1 in 12-team or smaller leagues, the price to acquire should not be that steep.When Schaub is on he's a great fantasy quarterback, but you have to be willing to lose him at some point in the year (possibly for the remainder of the season). Michael Vick and Peyton Manning owners could target him as a QB2 while those daring on RG3 could add the veteran Schaub as a weekly safety net.
QB T.J. Yates (QB - #50) - Deep-league Only
Yates began the 2011 season as the Texans' third string quarterback. In week 10 Schaub suffered a season ending lis franc injury and in week 11 Matt Leinart is lost for the year, leaving Yates the starter for the remainder of the season. Tyler led the Texans to a 3-3 record to close out the season as the team prepared to head into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In the playoffs Yates led Houston to their first playoff victory before falling to the Ravens in Baltimore the following week. In all Tyler played well enough to get the Texans through, but from a fantasy perspective his numbers were lacking. Tyler threw for 300 yards just once, one multi touchdown game with just 3 total touchdowns. If you're looking to handcuff Schaub then Yates is your man. However, if you're looking for a backup quarterback then grab another team's starter.
RB Arian Foster (RB - #1) - Stud (low risk)
Despite playing in just 13 games, Foster ran for more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011. At age 26 there is no reason to believe Foster is going to slow down any time soon. The only worry we have at this point in the season is the Texans' loss of right guard Mike Brisiel and right tackle Eric Winston. We don't expect a completely new right side of the offensive line to cause problems, but when you bring in new guys it takes some time for them to mesh. Aside from this minor concern we believe Foster is going to have another big year. Double digit touchdowns and 1,200+ yards are not out of the question for Arian this season. Foster recently announced that he will now be eating only vegan foods. For some this is cause for concern but for anyone who knows about vegan diets they know this shouldn't be an issue. Foster's diet will still have plenty of protein so there's no need to worry about his new diet affecting his play this season.
UPDATE (8-19): Foster rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries and caught three passes for 16 yards against the 49ers in the Texans second preseason game. At this point, the all-purpose threat is the top fantasy pick this year or no worse than the number two or three pick depending on one's league scoring or love for Ray Rice.
RB Ben Tate (RB - #33) - Fantasy Handcuff
Despite being behind Arian Foster on the depth chart last season Tate had a pretty good year. In 15 games Tate carried the ball 175 times for 942 yards and scored 4 touchdowns. Not too bad for a backup running back. If you're an Arian Foster owner you need to add Tate to your roster. It is obvious Tate can get the job done should something happen to Foster. Not only do you assure yourself a quality starter, but you keep opposing teams from using Tate.
RB Justin Forsett (RB - #93) - Deep-league Only
Forsett and Jonathan Grimes are battling for the third running back position. At this point either back could win the job, so you'll need to keep an eye on how each player is progressing. We believe in the end Forsett will win the job, but that could all change with just one bad move by Justin. In the end this battle won't matter much to fantasy owners because Foster and Tate will be doing all the work. The winner of this battle will see very little if any playing time.
WR Andre Johnson (WR - #4) - Solid/Safe Pick
Johnson had by far the worst season of his nine-year career in 2011, finishing with 33 receptions for 492 yards and two touchdowns in seven games. When on the field Johnson is a top-5 receiver, but his inability over the past two seasons to remain healthy is cause for concern. Fantasy owners can't have their stud receiver missing significant time due to injury - and there is no need for risk with so many viable high-end options this season. If it's all based on talent, Johnson will be one of the first five receivers taken in most fantasy drafts. Just keep in mind that he has not played a full season since 2009.
UPDATE (8-19): Back from a groin injury, Johnson hauled in two passes for 49 yards in the Texans preseason game against the 49ers. He snagged his only two targets with one turning into a 43-yard catch. Though currently a top-10 WR on the FFToolbox board, Johnson could move back to his usual top-5 rank sooner than later if he remains healthy.
WR Kevin Walter (WR - #77) - Bye Week Fill-in
In 2008 Walter had the best year of his career. Kevin had 60 receptions for nearly 900 yards with 8 touchdowns. Since then Walter's numbers have been on the decline. This could be in part due to the loss of Andre Johnson. With Johnson off the field Walter becomes the primary receiver and that is not a good role for Walter. This could be a bounce back season for Walter, but I'll belive it when I see it. For now Kevin is a good addition for teams looking to fill a bye week and that's about all.
WR Lestar Jean (WR - #95) - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Despite going undrafted out of Florida Atlantic, despite missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, Jean continues to generate interest this offseason. The 6-foot-3 target with quality hands and straight-line speed is certainly in the mix for the Texans WR3 spot. That might be saying more about the state of Houston's receiving corps beyond Andre Johnson, but Jean's intruiging potential is legit. Late-round flyer in 12-team leagues for now.
UPDATE (8-19): Jean caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in Houston's preseason win over San Francisco. Note the score did not come in garbage time, but in the first half on a throw from starting QB Matt Schaub. Jean remains in the mix for the WR3 job with Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey. This effort could not have hurt his chances.
WR DeVier Posey (WR - #117) - Deep-league Only
With the addition of Posey and Martin the Texans decided to part ways with Jacob Jones, leaving the slot receiver position open for the taking. Early indications point to Posey as the man to beat. Some believe the big receiver out of Ohio State was a steal going to the Texans in the third round (5th selection). With a well balanced offense, the Texans have a good chance to post big numbers this season. Posey could find himself on the end of a touchdown pass or two this season. Although with Johnson and Walter ahead of him on the depth chart it will be tough for Posey to break into the starting line up. Only draft Posey if you're looking for a sleeper bye week filler.
WR Keshawn Martin (WR - #127) - Not Draft Worthy
The Texans selected Martin with the 121st overall pick in the 2012 draft. Keshawn will be fighting with fellow rookie DeVier Posey for the third receiver spot on the Texans roster. At this time it appears Posey has a leg up on Martin, but that could change by the time training camp ends. Until we see Martin move up the depth chart, it is best to pass him over on draft day.
TE Owen Daniels (TE - #7) - Quality Backup
Daniels finished the 2011 season as the Texans' leading receiver in both yards (with 677) and receptions (with 54). With the return of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, we expect Daniels' numbers to be even better this year. Johnson's presence on the outside should help open up the middle of the field for Owens. In addition, having Schaub back under center should allow for most opportunities for Daniels. We don't expect Daniels to finish as a top 5 tight end this season, but he could post numbers worthy of starting in some fantasy leagues.
TE James Casey (RB - #72) - Deep-league Only
Casey appeared in 14 games, making 18 receptions for 260 yards with 1 touchdown in 2011. There are a number of quality tight ends starting on other teams that will post numbers better than these. Unless you're looking to handcuff Owens, it is probably best to look elsewhere for a tight end.
PK Shayne Graham (K - #10) - Solid/Safe Pick
We don't want to say the Texans play in a weak division, but let's face it: they're the cream of the crop in the south and (without injury) the odds on favorite to win the division. Not only should they win the division, but they should score a boatload of points this season. If they do, someone has to knock in all those extra points and short yardage field goals. Graham's been around long enough to show he's a viable option if he beats out fifth-round pick Randy Bullock for the gig.
UPDATE (8-19): Graham booted a 48 and 49-yard field goal against the Niners in the Texans second preseason game. Rookie Randy Bullock missed his only attempt from 51-yards, but made both of his extra point chances. This came after both kickers went 2-for-2 in the opening game with Bullock drilling one from 52 yards out. If the battle remains tight, could be tie goes to the kid. Regardless, the "winner" figures to be a winning pick for fantasy owners as well.
Houston Defense (Def - #4) - Solid/Safe Pick
The Texans defense finished the 2011 season allowing just 286 yards per game, second only to the Steelers' 272 yards per game. Not only was the defense one of the stingiest in the league, but they ranked 6th in sacks with 44 and forced 27 turn overs. Even with the loss of Mario Williams, the Texans defense should again be one of the league's best.