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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Houston Texans

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Andre Johnson's Fantasy value is in question for the first time in his 10-year career. Owners want to know if he is still an elite receiver heading into 2012.

I still consider Johnson one of the best players at his position. He is my No. 2 Fantasy receiver this year behind Calvin Johnson, and I expect him to play well. I'm not afraid of him getting hurt even though he hasn't been able to play 16 games each of the past two years.

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But my colleague Dave Richard has Johnson ranked No. 13, which means in a standard format he is a No. 2 Fantasy option. He has Johnson ranked behind some potential one-year wonders in Jordy Nelson and Victor Cruz and unproven receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones, but Dave is concerned about Johnson's health.

Last year, Johnson was limited to just seven games due to hamstring problems. He also missed three games in 2010, and in May he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He should be fine for training camp, but there is some fear he's slowing down since he will be 31 when the season starts.

I get the argument, but I'll take my chances with Johnson in most leagues with a Round 2 pick. Prior to getting hurt last year, Johnson had 21 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns in his first three games (an average of 14 Fantasy points a week in standard leagues). He also had 13 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games, both with T.J. Yates at quarterback. And in 2010 when he missed three games he still finished with 86 catches, 1,216 catches and eight touchdowns.

Matt Schaub (foot) will return this season, which will help Johnson. He also has no real threat for targets, and Johnson has averaged at least 10 targets a game from 2006-10. Sure, the Texans are a run-first team with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, but Johnson had 162 Fantasy points (12.5 points a week) in 2010 during Foster's breakout season.

Fear Johnson if you want because of his injury history, but just keep in mind what he's capable of doing when healthy. I have no problem taking a risk on him because the rewards should be great.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Matt Schaub 7
Running Backs
Arian Foster 1
Ben Tate 8
Wide Receivers
Andre Johnson 2
Kevin Walter ND
Lestar Jean ND
DeVier Posey ND
Tight Ends
Owen Daniels 13
Kickers/Defense
Randy Bullock 14
Texans DST 13
ND - not expected to get drafted

Sleeper ... Matt Schaub, quarterback
The quarterback pool is so deep this year that Schaub isn't ranked in the Top 12 on our site or many others. We have Schaub ranked at No. 13 this year, and he could be the steal of many drafts. If you're the owner who prefers to wait on drafting a quarterback then Schaub is someone to target. He was limited to 10 games last season due to a Lisfranc sprain in his foot, but he should be ready for the start of training camp. He gets Johnson back at 100 percent, and the Texans gave him a new weapon in rookie receiver DeVier Posey. Prior to last season, Schaub averaged 4,570 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2009-10. He was averaging 18.1 Fantasy points a game last year, and only 10 quarterbacks did better in 2011. Look for Schaub to rebound and play at a high level, and he should be drafted anywhere after Round 7 in the majority of leagues.

Keeper-league target ... DeVier Posey, wide receiver
The Texans drafted Posey in the third round of the NFL Draft out of Ohio State, and he is expected to compete for playing time right away. The Texans have a need at receiver with Jacoby Jones gone, and if Johnson is slow in his recovery then Posey's playing time could increase. Posey will compete with Kevin Walter and Lestar Jean for targets. Jean is another receiver to consider for this category, but Posey probably has more long-term value. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Posey caught only 12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in three games last year after being forced to serve two five-game suspensions for taking improper benefits, but he totaled 60 catches for 828 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. He is not worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but he is someone to put on your scout team as a potential waiver-wire addition during the season. Spend a mid-to-late pick on him in dynasty/keeper leagues and a third- or fourth-round pick in rookie-only drafts.

Bounce-back candidate ... Owen Daniels, tight end
No one missed Schaub more than Daniels last year. Through the first 10 games of the season in 2011, Daniels had at least six Fantasy points in six games. Once Schaub went down, Daniels had just one game with more than three points. If Daniels had maintained his Fantasy point average with Schaub, which was 6.2 per week, for the entire season he would have finished as a Top 12 tight end in standard leagues. Daniels might go undrafted this year in some shallow formats with how deep the talent pool is at tight end. We have him ranked No. 15 this year, but he could definitely re-emerge as a starting option now that Schaub is expected back at 100 percent.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
MIA @JAC @DEN TEN @NYJ GB BAL bye BUF @CHI JAC @DET @TEN @NE IND MIN @IND
The Texans offense should get off to a solid start until a three-game stretch against the Jets, Packers and Ravens before their Week 8 bye. From there, it's hard to imagine the Texans slowing down on offense, especially with two games against the Colts in their last three games of the season. We love the prospects for their Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit -- they might total 80 points in that game. With their toughest matchups over by Week 11 (and only four tough matchups really on their schedule), the Texans should meet expectations.

Training camp topics

Last year I felt alone in saying Foster should be the No. 1 overall pick. Many of my peers ran away from Foster at the top spot because of the hamstring injury he sustained in training camp, but I stuck with him.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Arian Foster 278 carries, 53 catches
Ben Tate 175 carries, 13 catches
Owen Daniels 54 catches
Kevin Walter 39 catches
Jacoby Jones 31 catches, 4 carries

The result: He finished No. 4 at running back in total Fantasy points, but he was the No. 1 non-quarterback in Fantasy points per week at 18.3. He was a beast from Week 4 on.

This year, no one doubts Foster as the No. 1 overall pick. Tate is a viable handcuff option, and he should be drafted in Round 8. Tate finished last year as a Top 30 running back and can stay in that range this season since the Texans do a great job of rotating both backs. Tate had eight games with double digits in carries, and he reached double digits in Fantasy points six times in those games.

Aside from Foster, Tate, Johnson, Schaub and Daniels, two other Texans who should definitely be drafted are rookie kicker Randy Bullock and the Texans DST. Bullock is expected to beat out Shayne Graham for the starting job, and he should be a No. 1 Fantasy kicker this year. He will replace Neil Rackers, who signed with the Redskins, and Rackers was No. 6 in Fantasy points in 2011.

The Texans DST was No. 9 in Fantasy points last year, and they should once again remain a Top 12 option in all leagues. The loss of standout pass rusher Mario Williams will hurt, but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has enough talent for the Texans DST to succeed in all formats.

Injury update

Schaub (foot; probable for the start of training camp) ... Johnson (knee; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Deflategate verdict: Patriots QB Tom Brady 'probably' guilty
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:27 pm ET) Attorney Ted Wells, who headed the investigation into the Deflategate scandal involving the Patriots, has concluded that "it is more probable than not" that team personnel "deliberately violated playing rules" by deflating game balls for their AFC Championship rout of Indianapolis.

Wells went on to express his belief that Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski deliberately released air from the balls after they had been examined by the referee.

The 243-page report vindicated the upper echelon of the organization, but not quarterback Tom Brady.

"We do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, (coach) Bill Belichick or other Pats coach," it read. "...It also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady ... was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls."

It remains to be seen what punishment, if any, is handed out. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is sticking with his sentiment that the organization did nothing wrong and that the investigation lacked evidence.

"I was convinced that Ted Wells' investigation would find the same factual evidence supported by both scientific formala and independent research as we did and would ultimately exonerate the Patriots," Kraft wrote. "Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don't know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definite evidence."


Eagles QB Mark Sanchez expects to compete for starting job
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:10 pm ET) Despite the assumption of many that the Eagles traded for quarterback Sam Bradford to make him the automatic starter, fellow signal-caller Mark Sanchez doesn't perceive the situation the same way.

Sanchez believes there will be an open competition in camp, which is why he signed a two-year deal worth $9 million to return to Philadelphia.

"Absolutely," he told NFL.com. "That's the way I understand it. ... Just talking with coach (Chip) Kelly and knowing I'm comng with the opportunity to compete for the starting job. That was important to me."

Sanchez completed 64 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for the Eagles a year ago.


Chargers FS Eric Weddle: 'I'm not coming in anytime soon'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) Chargers free safety Eric Weddle has been absent from team workouts over the last couple weeks. If his recent words are any indication, they should not expect to see him for a while.

Weddle, who is in the final year of his contract, is seeking a new one. General manager Tom Telesco has promised one will be discussed upon the completion of the draft, but Weddle will wait until then. He did, however, claim he will be working out on the side.

"I'm not coming in anytime soon," Weddle told radio station The Mighty 1090. "They know where we're at and they obviously know their stance, so we'll see what happens from there."

Weddle contributed to 114 tackles last season and has averaged 103 over his last seven years. But his interception total has dropped every season since peaking at seven in 2011.


Redskins rookie WR Jamison Crowder could push Andre Roberts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:09 am ET) Redskins fourth-round pick and wideout Jamison Crowder could wind up usurping Andre Roberts as the team's No. 1 slot receiver, according to the Washington Post.

General manager Scot McCloughan praised the diminutive Duke product - and not just for his talents as a kick returner.

"For an undersized guy, he's got a chip on his shoulder," McCloughan said. "He's a really good punt returner. He's a receiver first, punt returner second. And he's going to come in there, you put him in the slot, he's going to be tough to cover. He's a football player."

Roberts performed well in the slot early last year, but struggled down the stretch and finished with just 36 receptions for 453 yards and two scores. He also made little impact as a returner.

Crowder caught 85 passess for 1,044 yards and six touchdowns in 2014 with the Blue Devils.


Bills RB LeSean McCoy: Chip Kelly dumped top black players
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Bills star running back LeSean McCoy has intimated that racism motivated Eagles coach Chip Kelly to rid his team of premier African-American players.

"He wants the full control," McCoy told ESPN. "You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That's the truth. There's a reason. ... It's hard to explain with him. But there's a reason he got rid of all the players - the good ones - like that.

"... People have heard it. ... Other players have talked about it. But that's one of the things where you don't even care no more. I'm on a new team, ready to play. So it's nothing to do with Chip. I have no hatred, nothing to say negative about him. When he got [to Philadelphia], I didn't know what to expect. When he let [Pro Bowl wide receiver] DeSean [Jackson] go last year, I was like: 'C'mon, DeSean Jackson?' So it is what it is."

McCoy produced his fourth 1,000-yard season in 2014, but his YPC average fell from 5.1 in 2013 to 4.2.


It's official - Bears have signed three of their 2015 draftees
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:42 am ET) What was reported is now official - the Bears have announced that they have signed three of their 2015 draft picks to four-year contracts.

Included is fourth-rounder Jeremy Langford, a running back who rushed for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns for Michigan State last season. Safety and fifth-rounder Adrian Amos, as well as 353-pound offensive tackle and sixth-rounder Tayo Fabuluje are also in the fold.


RB Chris Johnson: I'd fit good in Dallas
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) Running back Chris Johnson is still looking for a place to play next season. After being cut by the Jets at the end of 2014, Johnson believes he could be the answer to what the Cowboys need at running back after letting DeMarco Murray go to Philadelphia and not drafting a running back, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I'd fit good in Dallas," Johnson said to TMZ. "They need it. Yeah. That's what we're trying to do. Cowboys, come holler at me."

Dallas signed Darren McFadden to a two-year deal in the offseason worth up to $5.85 million. Johnson had the worst rushing season in his career in 2014, totaling 663 yards on the ground with one touchdown.


Report: Bears sign fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Bears have reportedly signed running back Jeremy Langford from Michigan State to a four-year contract, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Langford was drafted by Chicago in the fourth round and was considered the ninth-best running back prospect in the draft class. He rushed for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns in his final season with Michigan State in 2014.


Chargers claim tight end Kyle Miller, release Damik Scafe
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Chargers have claimed tight end Kyle Miller off waivers from the Falcons and released defensive end Damik Scafe, according to U-T San Diego.

Milller has appeared in one game since entering the league in 2012 without making a catch.


Bears claim OT Paul Cornick off waviers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Bears have claimed offensive tackle Paul Cornick off waivers from the Broncos, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Cornick was waived by Denver Monday after making making six starts and appearing in 12 games for the Broncos in 2014.


 
 
 
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