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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 .

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Player News
Alan Branch fails conditioning test
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Bills defensive tackle Alan Branch failed his conditioning test, reports ESPN.com. Branch won't be allowed to practice until he passes. He played in every game last year, making 39 tackles.

Reggie Wayne cleared for training camp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:55 am ET) Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who's coming back from a torn ACL, has been cleared for training camp, reports the team's website. Wayne showed up to camp in an Indy Car, which he said is symbolic because "he feels fast."

Wayne caught 38 passes for 503 yards and two touchdowns last year before the injury ended his season in Week 7.


Report: Henry Melton to be cleared for camp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton will be cleared to participate in the team's first training camp practice, reports the Dallas Morning News. Melton tore his ACL about nine months ago and was held out of team drills during offseason workouts.

He must pass a physical Wednesday to gain clearance.


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"If there is any offense to do it in, it’s definitely this one," he told the New York Daily News. "It’s definitely a little bit more pass happy than the offense we’ve had in the past. I think I’m a guy that’s capable, so hopefully we can get that done hopefully. Obviously, that comes with wins and all that good stuff."

Cruz caught a career-high 86 passes in 2012.


Fantasy owners shouldn't sweat Jamaal Charles' holdout until Aug. 10
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:23 am ET) We've seen a bunch of players, especially a number of running backs, hold out of training camp and then struggle in the following year. Hopefully Jamaal Charles won't be one of those players, but he'll dramatically improve his chances of success if he reports to Chiefs training camp with plenty of time to prepare for the season. In my latest blog entry I give Aug. 10 as the date I'd want to see Charles back by. And if he's not back by then he probably won't be my top pick in Fantasy. Knile Davis is the must-draft handcuff starting in Round 10. 

Corey Peters, Zeke Motta go on PUP list
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(10:12 am ET) The Falcons placed defensive tackle Corey Peters and safety Zeke Motta on the PUP list to start camp. Peters is rehabbing from a torn Achilles he suffered last December, while Motta has a neck injury that could jeopardize his career, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Corey will be rehabbing on the side to start training camp," coach Mike Smith said. "But we have been very optimistic about his work in the offseason with our guys in athletic performance, with the trainers and the doctors. As soon as they clear him, we’ll get him back and on the field. ... He’s has done a very good job with his rehabilitation."


Jamaal Charles plans on holding out
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:48 am ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles will not report for training camp on Wednesday unless there's a breakthrough in contract talks, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported. Charles believes he's outplayed his current deal and deserves a salary comparable to the highest-paid running backs in football. 

The CBS affiliate in Kansas City, KCTV, was first to report the holdout

Charles totaled over 1,900 total yards last season with 19 total touchdowns, his best year in the pros, while helping the Chiefs reach the playoffs. In fact in the two years since coming back from a torn ACL he's totaled 2,796 rush yards, 929 receiving yards and 25 total touchdowns. 


Vick Ballard says he's been cleared to practice
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:21 am ET) Colts running back Vick Ballard said he's been cleared for practice and expects to be on the field for the start of training camp, ESPN reported Wednesday morning. Ballard tore his ACL last September and missed nearly all of the 2013 season. 

Belichick: Rob Gronkowski has been cleared, will practice
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:13 am ET) Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told the media Wednesday morning that tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared for practice. He will not be placed on the team's PUP list. 

Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL last December and has apparently recovered from the injury without incident. It's a much different result than last year when Gronkowski was recovering from forearm and back surgeries and missed all of training camp as well as the first half of the season. 

The burly tight end has 42 touchdowns in 50 regular-season games and has averaged 79.7 yards per gamer over the last three seasons. 


Danny Woodhead lands two-year extension with the Chargers
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:01 am ET) Running back Danny Woodhead has agreed to a two-year extension with the Chargers, the team announced Tuesday. Initially scheduled to be a free agent after this season, he'll be under contract with the team through 2016.

"Danny is an integral part of our offense," said general manager Tom Telesco. "His work ethic and on-field production were key elements last year. We look forward to having him be a part of the Chargers organization into the future."

Woodhead had 106 carries for 429 yards and two rushing scores to go along with 76 catches for 605 yards and six receiving touchdowns in 2013, mostly all career-high numbers. 


 
 
 
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