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Offseason Primers: Houston Texans

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Texans' best chance to make the Super Bowl in the history of their franchise went by the wayside thanks to a late-season slump that cost them home-field advantage in the AFC. That overshadowed what was a pretty good season for a team that was loaded defensively and had their playmakers deliver strong seasons offensively. It also presents a challenging season ahead.

Getting those playmakers to repeat their feats will be tough. Andre Johnson will be 32 and coming off a career-best 1,598-yard season. But like league counterpart Calvin Johnson, he struggled when it came to scoring, nabbing just four touchdowns. That has to change for the Texans to be effective and it could be tough because the team is thin on receiving talent opposite Johnson. Last year they had Kevin Walter for the seventh straight year opposite Johnson. He stunk (518 yards, two touchdowns) and has since been let go. If they add a speedy receiver via the draft who can fill that role, the offense could be impossible to stop. If they don't, the likes of Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin and maybe DeVier Posey will compete to start. Utilizing matchup nightmare running back/tight end James Casey isn't an option after he left for more playing time in Philadelphia in March. Houston has a very important hole to fill.

2012 Touches Leaders
862 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Arian Foster 391 (351 car., 40 rec.) 45.3%
Andre Johnson 112 rec. 13.0%
Ben Tate 76 (65 car., 11 rec.) 8.8%
Justin Forsett 66 (63 car., 3 rec.) 7.7%
Owen Daniels 62 rec. 7.2%
Kevin Walter 41 rec. 4.8%
All Others 114 13.2%

Not that passing is their preferred way to move the chains. The Texans again ranked highly as a rushing offense thanks to the exploits of Arian Foster. The Fantasy legend again topped 1,600 total yards and 12 total touchdowns (he had 17 in 2012), but it came at a steep price as he had over 400 carries between the regular season and the postseason (18 games). Not many running backs put up that much work and come back as strong the following year but Foster is a good candidate to buck that trend. An irregular heartbeat discovered last season shouldn't be anything to worry about nor should his overall workload -- which has averaged 21.2 carries per game over the last three seasons -- but it's all worth noticing. And if the Texans coaches notice, we could see his workload lightened to open the season. One big positive is his use at the goal line -- there were weeks last season that were salvaged by his scores and that's bound to continue. Foster remains a very good Fantasy option but one that needs a handcuff.

Outside of those two on offense, there are plenty of questions including whether or not Matt Schaub can push the team past the second round of the playoffs (remember when it was whether or not he could push them to the playoffs, period?). There's also the state of the defense and whether or not J.J. Watt can remain dominant and if the secondary can withstand the loss of Glover Quin. For a team that was so close to being a contender for Super Bowl XLVII, they're being taken as lightly as a team that went 8-8. We'll see if it's warranted in 2013.

Ben Tate -- Potential breakout

2012 Target Leaders
544 pass attempts
Andre Johnson 164 30.1%
Owen Daniels 103 18.9%
Kevin Walter 68 12.3%
Arian Foster 58 10.6%
James Casey 45 8.3%
All Others 106 19.5%

It goes without saying that if Foster stays healthy, Tate's contributions will be minimal. But Foster is coming off a season and postseason where he had not just 400 carries but over 450 total touches. It's a lot of wear and tear on a running back. The Texans are confident in Tate's abilities in the offense and might not be shy about giving Tate around eight touches per week if only to keep Foster in shape. Of course, Foster could always get hurt and that would open the door for Tate to be a high-volume back like he was at the very start of his career when Foster was sidelined. Either way, getting Tate is a must if you take Foster with an early first-round pick but he's also a speculative choice if you don't have Foster. We're talking about a middle-round pick so it's not exactly low-risk but if there's one thing that's in the back of Tate's mind it's that if he gets an opportunity to play he can make it pay off -- literally. He's in a contract year and could be a starter for a team looking to run the zone-blocking scheme in 2014.

Matt Schaub -- Bust

Schaub's numbers in 2012 weren't so far out of line with what he's done in Houston, and that's entirely the problem. His stock tanked last season as he struggled to put up big numbers while younger, more versatile passers were all the rage. Those youngsters are now who Fantasy owners are targeting, pushing Schaub down rank lists everywhere. He might be worth a late pick as a handcuff to one of the young quarterbacks you take in Rounds 5-8, but with the depth at the position and his sliding passing yard average to go with a less-than-stellar touchdown total, he's not the guy many thought he was a few years ago. Schaub might actually not get picked in some smaller drafts. Schaub is worth a late-round pick in drafts strictly as a decent backup Fantasy option and nothing more.

Lestar Jean -- Late-round flier

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Matt Schaub Late-round pick
Arian Foster Top 3 overall
Ben Tate 80-95 overall
Andre Johnson 25-35 overall
Owen Daniels 120-130 overall
Randy Bullock Late-round pick
Texans DST Late-round pick

Consider Jean at the very least a placeholder and at the very most a deep sleeper. It's evident the Texans not only need to upgrade at receiver but are planning on it. You could tell that when they released seven-year veteran Kevin Walter, who did a lot of underrated work but was never great for Fantasy purposes. Coach Gary Kubiak said this offseason that he thinks a lot of Jean and why not after he proved he could work some magic on deep passes. Last year Jean had 151 yards on six catches: One went for over 20 yards, two went for over 40 yards, four went for first downs and another saw him finish in the end zone. Perhaps if Jean proves in training camp that he can do the dirty underneath work while also being an asset on the big plays then he'll earn a starting job and the stats will follow. Whoever starts opposite Andre Johnson will have the look of a late-round pick.

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

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Player News
Megatron feasts on Bears defense in Thanksgiving showdown
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the star of Thursday's game against the Bears, totaling 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-17 win Week 13. He was targeted 16 times.

It was the 42nd time Johnson surpassed 100 yards in his career, which ties him with Cris Carter for 15th all-time. Johnson now has 11 career games with at least 10 receptions.

Also, late in the first half Thursday, Johnson became the fastest to reach 10,000 receiving yards in NFL history. It took Johnson just 115 games to accomplish the feat, besting Torry Holt, who reached 10,000 receiving yards in 116 games.

Johnson has surpassed 100 yards three times this season and twice in his last four games. He had his first multitouchdown game Thursday since Week 1 against the Giants. He's managed at least two receiving touchdowns 15 times in his career.

The Lions are back in action Week 14 against Tampa Bay.


Jadeveon Clowney calls his chances of playing 'slim right now'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said his chances of suiting up Sunday against the Titans are "slim right now" due to continued knee soreness, reports the Houston Chronicle. He has not practiced this week while undergoing treatment, the paper said.

Bears CB Tim Jennings leaves game Thursday due to groin injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:37 pm ET) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings left Thursday's game at Detroit in the fourth quarter due to a groin injury. He had two solo tackles before getting hurt.

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict expected to miss fourth straight
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:30 pm ET) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict did not practice Thursday and is expected to miss his fourth straight game Sunday when Cincy visits the Buccaneers, reports ESPN.com. Burfict is recovering from Nov. 3 arthroscopic knee surgery.

Cowboys' probables cleared for Thanksgiving game
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:20 pm ET) Several Cowboys who were probable on the injury report are active for the game against the Eagles. The list includes right tackle Doug Free (foot), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (knee), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and linebacker Rolando McClain (knee).

Tony Romo, Terrance Williams ready to roll
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (back) and wideout Terrance Williams (finger) are active for the game against the Eagles after being listed as probable.

Cowboys reveal Thanksgiving inactives
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:13 pm ET) The Cowboys declared quarterback Dustin Vaughan, offensive tackles Tony Hills and Donald Hawkins, linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring) defensive tackle Josh Brent (groin), cornerback Tyler Patmon (knee, ankle) and safety Jeff Heath (thumb) inactive for Thursday's game against the Eagles.

Saints promote rookie Lawrence Virgil from practice squad
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:11 pm ET) The Saints announced Thursday rookie defensive tackle Lawrence Virgil was promoted from the practice squad to take the roster spot of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who was placed on injured reserve.

Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz among Eagles cleared to play
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews (knee) and tight end Zach Ertz (oblique) are active for the game at Dallas after being listed as probable. Also suiting up for Philly are linebacker Emmanuel Acho (groin), safety Nate Allen (ankle), defensive end Brandon Bair (elbow), kicker Cody Parkey (groin) and left tackle Jason Peters (quadriceps).

Eagles announce Thanksgiving inactives
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) The Eagles declared quarterback Nick Foles (collarbone), cornerback Roc Carmichael, wideout Jeff Maehl, defensive end Taylor Hart, offensive linemen Dennis Kelly and Julian Vandervelde, and defensive back Jaylen Watkins inactive for Thursday's game at Dallas.

 
 
 
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