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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
Jets DT Leonard Williams dealing with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:43 am ET) Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams had to leave Saturday's preseason game after sustaining a knee injury, reports the Associated Press. An MRI revealed a muscle strain behind the knee, which is not expected to be a long-term issue

Williams was the team's first-round draft pick in 2015.


Dolphins center Mike Pouncey to undergo MRI on knee
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:34 am ET) After leaving Saturday's preseason game with a knee injury, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is set to undergo an MRI on Sunday, reports the Palm Beach Post.

"I thought I was OK and I wanted to go back out there and test it out," Pouncey said. "Then I realized I couldn't play."

Despite sustaining the injury which prevented him from playing the rest of the game, Pouncey was not worried about the issue.

"I'm not too concerned about it," Pouncey said. "I'll be back in practice next week. I ain't missing a game, so y'all don't need to worry about that. Don't worry. I'm playing. We've got a big season ahead of us. We're all looking forward to it and I ain't going to miss a moment of it."


Packers' Randall Cobb not worried about shoulder injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:27 am ET) Despite leaving Saturday's preseason game with a shoulder injury, Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb said he's not concerned with any long-term issues with the injury, reports the team's official website.

"I don't think it will be [a long-term thing]," Cobb said. "We're just taking it day by day right now. We'll find out more [Sunday]."


Browns RB Duke Johnson dealing with concussion
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:12 am ET) Browns running back Duke Johnson had to exit Saturday's preseason game after suffering a concussion, reports Cleveland.com. It was Johnson's first preseason game after dealing with a hamstring injury.

"Hopefully he'll be in the protocol and we can get him back as soon as possible," coach Mike Pettine said. "If you had to say the biggest downer of the night, that would be it."


Rams RB Tre Mason suffers strained hamstring
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:07 am ET) Rams running back Tre Mason sustained a hamstring strain during Saturday's preseason game, reports BleacherReport.com.

Mason was able to walk out of the locker room on Saturday without any issues and the team expects him to be ready for the season opener.


Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) out of Saturday game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2015) With premier wideout Jordy Nelson already out for the season, the Packers must now sweat out the health of fellow top receiver Randall Cobb, who was taken to the locker room Saturday with a shoulder injury.

The Packers can ill-afford to lose Cobb, who caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

The team has yet to reveal the specifics of the injury.


Bills WR Marquise Goodwin knocked out of game with rib injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2015) A rib injury has Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin out of the preseason game Saturday against Pittsburgh, per ESPN.

Goodwin was removed in the second quarter after taking a hit following a 19-yard catch over the middle. He remained on the ground for several minutes before being escorted to the locker room.


Falcons, WR Julio Jones agree to 5-year, $71.25M deal
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(8/29/2015) The Falcons and Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones have agreed to a five-year, $71.25 million deal, the team announced.

Jones is fresh off a season in which he caught 104 passes for 1,593 yards and six touchdowns for Atlanta. 

Terms of the deal are expected to include $47 million in guaranteed money.


Jaguars waive PR/WR Tandon Doss
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2015) Perhaps the most surprising cut by the Jaguars on Saturday was wide receiver Tandon Doss, whose punt returning talent and experience appeared at one point to have him set for a roster spot.

Doss led the NFL in punt-return average in 2013 before missing last year due to an ankle injury. He was recently passed on the depth chart by rookie Rashad Greene. The Jaguars decided Doss didn't bring enough to the table as a receiver to warrant a place on the team.


Jaguars rookie DE Dante Fowler placed on IR
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2015) The Jaguars have finalized the process of ending the season of defensive end and top pick Dante Fowler by placing him on injured reserve.

Fowler sustained a torn ACL on the first day of May minicamp and underwent surgery. He has begun rehabbing, but will not play this year.


 
 
 
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