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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
Vikings place Adrian Peterson on Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:04 am ET) The Vikings released a statement early Wednesday morning that running back Adrian Peterson has been placed on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, which means he cannot play until further notice.

The statement was signed by Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf.

"This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news," the statement said. "In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team's decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian."


NFLPA files appeal on behalf of Ray Rice
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that it has filed an appeal in the case of former Ravens running back Ray Rice, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports.

Rice was initially suspended two games for an offseason domestic-violence incident, but he was cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the league after a new video of the incident surfaced last week. The argument in the appeal is that Rice is being punished twice for the same offense. The NFLPA has requested that an independent arbitrator hear the appeal rather than commissioner Roger Goodell.


NFL, NFLPA finishing up new drug policy
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The NFL and the NFL Players Association are finalizing a new drug policy Tuesday evening, and a formal announcement is expected to be made by Wednesday morning, CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports.

The NFLPA has begun to notify players of the revamped suspensions under the new policy, including Browns receiver Josh Gordon officially having his suspension reduced to 10 games. Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick are among the handful of players who should be able to rejoin their respective teams Wednesday in preparation of playing in Week 3.

However, Dolphins defenders Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones are not expected to be affected by the change in policy, the Palm Beach Post reports, leaving their suspensions active for two more games.


John Abraham yet to pass concussion protocol
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Cardinals linebacker John Abraham didn't pass the concussion protocol Tuesday, FOXSports.com reports. Abraham will attempt to be cleared Wednesday as he looks to return from his Week 1 injury.

Arthur Jones to miss 2-4 weeks with high ankle sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones will be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks while recovering from a high ankle sprain, NFL.com reports.

The Colts have already dealt with issues stopping the run in the team's first two games, and Jones' absence could mean their defensive woes could continue. Fortunately, the team faces a juicy matchup against the pedestrian Jaguars offense in Week 3.


Davon Coleman suffers calf injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) Cowboys defensive tackle Davon Coleman strained his left calf muscle while doing squats in the weight room Monday, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The rookie drew the start in Week 1 against the 49ers but becomes the latest in a long line of injuries to the Dallas defense. He remains hopeful he'll be able to suit up this Sunday.


Report: Vikings could 'reverse course' on Adrian Peterson move
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Vikings may "reverse course" on the decision to let running back Adrian Peterson play in Week 3, Pro Football Talk reports.

With Minnesota governor Mark Dayton calling for Peterson's suspension and the team losing sponsor Radisson Hotels in the wake of Peterson's re-activation, the team may decide to de-activate the running back yet again and keep him off the active roster until his legal situation has been resolved.


Raiders make it official, sign Vincent Brown
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Raiders made it official Tuesday, signing former Chargers wideout Vincent Brown. He had 41 catches for 472 yards and a touchdown last season with San Diego.

Lions make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Lions put cornerback Nevin Lawson (dislocated toes) on injured reserve, signed cornerback Danny Gorrer and promoted linebacker Julian Stanford from the practice squad.

Cardinals sign Victor Butler, release two players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/16/2014) The Cardinals announced Tuesday they signed outside linebacker Victor Butler. Arizona also announced it released linebacker Marcus Benard and punter Drew Butler.

 
 
 
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