Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

A typical fantasy football league consists of 12 teams nine starters (QB, two RBs, three WRs, TE, K, D) and anywhere from five to seven bench players. If you go with the latter bench allotment, you’re looking at 16 roster spots or 192 draft picks. By that definition, any sleeper should have an average draft position about 180 or lower.

 

Houston RB Arian Foster is going with the 182nd pick according to Mock Draft Central. That is good for the 56th RB selected, meaning he’d be a RB4 or RB5 in 12-team fantasy leagues. He is going behind the likes of LenDale White, Larry Johnson, Tashard Choice, and Glen Coffee to name a few. LenDale doesn’t even have a gig. Foster is even behind teammates Ben Tate (26th RB, 58 overall) and Steve Slaton (39, 95).

 

The problem is, nobody informed Texans Coach Gary Kubiak. He called Foster “mature beyond his years” and hinted that Foster could have a firm grip on the top stop in Houston’s depth chart. Obviously he would split carries with Slaton and Tate, but clearly Foster should be going ahead of unsigned free agents, washed up backup RBs, and backup RBs that don’t figure to have many carries.

 

It’s not like Foster struggled last year. He ran for 257 yards on 54 carries (4.8 ypc) for 3 TDs. He added 8 catches for 93 yards. He did this in very limited playing time. When he got his chance in Week 16 and 17 he combined for 242 total yards (216 rushing) and 3 TDs. His ypc in those two games was 5.5.

 

The second-year back isn’t taking the competition lightly. He is quoted as saying “I wasn’t up at 5:30 (a.m.) this offseason for nothing, so my mentality isn’t, ‘This spot is mine.’ My mentality is, ‘This spot is going to get taken. I am going to take it.’”

 

We’ll have to see how things play out during the next few weeks, but with quotes like that from Foster and Kubiak, I am willing to move Kubiak up my draft board. I would take him as a low-end RB3 or high-end RB4 if he continues to keep Slaton and Tate at bay. Click to see my update 2010 fantasy RB rankings.

 

What are your thoughts on Arian Foster?

The Texans are one of the most exciting teams in the league. They have fantasy stars at every turn. Their offseason was marred by the Brian Cushing steroids fiasco. They’ll once again be popular in fantasy football circles.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
The Texans face  three pretty tough defenses in Baltimore, Tennessee, and Denver with the latter two games being on the road. It’s not enough to bench your studs, but do note they don’t have an easy path in the fantasy playoffs.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Matt Schaub – Schaub finally broke out last year with 4770 yards, 29 TDs to 15 INTs, a 67.9 completion percentage, and a 98.6 passer rating. As long he stays healthy he should be in for another monster season.

Andre Johnson – Johnson has to be considered the #1 fantasy WR heading into the season. He posted an incredible line of 101 catches for 1569 yards and 9 TDs. He’s big, strong, and athletic. Oh, and even despite not being happy with his contract, he is not causing any problems for the Texans. I’m confident a deal will be worked out and AJ will shine in 2010.

Four Star Fantasy Options
Owen Daniels – If he didn’t tear his ACL for the third time, I would have him as a five star option. He’s that good. In eight games last year he had 40 catches for 519 yards and 5 TDs.

Three Star Fantasy Options
None

Two Star Fantasy Options
Steve Slaton –  If Slaton can hold onto the football and his starting job, he will be a steal in fantasy drafts. His fumbling issues and neck injury are causes for concern though. That and rookie Ben Tate’s presence.

Ben Tate – Tate went in the second round of the recent NFL Draft, and gives the Texans a RB with good size (5’11, 220 lbs) and speed (4.43 forty time). He’ll have to get past Slaton and Arian Foster, as well as make the adjustment to the speed of the NFL, but he’s a good bet to have meaningful carries at some point of the season.

Kevin Walter & Jacoby Jones – Walter had a down year with 611 yards, but he remains a decent WR4 or WR5. He had 800+ yards the previous two seasons. Assuming his hamstring is healthy, he should be more productive. Jones only had 27 catches for 437 yards, but managed to score 6 TDs. Jones has significantly more upside than Walter.

Texans Defense/Special Teams – I like their defensive unit, but they will play four games with Cushing. On the menu this year are the Colts twice, Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Jets, Titans twice, Ravens, and Eagles. Not exactly fantasy friendly. They also take on the Jags twice and the Redskins, who could go either way. Their favorable match-ups come against Oakland (without Cushing), Kansas City, and Denver.

One Star Fantasy Options
Arian Foster and Ryan Moats – Both RBs had their moments, but will need to see the field regularly to be fantasy worthy. I’m not counting on that at this point. I prefer Foster over Moats.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Time for another Fourth & 1 Roundtable Debate.   Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com came up with this week’s topic.  Click here to see the full article.

This week’s question: What are your top two buy low / sell high candidates headed into week four?

Buy Low
There are a number of good Buy Low options as several stars have yet to score a TD. Running Backs Matt Forte and Steve Slaton are candidates, but prying a Running Back that was selected in the first round away from someone is a tall order.

A player that I would target is Carolina’s Steve Smith, who shockingly is becoming the “other” Steve Smith. He has just 190 yards through three games. What’s worse is 131 of those yards came against Atlanta in Week 2 meaning he has just 59 yards in his other two games. A reason that Smith could be acquired is the horrific play of his Quarterback, Jake Delhomme, who has 7 INTs and 2 Fumbles through three games. His poor play has caused people to question Smith’s value, which opens the door for you to swoop in and nab a WR1 for below market value. Smith is too talented not to come around.

Sell High
Everybody expected Matt Ryan to make a huge leap this year, but it’s the other Sophomore Sensation Joe Flacco that’s lighting up the league. Flacco is seventh in passing yards with 839 and tied for 4th with 6 passing TDs. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Matt Schaub are the only other guys with at least 800 yards passing and 6 TDs. I don’t see a major fall from grace, but I don’t see him keeping up his top five fantasy QB ranking either. His fantasy value will likely never be higher. The weather is fine now, but later in the year when it gets cold and sloppy, the Giants will rely more heavily on their ground game.

Another player I’d consider moving is Mario Manningham. His value is also extremely high as teams scrambled to grab him as a waiver wire gem. There are a few things that will be going against him going further. Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon will be returning from their injuries. They won’t take his starting gig, but they well likely take some of his targets. Also, if you check your calendar it’s October. It’s nice nice, but once the weather gets cold and sloppy the Giants will shy away from the passing game a bit and utilize their powerful rushing attack.

Panelists
Junkyard Jake of www.junkyardjake.com
Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
Paul Greco of www.fantasypros911.com
Bryce McRae of www.kffl.com
Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com
Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
Lee of www.footballjabber.com
Smitty of www.fantasyfootballxtreme.com

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks – Matt had his way against the Rams last week, but I think that’s going to be a familiar tune in St. Louis.  He faces the 49ers next week, and while they aren’t going to confuse anyone for Pittsburgh, Mike Singletary has his team believing and they are going to get after it on Defense.  Kurt Warner didn’t look particularly well against the Niners last week, and even without two of his top three wides, he still has more weapons than Hasselbeck.  Bonus:  Don’t count on Julius Jones to repeat.

Steve Slaton, Houston Texans – Albert Haynesworth may not be in Tennessee anymore, but that Titan Defense is still very tough.  A trendy pick to earn a Wildcard spot, Houston is in danger of falling to 0-2.  Tennessee is also in danger of falling to 0-2.  They are going to do their best to shut down the rushing attack and put pressure on Matt Schaub.  Bonus:  Don’t rely on Schaub this week.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears - Forte faced a tough Packer defense to open the season and things get worse.  He takes on Pittsburgh at home.  He was limited to 55 yards on 25 carries (2.2 ypc) in the opener, and, perhaps even more concerning, he did not catch a pass after leading all RBs in that category last week.  One bright spot is not having to face Troy Polamalu, but the forecast is still not sunny for Forte.  Bonus:  Avoid Jay Cutler as well.

Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys - Roy started the season off on the right foot with 3 catches for 86 yards and a score last week against Tampa Bay, but the Giants are going a much more difficult challenge for the Boys.  The G-Men are going to get after Romo, and I see him relying more on Witten and his Backs this week.

Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals - Ocho had a nice game with 5 catches for 89 yards against Denver.  They are going to find out the Packers’ defense is much stiffer than the Broncos’.  To me this could be one of those ugly games where they muster only 150-180 passing yards or so, which would make Ocho a risky play.  Bonus:  Avoid all Bengals this week.

So Michael Vick will be able to play in Week 3, which seems like an adequate punishment considering the amount of time he already lost.  I’m not going to say money too, because if he didn’t break the law, he’d still be rolling in the dough.  I’m not going to pity someone for their own stupidity.  Vick has been a trendy last round pick in fantasy drafts.  If you’re just taking him for laughs and plan on dropping him for a Kicker, which to me is what the last round of fantasy drafts are reserved for, then I’m on board with you.  If you’re holding out hope that he’s going to make a fantasy impact this year, let me remind you that he barely had fantasy value when he was at the height of his career.  He’s not going to run for a ton of yards, which is what game him value.  He’s certainly not going to throw for a lot.  You’re basically hoping for some rushing TDs.  Unless he gains RB or WR eligibility in your fantasy league, he’s not even useful as a flex player.

David Clowney had a nice game for the Jets with 108 receiving yards, thanks to a 73-yard TD.  He’ll still be the Jets #3 WR so don’t get too excited.  Danny Woodhead had 158 yards on 18 carries (8.8 ypc) with 2 TDs.  Get in line though Woodhead.  The Jets are loaded at RB.

Maurice Jones-Drew left the Jags’ preseason game against Washington with a leg injury.  My question is why is your starting RB and best weapon even playing in the final preseason game?  Come on Del Rio.  You’re better than that.

It used to be all that Chris Henry did was get in trouble.  He’s seemed to put that nonsense behind him.  Now all he does is catch TDs.  Maybe he can give Pacman or Brandon Marshall a call.  Scratch that, Pacman is a lost cause.

Hakeem Nicks was a big play thread again with a 64-yard TD.  He’s left with a hip injury.  Hopefully it’s not serious.  Sinorice Moss must have felt the heat as he turned in a strong performance with 2 catches for 35 yards.  Both of his receptions were TDs. 

Benjarvus Green-Ellis made his case for a role in the Patriots rushing attack with 125 yards on 29 carries with 3 TDs.  He showed some versatily with four catches for 22 yards.  Sammy Morris could be the odd man out.

Vince Young played well again.  He’s not likely to take Kerry Collins job barring injury, but I’d like to see him get his life and career back on track.

Steve Slaton owners must have lost some of their swagger when they heard today’s news.  Turns out Chris Brown is taking over the goal line duties.  He’ll still get a ton of yardage, and receptions for you PPR players, but if he’s not reaching paydirt, he’s not really a legit RB1.

Steve Slaton running
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Steve Slaton had an amazing rookie year accumulating 1659 total yards (1282 rushing, 377 receiving) with 10 TDs (9 rushing).  He was even better in PPR leagues as he racked up 50 receptions.  He is being drafted in the first round in most mocks, but something about him scares me.  He has good size (5’9″, 215 lbs) so he should be able to handle another heavy workload.  He is an explosive back with the ability to break a long run and has soft hands, which make him a great asset.  Even if you shut him down Houston’s rushing attack, Slaton can still get his through the air. 

He has a decent fantasy playoff schedule with games against Seattle, St. Louis, and Miami.  His easier games should be in Weeks 4 (Oakland), 5 (Arizona), 6 (Cincinnati), and Week 15 (aforementioned St. Louis).  Naturally he plays Tennessee twice in Weeks 2 & 11.  There aren’t really any other tough matchups aside from New England in Week 17, which has little fantasy relevance.  Should he avoid the injury bug, he should be in line for a huge season.  Something like 1600 total yards and 8 TDs.

Matt Schaub & Andre Johnson
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Hopefully Matt Schaub can hit his WRs this year like he can hit golf spectators.  Kidding aside, it’s a big year for the former Virginia star.  Sage Rosenfels moved onto Minnesota, most likely to backup Brett Favre, so Houston needs Schaub to stay healthy.  He has missed five games in each of the past two seasons with various injuries.  He averaged 276.6 yards per game last year with 1.36 TDs, which translates into 4426 yards and 22 TDs in a full season.  He has plenty of weapons in Andre Johnson, who is one of the premier WRs in th game, Kevin Walter who quietly has back-to-back 800 yard seasons, TE Owen Daniels, and gifted RB Steve Slaton.  Now he just needs to stay on the field.

His early schedule is fairly difficult, but he has a nice back-to-back block in Weeks 5 & 6 against Arizona and Cincinnati.  His fantasy playoff schedule is decent as he faces Seattle, St. Louis & Miami.  Weather should not play a factor.

Schaub is best served as a backup QB and with his matchups in Week 5 & 6 would be a nice compliment to Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Philip Rivers who have byes in Week 5 or Tony Romo or Peyton Manning who have byes in Week 6.  Chicago plays Baltimore and Green Bay plays Pittsburgh in Week 15 so I strongly urge Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers owners to try and grab Schaub.  He’ll likely be selected in the 9th-12th round depending on league specifics.  I’m predicting 3400 yards and 20 TDs.  I think he’ll miss at least one game.

The Texans went 4-1 down the stetch to finish at 8-8.  They play in a difficult division, but this could be a team on the rise in 2009.  They have two capable QBs in Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels, the only WR who can hold a candle to Larry Fitzgerald in Andre Johnson, a solid compliment to AJ in Kevin Walter, a Top 5 TE in Owen Daniels, and a dynamic young RB in Steve Slaton.  They do have some Offensive Lineman (Mike Brisiel, Chris White, and Rashad Butler) up for free agency so they will have to re-sign them or replace them.  Ahman Green got cut so they will have to look for a backup to Slaton.

On defense they are built around Super Mario Williams (12 sacks) and DeMeco Ryans (112 tackles).  They are hoping Amobi Okoye will take the next step in his development.  Morlon Greenwood got cut.  Xavier Adibi will likely take his starting spot.  Two of their key corners (Dunta Robinson and Demarcus Faggins) are Unrestricted Free Agents.  Of the two Robinson is the top priority.  Other than that, I don’t expect the Texans to be big players this offseason.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
RB Ahman Green UFA (Cut) Houston Texans Free Agent
OG Fred Weary UFA Houston Texans Free Agent
OT Mike Brisiel ERFA Houston Texans Free Agent
OT Chris L. White UFA Houston Texans Free Agent
C Bryan Pittman UFA Houston Texans Free Agent
OL Rashad Butler RFA Houston Texans Free Agent
DL Jeff Zgonina UFA Houston Texans Free Agent
LB Morlon Greenwood UFA (Cut) Houston Texans Free Agent
CB Demarcus Faggins UFA Houston Texans Free Agent
CB Dunta Robinson UFA Houston Texans Free Agent

Houston Texans Preview

3 September 2008

Pop Quiz. Who led the Texans in rushing yards each of the past two seasons?  Would you be surprised to find out it was Ron Dayne.  Well, there will be a new one this year as Dayne and the Texans have parted ways.

On Offense Houston will need Andre Johnson to stay healthy.  He was a monster when healthy last year, and he’s their only hope to compete with the Big Boys in their division.  The Texans have two capable QBs in Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels.  It’s nice to have a safety blanket if your starter goes down. Besides Johnson, the Texans have some other decent options at wideout.  Kevin Walter quietly turned in 800 yards last year.  Andre Davis provided some big plays.  Jacoby Jones could be provide some unexpected production.  Their running game is a mess.  Ahman Green has not held up his side of the bargain.  He’s dealing with a groin injury.  They also brought in Chris Brown, who has had a history of injuries as well.  Don’t be surprised if Rookie Steve Slaton takes charge of this backfield and finishes as your starter.  They have one of the best Tight Ends in the league in Owen Daniels.  He caught over 60 passes for nearly 800 yards. 

On Defense Super Mario Williams is making Houston look smart for taking him, especially given some of the struggles out of Reggie Bush and Vince Young.  He had 14 Sacks last year.  DeMeco Ryans (128 tackles) and Morlon Greenwood (118 tackles) are a terrific pair of Linebackers.  Amobi Okoye just turned 21 and had 5.5 Sacks as a Rookie.  I expect great things out of him.  C.C. Brown recorded 84 tackles out of the Free Safety position.  Fred Bennett and Will Demps were solid.

This is an improving team. I love their Defense.  I don’t think they are quite ready to challenge Indy and Jacksonville, but I think they will be better than Tennessee this year.  They should win half of their games this year, and if they can improve on Offense, could surprise some teams and sneak into a Wild Card spot.  Not likely, but with their Defense, anything is possible.

Fantasy-wise I love Andre Johnson.  He should be a top ten WR this year.  Matt Schaub is a decent backup fantasy QB.  Kevin Walter makes a solid #4 or #5 WR to be used in bye weeks and in an injury pinch.  Their RBs are a mess, but I like Slaton the best.  At least he has upside.  I fully endorse Owen Daniels.  He cuold have a breakout season at Tight End.  Houston Defense is a good one to grab.  I wouldn’t use them vs. Indy or Jax, but they should do well against lesser teams.


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