It's time to start thinking about fantasy football, and we have started going team by team to let you know what each NFL franchise can do for your fantasy squad. You can click here to see if your team has been previewed yet. If it isn't there, chances are it's coming soon. We have finished the NFC and AFC West, the NFC South, and have moved on to the AFC South.
*Rankings are based on a 12-team, standard scoring format.
2011 RECORD: 12-4
2012 BYE WEEK: 8
TOP DRAFT PICKS: (1) DeAndre Hopkins- WR- Clemson
(2) D.J. Swearinger- FS- South Carolina
(3) Brennan Williams- OT- North Carolina
QUARTERBACK: Matt Schaub didn't have a bad season last year, piling up over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. The problem with Schaub, at least from a fantasy standpoint, is inconsistency. He threw for only 300 yards twice, and both those games were overtime games, though his week 11 performance against Jacksonville (527 yards and 5 touchdowns) was the most impressive performance in football last year. He had 5 games where he threw 0 touchdown passes, and in the last 4 weeks of the season (fantasy football playoff time) he through only 1 touchdown total. Schaub is not a guy you can steadily count on for big numbers, though he may see an uptick with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins giving him a solid #2 receiving threat. Look at Schaub as a QB2. TJ Yates and Case Keenum continue to vie for the backup job, but it looks like Yates will be the guy.
RUNNING BACK: Arian Foster has proven himself to be a top back in the league over the last several years, and last year was no exception. He ran for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he was a bit overworked last year, carrying the ball 351 times. That, combined with the fact that he has been dealing with injuries all offseason, means his stock is the lowest it has been since before his breakout 2010 season. If he can stay healthy, he is one of the best backs in the league, but backs and knees are typically the types of injuries that could hamper him all season. It is still a bit of a mystery if Foster will start week 1 in San Diego. Arian is still a viable RB1, but I am much more willing to take him in the 8-12 part of the first round than I am in the first half. Ben Tate is definitely a handcuff play, but he will actually be useful even if you don't land Foster. Look at Tate if you lock up your starters early on. Deji Karim will likely be listed as the 3rd back, but Cierre Wood is probably the player of note if an injury to Foster (or Tate) pops up during the season.
WIDE RECEIVER: Andre Johnson set a career high in receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,598) last season, but even with such big production he scored only 4 touchdowns all season. No player in the top 15 of receiving yards had fewer scores than Dre. This isn't a new problem for Andre, who has never had a double digit touchdown season in his 10 year career. An argument could be made that he hasn't had a real threat across from him, but the Texans used a 1st round pick on Clemson wideout DeAndre Hopkins. He has looked good in preseason action, and should give a boost in production over what Kevin Walter has given the last few years. Johnson is still a WR1, but at the lowest end of that tier. Hopkins is a backup on draft day, but it isn't unreasonable to hope that he is worth putting in your roster at some point this season. Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin will provide depth. Also adding in catches this year should be DeVier Posey. The 2012 draft pick has made much quicker progress in his return from injury than could have been expected, and could be in the mix by opening day. Jean, Martin and Posey are all worth watching if an injury occurs, but not guys you need to target on draft day.
TIGHT END: Owen Daniels was 2nd on the team in yards, receptions and targets last season, and actually led the Texans in touchdown receptions with 6. All around, it was one of the most productive seasons in Daniels' 7 year career. Garrett Graham didn't do much last season, but could see an expanded role with the departure of James Casey. Look at Daniels as a low end TE1. Graham shouldn't be drafted until his role is better defined.
KICKER: Randy Bullock will take over as the Texans kicker after spending last year on the IR. The Texans play 10 games indoors, and have a solid offense. Bullock is an unknown commodity, but should be worth drafting.
DEFENSE-SPECIAL TEAMS: The Texans didn't lose much of a step without Mario Williams last year. The Texans have done a good job of going heavy on defense in the draft, and it has really paid off. JJ Watt is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL now, and the return of Brian Cushing will only make him more effective. When Ed Reed gets on the field, he should provide the kind of veteran leadership that can make your defense good even against a 1st place schedule. Look at the Texans as a top 5 fantasy defense.