Texans' passing offense: Who can owners expect to be catching balls in Houston in 2012

Football > Commentary > Texans' passing offense: Who can owners expect to be catching balls in Houston in 2012

Texans' passing offense: Who can owners expect to be catching balls in Houston in 2012

It was not long ago (even though it feels like centuries in fantasy time) that Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans were one of the top passing offenses in the NFL. In 2009 Schaub finished in the top 3 in fantasy scoring for QBs -- trailing only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees -- as he led the NFL in passing yards, just 230 yards short of 5000. Despite 2010 being all about Arian Foster @ArianFoster, Schaub and the passing offense quietly finished in the top 8 in fantasy scoring for QBs. The oft-injured Schaub has only played 2 full seasons in his 8-year career, but in those 2 seasons he has averaged an impressive 4570 passing yards and 26.5 TDs. Houston may not be the passing team they were in 2009 and 2010 and they definitely aren't the same anemic defensive team; but even in 2011, with a top defense and top rushing attack, Schaub was averaging 19 fantasy points a game before a Lisfranc injury ended his season prematurely. Assuming Schaub can stay healthy (fingers crossed, twice), there should be 4000-ish receiving yards to go around in Houston in 2012. Outside of Andre Johnson @johnson80, where can owners expect to find value/results in the Texans' passing offense?

Owen Daniels: Texans' TE Owen Daniels burst onto the fantasy football scene just as QB Matt Schaub made his ascension, with his best season coming in 2008. Most expected Daniels to take his spot amongst the elites of the league, but injuries in 2009 and 2010 prevented Daniels from ever reaching that potential. Finally healthy in 2011, Daniels appeared to again become one of Schaub's favorite targets, scoring a TD in 3 of the first 4 Texans' games, catching 21 balls and amassing 271 receiving yards in the first 5 games. However, Daniels was unable to maintain that consistency as season ending injuries to Schaub and backup Matt Leinart left Daniels with a rookie QB with an ultra-conservative game plan. So long as Johnson remains healthy and is opening up the middle for Daniels, 70 catches, 700+ yards and 5-7 TDs is not out of the realm of possibility for the TE. Assuming owners don't land one of the top 4 TEs, waiting on Daniels could provide some nice value.

Arian Foster: Already of one of the best RBs in the league, Arian Foster may be the best pass-catching RB in the league too. Averaging 59.5 catches in his first 2 full seasons, Foster has clearly become one of Schaub's favorite targets and a safety blanket that the Texans know has the ability to hit a home run on a check-down just as he did against Tennessee on a 78-yard TD catch in 2011. The Texans appeared to design more pass plays for Foster in 2011, hoping to get the back out into open space via screens and bubble screens and 2012 should be no different. Given Johnson's age and propensity for injury, Foster is the Texans' best player on offense and they will look to get it into his hands as much as possible. Foster owners, especially those in PPR leagues, should consider themselves 'set' as the RB should have at least 50 catches.

Kevin Walter: Just like Daniels in 2008, Kevin Walter appeared to be well on his way to fantasy relevance after a 60 catch, 899 yard and 8 TD season. However, Walter could never replicate those numbers despite never being challenged for his roster spot. Recently departed Jacoby Jones was supposed to supplant Walter, but the success of the running game, while limiting Walter's opportunities may have actually have ultimately saved his job. Especially in 2011, the Texans needed a WR who both knew the system and could/was willing to block, Walter filled both needs helping to alleviate the loss of Andre Johnson. Jones was a salary cap casualty and Walter may have been headed the same way if he wasn't willing to take a $1.5 million pay cut to stay in 2012. Walter, barring Armageddon, is un-rosterable in nearly all fantasy leagues as he proved even with Johnson out his ceiling is severely limited.

Keshawn Martin @KeshawnMartin82: Creating the most buzz of all the wide-outs in Texans' training camp, Keshawn Martin appears to have locked up the slot WR role for Houston. A smaller WR, Martin made most of his plays for Michigan State in the return game as he has blazing speed and shifty moves. Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak has been gushing about the former Spartan and his ability to turn short passes into huge plays, perhaps becoming the playmaker Jones never was. Always a bit skeptical of rookies and even more-so of the reports from coaches out of camp, I would keep an eye on Martin throughout the preseason and early into the regular season as he could benefit immensely from a healthy Andre Johnson and a stacked running game.

DeVier Posey @DPo8: I think most within the Texans' family expect Posey to eventually replace Walter as the WR opposite Andre Johnson. More of the size, speed combo teams are looking for on the outside, Posey has spent the majority of camp reacclimating himself to playing football full time after missing a majority of his final season in Columbus because of a suspension from the tattoo parlor scandal. Posey hasn't received the praise fellow rookie Martin has, but the reports out of camp have still been glowing about the rookie. Posey is probably not ready to assume any sort of significant role quite yet, but he is another to keep an eye on throughout the season to see if he can carve out a role or at least get some positive momentum going forward.

James Casey @jamescasey85: A real wild card in the Texans offense, James Casey could really surprise some in 2012. With the departure of 2nd TE Joel Dreesen, Casey will get plenty more opportunities to shine like he did against New Orleans (5 catches for 126 yards and a TD) and Tennessee (7 catches for 91 yards). Like Aaron Hernandez in New England, Casey is incredibly versatile and while I expect him to be more of a pass catcher in 2012, he certainly could get the occasional carry (carries) out of the backfield. Of all the potential pass catchers in the Texans offense, Casey will be the one I pay most attention to. Casey is not limited by age, or injuries (yet) and he has a history/understanding of what the Texans are doing on offense. The future is incredibly bright for Casey, warranting my full attention in 2012.

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