The Texans firing head coach Gary Kubiak could have a big impact on the Houston's fantasy players down the stretch, especially with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips back as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Kubiak's departure marks the end of Matt Schaub as the starting quarterback in Houston. Case Keenum will start Week 15 against the Colts and, barring injury, the remainder of the season. But is he a fantasy option? Not really. Owners will have to be extremely desperate to start Keenum in the fantasy postseason, and he has very little value, even in dynasty formats. The Texans are expected to find a new quarterback early in the upcoming NFL draft.
The running back situation is interesting. Before Houston's Thursday night loss to Jacksonville, Ben Tate had been playing well with Arian Foster out for the year. Tate is a free agent after the season, and it's doubtful the Texans will pay him more money to stay when Foster is already vastly overpaid. Dennis Johnson is younger and it wouldn't be a shock if Texans owner Bob McNair orders Phillips to see what he has. Or, they can lean heavily on Tate with hopes he can make Foster expendable. Either way, Phillips should have Houston running the ball more than the pass-happy Kubiak did.
Andre Johnson will be a strong fantasy play regardless of the quarterback, but he appears to enjoy playing with Keenum. Garrett Graham should also remain productive as a safety blanket for Keenum. The Texans might not completely abandon the run under Phillips, like they often did under Kubiak, but the pass attempts should be more efficient. Johnson and Graham remain viable fantasy assets.
The wildcard is DeAndre Hopkins, who has the skills to be an elite receiver at the NFL level. The Texans' first-round pick in last year's draft is having a remarkably inconsistent rookie campaign. It makes sense for the rebuilding Texans to feed Hopkins the ball to see if he can step up. Hopkins drew seven targets on Thursday against the Jaguars and he should finish the season with a decent performance or two if Phillips wants the "interim" tag removed.