There was a time when you couldn't find a Texan in the starting lineup of any sober fantasy owner. I'm talking about the days when David Carr was getting thrown around like a ragdoll 60-plus times per game. Back in those days, the Texans' offense was even more embarrassing than a JaMarcus Russell-led offense. Yeah, it was actually that bad.
Now the Texans now have one of the most explosive offenses in football. Behind an underrated gunslinger and a trio of dynamic playmakers, that "other Texas team" has a Top 10 NFL offense that will grab owners' attention for the next decade.
Matt Schaub was extremely underrated coming into the season because he could never stay healthy enough to put up a season's worth of statistics. In 2007, he only played in 11 games because of a shoulder injury. In 2008, Schaub finished as the 21st-ranked QB, with 3,043 passing yards and 15 TDs, despite the fact he only played in 11 games due to a knee injury. Schaub's talent, impressive partial season stats, and surrounding weapons suggested a break out season was on the horizon.
The indicators weren't lying. Owners who grabbed Schaub in the middle rounds are smiling more than Brian Austin Green on date night. Schaub is currently the second-ranked QB with a 65-percent completion rate, 2,074 passing yards, and 16 TDs. As if the news could get any better for Schaub owners, head coach Gary Kubiak and boy wonder offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have suggested they won't be shy about going into air attack mode because of struggles with the running game.
Of course, the big question is if Schaub can stay healthy. He's taking his share of hits behind the Texans' offensive line, and has been sacked 12 times. If he keeps his fragile body intact, the dominance will continue. Just watch Schaub owners glow during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16) when the Texans face the sub-par Seattle, St. Louis and Miami pass defenses. It will be sickening.
SCHAUB'S WEEK 8 OUTLOOK(@BUF): 240 PaYDs, 2 PaTDs, 1 INT
Don't even think about putting Schaub on the bench unless there are 30-plus mph winds in Buffalo on Sunday. That said, Schaub will only have an average day because the Bills rush defense couldn't stop a pee-wee football scat back. The Texans will overwhelm the Bills with their offense and drain the clock late with their rushing game.
Steve Slaton has taken some heat from his owners because of low rushing numbers and a fumbling issue (four fumbles lost). Listen, if you're not going to be satisfied unless Slaton pounds opposing defenses and piles up 100-yard rushing games, just trade him. Preferably, to me. Based on the emails I receive spewing Slaton hate, it's hard to believe he's the seventh-ranked RB.
Slaton hasn't rushed for more than 76 yards in any game this year and is only averaging 3.1 YPC. However, he racks up receiving yards every game, and has found the end zone five times because of his playmaking ability. Further, Slaton is an absolute monster in PPR leagues (27 receptions). Finally, for those of you in leagues that give bonuses for long scores, Slaton is a threat to take it to the house on every touch. He is still a solid RB1 because he brings the goods even when he's not compiling rushing yards.
Chris Brown has dented Slaton's value even though he's barely done anything remotely relevant. There has been so much media hype regarding Slaton's fumbles and Brown's red zone carries that Slaton has become a buy low candidate despite his strong numbers. Brown has 36 carries on the year and one TD. Shocking, right? You would think he was making the Fantasy Pro Bowl based on the hype. Brown started to lose those red zone carries last week and should have already lost any fantasy value.
Week 8 -- 115 RuYDs, 1 RuTD, 4 Rec, 35 ReYDs, 1 ReTD
Slaton will tear up Buffalo's embarrassing and injury-decimated rush defense (ranked dead-last in the league). Yes, this is even a game where the "S.S. Express" will go over 100 rushing yards to appease even his ungrateful owners.
Did you see Andre Johnson's red-zone catch and score against the Cardinals where he barreled through three Cardinals DBs to cross the goal line? Wow, if one play could capture the true beastliness of a player, it was it. This is one of those dudes you're simply proud to insert in your lineup.
Johnson already has 38 catches for 634 yards and a TD on the season. Defensive backs just can't compete with Johnson's speed and size. The stud wideout sent his owners into a "tweeting" panic last week when news broke that he left the game with a chest injury. Nevertheless, early word is he will play on Sunday against Buffalo, and that the lung injury will not be a problem going forward.
Kevin Walter has failed to live up to expectations after catching 60 balls for 899 yards and eight TDs last year. This year, Walter has been slowed by a hamstring injury and has played fourth fiddle in the passing game to Johnson, Owen Daniels and Slaton. Unfortunately, I'm still not convinced Walter is fully recovered from his injury. In addition, he will still continue to be a secondary option in the passing game. Expect some solid performances, but plenty of inconsistency.
Week 8 -- 6 Rec, 95 ReYDs, 1 ReTD
Johnson is hungry after failing to score in two straight games. He has too much size and strength for 5-9, 195-pound CB Terrence McGee. The beast will score one TD on a jump ball.
Daniels is now a focal point of the Texans offense. Daniels is targeted more than any TE (56 targets) and leads all TEs in production with 39 receptions for 497 receiving yards and five TDs. The athletic Daniels is exceptional in finding open space on third down and is one of Schaub's favorite red zone weapons (10 red zone targets). Hmmm, I would say Daniels has earned that new contract he's been seeking, wouldn't you?
Owens' production may slow a tad as defenses pay more attention to him in the second half. Nevertheless, he will remain an elite TE because of his skills and Houston's explosive offense. This is the type of guy who will win owners' titles because he's providing monster production even though he went off the board in the middle rounds after more glamorous TEs.
Week 8 -- 6 Rec, 80 ReYDs, 0 ReTDs
Daniels will find room to roam against a pathetic group of Bills' linebackers. He will put up nice reception and yardage numbers, but won't find the end zone with more attention from the defense this week in money territory.